Christianity and The Quest for Converts

During chapter three, the heavy Christain motif shines through as a remnant of Nigeria’s past under British imperialism. Ifemelu’s mother is so consumed with religion that she converts to three different sects when the previous fails to uphold God’s promise of solving her family’s struggles. Of course, Adichie bridges African and Western culture in “Americanah” by mentioning the heavy role Christianity/religion has by looming over citizens in any society. This book strongly resonates with me as I can relate to Ifemelu in the terms of her position on religion and family.

With a mother who is a devout Lutheran and a father who is a little-to-nonreligious Catholic, it used to suck being agnostic-turned-atheist. Similarly to Ifemelu, I questioned the presence of a God and wondered if it was all just a concept. After multiple refusals to participate in church services and many arguments, my mother eventually learned to look past the fact that she was losing all four of her kids to science. I don’t want to totally denounce religion, if people want to believe in an ultimate controller of the universe then that’s fine, but I just don’t buy it.

In the wise words of Ricky Gervais, “If we take something like any fiction, any holy book, and destroyed it, in a thousand years’ time that wouldn’t come back just as it was. Whereas if we took every science book and every fact and destroyed them all, in a thousand years they’d all be back, because all the same tests would be the same result.”

I’ve personally come to believe that differing religions in a society are debilitating and can create tension. Anyone can see that, as people still do not know the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim. Historically, factory owners purposely hired Catholics and other Christian denominations, because they knew the factory workers wouldn’t form labor unions with Catholics, thus no union. Obviously, you can’t make people not believe in order for everyone to have the same views, but people need to learn that not everyone’s going to agree (Google search “secularism”).

As with any family, religion can be a touchy subject especially when each member has differing views. It’s easy for moms and dads to think that they’ve failed as parents if they can’t get their child to believe in their god, but it’s universal for younger generations to drift away from more traditional stances.

There isn’t anything wrong per se with raising your kids to believe a certain ideology, but, parents, please don’t expect your children to conform to your belief system just because they’ve been brought up that way. I’m no parent and I don’t pretend to know what it’s like raising a child, but if you really want your child to believe then don’t ingrain your opinions into their head. Most kids–specifically teenagers–don’t do well to imposition and especially won’t listen to authoritative figures.

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2 thoughts on “Christianity and The Quest for Converts”

  1. I agree with what you said about how parents shouldn’t force their beliefs on their children. My mother is a devout Lutheran as well, and she doesn’t know that I’m an atheist, but I don’t think she would take the news well if I told her.

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  2. I also can relate to Ifemelu and to you for that matter. Both my parents are devout Catholics while I on the other hand struggle to make my personal beliefs and view points line up with my religion. I’m not denouncing the existence of God all together, nor am I saying I don’t believe in the Catholic faith, but my belief often waivers. Especially when it comes it controversial topics, I tend to side with liberals and oppose the many conservative Catholics and my parents. Like you, all four of my parent’s children have drifted away from the church. The difference is that we’ve managed to keep this diminishing faith more or less unnoticed. It’s annoying because while we usually don’t discuss politics, the few times we do end in never-ending arguments. We’ve sort of agreed upon our differences but I can tell my parents are frustrated that we don’t “go by the book” (or the Bible) so to say. I think religion can be a beautiful thing for an individual and, in rare instances, can make a truly positive impact on the community. In addition, many religious figures have ascended beyond their personal faith to set a more universal example. However, like you said, I do believe that religion is one of the biggest roots of conflict, even in modern society. From religion stems the ever dangerous generalizations and racism that creates faults in our society. It’s true that science will continue to exist, never changing, but religion doesn’t just offer answers to questions about the natural world; religion creates a way to connect spiritually with others and oneself and, for many, brings hope of life beyond death. So while I don’t believe we should completely move away from religion, I do believe that people need to learn to accept one another’s faiths instead of forcing ideals upon people. Acceptance, in my opinion, is the first step in moving forward.

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