A survey of nearly 3,000 adults showed that over half described themselves as “having no religion.” Maybe their childhood experiences put them off?
I must confess, as Catholics do, that one of my strangest childhood memories is related to my Catholic upbringing.
Every week our school class were frogmarched to the local church for “confession” on the bizarre assumption that all 6 year-old Catholic children must have done something wrong during the previous 7 days.
Whilst awaiting my turn to go into the confession box, I would sit outside, deeply trying to think of any heinous crime that I had committed.
I knew I wasn’t righteous and holy but I could never think of anything. All I knew was I couldn’t go in and tell the priest I hadn’t done anything wrong for fear of being struck by a lightning bolt or being condemned to everlasting hell.
At the end of my wait, I’d compiled a long list of made-up crimes that made Hitler seem like quite a nice chap.
“I haven’t done what my parents have told me to do” was always very vague and I prayed that I wasn’t asked specifically what it was because I didn’t know.
“I have hit my sister” was another favourite, although totally false as everyone knew she was older than me and could beat me up.
Every week the priest must have despaired of me, thinking I was the most obnoxious, unruly child of Satan and probably beyond redemption because I never learnt to behave.
Everyone else from my class would leave the confessional, kneel in front of a statue of Mary and say a small penance.
I was there for ages, saying at least 18 Hail Mary’s, 12 Our Father’s, 40 Act of Contrition’s and always missed playtime.
Luckily, it’s just as well I’ve never confessed to lying to priests and making up confessions at school for 10 years or I could still be there now.