I was telling a friend that I would never send my children to a Catholic school. To which he replied, why not a catholic school? "I went to one but turned out fine."
This friend is an ex-Catholic like me, a non-believer, like me but unlike me, identifies as an apatheist.
So, here is my response to him.
I used to go to a Syro-Malabar catholic church a few years back. I have seen teenage kids come up to the alter and talk about the pro-life activities they were heading or participating in.
If you go to a Catholic school, tell them that you are Catholic, you are expected to participate in the religious activities - religious retreats, mass and so on.
I do not, absolutely do not want my children to be indoctrinated into the Catholic faith. Just as my friend probably would not send your children to Hebrew school or a Islamic one. Why would he, right?
But, I turned out fine!
For argument's sake, let's take it for granted that my friend did. (I am really calling this into question.) Did every other kid in your school do likewise? Are some of them still catholic? Do they still financially support the church - a misogynist, homophobic, trans-phobic organization that has been implicated in shielding pedophile priests and continues to spend considerable amount of time and money fighting the victims?
Why would you intentionally indoctrinate your children into something you recognize as wrong/superstitious and expect them to deconvert on their own, like you did?
For me, deconvertion did not come easy. I mean, I did it in a matter of a few days/weeks. And I did that all by myself. But it came at a cost. It inflicted a lot of pain on my parents, relatives and not to mention myself. Given a choice, I'd still deconvert. But should my children have to fight the battle all over again?
I have a friend, a Hindu by birth who went to a catholic school. While in middle school, she had a conversion experience thanks to the nuns in that school. She started reading the bible and praying. She tells me that she instinctively kept the whole thing from her parents. The whole mess was eventually resolved. Is there any guarantee that my children would not fall into the same trap?
What about the good that the Church does?
Ask yourself this. When someone points out that the Catholic church refuses to distribute condoms in Africa, do you say, "well, what about all the good they do?" Well, Hamas runs orphanages. Enough said!
Well you can't shield your children from everything!
Nor do I want to. But I am not intentionally sending my children to an institution run by priests. In the US, the John Jay report suggests between 4-6% of priests have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children. In Australia, it is 7%. Yes, I know pedophilia exists elsewhere too. But why wouldn't you avoid a known culprit?
Now, about how you turned out, quite frankly, I do not know enough to make a pronouncement on that. Nor would it be my fucking business. But I can look back at my own journey.
My viewpoints have evolved over time. Though I became a non-believer at 17, I still though abortion was murder. Until a few years ago. I once persuaded someone from aborting a child. I don't think the parent or I regret that decision. But it is not as black and white a decision as I thought it was. Today, I am in a monogamous relationship. I now think ethical polyamory would have been a better lifestyle choice. Going back on some of these decisions are painful, if at all possible.
"Did you go to a secular school?"
That was the other thing my friend asked me. I actually went to a Seventh Day Adventist school. And I had to take Bible lessons in school. The silver lining was that as a catholic, my parents told me clearly that the Seventh Day Adventists were all very wrong. They weren't catholics after all! So, it never was an issue for me. But I do know of a Hindu schoolmate who wanted to convert and change his name to John Peter (I think?). I don't think his parents approved.
Teachers have a great deal of influence on children. Don't kid yourself that children can winnow away the bullshit that come from their teachers! It really is not worth taking that risk, I think.
I think giving my children the best education and access to options that were not available to me is my duty as a parent. And sending them to a catholic school would quite frankly be a dereliction of that duty, when there are secular options available.
Disclaimer: That said, if my children find Christ and Catholicism later in life, I am not going to stop them. I am just not going to help them go there.