I wish this were going to be a happy post, but alas...not so much. I'm posting this for you, Caroline, so that when you are grown up, you will look back on this post and then look around you and be comforted (albeit barely) by the fact that some things never change.
Lately, you've been coming home from school and telling me about some disturbing happenings in your classroom. Namely, religious bullying. For example, several times this week and last you have recounted to me occurences of kids in your class asking eachother what church they each attend. Then, based on the answer, they decide for eachother who is going to hell and who isn't. The Protestants are doing this to the Catholics and the Catholics are doing this to the Protestants. And you are not spared. Indeed, since we don't attend a church at all, you are unequivocally going straight to hell, they say. That is clearly logical thinking. Of course, they have no idea what our family's religious beliefs are, but that doesn't put a damper on their making plenty of assumptions. A few of them have warned you that their mommies "said to tell you" that your soul is in jeopardy and that if your mother were any kind of mother at all, she would have you in a Sunday school program.
Caroline, it has been my experience in life that those who talk about God the most are the ones who keep Him in their hearts the least. They tend to be the mouthiest and the least sincere. They do not use religion to become closer to God. Instead, they use it to justify their vile thoughts, obsession with sex (meaning everyone else's sex), and their arrogance ("Christians aren't perfect, we're just saved!"). They remake God into their own image and then use Him to browbeat and condemn others.....rather like He's their own personal henchman. They almost always do this under the guise of "caring" about you and being concerned for your everlasting soul, and there is almost always a little gleam of glee in their eyes as they hope fervently that they're right about your future incineration. This helps them feel very pleased with themselves. But as you will have figured out completely one day, they are fooling no one but themselves. You have seen already how silly they look and how absurd they sound, strutting around like self-righteous peacocks.
That said, it has also been my experience that getting angry at these people does no good whatsoever. The only remedy is to feel sorry for them, for if anyone is deserving of your pity, it is these kids whose parents teach them to live on fear, both the feeling of it and the spreading of it. Those poor kids don't have a chance.
Bottom line is this: I'm dreadfully sorry you had to be introduced to this ugly side of humanity at such an innocent and happy time in your life. I'm also very sorry for those kids whose mothers train them to behave this way in school, and who apparently have no idea what religious tolerance means. Clearly, manners have escaped their notice. But I know you'll hang in there, my sweet Caroline, and I know you'll make intelligent and conscience-driven decisions about your own spirituality one day. After all, as Mother Theresa said, in the end it is between you and God and no one else.
I love you.