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Old 02-24-2012, 05:12 AM
Location: West Michigan
3,095 posts, read 5,624,476 times
Reputation: 4404


My family is moving to the suburbs of GR, probably the northern suburb areas (Rockford, Sparta, Cedar Springs, etc.) Although we have conservative values, we are not religious, and don't attend church. I understand that this area is fairly religious and have 2 questions: Do you think our children will have a hard time being non church-goers?
Are some surrounding GR cities more accepting of non-religious people than others, and which ones?
No one has really hit on this yet, but I think you will likely be OK in the areas that you mentioned. Not all Grand Rapids suburbs are created equal. The most conservative and religious suburbs are to the west and south of GR (Hudsonville, Zeeland, Jenison, Byron Center, Allendale, etc). The suburbs to the east and north have a different vibe to them, in my opinion. Places like Ada, Rockford, Cedar Springs, Lowell, Cascade, etc (and anything east or north of there) tend to be more open to outsiders, less religious, and have more of a "live and let live" attitude. Not that there aren't religious people and churchgoers in these areas, but I think most people who have lived in the area a long time are aware of the difference. Compared to the south/west suburbs, the areas to the north and east of GR aren't obnoxious about religion.
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Old 02-24-2012, 05:18 AM
Location: Cumming, Georgia
808 posts, read 2,970,931 times
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You do not need to worry about it. You might get asked "what church do you belong to?" I was born and raised in GR, I was asked that question maybe 5 times. After we moved to North Atlanta area last summer, I think we were asked that question at least 10 times.

When we lived in Ada prior to moving out of state, our next door neighbor on one side was Catholic and the other next door neighbor was Jewish. Our family is LDS and we all got along fine. There are several non-church going household in the neighborhood.
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Old 02-24-2012, 05:39 AM
Location: Cambridge, Isanti County, MN
3,194 posts, read 4,804,710 times
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Do you really think your kids will be outcast because they don't attend church? I sincerely doubt it, but if you're that worried about it, it's probably better for you to move to a less religious region. GR/Holland is the Christian conservative base of Michigan, and you will find many children are often involved in extracarricular, church based activities. Your kids may occasionally be invited to either these, or even a church itself, but I don't think your kids will have a hard time in any way should you or they decline, unless your kids are disruptive troublemakers or something to that effect, in which case they'd eventually turn onto a rocky road regardless.

Personally, I think the GR region would be a wonderful place to raise a family (I live 3 hours north of there), and I think your children could benefit from being raised in a conservative area such as that. This all comes from a churchgoing, conservative Christian, mind you, so take it for what you will.
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Old 02-24-2012, 06:25 AM
95 posts, read 216,708 times
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Originally Posted by iluvmi View Post
Boomrshine...I am assuming if religion is integral to the culture of the area that it would certainly come up among children at school. I have friends in Ohio in a bible belt area who were somewhat shunned because they were non-church goers. The parents of many of the other children didn't want their child to be close friends with their non-religious daughter. They have since moved to a community only a few miles away where things are a bit better. Hence, the reason for my question.
I grew up in Sparta in the 1970s and 1980s and even "way back then" it wasn't an issue for non-church going children. For the most part, we didn't know who attended church and who didn't, and it rarely come up as part of conversation (I mean, how many kids talk about church?).
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Old 02-24-2012, 07:40 PM
Location: DETROIT, MI
42 posts, read 146,308 times
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Religious is even prevalent in west mich radio stations, they have 7 FM Religious music stationas
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Old 02-24-2012, 08:17 PM
Location: between three Great Lakes.
1,955 posts, read 2,128,495 times
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The religious radio stations are counterbalanced by our terrific array of public and community radio stations.....keep your radio programmed at 88.1 (WYCE; all-volunteer community radio), 88.5 (Grand Valley State University), 88.9 (Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp), 95.3 (Public Reality Radio), 102.1 (Western Michigan University) and 104.1 (University of Michigan.) All of them are a breath of fresh air.
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Old 02-25-2012, 08:10 AM
Location: USA
118 posts, read 251,400 times
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Originally Posted by LP10 View Post
Religious is even prevalent in west mich radio stations, they have 7 FM Religious music stationas
I can't even count the number of times I've been cruising to chicago scanning the station looking for NPR or talk radio and stop it on a channel because it sounds like something and blam it's a christian talk radio program... Seems to me they are in the low numbers 88-91FM or so...

104.1FM is NPR FYI
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Old 02-26-2012, 07:51 AM
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Thanks so much. It really is a beautiful place where we want to continue raising our kids.
I was raised catholic and I am not atheist, just agnostic.
A few years back, I had a work friend (originally from kazoo) say why would you want to move there, its a bunch of "bible thumpers." I figured it had been a while since she lived there and she was from a different area.
We have born again friends from the west side of the state that we see a few times a year and while they mention religion or God quite often they have "given up" on getting us to attend their church. I was wondering if we were going to be surrounded by that day in and day out and then there was the concern with my kids.
My kids are certainly not trouble makers, so I am pretty confident now that they will be fine.
I was pretty sure that this area was different from my friends area in ohio, just wanted to make sure my instincts were correct.
Now, if only the teaching market would open up...
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Old 02-26-2012, 09:43 AM
4 posts, read 11,711 times
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Originally Posted by redgoast View Post
There is a valid point to this thread, it is this: The original poster is asking a question in regard to how much of a role religious belief is instilled in the local culture of the area she is looking to move to. She would like to know if it would be possible for her family to integrate into the community without feeling like they'll face any number of hardships or persecution due to their personal values and beliefs.

This is a very important question and one that I feel demands a serious and thoughtful response. Least we forget our country was founded by people who sailed across a vast ocean so they could settle and practice their way of life free of religious influence from the established order. Please remember that religious freedom includes being free from having to conform to any religious doctrine.

This woman would like to know what to expect and I must say your response as well as the response of others does give her a good idea of how being openly non-christian/religious may play out for her and her family in GR and West Michigan in general.
Thank you redgoast. Excellent response.
As I said, we are conservative and we do believe in the basic tenets of Chritian morality, one of which is tolerance, we just don't participate in organized religion. I just wanted to know that there is a wider community to be involved in, outside of the microcosms of church communities. Most of the responses have shown that this is the case.
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:57 AM
Location: Viña del Mar, Chile
16,409 posts, read 27,048,745 times
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What is it with these people coming to the board and thinking all of Grand Rapids/West Michigan is how a small part of Holland used to be? We aren't hicks and we don't care what church you belong to...

Grand Rapids for the most part is very tolerant, sure you'll have close minded people religious nuts, but for every close minded religious nut, there's close minded atheist who wants nothing more than to convince everyone to believe how he does.

You'll see both ends of the spectrum, and then the other 99% of your daily life you'll see the people who are simply moderate.
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