Sunday, February 18, 2018

Our Christian Culture

May 6, 2007 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

Our Christian Culture
By Shari Weigerstorfer


I live in Basel, Switzerland. I’m an American, married to a Swiss, mother of a Swiss/American child and adjusting as best I can. This week my daughter started first grade. The Swiss school system teaches “religion” from the first grade on for one hour every week and parents are given the choice as to whether they want their child to attend or not.

At first, I didn’t give it much thought. It’s divided into Protestant versus Catholic (the official Swiss religions) and I assume the Protestant kids are taught bible stories, etc. But I noticed that thoughts of this class were drifting in and out of my mind and I realized I was disturbed about it. I got the feeling the Lord was more concerned about this than I was so I made the decision to exclude her from the class.

As I drove away from the school on Thursday, having dropped her off an hour later than the other children, I felt a great peace. A “knowing” I had done the right thing for reasons probably known only to God. But what I did grasp in that moment was that I was protecting something of great cultural importance to me concerning my daughter.

Having lived among the Swiss for ten years, I have learned more about being an American than I ever knew while living in America. Just because someone else is an American doesn’t mean you would choose them for a friend and want to spend time with them. Foreigners are constantly getting shoved together with those from their own nationality out of courtesy. Many of these other Americans, I have very little in common with.

More importantly, what I also discovered is that no matter where a person is from, when they are a “like minded” Christian, we have a strong basis for bonding because our foundational beliefs are the same. I now see the phrase, “Citizen of Heaven” differently. It overlays national identity and becomes dominant.

So, I really belong to a “sub-culture” within the American culture. Or maybe you could see it as a Christian culture with strong American style. Whichever way you look at it, it’s mine. It is dear to my heart and from where I draw my strength, my direction and my peace. And it will be a tower of strength and a refuge to my daughter, too. It is her birthright.

This is what I chose to guard for my daughter when I excluded her from the “religion” class at school. I chose not to merge this precious perspective with another. I don’t want it diluted.

The bible stories they tell may be fine. But I can’t know that for sure. I could attend with her, but my command of the German language would not have told me what I wanted to know and not shown me what I needed to see. I am responsible to “raise her up in the way she should go” and therefore I must oversee what she is taught.

This “American style home-made faith” is my true culture and in the midst of Switzerland, with all the “Swissness” that influences my daughter, it is the soil my land will reflect.

Our church is a transplanted American style made up of “Expats” that have someway found themselves in the similar situation as I. And the friends I cling to are believers too. Though she may be from two cultures, her foundation will be sure. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

The greatest gift I can ever give my child is my wonderful Christian heritage. Ten years of living abroad has brought home to me its overwhelming importance in my life. I am the one to pass this down to my daughter, complete and in tact. I am the guardian of this great inheritance, precious beyond measure.

I will pass it on pure.


Shari Weigerstorfer is a free-lance Christian writer, native to the West Coast of America. When not indulging in her passion for travel, she writes from her home in Switzerland. Other articles by Shari can be found on her site at

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