Your Comments

Thank you to those who’ve reached out to comment here on this blog (whether we agree or not in our views).  Sorry it’s taking me so long to respond. I didn’t expect so many here. But if you’ve taken the time to write me, I WILL take the time to understand and respond to everyone who has commented here.

I’m in awe of the 99% of the people who have been so kind and respectful. And I’m really enjoying the stories many of you have shared….

 

 

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228 responses to “Your Comments

  1. Found your blog today, as I am sure many have, via the link from cnn ireport. Much of what you write describes my thoughts and approach to raising our kids. Here in the midwest, we’re surrounded by churchgoers and are careful how we articulate our atheism. I’m intrigued by your blog because I have often thought that it would be cathartic to express my musings in one as well; instead I think I will comment on your posts, to contribute to the dialog. May I start off by saying: brava!

    • @Fai…Thanks so much for sharing, and yes, please feel free to comment any time. I’m glad there are so many others out there like us. I’ve been blogging about this topic for over 8 years and had no idea how many people felt the same…

  2. Hi! I just wanted to let you know that, while I don’t agree with your arguments, I deeply admire your bravery and the message you have put out there about letting people be free to believe what they want to believe, and raise their kids in that way as well. I crave to read up on people’s opinions that make a meaningful contribution and you have done just that. I read your CNN iReport titled “Why I raise my kids without God” and I have to admit that while all your arguments seem logically constructed, you seem to miss the point that God is NOT about religion; religion only gives structure to a wide array of beliefs based on people’s experiences and preferences. God is NOT a physical experience either so if you try to apply any logic to it, you will find yourself confused as you have found yourself. It’s almost as if I wanted you to explain to me in terms of your sensory experience how and why you laugh or cry. I can’t apply the “universal” experience of laughing/crying to your own experience so that I can reduce it to the simplest of explanations. You simply feel it and you and I know that it’s not a mechanical reaction. There is something more that you can not explain and trying to logically think about it will reduce the experience to just that; a mechanical reaction. Just like you can’t explain quantum physics, or chaotic mathematics, or the infinite universe that keeps expanding. You simply can not reduce everything to the simplest of explanations. I do not fear a world where children are Godless; I fear a world where human beings lose their belief in miracles (which happen!).

    • @Mayte. I really appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to comment. I don’t agree with some of what you said, but I do understand what you are saying. God is not a sensory experience, but religion, a man-made construct, is. I respect your beliefs and appreciate that you find comfort in God. I think children can be Godless and still have an appreciation for the unexplained, for miracles, as you say. There is a lot of gray, and none of us have the answers, but we are all heading in the same direction….

    • @Mayte I also appreciate your input. I also disagree with your conclusions. Being an Atheist and an Engineer has only deepened my appreciation for the universe and made me more aware of all the wonderous things we just don’t know about. Atheism is not reductionism; gestalts (the whole is greater than the sum of its part) do exist in nature. I’m speaking for my self here but perhaps we would disagree what constitutes (and certainly what causes) a “miracle”, so debating that would be difficult, but one can’t simply attribute the amazing things in life to God and not the bad. It’s all or nothing since God is defined as who God is.

      • @ Erik…Thanks…I agree with this:

        Being an Atheist and an Engineer has only deepened my appreciation for the universe and made me more aware of all the wonderous things we just don’t know about. Atheism is not reductionism; gestalts (the whole is greater than the sum of its part) do exist in nature.

  3. Hello,
    First, you have the right to believe anything you want – this is your free will Any comment left by anyone is just an opinion, some will say this, some will say that, but they remain to be just an opinion neither right or wrong.

    Perhaps my opinion on the whole issue will give you a different angle to look at. Here are my (so far ) beliefs.

    - We are god, the sum of the universe and its contents are god.
    - I dont know why there is god but that is another chapter.
    - We all start out the same, as empty hard drives. We all have a desire to be good (at start) and have implanted in our soul (the hard drive) a universal set of beliefs which more or less are the ten commands.
    -having free choice we live each of our lives (yes iI believe in reincarnation)
    as we live our lives ( being reborn many times) our hard drive creates our
    soul, the individual person.
    - Since we are god, we should all be good, and life would be boring and monotonous. BUT to to make things interesting we were given a body and
    an EGO. The struggle between the Ego and your soul is what causes all
    the things you see as bad and evil.
    - Perhaps in this life you are good because you choose this when being
    born, in the next you could be a criminal by your choice again.
    - We live, die and are reborn (if we choose so).

    There is a lot more that could be said but I tried to be to the point ( I hope).

    Andreas Bartels

    • @Andreas Bartels Thanks for taking the time to comment and share your beliefs. They were to the point, and I do agree with you on several of them (for example, your first point). God can be thought of as the transcendentalists used to think of him, as a great natural, over-arching force that connects everything. I also agree with your third point. It makes sense. But I think that “set of beliefs” is something that has evolved in us, most likely, because we are social creatures…

  4. God exists. Heaven exists.

  5. Thank you for helping reason and human kindness spread around the world. I love your blog and I will invite all my friends locked inside their mystic cage of beliefs to read it and open their mind and hearts to humanity.

  6. loved the article, err blog… you’ve said what so many of us have been thinking.

  7. Hi,
    I’ve just found your blog through your article on CNN. I feel so good and grateful. I feel less alone now. Thanks a lot. I can’t agree more with absolutely everything you say. I’ve said the same things to believers so many times, never trying to convince them only when they ask me why I don’t believe in god. I’ve also raised my kids without religion. I attended a catholic school till I finished 7th grade, by then I was “opening my eyes”. My first questioning was: If the incest is forbidden, how did Adam & Eve kids to multiply?. Then it came that thing about Noah’s ark. Did he traveled to the poles to bring in penguins and polar bears?, to the Amazon for the tropical fauna?, what about the roaches, mosquitoes, etc., etc., etc.? And the creation: why did god take a rib from Adam to make Eve, why didn’t he create her the same way than he did with Adam? Did he operate on Adam like a surgeon does? Of course I was being sarcastic because I’d already noticed nothing made any sense and, of course too, I didn’t get any answer, I was asked to leave the catholic youth meeting I was attending.
    I don’t want my kids to believe in snakes that once talked (why they stopped talking is another mystery). Last Saturday I had again to explain my point of view and, about the atrocities god allows, I was told it was because the devil is too powerful…1) Does it mean god is not almighty then? and 2) what about the earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes? the devil has nothing to do with that and God is supposed to be able to stop them.
    The free will stuff is another annoying thing. So if I’m standing by you and someone is going to shoot you, I’m entitled to do nothing because the killer has free will?????
    On the other hand if god made us as we are and everything happens because it’s god’s will, we should let all the murderers free because they did what god had planned for them to do and they are killers because god made them that way, nothing is their fault.
    God needed more angels is the classical answer when a kid dies. Did he need to have those “angels” shot 11 times (like the Newtown victims)?
    I also agree with the argument of god helping someone to get a job or some team to win a game (what about the other team who also asked god to be the winner?) and not helping that mom with a kid dying in her arms because she can’t feed him.
    And I could go on and on…
    I define myself as agnostic because I want to be open-minded so I always add “I may be wrong” but deep inside myself I feel I’m totally right.
    But in the case that this god people talk about exists, I can’t worship him for being so unfair, so I prefer to think there’s no god at all.
    One of the problems is that people seem not to be able to leave without an answer to the questions about the origins of life, what happens after death, etc. I truly can live without those answers.
    I also agree with you that we have to do the right thing because is the right thing to do, not to get an after death reward, and the same about not doing the wrong things.
    And to end this “novel” disguised as comment (sorry, I’m not good making long stories short) I too feel bad when atheists attack religious people. I think we have to start by respecting to be respected. Whenever I start explaining my disbelief I make a disclaimer: “I don’t want to offend you, I may be wrong and you may be right, I’m just explaining what you asked me.”
    Thanks again for your blog. I’m bookmarking it and I will be visiting it often.
    Have a great day.
    Ellan

    BTW: Your article on CNN has been flagged as inapropiate…why can’t people hear the opinions of those who don’t believe in god? (I’m assuming it was flagged by a believer) I truly believe that it’s more probable that a woman or a gay can be elected president that an atheist. I would like to see a gay atheist woman in the office, but that’s just my opinion.

    • @Ellan. Hi, and thanks so much for reaching out and taking the time to comment. Your comment/novel :) is very interesting, and I found myself nodding along to every one of your points. I like your sense of humor, and all your questions about the inconsistencies of the God story. I, too, approach people the same way you do so as to not offend (but at the same time, trying to “stick up for myself.”) I thinkk you’re right about an atheist president–highly unlikely in the next few decades, but who knows, we may be surprised at how fast our religious attitudes in this country evolve…(PS- Yes, CNN had a problem with people constantly flagging it as inappropriate because they didn’t like the topic.)

  8. Thank you for your courage. CNN has made your story one of the hottest items of discussion in quite some time. As a father, I hope to raise my children with roughly the same values you outlined with a strong skepticism of religion and organizations in general. It’s always interesting to me that the religious feel under attack and that we are preventing them from practicing their faith. No, we are just presenting a stronger argument for how we justify our god-less values. You presented a strong, logical argument on values and the outdated misguidance of religion. Thank you. Please don’t stop. Don’t let harassment and intimidation stop you from free speech.

    • @dcpdxrj – Thanks for taking the time to comment and for the encouragement. I’m trying to find that balance of representing what a lot of us believe (heck, I had NO idea there were so many–what a HUGE relief!) while not offending those who do believe. Many people do need religion, and that’s OK as long as they own it and keep it housed in its proper place.

  9. I read your iReport on CNN regarding raising children without God. I suppose I would have the same opinion had I not read The Book of Mormon. I strongly encourage you to consider reading some select passages in the book, which has answers to many of the questions you pose.

    Answers to questions such as the following are clearly taught in the Book of Mormon (Chapter:Verse):

    • Why does God allow evil and suffering to occur? (Alma 14:9–11; Alma 60:13; 2 Nephi 2)
    • Is there a God? (Alma 22)
    • How can a belief in Jesus Christ help me? (Alma 36)
    • Is there life after death? (Alma 40)
    • What is the purpose of life? (Alma 34)
    • How can my family be happier and more united? (Mosiah 2)
    • How can I avoid the evils that threaten my family? (Alma 39)

    You can access the Book of Mormon (for free) here:

    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm?lang=eng

    The Book of Mormon changed my life, and I promise you the words are true and divine. If you have a faith in Christ, a sincere heart, and real intent, you can know by the power of God’s spirit it is true. Knowing the Book of Mormon is true has significant implications…

    • Hi Tom Hartley. Thank you for sharing your views in such a respectful way. Perhaps I will take a look some time, but it is not likely I will be swayed. I have given many years of thought to this topic, taken history of religion courses, read a lot of books and reflected. This is what I believe, and I’ve come to this place through a lot thought. But I do respect what you believe…

  10. I think few social trends in the US today are as exciting as the rise of atheism as a publicly acceptable view. More atheists, more openly, all the time. Thanks for helping this trend along. Maybe within 20 or 30 years we’ll shake off the yoke of superstition in our public institutions and laws.

    • Thanks, Matt, for writing. I agree, and that you, too, for helping the trend along.

      I think few social trends in the US today are as exciting as the rise of atheism as a publicly acceptable view. More atheists, more openly, all the time. Thanks for helping this trend along. Maybe within 20 or 30 years we’ll shake off the yoke of superstition in our public institutions and laws.

  11. From your report on CNN , and the fact that you Blog, I suspect that you are familiar with all of the arguments and counter arguments to everything you reported. My observation is that those conversations are rarely productive for either party. I guess my question to the author would be: Have you ever taken in the words of Jesus Christ, as you would any other human philosopher? For example “Love your enemies, and do good to those who persecute you” Even the most shallow review of Christian history turns up the constant theme of Christ transforming the lives of people from his time until this day. . Yes, Christians do evil things, but that is congruent with the Christian axiom that “All have sinned, and fallen short of the Glory of God”. The idea that Christians are perfect comes from accusers outside Christendom, and is not doctrinal at all. So we are forgiven…which demonstrates this principle found in the Lords prayer: “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sinned against us” ….and we are expressly told forgiveness is not a sin permit slip. .So we are called to be perfect.. “Be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect” , however we fail, and others also sin against us. But we are to follow Christs example, and redeem people, reconcile relationships, and be a blessing to those around us. The “freedom” argument that you mentioned is a bit sticky. The Christian life properly lived is driven by love.. but forced love is not love… true love is free exchange between people. So, yes, God could make us all little moral robots..but that would rob morality of all of it’s meaning. I can tell from your report you have never read the entire Bible. To speak with authority on a topic, it is good to study it… it is the least a serious critic could do. I used to be an agnostic, and went on a multi-year study of general philosophy, truth and ultimately various beliefs systems. Much like CS Lewis, Josh Mcdowell, and many others, I was converted. Anyway, God Bless you, I’ll pray for you, and hope that 2 Peter 1:19 “You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”
    God DOES love YOU very intensely, ..”beyond comprehension” ..but He’ll not force Himself upon you. It must me mutually agreeable to be true love.

    • Hi Martin. THanks for respectfully voicing your opinions. I do believe Jesus Christ was a man who set an excellent example to follow. We have Christian values, even though we are agnostics/atheists. Yes, I have read a lot of books about religion, about the history of it as well as the Bible. Just because I do not believe in God does not mean I do not know/am not educated/do not understand the history and arguments. I was brought up as a Christian and let go of the rope as a young adult. You and I have had similar life experiences, it sounds like, but we just didn’t arrive at the same conclusions.

  12. thank you for your article “why i raise my kids without god”. i didn’t post on the CNN article discussion, due to the immense number of rebuttals and religious backlash, but wanted to thank you privately via your blog.
    i was raised in an evangelical (pentacostal) home, and suffered years of teenage psychological and emotional abuse at the hands of my parents and the church when i discovered i was gay in my early teens. every stereotypical response was leveled on me, including some of the xtian favorites to whop their gay kids with: “i’d rather you were a murderer than sleep with another man”, “your sin is just like bestiality”, “you are a sinner and will burn in the fires of hell for all eternity until you repent and accept jesus as your savior and change your sinful ways”, “you are an abomination unto the sight of the lord”, to name a few…
    it was at this time that i began to think for myself and look beyond the trappings of the church that had dominated my life and my household. that free thinking and self confidence, as well as my ability to stand up for ME and WHO I WAS as a human being and not the sinful creature i was led to believe, ended up with me being thrown onto the streets as soon as i turned 18. for many years, i tried in vain to show these people (my ex-parents who adopted me as a baby) that i was a decent, loving man with strong values. none of that mattered. all they could see was my homosexuality. a few years ago, i was disowned (i am 47 now). i have no problem with this, as they made a choice to allow their fervor for god tear the fabric of their family apart. my chosen family now are dear friends who understand and accept me for who i am, with no judgments. i am a very successful man, and one who has achieved my success through hard work and dedication — not from a god who abandoned me. i am a believer in science (with a healthy mix of theoretical physics for a splash of fun). :)
    no matter what the religious wing-nuts say about your honesty and choice to raise your kids without god, i applaud you. you will have stronger, healthier, and wiser children who will have the capacity to THINK, resolve problems, and make sound decisions for their future. they will be responsible thinkers, too, and i long for more children like yours to lead our nation into the bext generation.

    sincerely, trey

    • @Trey X. First, thank you for reaching out and sharing your story–and for the kind words. I was so moved by what you shared, and I really feel bad that you received that kind of treatment from people who were supposed to love and protect you. What a shame.

      I’m glad that you’ve found not every one is like your adoptive parents. Nothing I say will help or fix anything, but I do want you to know that there are many others out there who would accept you and welcome you…

  13. I loved the article on CNN. I agree.

  14. Not sure if you’ll get this or read this … I just read your article on CNN about raising kids without religion. Wow. If anyone had bothered to look inside my head and tried to encapsulate everything I had been thinking these last ten years, while raising my own three sons, you did just that, but about 10x more eloquently! The article perfectly summarized all my thoughts on religion, as it pertains to my children. My wife is Catholic (and I suppose, to some strange extent, I am too since I was raised Catholic, but it’s been many years since I’ve been practicing). But she understands how I feel, and I think she respects it as well–more than I can say for many others, including (sadly) several in my own family, especially my dad. I have long given up many of my, what seem to me now, childish beliefs. I especially loved how you connected God with Santa several times … I do that as well, albeit in my own head. But it was great to see someone else put into words, for all to see, what I’ve been thinking (and mumbling under my breath) for many years. My youngest son, seven years old, recently caught me sneaking into his room early one morning with a couple bucks in my hand, trying to carefully get the tooth out from under his pillow and shove the cash in its place. I had forgotten to do it at night, and was prodded by my wife to make the early morning attempt before he woke up. But he was already awake, and it was too dark for me to see his wide-open eyes, and as I went clumsily about my business, he said, “Dad, what are you doing with that money?”. Well, I sort of laughed (because it was funny) and was temporarily speechless. I either come up with a really elaborate lie right on the spot, to cover the other lie, or just sit tight while he offers his own explanation. But before I had a chance to say something stupid, he said, “That’s okay. I stopped believing in the Tooth Fairy a while ago.” What a relief! We both had a good laugh, I handed him the money anyway and took his tooth, and told him to get a little more sleep before it was time to go to school. And as I walked away, I couldn’t help but think: how long will it be before he figures out the Santa Claus myth? And how long after that before he starts wondering about the God myth, if he ever does at all? As you said, the two are so closely connected that one must’ve been patterned after the other … they both watch us when we’re sleeping and awake; they both expect good behavior “or else”; they both demand that we believe and communicate with them (prayers, notes, etc.); neither one ever communicates back, except with “assistance” from others; both live in remote, mythical places that are inaccessible to mere mortals; both are surrounded by legions of helpers who assist them constantly; both have elaborate stories that were told to us as kids, complete with songs and special times of year … kinda scary. Yet, we’re perfectly content with shrugging off the Santa myth as a right of passage into adulthood, and loss of innocence, and yet we somehow justify retaining the God myth, remaining intentionally blind to the strange parallel of the two.

    I wonder how long it will take all three of my sons to grow out of Santa Claus; I know it won’t be long. And I also wonder when, if ever, we as a species will ever outgrow the God myth and move beyond our childish fear and simplistic notion of fate, and stop teaching our children the same ridiculous stories that we were taught. Believing in Santa is harmless, because it’s temporary. But religion and God is a different. matter.

    • @Kyle. Yes, I got your comment and read it all. I figure if people are going to the effort and time of commenting, then I should take the time and effort to hear them….I loved your story about your son and the tooth fairy. And–as to your comment about how long it will take before we outgrow the God myth….I really think we’re in the midst of that, especially after seeing the enormous response here.

      • Well, since MLK day is coming up quite soon, I was reminded of one of the quotes I like by him the best … “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” So, are we “in the midst” as you say of shedding our “God Delusion” (one of the books that pretty much transformed my adulthood)–or, being so close to the proverbial trees, is it too hard to tell? I really hope that you’re right, and indeed that arc is bending, if only ever so slightly. And, I hope my kids will grow up in just a LITTLE bit more of a secular and less fanatic and close-minded world than I did. I hope. But articles like yours, and the responses you’ve gotten, give me hope. (Strange, but my mom would find that such an ironic comment! And I would find her bewilderment equally ironic …. and so it goes.)

  15. Was very nice to read your piece on CNN this morning. I host an annual Secular Parenting Forum, a day-long conference on Long Island, for parents, educators, and other freethinkers who are interested in raising happy, healthy, independent kids. Perhaps one day we’ll have you as a speaker! Also, I will link to your blog on mine. Hope that’s okay. Cheers!

    • Hi Amy Kelly! That’s perfectly fine! I will check out your blog, too, and if anyone is in the Long Island area, contact Amy about her Secular Parenting Forum….That’s cool! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

  16. I support you 1000% and look forward to following your posts. I grew up in a very religious household … and I vowed never to raise my own children that way. I teach them the values of humanity, not those based on edited documents written almost 2000 years ago. Thank for for unapologetically standing up. If everyone opened their eyes about religion we would all be able to co-exist peacefully.

    • @Anonymous…so you know which “anonymous” you are. Thanks for this comment, “I support you 1000% and look forward to following your posts. I grew up in a very religious household … and I vowed never to raise my own children that way. I teach them the values of humanity, not those based on edited documents written almost 2000 years ago. Thank for for unapologetically standing up. If everyone opened their eyes about religion we would all be able to co-exist peacefully.”

      I’m glad we found so many others who think like us.

  17. Finally I get to read something from a real person that has the same views as I!! Living in the “Bible Belt”, it’s hard to not be religious. It’s shoved in my face weekly. “Do you want to go to church?” or “Why don’t you go to church?”
    It’s my choice in who or what I believe. I don’t need to drive to a building to impress or show proof of my beliefs.
    I am also raising my children without God. I want them to form their own opinion when they get older: not have them growing up with it being shoveled down their throats.
    I raise them with show respect, to be accountable for their actions, to be responsible, and to always take care of home first. I’m responsible for them, not a bible and a God.

    • @Anonymous.

      I raise them with show respect, to be accountable for their actions, to be responsible, and to always take care of home first. I’m responsible for them, not a bible and a God.

      Of course, you know, I think how you are raising your children is admirable…It takes a lot of work to take on this challenge ourselves, but it is so worth it. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  18. I am a mother of an 18 month old boy and an agnostic. I have been wrestling with the idea of telling my son about God solely to teach moral issues because I apparantly thought that it was the only way. After reading “Why I Raise My Children Without God” on cnn.com, I am happy to say that I now hope and a positive example to follow so I raise him properly and with good, moral values without making about God. Thank you!

    • @Sara, mom of an 18 month old. Thanks, I’m moved that you would reconsider after reading that piece. I know his morals will be just as strong. I can tell you that my experience with raising my kids has been very positive, not perfect, but definitely worth the extra time, thought and effort….

  19. Matt F. Missouri

    I read your iReport on CNN.com just now. I agree 100% with each point you made. I was Catholic from the age of about 13 until about 19. Towards the end I began to open my eyes to the world. I began to learn of so many people’s pain and suffering. Nobody could ever justify to me “God’s” purpose for a person who rapes a person. Or murders them. Or a child molester. Etc etc. A “one and only” “God” who is powerful enough to create the universe would never have a purpose for a rapist, murder, or child molester. Life is indeed what you make of it.

    • @Matt F. Missouri–Thanks for taking the time to comment. I went through a simliar process-I, toom was raised Catholic until my mid-teens, and I went through a similar enlightenment….

  20. Thank you Txblue08 for your courageous comments. I truly identify with your story.

    I was baptised as a Catholic from birth and went to church as a matter of family ritual. When my daughter was born, I too baptised her, more as an obligatory family tradition than from any personal conviction.

    The irony was that, to guide my daughter, I began to delve more into bible and a lot of what I read shocked me to the core. That was also the time that books by Richard Dawkins(”The God Delusion”)and Christopher Hitchens(”God is not great”)were published. The discomfiture and nagging questions I had were echoed with such clarity in those books. When I finally pulled my daughter out of the catechism class that I had foisted on her and also stopped attending mass, she asked me why it had taken me so long to ‘come to my senses’. She was 12 at the time.Turned out she had been attending catechism classes and mass out of family obligation all along, just as I had been brought up to perpetuate.

    We are now staunchly agnostic(me) and atheist(my daughter)and enjoying our freedom from the mental shackles that organised religion had wrought.

  21. You are right, there is a lot of hypocrisy within the church’s about the teaching of god. You are right, there is a lot of misguided though well intended Christians who try explaining the events in the world based upon their lack of knowledge about God and the bible. You say you want your kids to be free thinkers. I feel sorry for your kids. Being an agnostic, I am sure there is nothing here you want to hear or consider, but here it is anyway. 1 Corinthians 2:9 “No eyes have seen, no ear has hear, and no mind imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” The leaves on a branch, the blades of grass, the Grand Canyon and you think you are the almighty (same as if you don’t believe there is a God). Without God and his teachings there would be no good and evil, no bad, the means justify the ends, why worry about dying because there is nothing there is nothing out of this life. I pray your children will find their way despite you.

    • @Joel. Thanks for sharing. My children will be just fine, as will all the other adults and young people who don’t believe. Our views have nothing to with “lack of knowledge about the Bible,” although who really has knowledge of God? I hear. I consider. I can make up my own mind, as you have.

  22. I just read your post on cnn. You certainly have the right to believe and say what you want as well as raise your kids as you see fit. However, it is my experience that when someone fights against the things of God as you do then God is at work in your life. The Bible says that God is patient and slow to anger wanting ALL to come to repentance. He doesn’t want any to perish. If he was not working in you to bring you to that place I don’t think you would have all these thoughts and certainly not make the point to write it all down for the world to see.

    I think you misunderstand the Lord when you make all the “why does He allow all these bad things……” comments. We as parents want the best for our kids in every way but things still happen. They get hurt, make bad choices, etc. Of course, we are there for them when they come to us and need us. I think you will soon find that God is too.

    I’ll be praying for you.

    Todd

  23. I couldn’t agree more! Thank you for writing your blog (I just subscribed) and thank you for speaking out against the machine.

  24. You are awesome! Thank you for having the courage to make known how so many of us parents feel. Well done! Much love.

  25. Christos Konstas

    Reading your piece about God and children (http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-910282?hpt=hp_c4) and raising children, here are my thoughts…

    First is seems that “for over a year” you “lied to him” because you “made up stories” that you “didn’t believe about heaven”. Well, it’s a good thing you stopped “lying to him” and making up “stories”, but this points more to your – understandable – desire to give a comforting answer, preferably one that sounds ‘hopeful’ by making up “stories” yet lacking the background to do so, than to the issue of existence or non-existence of “heaven” itself.
    You will probably realise – if you make enquiries around – that people of faith differ from those who abide to socially accepted “beliefs” based on hearsay and/or commonly socially ‘accepted’ fairy tales of the ‘Santa Claus’ type.
    The people of faith get their “vision” of “heaven” from sources “holy books” like the Bible and, trustworthy these sources or not, at least they don’t have to “make up stories” but can honestly tell to their children whatever these holy books have to say about heaven. This way one first avoids making up ‘stories’. The “stories” are already “made up” for you – and you are free to believe, disbelieve and even attempt to verify them! Then one avoids ‘lying’ – it is one thing to say “in heaven all have wings” (?!) that’s a made up lie not even the bible says such a thing! – and another thing to say “the bible says there is a heaven” – that’s true because even if there is no heaven, the bible does say that there is one! Finally, one does not have to say things they don’t “believe about”. See? When people of faith tell stories to their children they don’t have to lie, they don’t make up stories and whatever they say it is something they believe in and it’s based on something as concrete as a book.

    So far, the only “inconsistent and illogical” legends are the “stories” you thought you had to “make up”. I suspect that if instead of making up stories about things you didn’t believe in you had made an effort to examine the sources of such stories it might have been a…well, a different story!

    But all that belongs to the past now, you did well to stop brainwashing him with “stuff” you were making up. And it is “only right to be honest” with our children.
    Yet, please note, this has nothing to God being an “inconsistent and illogical legend” – it has only to do with your personal notion and knowledge about God which does sound like a “inconsistent and illogical legend”. But it is only your own, personal legend.
    Which, it seems to me, you are kind of substituting for another – more “honest” true, as you happen to believe in it – yet “legend” nevertheless. The one about “creating the next generation of kids” – that does sound a bit ‘missionary’, doesn’t it? With hopes of a your ‘personal’ “heaven” (a lower national “religious fever”). Agnostics, atheists, free thinkers and humanists are not automatically and by definition all the same. Agnostics can be honest – if you don’t know, you don’t know, but is anything stopping you from learning? Then an “agnostic” can be… ahemm… less-than-honest if he or she baricates himself or herself behind “agnosticim” just to avoid the issue. Atheists? Are they by definition free thinkers or humanist? Unlikely. History shows that the most active and militant “atheists” of the 20th century were the ones abiding to ridgid dogmas like “marxism” – hardly “free” thinkers… Let alone that states which actively promote “atheism” today can hardly be called “humanist” (China, N. Korea etc.) Not that agnostics or atheists cannot be “free thinkers” of “humanists”, they can, if they choose to, but not by definition as you less-than-subtly suggest. It will be a personal choice just as faith can be a personal choice… a subjective personal choice like one makes in order to feel more “honest”.
    Then you follow with your “reasons” on why you are raising your children without God. They are good reasons. Reasonable. But again they point and have their origin to your understanding of what this “God” is (or might be) – a subjective understanding, not necessarily to God as is.

    • Hi Christos Konstas. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I don’t think my “subjective understanding” of God is any different from your “subjective understanding.” The very idea of God is subjective as are “holy books.”

  26. Extremely impressed with your logical and cognizant blog entry that was posted on CNN. Thouroughly agree and wish the line of thinking you espouse and to which I agree, were more prevalent. Keep up the good work.

  27. Just came across your ireport on CNN. It’s so refreshing to know that there are other Mother’s out there who feel the same way I do. I have a 3 year old son and I’ve been wondering how I am going to address the issue of religion with him. I look forward to going back and reading all your posts!

    • Thanks, Sarah B! I had no idea there were so many people like us, and it seems that there is a definite shift in the way people are perceiving religion and raising their children.

  28. Thank you for an amazing CNN iReport, I loved your article!

  29. Good morning,

    I am a mother just like you and a non believer. So far my daughter (she is 5) has not asked questions about “God”. I never thought about it and I never questioned myself about how to respond to her questions.Thanks for sharing. After reading your article on CNN, I believe I will be honest with her and tell her what I think.

    Dora

    • Hi Dora–Thank you for taking the time to comment. I didn’t realize there were so many parents in this same situation. It’s good to know…Good luck with your daughter.

  30. Thank you for addressing the issue of raising children without faith. I admire you for tackling this topic while living in Texas. I am an atheist high school teacher who used to live in Texas. I moved away before having a child because I couldn’t imagine raising a child in such a religiously charged atmosphere. In Texas I felt I needed to keep my beliefs to myself, especially teaching in the public schools. I did not want my own children to assume I was afraid to stand up for what I believed in. Bravo to you for speaking out for all of us who are out here. There are probably many more than we realize. I hope for your sake you live in Austin, not a more conservative outpost…

    • Hi Jennifer. Thanks so much for sharing. It’s interesting that you are a teacher, and I imagine it was difficult, especially in Texas, to keep quiet. I know religion is brought into the schools a lot, even into texts. I don’t live in Austin….I live in a much more conservative town. Hope you are enjoying life in your new home…

  31. Thank you for writing the article on cnn.com. It led me to your blog and after reading a few of your postings, I realized I had finally stumbled upon someone who felt the same way as I do about religion. I have always felt like the odd man out (well, woman).

  32. What a great article! I’ve already shared it with many of my friends who feel the same way. It’s a lonely existence as an Atheist or Agnostic in Charlotte, NC…so your perspective is very refreshing.

    • Hi ah59396—THanks for your comment! I lived in Charlotte for a few years. Beautiful city. I hope you find others like you, and maybe you can start some sort of group.

  33. I saw your ireport today on CNN. It’s good to know that I am not alone in my views on religion.

  34. I read your post on iReports about raising kids without God. I see and hear your frustration; it sounds to me that your frustration is with the church more than with God. Am I correct on this?

    • Hi Marko. No, that’s not correct. I don’t go to church or worship a god. It’s not that I am frustrated; I just don’t have a desire to believe in either. And I don’t feel frustration with the church, but I do get frustrated sometimes with its people!

  35. I loved your CNN article. I have no children of my own (yet, I’m 26), but my views align exactly with yours, and I would/will teach my children similar things. Like @Fai, i live in the Midwest, and have been surrounded by borderline religious extremists my entire life. I did not grow up in a “religous” household, though they all are believers except for myself. I’ve always been a skeptic, and through college and studying world religions, decided for myself that it’s impractical. I appreciate that I was given the freedom to make those decisions by my family. Too many of my friends (and ex-classmates), seem to have been brainwashed at a very early age. For every logical point i make supporting my argument, they snap back with something that if put in a vacuum, without preconceived notions of God, would not make sense to any sane, logical person. I’ve pretty much given up on this conversation, unless I want to rile up a little argument for my amusement, because i feel I’m just banging my head against the wall. Often, when asked about my beliefs, I’m hesitant to say “Atheist” due to the negative connotation that’s been placed there. Often i will say “non-beliver”, but i actually prefer “Evolutionist”, and if i’m in the mood to put people off I say “Realist”. So to wrap this up, I respect what you’re doing, both in regards to your children, and your desire to blog and express it publicly. Please continue fighting for what you believe (or don’t believe), and perhaps one day, reason and logic will reign, rather than fear and fire and brimstone. The world would be better for it. Thank you.

  36. Loved your essay on cnn. Thank you for sharing what so many of us believe/feel but won’t talk about. I have always felt pressured to teach my children about god even though that is not what I believe. I need to start being honest with my kids.

  37. Also just found your blog from CNN and you perfectly describe how I feel. I have a 6 year old and we live in a very religious community and I am constantly trying to answer “God” and “heaven” questions. I do enjoy playing Santa though b/c it makes Christmas so magical, so it’s a struggle to explain people believing in God w/o giving away the Santa bit :).

  38. I also found your blog via CNN’s iReport. I have only two words for you: SIMPLY INCREDIBLE. You were able to articulate succinctly and clearly what I have been asking myself and others for years now. For me, “faith” has been something that I’ve struggled with for nearly my entire life. It’s a shame that your post on CNN has been flagged as inappropriate. Posts such as yours should ideally be able to allow people to engage in a civil discourse because this is a REALLY IMPORTANT TOPIC in this day and age. It’s really sad that people feel they have to hide their feelings o this subject — it’s just another form of religious persecution, in my opinion. I don’t have any children of my own yet, and this is one of the things I often wondered how I would approach them with in the future. Keep up the good (and interesting!) work. I’m going to follow your blog today!

  39. I, too, just read your iReport on CNN and wanted to applaud you. It was so refreshing to read such a well-written article conveying so many of my thoughts as a mom raising two little ones without religion. My husband and I were brought up Catholic, but we don’t consider ourselves Catholic and haven’t been to church in years. We decided that we wanted to allow our children to choose their religion (if any) when they were old enough to make that decision for themselves. Luckily, our families have been very respectful of our decision. Our kids are both younger than 3, so the questions haven’t started coming yet, but we’ve often wondered about how we will handle those questions in the future. Anyway, thank you!

  40. I too ran across your blog today. There was a post on Reddit urging people to go to CNN and vote your essay as appropriate since it was for some reason flagged as inappropriate. The CNN link then led me here and I would like to thank you for this blog. As an atheist I am 100% against the religious brainwashing of our children and view it as a serious concern, especially here in the U.S. Also, as an expecting father of our first child I’ve really been trying to think of approaches on many of the subjects I’m sure our child will be asking about. I look forward to your future posts and will most likely spend a good chunk of my day today reading through your past posts!

    • Thanks for your comment, Screaming Kangaroo (love that!). Good luck with your first child! I know that people kept flagging the content to show CNN their disapproval…

  41. Hello!! I found your blog through Richard Dawkins’ twitter. I am so glad I can read about this somewhere! Living in Mexico, this is a very delicate issue, as religion and believing in the existence of a god (not to mention the virgin Mary) is almost mandatory. I have two girls (8 and 6) to which I want to tell them what I think/believe some day: That there is no god and our actions and consequenses are not ruled by a supreme being. Although they will always have the freedom to think/believe what they want…I want to give them enough information so that they can make a smart decision. The question is: when should I tell them? My wife is very spiritual and having problems with detaching herself from the ever-protective god she was taught to lean on…so it’s a double challenge. Anyway, I’m glad I found your blog. I’m sure it will give the tools to someday brake it to my daughters in the best way…

    • @Antonio- Thanks for commenting. I really let my kids “drive” when it came to religion. My younger son started at a very young age asking questions. There were a lot of questions I had to answer with, “I don’t know. No one knows.” My older son didn’t ask until much later–7 or 8. I didn’t push my views on them, and I tried to ask them a lot of questions to get them thinking…For example, does this part of the Bible make sense, etc.

  42. Just read your iReport at CNN and thought it was awesome! I’ll be following you here from now on. :)

  43. I’m sure you have received lots of horrible comments. For that I apologize. People tend to get carried away in their passion, and sometimes wind up reflecting the very behavior they are preaching against.

    I wanted to present to you a calm, and complete, response to your blog. Even though I knew I would disagree with your post, I found that you and God have a lot in common.

    1) God is a bad parent and role model.

    How many times have your kids disobeyed you? How many times have they lied, or done something blatantly wrong? All kids have, all of us have. How come you didn’t stop them? People have seen your kids do imperfect things, maybe they were wondering, “If she is such a good mom, how come she didn’t keep her kid from throwing that temper tantrum?”

    The bigger picture is this though. You KNOW that letting your kids grow up and leave the house will mean they will make mistakes, they will fall, they will deal with hard times. You know this because you have dealt with hard times. Are you going to keep your kids safe? Are you going to keep them from leaving the house, or will you knowingly allow your kids to go out in the world and fail on their own? What kind of parent send their kids into hardship, failure, and life… a loving one. You know if you kept your kids in a safe little box where nothing happened to them, and locked them in their room forever, it would be bad. You send them in the world. You always offer advice and help, but they are on their own and you allow them to be that way…even if it means they learn the hard way sometimes.

    Sounds like you would be following God’s example of parenthood. Even though you love your kids to death, you know they are going to face hard times, so you try to prepare them for that as much as you can, and it hurts you when you see it, but you still let them go.

    People often scoff at “free will”. If you were a slave to God, even if nothing bad happened to you because of it, people would scoff that they didn’t have choice. So what is the answer to this? You want to make your own decisions, and thus consequences, and live in a world full of other people doing the same, you want to be free…but you don’t? You want to not have a choice? Be forced to serve this God you don’t like? What’s the answer to this?

    2) Maybe you are talking to the wrong people. NO ONE knows why tragedys like Newton happen. Take God out of the picture…it still doesn’t make sense. Period.

    If you believe in God, those children are no longer facing pain and suffering in this life and have endless joy. If you don’t. They are in the ground, dead. It’s a horrible thing, it really is. People do bad things because we live in a broken world. If you want a perfect world, then you forfeit all your rights and choices. You have no choice BUT to believe in God. Is this what you want? Forced love is not love at all. Just like you don’t FORCE your kids to love you, why would you want to serve a God that enslaved you? Free will can produce some horrible consequences, but you give it to your kids, so again you have something in common with God.

    You say only we have the ability to be logical…. Our logic is limited and broken however. How many times have you and the wrong choice, or a mistake. How long did we go thinking the earth was square? How often do we discover something new scientific that changes our previous knowledge. Logic is only based on what our limited knowledge is. So, if you think we can solve our future problems, only with the knowledge from the past and that is our only resource…. your logic is flawed.

    3) Fair? What is fair?

    What is fair? You have a roof over your head, food, children, heat, electricity. Millions don’t. Is that fair? You change that for someone else, but all of us don’t make a big enough effort. Is that fair? If you want life to be fair, then give up your privileged life, because there are millions looking at your life and saying “it’s not fair she has clean drinking water and I don’t”.

    Maybe God’s definition of fair is different than ours. Maybe that child born with a birth defect is still created equal, maybe it’s about more than just the physical. I’m shorter and fatter than I would like, does that mean I am not equal? Primitive thinking to be honest.

    So again, you treat your children based on what you think is fair, and others may disagree. You have something in common with God.

    Plus, don’t forget, Jesus was a good man beaten senseless on the street. He died to cover your mistakes. Is that fair?

    4) Safety

    You say that as a society we stand up and speak out. We also kill entire races in genocide, we shoot children in elementary schools, we bomb buildings, we start wars. Those who speak out, and those who kill are all part of the same society, same world. Every single day we stand by while civil wars rage on in Africa and millions die. Millions die of hunger. Millions die of thirst. Entire races of people have been murdered. Kids have been shot in schools. Why didn’t we stop this? Why didn’t I get off my couch and help ONE SINGLE PERSON from being raped in murdered in a distant village? What is so great about us?

    I don’t understand everything, neither do you, no one does. So let’s not pretend to.

    5) Narcissism.

    Really? God? This question is one in particular that makes me wonder if you are well versed in the subject you are discussing (I’m not being rude, I’m being serious).

    God teaches us to not focus on us. To be selfless. To love others as much as ourselves (we are a pretty self loving society). He showed us an example and he sent his own kid to die for you, for me, for that Newton gunman. Would you send your son into harm and humiliation for someone that is evil? I know I wouldn’t. How is ANY of this teaching us to be a narcissist? The Bible is abundantly clear about our lives not being about “us”. It’s kind of the whole point of the book.

    6) You want your kids to be free.

    What if your kid WANTED to believe in God? Even if it didn’t make sense to your logical self? What if he WANTED to go to church? What if he choose to believe this way. Sounds like you aren’t offering him unbiased freedom, as much as separation from religion. I’m not trying to be judgey, maybe I am wrong. It sounds like your kids will pick up a sense of independence from freedom, when one day they might want the opposite. Are you as open minded to accept that as well?

    7) The UN-disputable, UN-arguable point.

    This is something no one can despite, argue, or prove wrong.

    The world started/was created/came from some where. Whether you believe in science, or Creation. You have faith. Trace it back by asking yourself the question, “Where did that come from, and then where did that come from?” Eventually we both reach a point where we just don’t know. A point where we have to believe. You have tremendous faith that God didn’t do it, I have the other faith.

    You are a strong women of faith. You just believe in your own religion. You haven’t freed yourself from religion, you have just choose what you believe. You are teaching your kids that their mother chooses to believe * insert beliefs here*. You are still showing them your views on religion, you are still having an opinion, it’s just a biased one. You aren’t having the view of, “maybe God does exist, maybe he doesn’t.” You are certain in your ways… just as a Christian is.

    I don’t have all the answers. You could ask me a million question I couldn’t answer, you would win an argument. I could do the same. I could ask you to PROVE TO ME THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST WITHOUT ANY DOUBT LEFT. You couldn’t. None of us fully understand. If we were in a debate, I could ask you questions and make you doubt, you could ask me questions and make me doubt. There is no winning. Just one remaining fact… one of us is wrong, how do you know 100% based off only your brain (which we don’t understand fully how even that works) that you are correct.

    Just some thoughts. I will not respond or start a debate, I’m not trying to argue. Just sharing some thoughts. E-mail me back to respond. I won’t be checking for more comments here because I’m sure there will be many.

  44. I commend you for the courage you showed in posting your iReport on CNN.com and for raising your kids to think for themselves. No matter what one believes, those beliefs should always be open to review and to change as one gains more experience, knowledge, and evidence. I applaud you.

    Do you, by chance, follow The Non Prophets or Atheist Experience out of Austin? I’m on the east coast but recently discovered those shows. Fantastic shows, both.

    • @ScottRVA

      Do you, by chance, follow The Non Prophets or Atheist Experience out of Austin?

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. No, I’m not familiar with those shows. I don’t watch much TV. What channel are they on, and I’ll see if I can find them.

  45. What a surprise to see on the CNN website a posting about an atheist parent—it made my day! “God is not a good parent or role model.” I just read that to my 14-year-old girl and she replied, “Fact.”

    I can’t wait to catch up with your other posts. Thanks so much.

  46. Hi there,

    I read your CNN article. It was not clear to me but I was wondering if your comments and positions are based on your impressions from reading the Bible and some study? That would lend some weight to your thoughts.

    • Hi Brian–Yes, I’ve read the Bible and taken many history of religion courses. I’ve come to this position after many years of thought and introspection. Unfortunately, too many people dismiss atheists and agnostics because they don’t understand that we do not believe the Bible (or any other religious text) to be divinely inspired.

  47. I want to thank for having the courage to write such an honest point of view. I am raising a son in the Midwest as well and I just want him to have a choice, as the right of every citizen. Thank you again for blogging.

  48. I’m an evangelical pastor. I appreciate your post on CNN. While I clearly don’t agree with it, I found it a honest and fair approach of how you see life. Well done.

  49. I also just found your blog today! I could relate to everything you said. I have 3 kids and half always felt the same about religion. I feel strongly about being honest with children. In fact, I never told them about Santa. I played along with them and let them believe what they wanted based on what they heard from their peers, but I didn’t want to even lie about that! They are all good kids with good hearts and morals. One of my kids was actually bullied on his school bus by a boy that knew our family and knew we weren’t churchgoers and we are “atheists” even though I had never used that word to describe us. It broke my heart but at the same time, I got in touch with the principal right away and told him that this was not acceptable, that it is no one else’s business whether or not we go to church and it does not make my son a bad kid! He did take immediate action. I just wish our society was more accepting towards those of us who have decided to make our own decisions. My hope is that someday, this will be a reality, especially for my kids’ sake! Keep doing what you are doing!

    • Thank you, Gina, for sharing your story about raising kids and for taking the time to comment. I’m glad to hear the principal did take immediate action. That’s a relief!

  50. I too found the blog through CNN. I am a committed Christian, raising four children. I know that while we disagree spiritually, I suspect we would find agreement on many other fronts. This battle between Christianity and atheists and agnostics is interesting to me. I’m not here to convince you that I’m right and you’re wrong. I think we both know we are each convinced in our own hearts.

    I guess what I really find discouraging in the blog is that I suspect that you were exposed to Christianity at some point and whoever was leading there was not equipped or ready to provide reasonable, logical, and grounded answers to your questions. As I read your objections, I saw a failure of Christians to be rooted in their faith, at least those you’ve been exposed to. That makes me sad, and it’s all too common.

    The other piece that struck me was the comment that we should keep our Christianity in our homes, like our toothbrush. By faith, you attest that there is no God. By faith, I attest that there is, and He is the God of the bible. You are asking me to leave my faith at home, yet allow you the freedom to take your faith into the public square. In essence you say to me, YOU be uncomfortable and suppress your faith, allow me to be comfortable and express my atheism. That is an inconsistent stance.

    If what you are promoting is an equal tolerance, shouldn’t I be allowed to practice, express, and respectfully worship my God in the public square as much as you are asking me to embrace and allow you to abstain (practicing your faith that God does not exist?)

    Thanks for hearing my perspective.

    • @Marie Gourley. Thank you for your respectful disagreement and for taking the time to comment. I totally think you should be allowed to bring your god into the public square–in your mind and heart. As I would not speak up in the public square and bash your faith, you should not bash my lack of faith. You said:

      You are asking me to leave my faith at home, yet allow you the freedom to take your faith into the public square. In essence you say to me, YOU be uncomfortable and suppress your faith, allow me to be comfortable and express my atheism. That is an inconsistent stance.

      You don’t “allow” me the freedom to take my faith into the public square. Some of us have NO faith. We don’t want it. So I can’t take what I don’t have, and you can take yours, but please keep it inside you where it belongs.

  51. I read your article on CNN today. Thank you. I am always happily surprised to read such articles in a country where most people are afraid to admit they don’t believe (ironic, I know). I grew up in a totalitarian regime behind the iron curtain, which taught me first hand the dangers of believing that is instilled in unsuspecting children. I keep telling my children about the difference between believing and knowing (or not knowing) an answer. I think one of the most important life skills is to know the difference between the two. I tell them it is okay to believe (I would not mind if they chose a religion later in life), as long as they are aware that the believe, and don’t know. Believing, especially if mistaken for knowing, takes away the need to look for more facts and answers, or ask new questions. Believing makes one dependent on other people and their opinions and agendas. Believing can take away responsibility for your own actions. I don’t want that for my children. I want them to use their brains and make their own decisions rather than relying on decisions suggested to them by others. For all the big and little questions in life I think they will be better off that way.

    • @rd Thanks for your insightful comments. I love this:

      Believing, especially if mistaken for knowing, takes away the need to look for more facts and answers, or ask new questions. Believing makes one dependent on other people and their opinions and agendas. Believing can take away responsibility for your own actions.

  52. I, too, found this website from the CNN iReport, which I wholeheartedly agree with! We, too, are raising our daughter without religion. It was a tough sell for my husband’s mother, who had no idea he was atheist too before I came along (oops!). Keep doing what you’re doing, because the more we get our voice out there, the more courage we can give others to come out with their own beliefs and no feel judged and discriminated against!

    • Hi Stephanie! THanks for the encouragement and for taking the time to comment. That must have been a big surprise to your mother-in-law–not only will her grand-daughter be raised without god, but her son was atheist, too!!

  53. Deborah, are you at all interested in or willing to have a discussion about your blog post on CNN iReport? You certainly raise valid concerns, but none that can’t be and haven’t been addressed by Christians. I would love to take the time to discuss with you on a level deeper than just comments on a post the ideas you shared. Please let me know if that would be possible!

    • Hi Elena. I would have commented on the CNN iReport, but there was just too many, and I didn’t have time to read through everything. There were much fewer comments here, and I don’t mind discussing any of the concerns/issues you have here. Of course, what I said is nothing new–there have been doubters for thousands of years.

  54. You surely picked a hard road to go posting on CNN, I of course commented and agree with you. But, (and there always is a Butt), sometimes telling it like it is, makes it hard for you. Wishing you the best.

  55. Hi! I found your blog today on cnn. I am married and a mother of three wonderful children and I am a “churchgoer” … I was honestly interested in following you … and not so I can randomly comment and “God” talk you LOL but because, you, just like me, are trying to raise well rounded, well informed, logical, free thinking, free-spirited children.

    I do, try my best to raise my children in the ways of God … I teach them all those great bible stories, all the wonderful parables, but I also allow them to form their own opinions, I do as well let them know that we as believers are not to be brainwashed and we are required to work for things we want and sometimes God does not give us what “we” think we need at all times … and sometimes we might not have all prayers anwered when and how we want them but I teach them this all apart of life…. lol you win some and lose some. .. and honestly I do not make them go to church every sunday I leave it up to them and they make up their own mind to go to worship.

    I will admit at first I was a bit taken away by the post on cnn then I stopped and thought that my relationship with God is strong enough and solid enough that I can read this all the way through and still be able to value your stance and opinion as well as you as a person!

    So with all that being said, Kudos (does anyone still say that?) to you and yours!! <3

    • @strader612

      I will admit at first I was a bit taken away by the post on cnn then I stopped and thought that my relationship with God is strong enough and solid enough that I can read this all the way through and still be able to value your stance and opinion as well as you as a person!

      Thanks so much for your tolerance. That’s all I was asking for. I know that raising kids is difficult, and we, as parents, are all just trying our best. Peace.

  56. Thanks for your thoughts in the iReport. Your report should give every believer a chance to step back and find authenticity in his or her faith. I appreciate you and your dedication to your children.

  57. I just read your CNN article and I want to whole-heartedly thank you. You put everything I want to say in a succinct, easy to understand way. I could never have said it so eloquently :) I am glad to know there are other Texans with the same views as me :)

  58. I just found your blog today, perhaps because Nate linked to it.

    I raised my children without religion. There’s nothing to it. It was easy and natural. I never taught them that religion was wrong. We just went about our ordinary lives, paying little or no attention to religion.

    For that matter, we never taught our children to be environmentalists, but they are. I think they could see what was important to their parents, and they just picked it up naturally.

    We never had to teach them to be independent thinkers. That came naturally. When they asked questions, we tried to discuss the issues with them. We never told them to stop asking questions. I’m pretty sure that questioning and skepticism is very natural, if not supressed.

    • Yes, Neil Rickert. I agree….And I also find it easy and natural. I think people don’t understand that. I spend a lot of time just hanging out and talking with my kids. We did spend time when they were younger exploring other religions, but now we talk a lot about history, evolution, science and politics. We talk about religion as it comes out. We’re not out to bash anyone…Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  59. I am a non theist, raised by nontheists from Hindu families. My mother and father both abandoned religion as little children because it made no sense to them. They raised us without god, and I’ve done the same with mine. It is very possible to raise kind, connected empathic children without god.

    I do wholeheartedly advise people with kids to consider raising their children with cats, dogs, etc – because those connections are incredibly fulfilling.

    And I’ve found that watching shows like ‘Avatar, the last airbender’, Buffy, Deep space nine, etc allow you to talk about emotional growth and strength in the face of adversity. Stories can teach, but I prefer the stories where people aren’t trying to convince me that the make believe characters are real.

    • @Leela. Thanks for your comments. Also, I agree with you here:

      I do wholeheartedly advise people with kids to consider raising their children with cats, dogs, etc – because those connections are incredibly fulfilling.

  60. I’d like to invite you to an online FB community of freethinking, atheist, agnostic, secular humanists. If interested, send me a message!

  61. Found you today through CNN — Thank you for sharing your views — so many of which mirror the way I have been raising my kids. I was brought up irish/italian Catholic and often feel like I can not speak openly as you have here. Can’t wait to read more

    • @Marie R Thanks for taking the time to write. It’s interesting how many former Catholics who have reached out. I was raised by a Catholic mother. I think, of all the religions, the Catholics don’t push religion as much as other faiths….But they focus on the golden rules and being decent people.

  62. Sorry, a community of freethinking, atheist, agnostic, secular humanitarian MOTHERS. I left out the most important part!

  63. Hi! I’m sure I’m yet another who found you through CNN. I loved your essay so very much, and it is exactly the way I raise my children. We are from the deep south of Louisiana, so I can relate on being an outcast in your area. I think it’s so wonderful that you put yourself out there. I tend to do that as well and I’ve got ya back! :-) Hoping all is well your way!!

    http://thespookydomesticgoddess.blogspot.com

  64. So happy to have found your blog! I’m a mom and an atheist in a community where saying the word ‘atheist’ would probably cause some pearl-clutching. Religion is pervasive here and people expect you to pray with them and talk about god with them – there’s no escape! I don’t enjoy feeling like I have to listen to others drone on about their beliefs but I have to keep my mouth shut or risk being shunned. Its difficult because I don’t have much community of my own and so I’m not always confident in expressing who I am and how I think.Thank you for showing me that I’m not alone.

    • @Michelle. Yes, I know what you mean here:

      I don’t enjoy feeling like I have to listen to others drone on about their beliefs but I have to keep my mouth shut or risk being shunned.

      Thanks for taking the time to write.

  65. I’m glad to know that most of the responses have been positive. As a Christian I actually came to this site with the intention of apologizing in advance for peers who tend to get overly frightened when their absolutes are assailed. Yes we have allowed a very underdeveloped and really humanistic concept to overwrite something whose mystery still makes us uncomfortable. And for the consumer world of modern churches, just loving God for love’s sake doesn’t sell well. Thus we have presented packages of promises as “God” that ultimately don’t match reality. So for that and for the 1% of not-so-positive responses – my apologies.

    • Hi Joe Hill, No apologies necessary. I understand their anger comes mainly from fear. But kindness is truly appreciated. It takes a lot to step up and say that although you believe, the system is flawed. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  66. I also found your blog through CNN. I am a writer working on a collection of essays that, among other things, cover the topic of raising my kids without religious dogma. Thank you for your voice. It helps to not feel so marginalized and silenced.

    Feel free to check out my blog if you like. It’s more random thoughts about ADD than atheism, but here’s the link: http://addledmother.blogspot.com.

  67. I am so glad to have found another mom raising her kids without religion! I live in Ireland and while many people I know here are not devoutly Catholic, most of them play along and almost all were shocked that my twins did not make their communion last year. They were the only ones in their class who did not participate. I often feel isolated and wish I could be more open about my atheism. Thank you for the writing you are doing here, I’ll be following!

  68. WordPress ate my comment and the baby needs me now. To summarize the words lost to the ether: glad I found you! Look forward to reading more later, when baby maybe sleeping!

  69. I’d like to say, “Bravo!” because I agree with your conclusions, although not your reasoning in getting there. I was brought up by a mother with very strong spiritual, yet non-traditional, beliefs. Her beliefs led her to feel it’s best not to indoctrinate children into any particular religion or teaching until they’re old enough to grasp the underlying concepts on their own. So we attended a Unitarian Universalist Church most of my childhood, which is about as non-religious as you can get. Sure, these questions come up, and the usual reply I got was, “some day you’ll be able to understand that stuff better”. My mom simply didn’t even pretend to have the answers. Listening and observing friends and others helped because everybody seemed to have a different story, so I probably felt grateful that I had no particular beliefs to confuse with all of these other viewpoints.

    I eventually began seeking out my own answers and was drawn in one particular direction. At that point I could start having semi-intelligent conversations with my mom about this stuff, and began to grasp the depth of understanding she appeared to have, although she’s long gone now and I feel I’m still learning.

    I’ve found that people who’ve been brought up with one strong religious belief since early childhood have an incredibly difficult time dealing with other belief systems. They also are often confused about what they’ve been taught, asking many of the same questions posed here, yet finding no better answers in their own teachings.

    I like the approach my mom took because it was consistent with so many other things I was told as a child — that I’ll understand better when I get older. A child’s mind is simply not sufficiently developed to grasp metaphysical concepts, so why even try explaining them?

    I regularly meet people in their 40′s, 50′s, and even 60′s who are only just beginning to shed the dogma they were taught as kids and begin to open their minds to alternative viewpoints. They may not be finding answers, per se, to their questions, but they’re able to begin releasing their self-imposed shame over the confusion they’ve been dealing with for decades, literally.

    I believe we all have to seek out our own answers. There is no “absolute right way”, much as most religions teach. If there were, we wouldn’t have ten thousand different religions in the world — people would have naturally gravitated to one particular belief system by now (without having it force-fed to them since childhood).

    So just tell your kids, “I don’t have the answers to those kinds of questions yet. As you get older, you’ll find your own answers, and they may or may not agree with anybody else’s. But be aware that it may take a long time to find answers that are satisfactory to you.”

    As a parent, I think that’s the safest and most honest thing you can possibly say.

  70. Great article on CNN. This is the sort of direct, honest, and polite statement of opinions that Atheist need to make. My wife and I hold the same views (in Texas too) and support this mindset of raising our child in the same way. Keep your voice heard!

    • @Erik Rainey Thank you for taking the time to comment. I had no idea there were so many people in Texas with these views. I definitely feel better about that.

  71. I am so happy I stumbled upon the cnn article today! I have a 1 year old, and my husband and I are always having a conversation on religion and how we will approach it with our sweet girl. I couldn’t have put my thoughts together better! So many things you said are so true to how I feel. Thank you so much for this blog! I can’t wait to dive in and read more! :)

  72. Hello. I found your blog through the CNN ireport. I was wondering if you are familiar with Neale Donald Walsch and his “Conversations with God” series of books. They literally changed my life! I’ve never been a religious person. I grew up in the Soviet Union, where organized religions were pretty much forbidden. And even when I came to the west over 20 years ago I did not like what I saw when I finally encountered organized religion (it was Judaism, but it doesn’t matter). But still over the years, I was yearning for answers. Until, at a difficult time in my life, someone turned me onto “Conversations with God”. When I was reading the first book, I felt a kind of revelation. THIS is what I had been searching for all my life. The explanations that made sense, even if some of them were shocking at first. Walsch’s books helped me understand that all organized religions are wrong about pretty much everything. That God loves everyone, that there is no such thing as sin or hell, that God talks to everyone one of us, but the question is not who hears, but who listens. Voice of God does not necessarily means an actual voice booming from the sky above. It could be a song you hear on the radio or a phrase from a person you talk to. God does not punish anyone, or else why do we have free will, right? All the problems in the world: poverty, wars, natural disasters, hate; are not from God, but from all of us living in this reality. Our thoughts and emotions create these events, good or bad (which are also relative terms). In fact, these books did not let me understand all of this, they just helped me to confirm what I felt all my life.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is give these books a try, at least the very first one. You may find some answers you are looking for and religions fail to provide for us.

    Good luck and all the best to you!

  73. I just saw your article on CNN. Thank you! I am a mother of two teenagers and live in TX also. I agree with everything in your article! I’m sitting here wondering if I should post it to Facebook, because even my “liking” of posts by pages such as The Thinking Atheist has caused some neighbors and friends to pull away from me. (Yet, of course, they can keep on promoting their beliefs!) I look forward to hearing more and, like Fai, would love to help contribute to the dialogue!

    • @ Boadicea Thanks so much for sharing. I would LOVE for you and others to contribute to the dialogue. Yes…I know what you mean about posting things to FB. That’s why you won’t see what I wrote on my page. Kind of sad, huh? Yet, as you said,

      (Yet, of course, they can keep on promoting their beliefs!)

  74. Well done. Thank you for writing such an eloquent, and article on this topic. I feel as though mo

  75. Thank you for writing such an eloquent, and interesting article on this topic. I feel as though your words are exactly what I feel, and practice in my family. Like-minded people need to “come out” more often to show our religiously-inclined friends that a person (if they choose to) can lead a morally decent life without “fear of God”. Well done!

  76. Just read your iReport. Awesome. You rock!

  77. I enjoyed your courage within the ireport and am glad/surprised that CNN vetted your story. I raised all of my children to be “free thinkers” and I think that exposure of knowledge to our youth will steadily lead to the decline in religion. It’s not as easy to pull the wool over their eyes as it was a century ago. Our kids are smart and they understand the sheep mentality that religion requests among the faithful.

    The one unfortunate thing about non-believers is that a lot of them can be arrogant. I have taught my children to swallow their pride and not point out to the believers that they are on the wrong path. In fact, some people need god. They have been programed to use god so that they can be happy. If it works for them, so be it.

    • @Mike Thanks for commenting. Yes, both sides can be arrogant. I have told my boys this, too, and that they should keep silent and respect others beliefs. But I also had to teach them when to speak up. For example, when a kid kept asking my son to join his youth group. I really hope that I was not arrogant in what I wrote for the iReport piece. I just felt passionate about the topic. I agree with you here:

      The one unfortunate thing about non-believers is that a lot of them can be arrogant. I have taught my children to swallow their pride and not point out to the believers that they are on the wrong path. In fact, some people need god. They have been programed to use god so that they can be happy. If it works for them, so be it.

  78. I believe in God the creator and the bible as God’s word, however I do not believe that the religion we see today is of God. The first point that I would make is in response to your comments about telling your children about heaven. The concept of man going to heaven is not biblical and a simple and open minded reading of the last two chapters of the bible would clear this up. I will not touch the details because it is to simple a matter. The second matter I would comment on is the creation. The creation, from the universe with the orchestration of the movement of the stars and planets and the times and seasons, to the smallest creature is to marvelous, not to mention the well balance and function of human body. The misconception of the biblical account of creation is being 6 to 7 thousand years ago is ridiculous. A careful reading of Genesis 1:1-2 with the help of the proper authoritative translation will show that this passage refers first to creation, second to a catastrophic event in the earths history followed by a recovery of the earth. The earth is clearly millions or possibly billions of years old. It is clear that the human life on earth is a suffering life weather you have money, power or are in poverty. I believe that the key is to know the desire of God in creation, the goal, the end game. Also, I believe that we need to know the source of the suffering the condition of mans inner being, to the fall of man and the source of the fall. Also what is the fall of man, what caused man to now have a corrupted inner being. The answers are clearly available and I would say, in openness to ask God for the answers to this matter and I think this is a prayer that will be answered. This is just my view for discussion sake and not meant to impose on or oppose others views, which I respect.

    • @Anonymous who wrote this:

      This is just my view for discussion sake and not meant to impose on or oppose others views, which I respect.

      Thank you for respectful comment and for sharing your views. I, too, respect your right to believe in God as the creator and the bible as God’s word. Feel free to comment any time.

  79. Thank you! I am so glad to have discovered your blog! Keep up the good work!

  80. Marinus Mellaart

    I admire your conviction! I respect your opinion since it mirrors mine – but I don’t want this to become a new religion! LOL! Keep up the great work!

  81. I loved your ireport on CNN. I was raised Catholic and confirmed Catholic (against my will). I am 33 years old and can’t remember the last time I went to mass or a church service unless it was for a wedding or funeral. I am unsure about what I believe and consider myself Agnostic at this point. I know I do not believe in prayer and find it disgusting that people pray over selfish things such as finding money or the outcome of a sporting event. I have two young boys and do not want to raise them in church, although my three year old is already asking questions. I really think your blog is going to help me be able to answer them. I also live in Texas, and it is very hard living here with my beliefs. I find myself nodding along when someone talks about prayer or religion and never speak up with how I feel for fear of being ostracized. Thank you so much for your blog, I will be reading it regularly.

    • Hi dallasgrl. I think I may have responded to another one of your later comments already. Thanks for commenting. You and I have a lot in common. I’m looking forward to hearing more about you and reading your comments. By the way, did you know that 33 was the age that Jesus died? Some folks thing that atheists and agnostics don’t know anything about Jesus or the Bible… :)

  82. Loved reading your ireport on CNN’s website today! Thank you for giving a voice to a very big community that usually gets silenced and pushed to the farthest and darkest corner. Just because you do not believe in God, does not make you a evil person and I’m tired of being treated that way! Glad I found you, can’t wait to read more!

  83. Greetings:
    I came across your blog reading the CNN site this morning. As it happens my dunkerexpress blog, also hosted here at WordPress, has a purpose pretty directly opposite to what you are attempting here. In fact, right now i am writing a series of posts on why churches and religion improves your life. Most of my reasoning comes from non-religious books about human behavior.

    We are alike in that we question some of the traditions of the Christian faith. And I think we both have an interest in helping people live a better life. However, I find the questions you ask pretty basic, and hour assumptions not to have been challenged nearly as much as you challenge the questions themselves.

    Personally, I believe that God is a living, loving, compassionate, consciousness responsible for our own consciousness. Have you read the book “Proof of Heaven.” (It isn’t of course). But the neurosurgeon thought a lot like you before his near death experience. You might find it interesting.

    • Hi Dunkerexpress. I hear you. We have come to different conclusions, but have asked the same questions. I read the Time article about the neurosurgeon who had contracted a rare virus and fallen into a coma. He thought he experienced heaven/god. I read that but was not moved or convinced to believe the same. It was very interesting, though.

      Good luck with your blog. There’s clearly a need for your side of things, too. :)

  84. Read the piece on CNN as well and wanted to say, Thank You for your voice! Well stated and kind, a worthy opinion that needs to be heard. And now I have a new blog to read as an agnostic and parent myself. Carry on and Cheers!
    Scott

  85. Catherine Brown

    I am also an Atheist mom of 4 living in North Texas. Since moving here from south Florida in 2010, I am still shocked to see so many churches; there is practically one on every corner. Great article, it always feels nice to know there are others around that have similar views. Not easy to find here in the Lone Star State! Looking forward to following your blog!

    • @ Catherine Brown Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! (With 4 children, I know you must be very busy!!) I am really glad to know there are others here with similar views. Yes, it does seem (and there may be) a church on every corner.

  86. Sorry to see that you deleted my comment. I was really trying to be cordial and not stir up anything. I think that the fact that you did may add proof to what I said.

    Still praying for you.

    • @ Todd I have not deleted your comment. I am still working my way through the comments. There were less than a handful that I deleted and that was only due to the level of ire and bad language. But as you can see, I even approved a few of those. If you still don’t see your here tomorrow, please repost.

  87. I think you have an interesting, but logical approach to raising your children. I grew up in a non-denominational, Pentecostal-based Christian home and church. While I was raised to avoid Christmas and Easter due to their pagan influences, I was still taught to ridicule, judge, and bash other believers and non-believers alike for the thoughts and beliefs that they have that don’t align to my own. What I’ve found as I’ve grown older, and have a child of my own, is that whether God is real or not, if I claim to be a Christian I should follow the guidance and example of Christ by leading a life of love (that is full of mercy). Keep up the good work. Don’t let religious jerks tear you down in what you’re doing. I believe that if God exists, He/She will not judge us based on the opinions or thoughts of others.

    • @ Samuel S. Thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing your story. I would be interested in knowing how you came to this point, so please feel free to write more. How do you come from a place that taught you to judge to where you are now? I love (and appreciate!) what you wrote in this quote:

      What I’ve found as I’ve grown older, and have a child of my own, is that whether God is real or not, if I claim to be a Christian I should follow the guidance and example of Christ by leading a life of love (that is full of mercy).

  88. Glad to have been reading your blog for a while now and loved seeing your article on CNN. My husband and I appreciate knowing of other non-believing parents. Hoping people can realize that being an atheist does not involve hatred or evil – being good without a god is easy. We do not threaten another person’s religion, we just choose to opt out. Please respect our decision not to believe as we respect your right to believe.

    • @ huckabear I, too, hope people can realize that being godless doesn’t mean you’re evil or that you’re the devil’s work. That is frustrating. I agree with you here:

      Please respect our decision not to believe as we respect your right to believe.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  89. I found your blog through your article on CNN ireport and it really spoke to me. I was raised (in the midwest) in a family where church was mandatory and God was not questioned.
    When I moved to France several years ago I found a religious freedom that (I feel) doesn’t exist in the US and gave up religion entirely. I can’t say that I’m atheist or agnostic but I can’t support a God that allows so many unjustified atrocities (school shootings, massacres of entire populations, my colleagues 3 year old daughter who is dying of cancer …). I have a really hard time buying into the “God is testing us”. I mean really, what decent, loving, father-like God would test two young parents by giving their 3 year old daughter multiple, uncurable cancerous tumors?
    My list of grievances with God could go on forever. So, my husband and I now raise our daughter without religion.

    • @jaja I hear you. It’s heartbreaking that a 3 year old can get cancer or that people could suffer in the ways you mentioned. I’m sorry to hear about your colleagues daughter. Cannot even imagine the pain that family must be going through.

      It’s interesting that the religious atmosphere in France was so much more open. I wonder if it is like that in all of Europe.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and good luck with your religious/spiritual journey.

  90. Great CNN article. Great blog. You’ve got yourself another reader.

    I have a 7 year old daughter that asks all kinds of questions. Q: Why don’t we go to church? A: Because they teach things that Daddy and I, along with many other people, don’t necessarily agree with. Q: Is there a God? A: What do you think? Q: Do you believe in God? A: I don’t, but that’s just my opinion. You are free to believe whatever you think, as long as you know why you believe it.

    Kids are much more likely to believe in things like fairies, monsters, ghosts… God. So I let her believe what she wants to believe, and I make sure to leave her with questions to answer for herself; I never try to answer her with my own beliefs. That’s her decision.

    Looking forward to many other “food for thought”s from you.

    • @Jen Hi Jen, Thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree with you, and that is also how I approached questions with my kids. I told them there is so much we don’t know, and it’s ok if we don’t know the answer now or ever. Anyway, I like what you wrote here:

      Kids are much more likely to believe in things like fairies, monsters, ghosts… God. So I let her believe what she wants to believe, and I make sure to leave her with questions to answer for herself; I never try to answer her with my own beliefs. That’s her decision.

  91. Thank you for bringing some light on a subject many parents like myself deal with every day. I always have a copy of Dale McGowan’s book on this subject near at hand and your blog is now part of that same reading.

    As a free thinking atheist I look forward to the challenges of raising my (5 month old) daughter in a home of honesty and transparency. The weak explanations of life’s more difficult events, as allowed by a god or religion, are damaging and patronizing to a smart, inquisitive and development young mind. They deserve better.

    I look forward to stopping by here as our children grow and learn to believe in themselves, science and the truth.

    • @ Marty Thank you for taking the time to comment. I love what you said here,

      The weak explanations of life’s more difficult events, as allowed by a god or religion, are damaging and patronizing to a smart, inquisitive and development young mind. They deserve better.

  92. One additional story I’d like to add to my earlier comment.

    I was in Boy Scouts as a kid, and I never had much of an issue with my religious background (or lack thereof, as it happened) with anybody. I did find out years later that most of the kids in my scout troop were all from the local LDS church as was the Scoutmaster. Thankfully they kept it to themselves.

    Anyway, when I went up for my Eagle Scout Board of Review, I was required to submit a letter from my minister, pastor, or whatever, testifying to my fulfilling the “reverent” part of the Scout Oath. I could have easily gotten a letter from the UU minister, but that didn’t feel honest because the UU Church isn’t exactly what anybody would consider “reverent”, at least not in that context.

    So I asked my Scoutmaster what to do and after consulting with the District office, he told me that it would be fine if I just wrote up something that explained my beliefs at that point in time.

    Hmmm…. I was 17 and didn’t really have any particular beliefs. I looked up several words in the dictionary, and wasn’t a “theist”, “deist”, or even “atheist”. I just didn’t know. So eventually I settled on “agnostic”, the definition of which is, “neither affirming nor denying the existence of God”, which pretty much fit at the time. Clearly, we exist. It seemed there is something “greater” than us, I just had no clue what that might be.

    In my Board of Review, there’s a point where several fathers sit down and ask you about how you live your life according to different aspects of the Scout Oath. At one point, one of the dad’s asked me about “reverent” and cited the letter I’d submitted. I don’t know if I said anything, but I do recall clearly that this pompous ass took it upon himself to begin lecturing me on his beliefs, and concluded that, “Of course, I’m sure that one day soon you’ll come to accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior and see the light.”

    It was all I could do to keep my composure. One of the fathers smiled and nodded in agreement, and the other one held a stone-face, and I realized instantly that he was probably as offended as I was. But we both kept our mouths closed, and with that the interview ended. Thankfully.

    People have different viewpoints and beliefs. Maybe not in your house, or school, or neighborhood, or your part of town. But if you travel much outside your immediate community, you’re inevitably going to encounter people with different perspectives than your own. And it’s probably best to be open-minded enough to be able to listen to what they have to say and not feel compelled to judge them or make them wrong for their beliefs — or lack thereof — compared to your own.

    Raising kids without imposing anything on them is probably the best way to ensure they’ll grow up to be open-minded as adults, if that’s your goal.

    • @ David Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your story of the Boy Scouts. Actually, I wanted my younger son to be part of the Scouts because I thought it was a great organization. When we got to the part (where you have to earn a badge) of faith, I told the troop leader that we “aren’t religious.” I didn’t come out and say we are atheists/agnostics at first. But he told me as long as we believed in A God, no matter what religion, my son could be a member of the Boy Scouts. I actually even encouraged my son to think about all the different religions and we could choose one to try. He did not want to. It’s too bad, but I do understand. The Scouts gave up their 503(c) status (or lost it in court, I don’t remember which) so that they can be discriminating, so that they can promote the beleif in God.

  93. Today I am preparing to meet with my son’s 6th grade teacher and the principle of his public school because his teacher will not stop making comments about religion. The comments offend me and make my son feel very uncomfortable because we are atheist. A couple of months ago she asked the class, “Who is bigger, God or us?” Almost the entire class answered God, except my son who told me he just looked down and shook his head. I called the principle and she was very sympathetic as well as agreeable. Told me she would speak with the teacher. The comments continued after winter break. A child asked what good Friday was and she explained it was the day Jesus was crucified. She then talked about Jesus’ resurrection. She told the class that some people believe that story to be fictitious but they are wrong. The following day she told the class that she believed the earth was once surrounded by water and that god broke thru the water and the dinosaurs shrunk to lizards, reptiles, etc. She also told them she could prove the theory of evolution wrong. She is making my son feel as if all that I have taught him is wrong or something to be ashamed of. I contacted the principle again and she said she wanted a meeting with the teacher and I. I’ve been reading as much info as I can about the separation of church and state, what teachers can and can’t say. My husband sent me your article, Why I Raise My Kids Without God, today and I just to thank you for such a thoughtful and well written article. It put into words what I sometimes can’t. It will help me today. Thank you.

    • @andrebeths Thanks for reaching out with your story, and please let me know how your meeting goes. If she wants to talk religion, can’t that teacher go teach Sunday school or in a Christian school? It’s not fair to kids like yours. I do understand. We have been there….Are still there.

  94. Wonderful i-report on the CNN site. I hope you get inundated with praise for writing it.
    I hope our future gives us increasing generations of freethinkers as the current generations of theocrats die off. Let’s all do our part to encourage young freethinkers and resist church/state entanglement.
    Thanks for the great article.

    • @trikepilot….thank you for taking the time to comment…and for doing your part. I agree that we should do what we can now so that our kids can grow up in a more tolerant society…

  95. Also found my way here from CNN. I am a practicing Christian, but I wanted to agree on one thing that I believe (as you said) is that you shouldn’t be insincere with your children, and I think that’s important. For you, you needed to share with your children what your gut tells you about the world. Anything else is dishonest, and unfair to them. For me, despite my immense nagging doubts based on all the things you said, I still have this belief that somehow God exists — maybe not as we’ve imagined, but…something. And that’s what I share, both my faith and my doubts, knowing that my children will have to decide for themselves what they believe. I sometimes wonder if sharing my beliefs with my kids will make it harder for them in the world, or at school, but I also don’t want to be dishonest about what I believe and feel. I know a number of fellow Christians who are terrified about expressing doubt in front of their kids, and even an agnostic or two who has said “some days I’m just not sure, but I keep it to myself. It’s a personal thing.” In the end I just think that if we can be honest with our kids as much about what we don’t know as with what we know, we give them the best starting point to their own path of discovery. I like to think that’s something all concerned parents can have in common, no matter their spiritual standing. Thank you for sharing.

    • @Jason G. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate that, even as a Christian, you have room for doubt and for people of other belief systems.

  96. Thanks so much for your CNN article! I’m 14 weeks pregnant with my first and know I will be thinking about this topic a lot. Happy to have found a positive resource!

  97. This was awesome! Thank you so much for writing this! People may look down on us for feeling this way and raising our children this way, but they’re just going to have to get used to it. More and more of us are opening our minds to these ideas every day whether they like it or not. And I think the more people who give their children the chance to believe what they actually believe rather than what is forced upon them, the more people we will have overall who trust in reason instead of superstition. Let’s face it, teaching your children that something is fact when you have no evidence for it besides “a feeling” is just plain wrong. And trying to get laws passed and rights taken away over your “feelings” is ludicrous! Everyone can do what they want with their children – mine will be questioning anything that challenges logic as well as their sense of right and wrong.

    • @Hilary. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Yes, I so agree with you here:

      Let’s face it, teaching your children that something is fact when you have no evidence for it besides “a feeling” is just plain wrong

  98. Read your article on CNN today. Couldn’t agree more with you and every word rang true with me. Well written and so true! Well done, thanks for speaking your belief and those of many others.

  99. Well, finally a Blog with a very real and intelligent subject matter. This has long been a debate I like to get into with others of such deep religious faith. I’ll say this again, “religious faith”. My primary “issue” is not so much with God’s existence or non existence as it is with the institution of religion and the complete manipulation of Jesus, God, etc. My mother, a deeply faithful woman, is vastly read across several religions and though her faith is rock solid, her question of religion is always on the forefront of dialog when it comes to God. I’ve often seen clergy wince at the questions and retorts she poses and it’s been clear to me for decades that the religion is in many ways and in many cultures an “opiate of the masses”. That all being said, can it be argues that a man named Jesus did exist, I believe so. Can it be argues that God or some supreme being exists? That indeed IS the million-dollar question. We have little proof of such a being, we have little more than the words of common men to refer to as well.
    I could on…..

    • @jaimeas….I think Jesus was real, just not divine. But I think he (or at least his legend) set a good example for us to follow. My mother is very devout, too. Fortunately, she’s grown very accepting of me over the years. THanks for taking the time to comment.

  100. I’m so happy to find this site (via CNN) I fully agree with you and also raise our children in a similar fashion. Food for thought. I was at a party last summer where the hostess was opening a perfectly wrapped gift. She commented on how perfect the bow was. The lady standing next to me turns to me and says “That’s gods work” Really? God reached down to make that bow perfect while he/she/it let another child be sold for sex? I wish I would have said this but they probably would have escorted me off the property. But really…those that are religious are the most judgmental…

    • @Carma– yes, those kinds of comments are disappointing to hear, and I wish I had the courage to speak up. Like you said–people get angry and irrational, though. Thanks for commenting.

  101. I’m glad I read that article on CNN. It’s nice to know that there are people out there that share the same mentality as I do on religion.

  102. Great job . A fellow texan here..God as in the judayah-christian system or the eastern system is all encompassing..Its a neurologicial thing for humans to believe in God and pure logic is needed to remove it.. I have been initiating my 8 yr old in thinking of God as a concept rather than a real entity..

  103. Bravo on the CNN piece. Although I, like you (and my wonderful now-adult kids) are agnostic, I have no problem with people who choose to believe in God. If my kids someday decided that they wanted to adopt a religion, I would have no problem with that. I too am troubled by those who would flag your essay as “inappropriate” for CNN. I sense from those people a fear, and perhaps a lack of confidence in their own beliefs, such that those beliefs would be threatened by an essay like yours. Your thoughtfulness and honesty is appreciated. These are words that need to be said.

    • Thanks, Doug Lasswell. I ditto your thoughts here:

      I have no problem with people who choose to believe in God. If my kids someday decided that they wanted to adopt a religion, I would have no problem with that.

      Thanks for stopping by to comment.

  104. thankyouandagreed

    I rarely leave comments about public articles, particularly anything related to religion or politics. (Just as you compared religion to a toothbrush, I have often compared politics to going to the bathroom: everyone does it, but it is at best tactless to discuss it in public.) But, your article resonated with me so deeply that I had to find you to thank you. And, to let you know (as I am so pleased to see many others have) that you’re not alone.

    One piece of my personal parental agenda that is distinct from yours, however, is that, while my husband and I are pretty strong non-believers, we want our kids to know that it is up to them to make up their own minds about all of their beliefs, religion included. And, that those beliefs may change throughout their lifetimes, but that no matter what they should know we support them in that process and will help them gather whatever information necessary so that they feel comfortable with their own decisions. This component is important to me not only so that I am sure to keep an open dialogue with them, but also so that they have compassion and patience for others’ opinions. I have some very good friends in different parts of my life who, it turns out, are very religious! If I had known this before getting to know them, I might not have made the effort. Learning it later made me reconcile my strong beliefs with my strong urge to be friends. We don’t discuss religion, but we are good friends nonetheless.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share that and, once again, thank you!

    • @thankyouandagreed Thanks so much for reaching out and commenting. Actually, we’re not at all different on the “paernt agenda” you describe above. That’s how I raise my kids, and they’ve learned about many, though not all, religions.

  105. Go to Hell.

    • @ Anonymous who simply wrote “Go to Hell.” I don’t believe in hell, but even if I did, couldn’t you have made some sort of argument or does that require you to think too much?

  106. This blog is contradicting. On the one hand, teaching children about facts and logic of course is good…but the text is riddled with assumptions and definitions about a perception or lack of perception of God and the spiritual realm. The definitions, examples, and assumptions here are very skewed and limited. If God exists, trying to compare God to what we know and experience about the physical world doesn’t make sense at all. I doubt seriously that if a heavenly realm does exist it would fall under the same laws of nature that exists in this world.

    On the other hand, there are statements about brainwashing. If we truly want to raise children without brainwashing them, all arguments should be presented by “experts” from those sides and simply let the children decide for themselves. But, that’s not practical when it comes to parenting, is it? How to corral an expert with a different view at the exact time they ask their questions? You see, by heavily influencing children to one side or another, the brainwashing will not be eliminated. Its just that your teaching your children to have views consistent with your core knowledge and beliefs. The reality is then that raising children provides an environment that is naturally biased. It takes a good bit of effort to offer them explanations of as many angles as you can and then explain why you believe the way you do.

    Over all, I agree with many of your statements about letting the children decide, but other statements reveal bias, assumptions, and definitions that are limited. I’d love to have a discussion with you at some point. We’d probably end up agreeing to disagree on many points. My opinion is that science is actually proving things of unknown origin. Small particles appear and disappear without a recognized source of creation. How can a particle be created from nothing? Discoveries in quantum physics and nano technology are amazing. It seems every “discovery” leads to even more questions about how something can be. Some scientific theories contradict other theories. How can both be truths? The only thing we know for sure is that we are physically here in the here and now. We should take the short time we have allotted here and make it the best most positive experience for us and our loved ones.

    Brian

    • @ Anonymous/ signed Brian First, thanks for taking the time to comment and share your views. Of course, this blog is contradictory as are all beings who think. We say things, think about them, listen to others, read other viewpoints and recalibrate our own thoughts/beliefs. We ALL have “assumptions and definitions about a perception or lack of perception of God and the spiritual realm.” That is because God/spirits/faith are out of the natural realm: we cannot hear, smell, taste, see or touch any of it. So faith is 100% subjective, though, yes, I have read essays that disagree with that (and was unconvinced). I do agree with you that we all teach our children to have views “consistent with your core knowledge and beliefs.” Parents are trying to do the best they can, and they want to raise their children how they think is best. That’s why I would never tell someone NOT to take their children to church, and I would not want someone to tell me TO take my kids to church.

      I agree with you 100% here:

      We should take the short time we have allotted here and make it the best most positive experience for us and our loved ones.

  107. “The scientific world view is so much more exciting, more poetic, more filled with sheer wonder than anything in the poverty stricken arsenals of the religious imagination…Religion teaches people to be satisfied with trivial, supernatural, non-explanations and blinds them to the wonderful real explanations that we have within our grasp. It teaches them to accept authority, revelation and faith instead of always insisting on evidence.” -Richard Dawkins

  108. Thank you!!! I read your report on CNN and it seemed to echo nearly my same argument(s)! I wonder, though, how you answered your sons questions? I have twin 2 yr olds and I’m at a lose for how to approach the whole religion topic when they start asking. Just so happy to know there are others out there who think :)

    • @ Anonymous Thank you for taking the time to write. You asked:

      I wonder, though, how you answered your sons questions? I have twin 2 yr olds and I’m at a lose for how to approach the whole religion topic when they start asking. Just so happy to know there are others out there who think

      I told them that there are a lot of things we don’t know, that cannot be proven. There are questions we will never have answers for and that’s ok. I asked them a lot of questions, too, to get them thinking on their own. These conversations happened over many years and are still continuing….Good luck with your twins! That’s a busy, but fun age!!!

  109. I thought I would drop in to leave a comment on the essay that was posted on CNN. In an attempt to avoid an argument over my personal beliefs, I thought here would be a better place to leave a comment. We are also raising our son without God. We as parents believe that finding a religion, if he so chooses to, should be his choice and his alone. Not something that we have forced upon him. We are not religious but rather free thinkers who have seen our fare share of hostility for our stances on several issues.

    Reading your essay was refreshing. I wanted to say thank you for the essay. I hope to someday be in a world where everyone’s opinion is respected, no matter what the belief.

    • @ Krysten I’m glad you came here to comment as the other site just got too big and too many people were “shouting.” Thanks for taking the time to write and share your experience. I completely agree with you here,

      We are also raising our son without God. We as parents believe that finding a religion, if he so chooses to, should be his choice and his alone. Not something that we have forced upon him.

      If my sons decided to become Hindus, Christians, Jews, it doesn’t matter. At least I know it is their own belief and it was well thought-out.

  110. Martin and Joel, I have read the entire Bible. In fragments through many years of Friday Bible study and Sunday School as a child, and then straight through as an adult. Have you ever read it through the eyes of a skeptic? Have you ever paid attention to the many examples of cruelty? Have you ever tallied the contradictions within, and to those of modern societal values? Skeptics like I do not consider the Bible to be divinely inspired by a God. I see it as a collection of ancient stories, some likely true and others likely not, some instructive and others not, some interesting and others not. I don’t see the Bible as any more relevant to modern life than any other philosophy or psychology. There’s really no point quoting scripture to convince a skeptic like myself; you might as well quote Aesop’s Fables.

  111. Thank you for writing that article. You described exactly how I feel about God and how I plan to raise my children. You are my hero today. *love*

  112. I enjoyed (and agreed with) the ideas you shared in your iReport. It is good to hear more and more atheist voices expressing out loud what so many of us have felt but have been reluctant to share aloud. I look forward to reading more posts!

  113. Hello. I saw your CNN i report. For years I was also an open atheist and refused to believe there could possibly be a God. I would challenge you to look at the emotional walls that may be blocking you from opening your mind to the possibility of there being a God. Can you think of an experience in your past that turned you away from God? If so, let that experience be what it was and nothing more, because that’s all it was. It didn’t change the truth of whether or not God exists one iota. Aside from the many logical reasons for why there must be a God (I suggest CS Lewis as a great and easy starting point if you become interested in learning more), it will be next to impossible for you to be able to open your mind up to the possibility of his existence if you view every argument for his existence from a hardline skeptical point of view. Life is so much richer, beautiful and meaningful for me now knowing that there is a God. I wish you the best in your journey.

    • @Eli – THanks for stating your views so respectfully. Yes, I read a lot of CS Lewis, along with lots of other philosophers, ancient and contemporary. I’ve read books on the history of religion. I’ve read the Bible. I’m really comfortable with where I am, and I really do believe that life is just as rich and beautiful. We give our own lives meaning. Best of luck to you, too. :)

  114. Read your article on CNN. I won’t comment over there (too many lunatics have already derailed the discussion, which now is over whether evolution is “just” a theory or fact…).

    I loved the article. I’m not planning on having children of my own any time soon, but sometimes I wonder: Would it be worth to “lie” about kids about Santa Clause and then, once they figure out that it’s all rubbish, applaud them for their applied critical thinking and use it as a cautionary tale?

  115. I was deeply saddened by your article. There are very good answers to the questions you have about God. There also good answers to the questions raised by some who have commented on your blog post. I tried to address some of your questions on my blog at http://crosstalkin.wordpress.com/. I would also refer you to several great podcasts and websites by Dr. William Lane Craig – http://www.reasonablefaith.org/, Greg Koukl – http://www.str.org/site/PageServer, Frank Turek – http://www.crossexamined.org/, Brian Auten – http://www.apologetics315.com/; J Warner Wallace – http://pleaseconvinceme.com/, and John Stonestreet – http://www.breakpoint.org/bp-home

    I agree with your frustration about many Christians. I am baffled by what some people do in the name of God. The actions of some “Christians” do more harm than good.

    God has called us to live by a higher standard, to speak the truth in love, to condemn sin and love sinners, and to be a positive influence in this fallen world for both time and eternity. Please know that there are Christians who are trying to live in a way that is consistent with God’s high standards. But also recognize that no one is perfect – that is why we needed a savior.

    • @ Jeff. I’ve posted your comment. Thanks for respectfully sharing your views. Just so you know, I have done tons of reading on all sides of the issue. I’m pretty secure in where I am standing. I respect your right to worship.

  116. A very refreshing piece! We are parents that feel very much like yourself. We love our children and raise them without religion. I’m actually quite surprised CNN published this. Thanks!

    • @ Brody Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m glad to know there are so many others out there like us. Lucky for us, CNN did run that so we could find out…

  117. found your blog via the CNN article. Loved the article and i look forward to reading your past blogs and those to come. Thanks for being brave enough to share! I am also raising my children without god and i’m excited to share your experiences.

  118. Thank You Thank You Thank You!! I love your article “Why I Raise my Children Without God.” So Happy to find someone out there that feels the same way I do. About a year ago I ran into Stefan Molyneux for a 911 article and then I started listening to him. I was really in awe – he made such logical sense – it was amazing. I was raised Lutheran & brainwashed for all these years. After Stefan got me to thinking it made me realize that there is no God. I felt so free like I didn’t have to fee guilty for not taking my kids to church. Most people would think that we of all people would want to believe in heaven since we’re lost 7 babies.

    I totally agree with you – if religion works for you then by all means knock yourself out but leave me out of it. I look forward to reading all your articles when I have time.

    I homeschool my two girls, ages 6 & 3 (nothing for her yet). As you can imagine it is really hard finding curriculum that isn’t religious based. I found a fellow non believing homeschooler at our gymnastics class. So happy I found her.

    Paula

    • @ Paula Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing. I have not heard of Stefan Molyneux, but I’m intriqued. I’ll Google him.

      Sorry to hear about losing 7 babies–that must be really difficult. As for homeschooling…I had thought of homeschooling my younger son, but I, too, thought that there were few curriculums and homeschool groups (at least at the time) for agnostics/atheists.

  119. Hi, again dam.

    Unless they changed something, the only “requirement” Boy Scouts had around religion was the ‘reverent’ aspect that was addressed when you become an Eagle Scout. I imagine different councils could have different requirements, but as far as I know they did (and do) their best to ensure consistency throughout the organization. But perhaps things have changed in that respect. If they have, it’s probably for the worst.

    They did lose a court case, and perhaps their non-profit status, for what I consider to be a very stupid issue that has some deep and ugly ties into religious tolerance (or lack thereof).

    Conservative Christians around the country have been doing all they can for decades now to suppress any sort of acknowledgement that human beings have sexual urges. They don’t want schools to teach anything about sex; they don’t want anybody to participate in sex; they don’t want to deal with the by-products of sex; and they ESPECIALLY don’t want KIDS to know ANYTHING about sex. Their belief systems say, “ignorance is bliss” and “if we don’t teach it in schools, then kids won’t know about it so they won’t engage in it!”

    Now, if you think attitudes like that are going to have much of an impact on kids going through puberty, you’re nuts.

    The problem is, these folks want to throw a cover over everything and hide as much as they can.

    But, they have their limits, particularly when it comes to homosexual behavior. In this case, they’d rather make as much noise as possible hoping to scare the bejesus out of anybody who even thinks they might be gay.

    Then you’ve got “activist parents” who get offended at this attitude and don’t want their gay kids to be discriminated against. So they sue any organization that might show a bias.

    Here’s the rub as I see it: by most accounts, kids are “not supposed to be sexually active”, right? The problem is, if some kid says, “I’m gay!”, there’s a perception that he or she *IS* sexually active. I don’t know why that is, but it seems to be the case — like, you wouldn’t know if you hadn’t tried it. Sounds ridiculous to me, but that’s my take on things.

    So here we have an organization that focuses on boys in the age group 11-1/2 to 18 — prime puberty age, right?

    This organization took what I considered to be a very common-sense position, which was to minimize any kind of “sexual polarization” (for lack of a better phrase) that might occur by excluding kids who consider themselves to be “gay”.

    They don’t accept girls, and this doesn’t seem to constitute an anti-discriminatory stance, because it’s for BOYS. If a court required BSA to accept girls, I think the organization would just shut down; it would simply be too difficult to administer.

    The thing is, if this was an afternoon reading group or study club, then allowing gay kids to participate probably wouldn’t be an issue. But because these kids go on camping trips, overnights, and extended trips away from their parents’ supervision, there’s a lot of opportunity for kids to get into all kinds of shenanigans.

    During my many years in Scouts, I observed some really thoughtless and often dangerous stuff done on the part of some kids in my troop against other kids for a variety of reasons, not to mention that I was bullied quite a bit myself. I cannot imagine what might happen if a gay boy was allowed in a troop and the kids decided to do what kids often do with “outliers” of ANY sort (it’s all in THEIR perception, which is what makes bullies bully people).

    I wish the people who sued the BSA to allow their gay kids into the program had not done so, and I lament the fact that the BSA was forced to take a position in the matter. But if push comes to shove, I have to stand behind the BSA’s choice. I do this purely out of safety concerns. I’m not gay, but I was nearly killed on a couple of occasions by the kids in the troop bullying me. They didn’t know what they were doing, and if I had not become so distrusting of them, I’d be dead. I have no idea what might happen if certain kids were allowed into the program who have what some kids consider huge targets on their back right from the get-go.

    We all want to believe that the parents supervising the kids are all-knowing and can always keep kids out of trouble. But truth be told, most kids never report any of the bullying or weird stuff that’s done to them, and the adults tend to be totally unaware. It’s a game to the bullies, and they nearly always are in good graces with the adults. The kids who are bullied tend to be quieter, and the adults don’t know them as well. So if they complain about something, they’re usually either ignored or one of the bullies is told to look after them, which only adds insult to injury. So most of it never gets reported, and is invisible unless some real long-term harm is done — which does happen from time to time.

    Unfortunately, I’d say this all comes back to religious teachings in a very large number of cases. Many kids are brought up in homes by extremely religious and intolerant parents. When they’re around other kids, their programmed attitudes often run their show, so to speak. They don’t know any better. And unfortunately, other kids pay the price for the “brainwashing” their parents have on them.

    What neither the parents who sued BSA nor the courts seem to realize is this one simple fact: “tolerance” is *NOT* part of the Scout Oath. Suing BSA for taking a stand on intolerance is like suing a car company because their cars don’t float in water — it’s not what they’re about. If it was, I think a lot more (intolerant) parents would choose to NOT let their kids participate.

    I participated in scouts because I wanted to go camping, and my dad would not have anything to do with it. In the process, I had to deal with a bunch of bullies and blow-hards who could never leave well enough alone. I learned to avoid them and ignore them as best I could. And in the process, actually learned some valuable life lessons. But I’d hate to see what they’d have done to any self-described gay kids. (They were bad enough with just timid, shy kids who were suckers for a good con.)

    Again, most of these kids — especially the bullies — were tightly involved with a particular ward of the LDS Church. (In my troop, anyway.) The ones who invariably got bullied and who didn’t stick around long were NOT in that church. If you tried to “shop around” looking for a troop based on their religious sponsorship, you’d be hard-pressed to find one to your liking, since Mormons sponsor the majority of troops, and the Catholic Church sponsors most of the rest. (The Mormons kept it to themselves, but the Catholics tended to be more open about it. And, of course, the Chaplins at camp were ALWAYS some sort of Christian bent, either Catholic or Protestant.)

  120. Hi – Your comments mirror the feelings/opinion I have had since I left the church as a young man. Like you, I have morals and want to live a good life. Some people find that concept incomprehensible, but most, when discussing it with me (and often trying to convert me), see that I have conviction in my beliefs and that religious faith is based on Belief, not fact. Thus all the ‘opinions’. :)

  121. I think the crisis of religion is more visible in Europe. My friends in Germany and Poland don’t get married, have kids, don’t take their kids to church. A 5-year old Hanna considers Jesus just one of her action figures. Why can’t we simply teach our kids to know what’s a fairy tale and what’s real?

    My little one will decide if she wants to be religious when she grows up. For now, I will teach her to be an independent thinker and know how to tell the difference between fiction and reality.

  122. I so admire your courage. Yes it takes courage to swim opposite of the rest of the herd and speak of it openly. Our four children were not indoctrinated into religion and they have turned out to be fine upstanding members of society. People do not understand that being an atheist does not mean we have no morals. I prefer to think that we do the right thing simply because it is what is best for our fellow man. My youngest son was bullied terribly his first two years of high school for not being a believer. The taunts just made him believe even less because why would people who preach the work of Christ treat him so horribly? I can tell you atheist do not commit violence in the name of atheism. Can the same be said for ___insert name of religion here? There are times that I envy my friends who bury their heads in the sand and pray that God will take care of their troubles but I know that I need to handle my troubles.
    I have no problem with someone else having “faith” until their freedom of religion starts to encroach on my freedom of expression. . Please keep up the good work and let people know who we are.

  123. Thank you so much for having the courage to say the things that so many other mothers wish they could say. I really do admire your courage. I am raising my two girls as you describe, to use logic, reason and critical thinking in every aspect of their lives. Thank you for giving so many of us a platform.

  124. I just wanted to leave you a positive, happy comment that can (hopefully) cancel out a negative comment somewhere along the way.

    I found your iReport to be insightful, polite and caring. Thank you for stating your beliefs so succinctly. You are brave.

    My wife and I were raised Catholic, but we choose raise our children with a similar philosophy to yours. It is encouraging to find so many people who have independently come to the same conclusions that we have.

  125. I just read your ireport article today and thank you for it and your bravery for speaking up! It is the same way we are trying to raise our daughter and people look at us like we are crazy or horrible people when that isn’t the case. I want my daughter to grow up and be good because she is morally good, not good because she is scared of a “god” that is going to punish her.

  126. @dam, Thanks for the awesome blog and congrats on your iReport. Religion or lack of Religion is an extremely difficult topic to discuss especially when you live in a predominantly Catholic city and state. It’s very refreshing to see this issue having more “mainstream” coverage lately and hopefully Atheists and Agnostics will not have to bite their tongues when this topic comes up in public for much longer.

  127. Hello Dam, I personally want to commend you for having the guts to talk about what you truly believe. Even though, I don’t agree with it I still commend you on opening up the discussion. I personally would like to get your opinion on a project that was completed a couple of years ago. Go to http://youtu.be/nrGwsGlA4GE and listen to the audio book. If you want to hear the rest of the book, then feel free to click on the “About” tab to get the rest of the story on links. If you have time, I’d like to get your thoughts about the book. Thank you and have a great day!

  128. Carlos A. Guerra

    Wow! I heard about your article this morning on a local AM radio station and the overwhelming response to it: you’ve raised the ire of many folks and you’ve also received a lot of praise for the courage to speak up.

    I commend you for raising the issues that trouble many non-believers. Questions that are not asked cannot be answered and since many share your view, I only hope they pursue truthful answers: answers based on truth and objective reality, not feelings, opinions, or religious dogmas.

    I am a Christian and grievances like yours do not offend, upset or even make me uncomfortable. I recently saw a book titled, “Questions Christians Hope You Never Ask!” I was amused by the title because it points out a sad fact about many Christians; like you mention in your article, tough questions that are usually blown-off with some simpleminded answer. C.S Lewis called these people, “intellectual slackers”.

    The Bible includes all the questions you raise in the words of believers and unbelievers throughout the 15 centuries of history the Bible records. There are answers for every one of the points you make about God; solid, logical, reasoned and truthful answers.

    You might agree with the words of the late former Cincinnati Reds pitcher, Frank Pastore, when he said, “Faith isn’t wishing! It’s not trying to believe in something you know is not real! Faith is based upon evidence; it’s trust!”

    You might not see it this way but you present what you believe is true as fact, when it is really only “faith” in what you say is true.

    Contrary to your closing paragraph, I don’t believe in God or Heaven because I feel all alone in the universe: I believe because belief in God is true, the truth compels me to believe. I did not decide to believe in God and then set out to find reasons to support my belief. I set out to find the truth of reality as we experience it which led me to believe that there is a God.

    Like you, I too don’t want to believe in something that is not real; that search, with my brain completely intact and engaged, has led me to know with certainty that there is a God. Furthermore, that journey is not over. I am still pursuing what’s real with intellectual honesty: I do not want to be an intellectual slacker.

    You might not know there is a verse in the Bible that reads, “I ask God…to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing Him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly…” God, Jesus, the Prophets or the Apostles never taught, commanded or instructed anyone to believe motivated by fear. This just does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Instead, the Bible teaches us to use all of our mental faculties, and to be completely engaged in the pursuit of truth.

    Like you, I also am teaching my kids to be free and independent thinkers who make the pursuit of truth their number one aim and to base their lives on it. And, it might sound odd to you, but it is precisely because their thinking is based on Biblical truth that they have the freedom to think for themselves and think clearly.

    There are answers to all of your grievances about God and I urge you to follow the evidence for God where it leads. As apologist Lee Strobel (former atheist) says, “Faith is a step in the direction of the evidence.” If you’re interested, I can help; perhaps not now, but maybe in the future.

    In conclusion I will ask you the same question asked me when I was agnostic with a strong lean toward atheism. A wiser, patient, older gentleman asked me, “If what you believe about God wasn’t true, would you want to know?” I’ve been on the path of finding out the truth ever since, and now I ask you the same question.

    I will be praying for you!
    Sincerely,
    Carlos G

    • @ Carlos G I do appreciate you taking the time to write and share your views. Apparently, though, you didn’t read the articles or the comments. I did not ask for answers or for your “help,” now or in the future. I’m not lost or confused. We are not arguing if god is real. We are not using the bible as a reference (since most of us do not consider it divinely inspired). And yes, many of us have read the entire bible, and we’ve read CS Lewis. What we ARE asking for is respect. Does this make sense? That means, I won’t come to your door or your inbox, telling you that I will convert you to agnosticism if you’ll just read certain books and listen to me. And you won’t come to mine trying to “convert” me.

      I probably won’t be able to make you understand, but the argument isn’t who is right. I don’t care. We just want to live in a society where religion is kept at home or at church.

  129. I could say a lot of nice things about you, but I’m sure others have already covered that adequately. So I’ll just thank you for what you are doing and hope that your honest comments will inspire others to come out as you have.

  130. I read with interest your post on CNN and thought I would share a couple of thoughts. Let me first say that you raise some excellent questions that I think most people, even strong Christians struggle with from time to time. I am truly thankful we live in a country where you have complete freedom to believe as you do and to practice our beliefs and that is why I wanted to share some struggles I have had with the issues you raised which are not easy to fathom.

    Thought I would start briefly with my own journey, which has brought me to full faith and trust in the God of the Bible. As a very young person I was exposed to the teachings of Christ and I came quickly to greatly admire Him. He certainly demonstrated great courage under tremendous persecution to reach people on their level, and to help them in ways immediate (healing the lame, the deaf, the blind) and in ways long-term (reconciliation with a perfect God by taking our sins onto Himself in His death on the cross and resurrection to victory in life eternal). When I first heard/read this, I thought, “Sounds good, but obviously the miracles are stories, not real events since that stuff doesn’t happen today”. And I thought that if someone was truly raised from the dead, all people for all time would know about this, it wouldn’t be just a rumor or crazy story. But then I read an article about a growing number of folks who no longer believe the Holocaust really happened; they don’t believe the story, they don’t believe the first-hand accounts of survivors, etc. And if people don’t believe that event (or the moon landing) with the visual evidence existent today, why would people believe in a written account from so long ago? They wouldn’t, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the accounts are wrong. People have believed a number of strange things and since God cannot be proven to either exist or not exist, there certainly are going to be varied thoughts on the subject.

    So how did this impossible-to-believe movement get started? How did 11 ill-equipped, uneducated men spread such a fantastic message? Normal motivations such as money, power, possessions, are not in evidence. In fact, when you examine the lives of these early 11 (and the others at the founding), you find nothing but tales of woe (all leading difficult lives leading to even harsher deaths for the most part) with the Gospels recording numerous instances of their lack of faith (why would they write about that?). Why would they face such difficulties if they didn’t truly believe in what they wrote/preached about? I think the only answer is that they believed in what they experienced and their motivation was beyond anything I had ever seen/witnessed in others. If they witnessed/preached a lie, it would be disproved (as in the Jewish authorities producing Jesus body to disprove the resurrection, or the same with Lazarus’s body).

    My next struggle was science, as in evolution. I grew up struggling with the contradiction between what the Bible said about creation and what my teachers claimed as the truth. My struggle was not in the faith aspect; after all, evolution rests on the faith that we all evolved from lesser organisms, with the base level being some sort of single-cell organism that somehow leapt into being. And this within the context of a universe that leapt into being by a random event called the Big Bang. So, great faith exists on both the evolution and creation view points. What cemented things for me was the order of the universe; a lecture about astrophysics that I attended demonstrated the fixed laws of the universe. I was amazed at how orderly planet rotations are, how orderly the expansion of the universe appears to be, how exact conditions need to be on Earth to support life. I have since read that not even in minute observations of random events has even slight order been observed. Witnessing order on the scale of the universe brings the likelihood of this being completely random to mathematically impossible standards.

    For me, this all led to a fairly obviously conclusion. But, it didn’t address the reality of life; that is, the randomness of events, the good and the bad. I mean, the other stuff helped with what I will call an academic understanding of God but it didn’t allow me to cope with murder, rape, deformities, wars, natural catastrophes. I accept that there are objective moral values (we all share the belief that mutilating babies is bad, etc.) and I understand that the only we can share them is because there is a God who created those absolute moral values. So, why does He allow bad things to happen? Two quick answers. First, God allowed freedom so that we can freely love Him (is there such a thing as compelled love?). Since He allowed for that, there will be freedom to turn away and adopt values/actions which hurt others and cause pain and grief. But just as there are harmful actions, there are beneficial actions: the accident avoided, the argument which was defused and didn’t lead to harm, etc. People tend to believe there is no God when they see bad things in the world but don’t witness His Hand when they see the good. Second, this life is a gateway to the potential for eternal life, free from pain and sorrow. That means that death, while a time of grieving and loss, is the gateway to something so much better. Why didn’t He make it that way initially? That is the mystery; only God can answer that and I am willing to accept whatever His answer is. I believe that He created with the intention to allow freedom of choice. He could have just compelled everyone to follow Him but chose not to. I am just thankful that he used humble people to spread His message and that He created a way to have eternal life. But, to get there people must have faith; I believe everyone has faith (we all believe in what we can’t see) so the issue isn’t the existence of faith it is the determination of what to direct that faith to.

    So, does that make the Christian life empty, devoid of fun, excitement, and meaning? Are we just robots leading an obsolete, judgmental life? Reading the Scriptures lead to one conclusion; observing people likely leads to another. But I believe that is OK because Christians, like other people, are not perfect (although too often we like to think we are). The danger is painting people with a broad brush. My intent is to follow Jesus, share the good news if/when I can, and try to love people and help where I can.

    Thanks again for your story and your courage to stand for your rights. I don’t agree with your beliefs but I certainly accept that you can make that choice.

    • @Scott Thanks for taking the time to share your views. In regards to your 4th paragraph, are you familiar with Blaise Pascal and the movement he helped start? Pascal believed that nature expressed the handiwork of the creator, and so, the observer can understand the mind of God via the natural world. That movement, in the next century, took the medieval and Reformation theology, with its savior god, to another level–the one we still have now–and that is the clockmaker God of deism. I understand where you’re coming from, but, as you know, I don’t share your world view.

      As to one of the first comments you made here:

      I am truly thankful we live in a country where you have complete freedom to believe as you do and to practice our beliefs and that is why I wanted to share some struggles I have had with the issues you raised which are not easy to fathom.

      We don’t live in a country where I–and others like me–have “complete freedom” NOT to believe. If this were true then: 1. So many of us would not be in the closet, and 2. That CNN article would not have been flagged so many times.

      But I’m hoping we’re heading that way.

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