Compliance

First, I wanted to thank everyone who reached out here to share their experiences or their views. It is very encouraging to see the kindness of strangers. I was truly moved. Hopefully, by speaking up, we can all make a difference.

Has anyone seen the movie Compliance? If you’ve never seen it, it’s about a man who calls fast food restaurants, pretends to be a cop, and asks the managers to strip search employees. (Read more here.) If you’ve never seen it, and want to rent it, I won’t tell you too much. Sadly, the film is based on actual events. I’ll just share a few things.

When told that the caller was a cop, managers followed the instructions of the “police officer,” even though the requests were illogical or immoral. There were a few who doubted and refused to follow instructions, but there were many who did exactly as asked. I’m sure you know where I am going with this.

We are trained to respect authority, not to doubt, not to question. The caller in the film exploits that weakness. The problem is that we are so conditioned to accept what we hear as true, we oftentimes relinquish our common sense. Authority does have its place, bringing order and safety to society. But we have to keep our radar up at all times; we have to keep that sense, that small voice, which tells us something is not right, no matter who is saying it. The movie is frustrating to watch–I know becuase I watched it last night. We think, who would continue to take those instructions? Would I? I suppose until we are in a situation like that, we just don’t know.

But I do know that the radar, telling us something is not right brought us here. It brought us to the place where we’ve rejected the notion of god that many of our authority figures have held as true. We were not compliant.

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152 responses to “Compliance

  1. Just saw the CNN piece! FANTASTIC !! I belong to Freethinkers of Colorado Springs – abviously a group sympathetic to your actions. We are currently involved in an action to stop the “Good News Club” from infiltrating our school system. See: The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children — by Katherine Stewart. I’ll try to say connected with your progress !!!!!!!!!!

  2. Isabel & Robert

    Yes, I truly am so sorry for your decision to leave God out of your life but,
    more so to make your choice for your children.
    We are given choice and we do have a lifetime to change our choices that
    we make.
    Your children should have had a chance to make their own choices when
    they were younger.
    I will not preach to you as you made your choice.
    We all make good or wrong choices throughout our lives and so far you have made your choice and your children’s choice.
    Does this make you a bad person, NO, but yes, an empty person without
    God. You may not believe in God but he not only believes in you but he
    loves you also.
    Be well, be happy but most of all, be wise.
    Bye

  3. So very true. I’m so happy to have found your blog. We used to live in Kentucky, where we felt we had to bite our tongues when it came to religion and God. We have two young children, and we worried about other people trying to ‘save their souls’ and using scare tactics in an attempt to make them believe. Two years ago we moved to Los Angeles and I am so relieved and amazed at how different it is here. The first question when I meet someone is not, ‘what church do you go to?’ (in fact, it never comes up), and when I say that we aren’t a religious family, no one looks at me like they feel sorry for me and my family, or like we’re broken. I’m still nervous about revealing our true feelings to certain members of my family who I love and respect, but I’ve been ‘coming out’, little by little, by joining groups on Facebook….eventually, they will just assume the truth, I’m sure.

  4. What a great analogy! I will have to use that one. Thank you!

  5. I’m 58 and was raised in Ohio. My mother made my sisters and me go to church, but usually stayed home with our dad who was an atheist. When I married and we had children, my husband said that he didn’t like organized religion, but if we had to raise our kids in church, it had to be catholic. When our son, the oldest of four, started catechism, in the third grade, he came home after a few classes and said the classes made no sense and he wouldn’t go back. That was when my husband and I stopped pretending to believe in a god. My son is now 35 and the father of three sons and is still the smartest person that I know. Several years ago, he suggested that I read The God Delution, by Richard Dawkins, which is wonderful.
    I’m so tired of being surrounded by religious people! However, I have been unable to be honest. Maybe reading your blog will help me be honest about who I really am and what I don’t believe in. Thank you!

  6. I think my common sense leads me to the conclusion that God does exist. I don’t believe in God because someone told me to. Christianity does encourage us to use our mind to find belief. Christians are not expected to leave our intellect behind and trust in fairytales. Christians believe because of what God has done in our life and we see the proof everyday that He is with us.

    • @Linn OK. If your common sense led you there, I am not–none of are–going to talk you out of your conclusions. Thanks for expressing your opinion respectfully.

  7. very interesting..this ‘experiment’ was done many years ago and the findings were the same. it was done to try and understand the compliance of people in germany during ww2 against the jews. indoctrination is the same anywhere…especially if we indoctrinate the most vulnerable…children..into thinking something that may not only be untrue but dysfunctional. religious indoctrination is a form of child abuse…psychological indoctrination in humans that are powerless to question or refuse.

  8. Your blog inspired me to write out my own “coming out” process. We keep a travel blog (Hennacornoelidays.com) and what I wrote does not fit our blog. I would love to give it to you and if you saw fit you can post it. Think how cool it would be if every once in a while you let your readers tell of their own freethinking decisions? Anyways, if you like you can reach out to me via my e-mail address (which I think you have when I comment) and I will send it to you as a word document.

  9. I’m new to this blog but I just have to say, I’m an atheist and I’m certainly not empty. Does anyone else here feel empty???? Didn’t think so.

  10. Isn’t it ironic that Isabel & Robert feel perfectly comfortable making the decision to indoctrinate their children into THEIR beliefs, but condemn others for simply teaching our children critical thinking skills and NOT indoctrinating them into a particular belief system? My children will learn the facts about many religions, so they can understand that religions can’t possibly all be right – but they can all be wrong!

  11. I haven’t seen the movie but I’m not surprised. Many studies have shown that people will defer to authority when put under enough pressure or when the authority figure is made to seem legit. I recently visited the Vatican while on a tour of Italy. It brought home to me how impressive the buildings and the art is. It says “we must be right and you must follow us because look how impressive we are”. Hitler understood this (and many others). I’d you want people to follow you it’s best to put on a good show.

    One thing that I also realized some years ago was the brilliance of the concept if original sin and baptism. What a fantastic recruiting tactic. When you’re born you have sin and are destined for a terrible place called hell. UNLESS you join the club by being baptized. So hurry and join your baby up before its too late! Brilliant. And sad.

  12. further to my former comment, maybe we have to let religious choice to people when they reach an age where they can make an informed decision about whether they believe in god or not. without the interference and indoctrination from their parents.

  13. At one point, I believe you said you left out mention of the town you live in to try and remain “closeted”, as it were, for sake of your kids. But I assume — with quite a bit of publicity — this isn’t likely. I wish you the best with that…and from an intellectual standpoint, look forward to hearing about your experiences within your community.

    My wife and I live on the fringes of the Bible Belt and our child is grown — we don’t care if anyone thinks less of us for our “non-beliefs.” I’ve been appalled to read the thoughts of so many folks living in Texas — I didn’t quite realize just how strong the prejudices are.

    Those that are so prejudiced are — in my mind — incredibly narrow and fearful. Overall, I think we’ve made great progressive strides in this country, but I wonder if there will be rather strong social discord and unrest at some point, before we can finally be accepting — truly accepting — of those with different beliefs, sexual orientation, etc.

    I don’t know that ignorance and prejudice will go down without a fight.

    • Vanessa Tamblin

      Peter,

      We live in Austin, Texas, which is the only open minded city in the state. Our republican governor and legislature are an embarrassment. We continue to live in Texas because our children and grandchildren are here.

      • @Vanessa T. Yes, Austin is the only open-minded city in the state. I lived there for 18 months. And yes…our governor and legislature are a huge embarrassment.

  14. So if you are parents, Isabal and Robert, did you give your young children a choice regarding to be religious or not? Did you present your kids with the thousands of religions that have previously or currently exist and have them pick the correct and accurate one, in complete disregard to the one that you both think is the one that will give you both eternal bliss?

    • @ Shawn I was thinking that same thing. Do Christians give their kids a chance? I’m ok–as I’m sure many other freethinkers are–if my children ultimately choose a religion. As long as they’ve given it thought…

  15. The sad part of all this is that we seem to need these endless discussions about a mythical being. The same people who would reject out of hand the notion of Zues, Hercules, and the rest of the cast of Mount Olympus, will devote their lives to defending the equally absurd myth of their own all-powerful and all-knowing god. People cannot see beyond their own culture, or perhaps they are merely too lazy to make the effort.

  16. I am an atheist myself, having lost my faith way back when I was a kid because of my grandma’s passing. I haven’t gotten my faith back and I don’t feel like I’m going without anything in my life. In fact, when I realized what I was feeling and was able to stop going to church, I felt more complete.

    My husband, friends and some of my family know I don’t believe, and they are fine with it. My in-laws would lose their minds and probably disown me if they knew. And at work, it’s getting harder and harder (and more unpleasant) to fake my beliefs. I work in a hospice, and we start and end almost all of our meetings with prayers by our chaplain. I am uncomfortable with this. If I had known this would be the norm in this job, I don’t think I would have taken it. If my co-workers or supervisors knew about my lack of belief, I think they’d find a way to get rid of me.

    I hate living professionally like this, but I admire your ability to come clean with your kids and the public. Once I can find another job, all that praying will be addressed in my exit interview as just one of the reasons why I’ve left.

    • @ Amy Lynn….I hear you. I work for someone who is VERY religious. She does not know that I wrote this. (She watches/reads mainly Fox.) I’m pretty sure I’ll be out of a job if she knew.

      I admire you for working in hospice. That is a tough job and you must be a special person.

      Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing.

  17. My wife add I have been athiests simce we were about 18. She was raised S. Babtist and I was raised Catholic. We have been married 15 years amd two teenage daughters.
    We raised our kids to be athiests too, but we wanted them to think about it for themselves and come to their own conclusions. We pointed out many of the absurdities of religions; But also pointed out the common threads between religions (Diety’s, etc), and how humanity seems to have had a need to explian unexplainable things over the ages, that are increasingly explainable and cornering religion into an even smaller corner.
    We do not hide our Atheism, we do not flaunt it. Most folks who learn we are athiest are perplexed and usually say “I have never met anyone who doesnt believe in God” and ask a few questions. We usually do not want to befriend religious people, but we do have some and my wifes family is still deeply religious.
    We told our kids it’s like Santa Claus (after they had grown past Santa), ‘you dont beleive in Santa but some people do so we must respect those that do’. Thats been the best anaology.
    My personal question is why do so many believe in God, and I think it’s because people are easily brainwshed as children to believe what they are told. And I think people get a warm fuzzy feeling thinking their might be life after death, a God to speak to, etc etc. Their is likely a bilogical aspect to believing in God in our brains too, I believe to get past God one must move past ‘Faith’ in the absurdities religions preach.

  18. Ryan from Canada

    Sounds like a modern remake of the Milgram experiments from the 1960s. They came out of questions surrounding the Nazis who were directly involved in the Holocaust.

    It does seem amazing that people take instructions like this. Imagine if you were a German living in Nazi Germany and if you didn’t get on board with the Nazis you were putting your family, your own life at stake. Browning wrote a book called, “Ordinary Men”, which you may find interesting. It all causes one to do some serious naval gazing.

    With backdrop made up of the Holocaust, North Korea, Cambodia, aspects of the USSR and many others, I think you need go further than simply rejecting the notion of god that authority figures present. We need to question all authority, all instruction.

    Lastly, it has been asked: if you believe this life is all there is, and you are in a situation that essentially forces you to choose between your own well being and defending the well being of strangers, don’t you choose your own well being, your own life? In other words, if you receive no reward for giving up your life to help a stranger, why would you do it? I have a few answers of my own but would like to hear yours.

  19. I was born and raised in Texas… raised in a non-religious household btw. My kids are now being raised in a non-religious household as well. When I was growing up in San Antonio there was an amazing amount of people trying to ‘convert’ me – and I did attend a number of different religious venues including Baptist, Catholic (my family’s heritage), Lutheran, Judaism, and (yes) even Scientology. Bluntly none of it really did anything for me. I wouldn’t call myself an aetheist, perhaps maybe an agnostic? When I’m asked now what my faith is I say ‘humanism.’ It’s not that I’m sure God doesn’t or does exist, it’s that I think the question is irrelevant to the way I live my life. I’m very well educated, I work full-time for a charity organization, I volunteer many many hours annually to help the poor, I have two kids, a loving husband of 12 years… the thing I tell my kids is most important is to contribute positively and to the best of your ability to your community. Be purpose driven. Our life is full – overwhelmingly so. ‘Empty’ isn’t even in our family’s vocabulary.

    My oldest daughter is 8 years old. She’s just now really starting to get questions about religion from her peers. I tell her what she chooses to believe is up to her. I tell her being kind to others and contributing positively to her school is the most important thing. She will make her own choices and if she chooses religion, then I will offer rides every Sunday if that’s what she needs.

    The most COMMON thing I run across that I dislike is the disrespectful, condescending, judgmental attitude and statements of folks like Isabel&Robert. There’s a passive aggressive nastiness that more than implies that I’m inferior for my beliefs. At this point in my life I try to rise above it and offer a simple ‘I’m not interested.’ But I certainly feel that I’ve encountered a narrow minded bigot.

  20. Ugh I’m really bothered by ‘dam’ and ‘Amy Lynn’s situations. Is there no option for other work? It’s a shame that you have to hide who you are. You shouldn’t have to participate in prayer or profess a belief in Christianity if you don’t want to just to keep your job…

  21. Have people really forgotten that this is America? We should all be celebrating this woman’s ability to speak freely and raise her children as she sees fit.

  22. Hi Dam! My name is Joseph and I recently moved with my wife from Georgia, the “bible belt,” to Fargo, ND to start a new church. We have been a little over 7 months and all is going well, really enjoying the time that we are having with other believers. I am probably just another one of those “Christians” to you and there is little I can do to convince you otherwise except write to you about true Christianity and why it is not a fairytale for weak people in need of comfort. But first let me ask you a simple question, do you just believe that Jesus Christ is not God or do you just not want Him as part of your family’s life?

    Some things I have learned about Christianity while reading the Bible about the life of Jesus Christ.
    1. It is for the brokenhearted!!! Jesus came for those who are lost, who are in need of physician, who are lonely, who are poor in spirit, who mourn, who suffer.
    2. It is for the humble!!! Jesus spoke in gentle words to most people, but to the self-righteous “keepers of the law” he spoke very pointedly and harsh because their hearts were hard.
    3. It is for those who cry out!!! Jesus often would hear the cries of the blind, the disabled, and the desperate people during his ministry. He answered them because they cried out in faith believing that He could heal them. And he did!
    4. It is for the sinner!!! Jesus himself said he did not come for the righteous but instead came lead the sinner to repentance.

    Dam, there is so much more! Even though you try to live your life without God I pray that he would break in and steal your heart!!!

    • @ Joseph I respect your right to believe. I believe Jesus was just a man and a good example to follow. Thanks for reaching out to comment.

  23. @dam – Thank you for “coming out”. I consider myself lucky to have parents who encouraged me to think for myself, explore the world, ask questions, and come to my own conclusions. Both of my parents were brought up with religion yet I was not forced to go to church, nor told I couldn’t attend a church function when I asked.

    It is a very empowering feeling (almost spiritual, dare I say) to know I’ve reached my own conclusions, I’m in charge of my own destiny, and I can think critically about important topics. I’m grateful you are giving your children the opportunity to feel the same.

  24. We need more free thinkers like you. I was raised a Lutheran in a poor family. The church supplied good support for my widowed mother and three siblings, but I do not believe in the fairy tale of religion. Frankly, it just doesn’t make sense to me. My eldest son started a club at his university for skeptics and athiests. What he was encourageing was free speech and free thought.

    • @Mary. And we need more young people like your son. I know the church can serve a useful role in society. It is good for some people….thanks for reaching out and taking the time to comment.

  25. Friendly Persuasion

    Religion raises more questions for me than provides answers…at least as Christianity is often presented:
    - If there is a Commandment “Thous shalt not kill” and the US is a “Christian” nation why do we go to war or why do we put people to death?
    - So often you hear God has a plan for us all or “it is God’s plan”. So the Holocust was God’s plan? Then that means Hitler wasn’t really evil he was just playing his part in the plan…same with the Sandy Hook shooter….or any other person who commits vile and despicable acts.

    The only term that comes to mind is cognitive dissonance. I don’t quite understand how so many religious people can be so hypocritical.

    As for the movie…Milgram experiments showed that just about anyplace could become Nazi Germany.. what happened in Bosnia/Serbia showed this well.

  26. Not a bad person

    Thank you. I am a closet atheist who works as a teacher in a heavily religious area. I have publicly admitted to not believing in God once. In college and I think if i had said I thought cannibalism was acceptable the reaction may have been better. I tried to explain to the group that were now staring at me in horror, that it didn’t mean I had no morals and still believed in the same rules of society they did, only not because I wanted to go to heaven. It did not matter I went from being part of their group to a social leper. Now, I don’t even share my feelings with friends. I have learned that for many, but not all, if you are not with them you are against them and they will make you pay for your disbelief.

  27. Found it and put in my Netflix queque. I see Amazon also has it. Looking forward to watching it! Just curious if you or anyone else has seen Julia Sweeney’s Letting Go of God. It’s about her transition of being brought up in a relgious household to where she is today, a non-believer. Very entertaining and comical if you are familiar with her sense of humor. The good old movie with Spencer Tracy, Inherit the Wind is also a classic! And one more, Zeitgeist, the Movie part 1 is about religion and the myths that go along with it. This has been a great blog to be part of and have found much comfort in knowing how many others out there are in the same frame of thinking as myself, the non-relgious ones of course! :)

  28. @ Not a bad person: Once, while at a park with my children, I encountered another mother. Our children were playing well together and we began a friendly chat. We were in concordance with most things and seemed to really hit it off until we came to the topic of religion. She revealed that she
    was Christian, and she obviously wanted to know my beliefs. I told her I was agnostic. Immediately she looked at me as though I had sprouted horns, called her children away from mine, and went to the other side of the park without offering so much as a goodbye.

    I try to live a moral and kind life. It is my hope that people are surprised out of their stereotypical ways of thinking when they learn of my athiest/agnostic ways. Unfortunately though, more often than not, they are unable to see past their ingrained beliefs.

    • @jmrue I agree….I don’t think they can help themselves. Understanding that helps us not be so angry. Thanks so much for reaching out and commenting.

  29. Hi Deborah, just read the 1-18 piece about you on CNN. Good for you! I grew up in a Catholic family, most of which are still Catholic, and woke up in High School to become agnostic, which is where I’ve been for over 30 years now. Thanks for speaking up and keep up the good work.

  30. I work for the State of Oregon at the University. I work with a woman who is very vocal about her religious beliefs and has a big sign in her office that says PRAYER. At luncheons she puts her hands out for people to take so she can lead a prayer. I find it so presumptuous, I am VERY uncomfortable and so stopped going to the luncheons. Reading what others say here is helping me find a way to stand my own ground without attacking or judging others.

    • @ Whiskers. That’s VERY uncomfortable. I’m in a similar situation. You’re (or I am) kind of afraid to speak up because you don’t know how those types of people will react. They aren’t very sensitive to others, clearly. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences.

  31. Dam,
    Jesus claimed deity, so was he lying or was he a lunatic. If he was not a liar or a lunatic than he certainly is God and very much worthy to be followed. So is Jesus a liar, a lunatic, or Lord? You must choose, you cannot say he was a merely a good man, when even he himself said that he was the “I am,” the “way the truth and the life”! He never denied the claims of his followers, he never denied being the messiah, he healed the sick, he cast out demons, he raised the dead, he conquered death, he forgave sins, and he says that he will come again “to judge the living and the dead”. How can you say what he was, but yet He himself disagree with you. I have a feeling that your disagreement stems from you belief that the Bible is a false document, but yet the bible is the greatest historical document to every be found and has more proven manuscript evidence than the next ten historical books combined (Odyssey, etc.). Do you believe in miracles?

    • @Joseph Daniel Murrey I don’t beleive that Jesus was a deity. He was a man who set a good example for the rest of us to follow. The Bible is not necessarily false. I just don’t believe it was divinely inspired. If you do, fine. I respect your right to believe. I won’t try to convince you, and I ask that you respect my beliefs, too. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  32. My children and I find it awkward to deal with theistic friends. (No problem with Buddhism, since at its core Buddhism deals with ethics and the inner peace and compassion necessary to always act ethically.) To serious Christians I want to say, “clearly God loved the dinosaurs much more! Dinosaurs lived for at least tens of millions of years, and humans will last likely less than a million. In fact, after having recognized HIm, humans will survive likely only a few thousand years!”
    It is hardest with those who believe God has his finger in the pie now, rather than just set up the rules long ago and is a judging spectator. For instance, when one person survives a natural disaster or mass atrocity and thanks God for saving them, I am dumbfounded. I feel like asking how they know that God loved the others who died or were disabled less (in the disaster He created). The answer provided is that God’s ways are unknowable (certainly) or that those victims were certainly saved from something worse. But then if consequences are so unknowable,(bad is good), it seems obvious that the “saved” person praising God might have been set up for a worse fate, (Good is bad). It is so absurd!
    Believing in an active God is hard to teach, for lack of evidence. Therefore an atmosphere is created in which if you question, you are less pious(=good) and therefore not as worthy of help in God’s eyes. God is represented as having the attitude that ” I might not care about you and help you unless you have something for me (faith) “. It is not about being good but about admiring God? Who would want a narcissistic God?
    Certainly belief in God has been a real and enormous comfort and strength to many, particularly people with great personal suffering and loss. I don’t know history well, but perhaps much of our belief in the value of the indiviudal is rooted in Christianity. And in the last couple of centuries within the Christian world much of the social impact of Christianity has promoted humanitarian behavior. But we all know how Christianity/Islam (Abrahamic) religion has been perverted and still often is, put to use to promote intolerance, warfare and torture. I feel that due to its dogmatic and historical exclusionary nature, it has more potential for harm overall than for good.
    It doesn’t make you a bad witness, though! I was horrifed that a judge excluded critical testimony in a murder trial “because the child believed in Santa Claus”. The child was taught to! If the Judge decided due to that belief and not other factors related to truth-telling and age, then that is equivalent to excluding testimony from people who were taught to believe in God. Just because you have been taught a belief in God or Santa Claus doesn’t mean you can’t see the material world or that you make up untruths outside your belief system.

  33. I love hockey and introduced my children to it. Some like and play it, others don’t.
    I love my religion and introduced my children to it. Some like and pray, others don’t.
    Sharing something you love with your children is not indoctrination.

  34. I emailed your ireport to my kids and to some of their friends (and their parents) who are also living free from religion for the very reasons you outlined. Thank you for giving us the words for when we are attacked. My children have been told they will burn in hell by other CHILDREN. So sad. It actually just reaffirmed what they already felt to be the case….that religion rules by fear.

    • @ellaseyes Yes, religion does rule by fear, and yes it is very sad that children would be told they will burn in hell….Thanks for taking the time to write.

  35. Stay strong. I had to have a discussion with my religious mother that no, my pentacle didn’t mean I worshipped Satan, because I don’t even BELIEVE in Satan. LOL That finally shut her up. I think if people have to try to convert others to their religion, then they must not be very confident in it in the first place if they feel they need “back-up.” Convert through living by example, not brow-beating and assattery.

    I don’t consider myself religious, but I do consider myself spiritual. I take what resonates with me from a wide variety of belief systems and ignore the rest. I think as long as people aren’t hurting someone else, let them believe what they want.

    Unfortunately, it seems far too many extreme religious nuts (across the board in terms of faiths) seem determined to make their beliefs into power and money struggles. Look at how much good the Catholic church could do for the poor and starving in so many places by selling off many of their properties and art holdings? Etc. Etc.

    Teach your children to be open-minded and respectful of others, but to also be free-thinkers. With those core beliefs, regardless of what they eventually settle on as their own belief (or non-belief) system, you can’t go wrong.

    • Hi Tymber Dalton Thanks for reaching out and sharing your views. One of my good friends is very spiritual as you describe. She has a different definition of God than most, but doesn’t push it on others. Whatever works, right? That’s a funny story about Satan/your pentacle. Did you also tell her that Satan is an anagram for Santa? The Catholic church COULD do more good if they didn’t have so much debt from all the lawsuits.

  36. I also live in Texas and not believe in medieval stories and teach to my sons not to believe in fantasies.
    This country is way behind Europe and people are ignorant and violent when touched their imaginary friend from bronze age.
    Anyway in US 1 in 5 pepole are atheists, and we are much bigger in number than christians catholic alone. The fact is that we does not give a buck to religion and stay away from it and relative discussions. But something must be done in this country, so ahead about technology but so behind in mentality.
    Anyway in 50 years religion will decline near to zero as should be, new generations are more intelligent and open to science and real world than bronze age fiction.
    Religion is directly proportional to ignorance and poverty, in the next years thanks to internet and progress people will abandon the childish needs of an imaginary friend with plan for the afterlife.

    The bible as the coran was written by humans, medieval ignorant sheperd and people still use it to try to justificate their actions even if is full of falsity and proven fictions. Islam is now what Christianity was 200 years ago, bigot intollerant and violent.

    Grow up people, open your eyes, religion is a mafia used only to make money and indoctrinate people to control them with stories like heaven, hell and so on.
    Science , and the human progress strongly slowed down by religion is the only thing that raised up our quality of life and life expectancy. Religion only gives war, ignorance, and caused more deaths than every war existed, even today denying condoms and slowing down the staminal cell research, like when bacteria was discovered.

  37. Oh, and as of morality, atheists have a LOT more morality than believers.
    Non believers respect the life because we know that this is the only possibility we have to enjoy it. We respect animals,nature and other people because there will be no afterlife. We are evoluted animals, apes (it is more than clear even if people feel to important as a race to accept it).

    I saw too many believers, with god images in pockets, saints and all, doing all kind of disgusting things and then asking forgiveness (like the crusaders yeah) on sunday in the Church feeling important and part of a cult, being accepted by other people that think that who believe in a violent child killer, misoginy, pro slavery racist invented god have more morality than freethinkers just because the fairy tale of heaven and hell. This is not Medieval age anymore people!!
    Study the story of the humans with open mind and accept that after dead there will be the non existance as before Birth, THAT IS, so simple.
    As the universe we do not know anything about it, maybe will never do as we are less than BACTERIA in the universe, we are nothing, only an hypocrite race feeling too important to not be created by a superior being that made anyway a very bad job building this unstable planet full of diseases and dangers for its creatures,

    Atheists in US, do not have afraid to tell you NOT BELIEVE IN GOD!. Religious people thinks to have all the answers based on a 2k years old book written by ignorant sheperds that create the religion to control the masses as today the still do.
    Teaching creationism in school is incredible in 2013, shameful.
    People can believe what they want but RELIGION and POLITICS MUST STAY SEPARATED! Or US will be like Iran and so like iron age theocracies in which muslims live.

    I will also eliminate the sentence “in god we trust” on the dollars. It’s shameful nowdays for the super stronger country in the world with NASA, Silicon valley and all that technologies

  38. Dam, you seem very open minded.
    Are you open minded enough to read a blog by one of your Godful contemporaries?: plantedoak.wordpress.com

  39. Deborah, thank you so much for doing this blog! After a lifetime of a complicated relationship with religion, I finally had to question what I was forced to believe, and what society decided was acceptable for us to believe. I chose to leave it all behind, and I have never felt happier, or more unburdened. For those of faith who think of atheists as angry, bitter, empty, or whatever else they want to label us, I feel like none of those things. I have learned to appreciate life in a way that I didn’t before when I thought there was a god helping me or leading me with “his plan”. Now I’m in charge. And I’m finally at peace with life, and happy. Looking forward to reading your blog! :o)

  40. Thank you for the recommendation — we’ll check it out. By the way, just curious if you’ve ever read “Raising Freethinkers” and/or “Parenting Beyond Belief”. Dale McGowan is an author involved with both. When I thought I was the only atheist parent out here trying to get advice, I found these on the net. Great, insightful reads. Thanks again.

  41. @dam. Agreed. I have no business talking to OTHER children.
    As a Buddhist, I know that I look like a “freak” to many people. Their taunts strengthened my resolve never to disrespect another person’s beliefs.

  42. Thank you so much for having the strength to tell your story. I feel exactly the same and even alone. Our family lives in a community with so many religious hypocrites and I hate it. I even want to move. Wish I had others to lean on even friends to talk with but having beliefs like I do make it hard. Strange since I grew up in the Catholic community and schools.

    • @morgann Thanks for reaching out here. I understand. There are so many ex-Catholics that have spoken out. Maybe that is because they have a big presence in the US??

  43. @Sonia. Totally agree. I currently live in KY. Used to live in CA and want to move back for our childerens sake. I miss it so and to not be judged makes it a better world in my book.

  44. Great blog. I too have run into family members that don’t understand why my children don’t belong to any religion. Fortunately I live in Massachusetts, where religion is not as integrated into the community as elsewhere.

    A great book to understanding the religious mindset is called “The Authoritarians” by Bob Altemeyer. Even better is that it is free:

    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

    • @Chuck I lived in the northeast, and I agree. The religious atmosphere is not as intense. THanks for the book suggestion. I’m acquiring quite a list!

  45. Thank you so much for posting this! As a new military wife, I have already been made a bit of a social pariah because I do not attend Bible Study as the other wives do. I have offers to bring me, and it is so uncomfortable to tell them that I am an atheist. A Jew? Sure, they’d understand and accept. I think people feel that my view on the world somehow directly confronts their view, and that unless they change my mind, I’m the scary “other” that they don’t understand and can’t fully accept.

    • @ Cate I know what you mean–it’s safter to be Jewish than atheist. Being “godless” is scary for a lot of people. I’m glad you reached out here. Thanks for commenting.

  46. @morgann. I empathize with you and can relate 100%. I live in a very small community where the religious rule. It is extremely lonely when you are not one of them. I really have no friends here to where I can be myself and be able to express my way of thinking. I wish I could start up a group of non-believers cause I know there has to be a few and are afraid to “come out” but how would one even advertise in such a religious community, right? I too wish I could move, but our livelyhood is here. Like you, I see so much hypocrisy it absolutely boggles my mind! But at least you found this blog and you are in the midst with the rest of us non-believers who really need to vent and find some common ground with other likeminded thinkers.

    • @mtprairegirl I agree with you…finding others is so comforting. As for starting a group, maybe you could use code words like a “freethinkers or humanist group”?!!

  47. A quote from my blog responding to your post. Please follow the link for further reading and detailed response.

    http://calvineastwood.blogspot.com/2013/01/response-to-cnn-ireport-why-i-raise-my.html

    “One question I would ask this woman is: “why do you want your child to be full of hope?”

    I’m reminded of a quote by the famous British philosopher and atheist, Bertrand Russell when he said: “No one can sit at the bedside of a dying child and still believe in God.” The point of Russell’s statement is much like the content of this blog: ‘How can a loving God exist if children suffer?”

    Christian philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig responds to this quote by asking: “What is Bertrand Russell going to say when he is kneeling at the bed of a dying child?” Tough luck? Too bad? That’s the way it goes? That’s all that’s left for him.”

    • @ CalvinE I’m going to post your comment, but I won’t be reading your post. As you can imagine, I’ve had and read plenty of rebuttals. What we are frustrated with, and I’m speaking for my fellow nonbelievers, is people who think they can convert us. Most of us have been where you are. Through thinking, reading, learning, introspection and experiencing life, we’ve come to this place of NOT believing. Please respect that as I respect your right TO worship and believe. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  48. I’d seen those poor girls on a 20/20 episode..which i promptly spoke to our children about the insanity of what i had just watched.
    I also feel very uncomfortable when random people say-
    Jesus loves you…It’s God’s will…etc..
    My oldest son was asked by a classmate,why do you and your siblings get good grades and act right ?(the kid is made to go to church twice a week and makes a mess of his life) Do your parents make you go to church and pray to be good? My son says, No we don’t go to church..We just do the right thing…

    • @ Sara I don’t know why people have this idea that church makes people good. It’s good to hear that your kids are thriving without being part of the religious community.

  49. I had been thinking about adding that movie to my que. Now I’ll have to check it out for sure. I moved to Sweden 4 years ago with my two daughters to live with my partner because she could not move to the US. Federally the states still does not recognize same sex marriage, therefore she couldnt immigrate to the states. If we wanted to be together I had no choice but to move to Sweden.
    I come from a very religious family and coming forward to them with my relationship was traumatic for me, my partner and my children. I lived in a community where i had to leave a job when a ‘christian’ woman found out i was a lesbian and made it her mission to make me miserable in a job i loved. My youngest brother, who was for YEARS my best friend met a religious girl and decided himself to become a preacher and after 20 plus years of having him as my best friend, I lost him to his ‘religion’. Religion did nothing for me but cause suffering and for all the reasons you named in the post that got you so much atttention, I too have chosen to believe differently. The blessing of Sweden is that here in Sweden religion is a much more private thing and people who street corner preach or look down on others for religious reasons are actually considered kinda whacky. How enlightening to find out that! I am thankful to put that zealous crap behind me and even more thankful to see someone stand up for it and get so much positive attention. Its nice to know that there are more of us hiding out there! Great job and THANK YOU!

    • @Jackie Wilson Thanks so much for writing and sharing. It’s really unfair that your partner could not move here. Although I think that moving to another country helps children grow in many other ways. I’ve heard from several people who have lived or are living in Europe, and they say the same thing about the religious climate there. I guess the US is behind….

  50. I’m personally very heartened by your blog’s reception. It seems to be overwhelmingly positive (I hope that’s the case). My husband are both atheists. He was raised in the United Kingdom, and I was raised in Texas. He doesn’t feel the need to label himself or proclaim himself as non-religious, as that is the norm where he is from. I, on the other hand, was called a witch, a devil-worshipper and other vile things when I was in high school for standing up for my beliefs. We will be moving to the United States soon, and I’m afraid my husband is in for quite a shock. But we are planning on joining the Unitarian community and surrounding ourselves with people who love us not for what we believe, but for what we do. :-D

    • @ Laura I’ve heard and read many good things about the Unitarian church. They are very progressive and accepting of people who don’t fit in the proverbial religion box.

      If you were raised in TX, then you know the atmosphere here. I’m curious to see, when you return, if you think it is better or worse. I guess it depends where you live. I think Austin is much more open-minded.

      I think people are harder on women. Men seem to get more respect for their ideas, where women are seen as unlearned or as you said, witches.

      Good luck with your move. And thanks so much for reaching out and writing.

  51. @ Dam I’m interested in the Unitarian community because, despite the fact that I’m a point 7 atheist, I like the idea of community. I also want to make sure my children (I’m pregnant and looking forward to continuing to read your blog) are surrounded by open-minded supportive people. I’ll also be looking for humanist and other free-thinking orgs.

    Anyway, I’m glad you’re doing what you’re doing. More of us need to be out and show the rest of the world that non-believers are good and decent people.

    • @Laura…Yes, I agree. If more of us speak us, we will desensitize those who think we are evil or the Devil’s work.

      Good luck with your new baby (when he or she arrives)! Such an exciting time.

  52. For what little it’s worth, and I suspect you’ve heard this a bunch of times already but I still want to add my voice to the crowd, I’m a born-again Christian and person of faith who still fully supports you and what you’re doing. I believe that one’s religious choices are personal, and that you’re free to believe whatever you want. You’re obviously still doing all you can to be a moral and good person, and raising your children to be the same. If they choose to believe in God later in life, then that’s awesome, and if they don’t, then I’d rather they be moral atheists than immoral believers.

    • @ Anonymous. You didn’t post your name, but you really made my day. It means a lot to hear that you are a born-again Christian, but so respectful and tolerant. Thank you.

  53. I wanted to say that you are not alone. I did not take the time to read through all of the other comments, but I am certain that you have realized there are more that share your opinion than one may originally have thought in such a religious-frenzied society. If you haven’t already, please take the time to watch Zeitgeist: the Movie, or at least Part I. It explains in great detail the origination of the mythological figure “Jesus Christ” and how he was actually derived from the Egyptian God (or fable) “Horace”. It is absolutely fascinating and gives true testament that your doubts are based in absolute fact. Modern day religion is nothing but a byproduct of the stories that were told to explain the changing of the zodiacs…seriously, you will not regret taking the time to check this film out. (If you have it it is on Netflix.) I would honestly love to see a truly religious believer watch that movie and be able to explain away the truth in it. Anyways, thank you for your courage to stay true to yourself.

    • @ Annie thanks for reaching out and commenting. I do think JC was based on an actual, although like most public figures, I don’t know how accurate the depiction is….Many of the stories in the bible were derived from other sources and religions…

  54. Although you may have given up on God, he will never give up on you. I will continue to pray for you and especially your children. It makes me sad to see so many people seem to need further proof of a loving God other then simply looking at the love they have for others, esp their children. Each and every breath is a gift from our Heavenly Father. The fact that you were born and given life to post such heartbreaking news about our decision to turn you back on our Heavenly Father, is a gift from God. A true christian should never judge you as that is up to God, but I will continue to pray for you and those who think like you. May the holy spirit find its way back into your life and give you peace. The fact that you took the time to make this blog is simple evidence that you don’t truly have spiritual peace in your life.

    • @ Jesusman Please listen. I feel very content and peaceful. I’ve been a nonbeliever for over two decades, and I find it much better to…never mind. There’s too many reasons, and I doubt you will hear me. I respect your right to worship and believe. Please repsect mine (all of ours).

  55. I applaud you for your courage to stand up against the majority! My 2 boys are now away at college, ages 19 and 22. I’ve been divorced for 18 years and raised my boys as a single mother. We were very active in Christian churches in our city. I worked with the high school girls for years and was the Director of our church’s Children’s Ministry. I even had my beautiful house built directly across the street from my then-pastor and his family. Six months after moving into our brand new home my pastor’s children started telling my boys things, repeating words they’d heard from their parents – all judgments directed at us, especially at me for my supposedly lack of good parenting skills. By far, this wasn’t my first experience with being judged by the Christian church I was attending – it had happened way too many times for me to count during my lifetime. When my pastor, his wife and children began verbally attacking my own innocent boys, I drew the line. My kids were in middle school at the time. I left religion behind and have never looked back. I began my life-long study of the religions of the world, it’s fascinating to me how religion has shaped almost all of our planet’s cultures, from the beginning of time. For the past several years, I haven’t believed in the doctrines of any of them. My boys were not raised without church, quite the contrary actually. I fully supported their desires to attend local church youth group activities or Sunday services. After a very short time, they didn’t want any part of church. Being judged time and time again, well it cut to the core of all of us (my boys and me). Because I happen to live in the Deep South of Alabama, I am afraid to voice my non-belief in Christianity out loud. I do not have your courage, I am extremely fearful to let my community know I am not a Christian. People here are so radical, they could literally burn my home down because of my ‘non-belief.” Thank you for standing up for those of us who do not want religion in our lives!!!

    • @ Shelley That sucks–you serve the church and they judge you. It sounds like it was a growing experience, though. I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself about being afraid to voice nonbelief. Many of us are in the same boat. I did not include the city where I live for that reason. People can be irrational about religion. A few see us as agents of the Devil. So, it is understandable that you feel that way. Thanks for reaching out and connecting here.

  56. I work in technical support – supporting external customers with proprietary software. I understand computers and issues with Microsoft – but I am by no means an expert. So when something isn’t working correctly, I call our internal ‘Help Desk’. It has happened where I spent 45 minutes trying to explain it or getting someone on the line and I finally give up – and fix it myself in five minutes.

    If I had only engaged my brain immediately instead of assuming it was somebody else’s job to figure it out for me, I would have saved myself time and frustration.

    I think this is similar to your example. We are trained to defer to the people who are supposed to know.

    Thanks for the blog. As an atheist mother of a 2 and 4 year old I am surprised to hear that there is so much hate and craziness out there (‘You really should believe in my Sky Wizard! I will pray for you.” ) It sounds like I am in for some adventures.

    Fortunately, I do not live in the bible belt and most of my friends are atheists although I although I have a couple very good friends who are very religious and happily, we accept each other as they are.

    • @Kami Thanks for taking the time to write. That is a good example you gave–we are trained from childhood to defer to authority. In other parts of the country and the world, religion is not such a big issue…But I think maybe we will be catching up soon. There definitely seems to be more people speaking up.

  57. I am so glad I found your blog! And I hope you read all of your comments. I live in Utah, I don’t have any religious beliefs and I am indirectly raising my 15 year old daughter this way. You can imagine the outcast we are in this state of Mormon religion. My family, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles have the same beliefs I do so that keeps me from feeling alone in this crazy religious state. I am a black and white person in all aspects of my life, its one or the other, never “gray” as I label religion to be. Thank you for writing the article for CNN it was awesome!.

    • @Anonymous in Utah. Yes, I read all the comments. Thank you for being part of this discussion! I can only imagine how you feel in Utah. We actually have a big Mormon presence where I live, too.

  58. Thank you!! I was raised in a very religious family where I was made to feel afraid every day. I raised my children without religion. They thank me for it to this very day as they raise thier own children without religion. They are very kind and loving people who have learned to rely on their own judgement and experiences without the need for a “religious crutch” to get them thru the hard times!! Good Luck and thanks for speaking up!!

  59. Fellow Texan Atheist here. I’m beginning to think there’s more of us than we suspect, it’s just the voice of the religious is so loud here. I’m raising my 3 daughters and trying to encourage free thought. Our biggest problem so far has been finding private schools where religion is not the central focus.

    • @mcmoyer Yes, far more atheists/agnostics than I realized. Yes, that was my problem, too, and I actually did send my sons to a religious kindergarten. I would have sent them to Catholic school if not so far away–the education is better. I figure the Catholics are the most moderate and the nuns all have nice handwriting. Thanks for taking the time to write.

  60. Excellent work atheist mommy. Please please keep it up. As far as all the angry people…they were angry before you wrote the CNN piece. Stay positive and keep up the great work. There is an entire atheist blogosphere out there that will support you. In fact…Laughing in Purgatory is an atheist parenting blog that uses comedy to get OUR message across. I wish you nothing but good fortune. Stay warm and safe.

    Kriss

  61. You are not alone and I think it is great that you are teaching other people that they are not hopelessly outnumbered. I’ve had the joy of not being shackled to belief since I was eight or nine years old and the freedom that comes from never caring whether anyone liked it or not. I applaud you for teaching your children that their joy does not need to be connected to mimicking other people’s beliefs. Your children are fortunate to have a mother like you.

  62. Love your blog! Just found it today from the CNN article, and look forward to seeing more posts from your perspective. I’m an atheist, raised catholic, and my husband is an atheist raised a Christian, with 12 years of private christian schooling. We are both college educated, traveled. It’s not as if we just came to this nonbelieving state overnight. It’s refreshing to see the non believers coming together. As you know all to well, the believers are so fearful of the non believers that their own fear pushes them to feel as though people like us are the ‘devil’. And for some reason they think they have to ‘convert’ us or try to scare us back in to their world. Well…… if that’s what they need to feel safe, I say let them have it. I just politely disengage myself from those situations, and those people. I’m comfortable with what I believe and don’t believe. Blog on! ;-)

  63. To not believe in God is the most arrogant thing I’ve ever heard. You obviously have faith that no God exists. When Galileo talked astrology, most called him crazy and wanted to have him killed. Why? They couldn’t “see” what he was talking about and called him insane. Guess what? He was right. When Columbus said the world was round the world made fun and called him a cook! Why? They couldn’t see. Guess what? I think we both agree now he was right. Is it possible that all “religious” people are wrong and you’re right? That’s judgemental and pompous. You’re obviously a person of faith. Faith that an explosion or something happened and waa laa….We have the earth and life! I must admit….. That takes some major faith. My question for you is “What do you base your faith on? Think about that……

    • @Jason Alan Are you trying to say that people believed Galileo and Columbus were thought wrong by their peers but science proved them correct? Ok, we agree. So how does that apply to your argument about religion? The nonbelievers are the doubters and the religous believers are Galileo and Columbus? You mean science will prove you right?

      • Mam, Yes. I’m saying science has proved my religious beliefs. Many over time have tried to disprove the Bible with science and have never ever disproven the bible with Science. In fact, they find proof that what the Bible is saying is true. Fact: in the Bible there is a story where Moses parts the Red Sea. The Romans were chasing He and the rest of the Israelites. Moses (through God) parted the Red Sea and the Sea closed and the Romans tried to cross. The Romans drowned. Guess what…. an atheist studied this, went to the Red Sea where the Bible talks of where this happenend and what did he find? Oh just chariot wheels, chariots and weapons from that exact period at the bottom of the red sea at the exact spot. Science is not on an Atheist side. You, like me have faith in something that you can’t see. I have faith in God (with the Bible) and you have faith in no God (which you can’t see) with zero proof. This was my correlation with Columbus and Galileo. The people called them crazy for what they were saying because they couldn’t see it…… Do you believe you are breating air that you can’t see? Take the “THEORY” of evolution…. Believing in evolution takes some major faith in the supernatural. I’ll explain evolution. If a tornado where to go through a junkyard thrash and spin all the metal and out the back end a 747 jet comes….. That’s evolution…… monkey to man….. think about it. That sure takes faith. ALOT! These people that are always saying they are praying for you love you and do not want to see you as a non believe perish. if you’re right and they are wrong then everyone will be fine in the afterlife. If a person who believes in the almighty God who is the lord and savior who sent his son to this earth who rose again is correct and you’re wrong then you and the other non believers will suffer in eternity. I love my fellow man and I do not want to see anyone perish forever. The Bible is very simple. It’s about redemption. Will you accept God’s gift? That’s it.

  64. The other day I was reading an article about the rise of the “nones” and in the comment section a self describe “old foggie” said that the difference between baby boomer kids (him) growing up and the kids nowadays is that the youngsters TODAY are much more willing and able to question authority. Even for myself (44 y’o) no one dared question authority much less religious authority.

    Thank rational goodness for the New Atheist and the Four Horsemen. Thank rational goodness for the efforts of atheist parents like yourself.

    I am encouraged. Thank you from the bottom of my godless heart.

    Kriss

  65. Thank You for having the courage to speak out… I have gone through a transition from apathetic-agnostic to an athiest over the last few months. I think you hit on so many important points in your original piece that I agree with 100%.

    I look forward to the day when religion is simply looked at as superstition.

    The younger generation has to much information to fall in line and contnue to believe in all this nonsense.

  66. I believe in God, that is my choice.
    I applaud the courage of those who say that they do not.
    Atheists are ostracized in every society today, I hope I see the day this will change.
    A black man in the White house was a dream not so long ago.

  67. Thank you dam, thank you for elevating and illuminating this situation.

    Tolerance is such a wonderful way of life. As, whatever we believe, we are a minority of all the people alive, then shouldn’t we all be humble and try and understand the beliefs of others? Remember whatever religion or non religion you are studying right now, most people think it’s wrong.

    Also a plee to all to not label people, just because I do not believe in this god or that god does not make me an atheist (atheist is a perjoritive word). God is a broad concept, I believe in something, so please don’t label me an atheist based on your judgement. I think a neutral view is that their are two types of people, people that believe what you believe and people who believe something else.

  68. I just saw the CNN piece today ( I am SOOOOO slow) and it actually struck a cord with me. I am a mother of 3 young children, and atheist as well, and have actually been struggling a bit with this. The area where I live is, like most, religiously dominant, and while I have respect for everyone, there have been several occasions where I have not been respected. It’s a pretty lonely life sometimes! It’s nice to hear that I am not alone, and that there are other people out there like me.
    I could say a million things at this point, I think, but I think I will take a peek at your wordpress and read on before I run my mouth too much and give you a novel!
    Cheers!

  69. I can’t wait until the presidential race will include an Atheists or an Agnostic but then again that person will still be a politician and will probably suck anyway. But it would be nice to see someone stand up and say,”I don’t believe in a mythical-fairy tale”.

  70. Just found your blog through CCN. I read this post and wanted to share. I am a believer in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and am a proud father of a two year old son. Since this is my only child (though my wife and I have recently went through 2 miscarriages) I am not confident that my proposed methods will help my son understand and come to my fundamental conclusions. I am fully aware that any attempt to make him something he is not is weak when he becomes his own. As you also have pointed out in your life. There comes a day when everyone begins to question. I have many questions. He will have many questions. But I doubt questions will stop anyone from moving forward in life when they decide where they stand. I see people’s responses to you, raising questions about your decisions (concerning life and kids), yet those questions about God they raise or about the “effects” of no religious involvement (with your kids) has stopped you. You are moving forward despite any pressure. Or at least there seems to be no recanting.

    I personally have had to address this authority issue and whether to comply. I think about soldiers or even workers that have complied to demands and orders that they would otherwise walk away from. Here is a good reason why I believe people (even me) find ourselves dealing with following authority.

    I believe we are prone to follow, though we like to think we are in control. There is nothing new under the sun. Our ideas are someone else’s and our actions are not uncommon. Once we agree to an idea/belief all other ideas that oppose the idea/belief must be denied, rejected or reconstructed to fit. Our radar is the effect of our belief, nor is it the start of our action to receive or reject. It goes further. Like the center of a radar pulse our belief is where we start in order to gage those things around us. We can not separate what we believe from how we think, feel, or act. How is it that two people seeing the same snow fall on the ground in winter have two totally different responses? One has a bad day while ones has a great day. Why? One hates snow while the other loves snow. Why? The one that hates thinks snow is dumb while the other thinks its great. Why? The one who hates beliefs snow gets in the way of their day while they other beliefs in makes their day. belief–thinking/intellect (emotion)–action (behavior)–result. The results were different not due to the snow but their belief. Our radar is our thinking (emotions). Hope this makes sense. Thanks for posting.

    • @John Schroeder. Thanks for taking the time to share, and there is room here for all of us. I appreciate your respectfulness, even if we have different beliefs.

  71. I’m raising my four girls “without God” which feels silly to say at all. I’m an atheist. What else should I do? Do Christians raise their children to believe in every god other people do? I don’t think so. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m following your blog now. Very nice to see a mom speaking up on the subject it is a bold thing to do in the face of people who think it is a form of child abuse or think we are “empty”.

  72. First time I ever responed to anything on the the internet. But wanted to show suport. This is one of the most imporant issues we face today and is an obsticale to progress. Raising two boys with out religion.

    • @Anonymous who wrote this:

      First time I ever responed to anything on the the internet. But wanted to show suport.

      Thanks & I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  73. Your blog and the CNN piece have called me to action! My stance has been to never volunteer my atheism, but when the subject of a supreme being, children not going to church, or other topics come up I do explain my views. I think we should start a campaign to make the word “Non-Believer” go the way of other discriminatory words. Its use implies that belief in a supreme being is the correct way to think, and that any deviation from that is wrong.

  74. I came to this blog via Richard Dawkins on Twitter. Your essay could have been written by ‘future me’.

    I had a baby 5 months ago and, as an atheist, I know I cannot lie to him about God when the inevitable questions start. Your essay was intelligent, thoughtful, balanced and reasonable – qualities often absent from any conversation about religion. I’m going to bookmark it and imagine I will refer back to it for years to come.

    Thank you!

  75. I write a comedy/atheist blog, and I incorporate my experiences as a father and raising my kids as atheists. You’re doing the right thing. Keep up the good work.

  76. I’m glad I stumbled into this blog from CNN! My fiance and I are atheists, and have been working through and bracing for more tough comments/questions from our southern baptist and roman catholic families. The subject of kids (although they’re a ways off yet…also not to their liking, ha!) has been brought up just a few times, but I know it will be difficult and discussed heavily after we are married. I’m happy to have found accounts from someone living the kind of successful life we hope to. Reading your blog posts is very encouraging!

    Thanks for sharing, and I hope more people are able to speak up like this.

  77. Hello,
    Just found your blog. I am in a similar situation to you, an atheist raised a Catholic (my mother was at one point a nun). I married into a very conservative religious family during a time where I was not totally sure of my beliefs, but did not dare tell that to my in-laws.

    I now have 2 kids, one 3 and the other a few months. Only my wife knows about me being an atheist, as I would certainly upset everyone in my family if they knew. I even go to church to keep up the facade.

    The most difficult thing for me is what to do about my kids. I don’t really want to come out as an atheist to my family, I do not see the point of that, it would upset everyone I love. But I certainly don’t want my kids to be brainwashed into organized religion, with the typical intolerance and other vices attached to it. Not to mention the intellectual difficulties that come with accepting religion. Still not sure what I will say to my kids when they start asking me about god.

    This really is a tough issue, and it’s great to see someone coming forward and talking about it from a parent’s perspective.

    • @ Floyd Truly it is a hard decision because you know your family means well, but on the other hand, you want to express your true feelings. I was there for several years. I felt kind of fake…You still have some time to think about things, though, with your children being so young. Thanks for taking the time to reach out and share your experience.

  78. Deborah,

    I am sorry to be so long winded….

    I am glad I came across your blog (thanks CNN). When I was young I went to church mainly to hang out with friends whose parents would drag them there every Sunday. Due to my interest and my present studies in religion, I have come to the conclusion that I am most certainly an Atheist. As much as I’d like to believe in something else beyond our world (more on that later), logic and common sense does not allow it.

    Briefly…my son was raised in a Catholic setting when he was very young. His mother and I divorced when he was seven. I had custody. Over the years, I did not pressure him to attend Sunday school, CCD, et cetera. My ex-wife was not too happy about that. I told her if you want that for him then you deal with it. It’s not my choice. He has slowly becoming the 15 year-old Atheist he is today. He respects others for their beliefs but doesn’t think that those same beliefs should pushed onto him. Conversely, he doesn’t make a spectacle about his own Atheism.

    Years later I met my second wife who was also an Atheist, much to her own family’s disappointment. We had a child together. When our daughter was a little more than three, my wife died. I did not know what to tell my daughter. After all, she was only three. There’s only so much a young mind like that can process and understand. I did the wrong thing. I lied to her. I told her Mommy wasn’t in the hospital anymore and that Mommy was an angel now. As the one year anniversary of my wife’s passing approaches, she remembers her less and less. There will come a time when I will have to decide once and for all whether I should continue to lie to her or tell her the truth. It’s hard to explain to a child that when one dies that’s all there is. There’s nothing more.

    I hope through reading your blog I can help my daughter come to terms with the death of her mother and help her understand her father’s beliefs. But as I said, the older she gets the less she will remember. So in that morbid kind of sense, it may get easier. Although I will have to come up with the explanation of why and what I believe – or more to the point NOT believe.

    Thanks for listening. And thanks for speaking up. :)

    Jeff

    • @ Jeff R Thanks for taking the time to write. I’m really sorry to hear about your wife. It must be hard for you, too, not believing.

      That’s a tough position you’re in with your daughter. She may not even remember what you told her about her mom being an angel. I find kids–or at least mine–are very accepting when you tell them things that make sense.

  79. Hi,
    I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for speaking up and saying that there are others, completely normal, rational people, who don’t need Jesus in their lives to feel fulfilled. I am a practicing pagan and have been for about 9 years. I feel a spiritual need, but I didn’t believe I could get that filled by Christianity. Growing up in the South meant I was constantly hearing people saying they were going to pray for me and my future children- like I was sick or something. My husband is a Methodist Christian; we’ve decided when we have kids and they ask about God/Deity, we’ll ask them what they think exists. Kind of a Socratic dialogue thing. Your comments and essays are helping to open up discussion about not just religion in general, but also an acceptable approach to teaching children about religion/atheism without forcing brainwashing or mysticism on them. Thank you for bringing this into the public eye. Keep it going!

    • @Carly Strong….I’m sorry. Did I say that our ilk are “completely normal”? I did not mean that…haha. Yes, I do like Socratic dialogue, especially since kids can be so creative. Thanks so much for writing and being a part of this discussion.

  80. I’ve been a life long atheist and I am a big supporter of live and let live. For those religious that are curious about how I came by my lack of belief I have all day and would be more than willing to answer any questions they may have. And I will not judge their choice. For those religious who think I’m making a mistake, and are concerned for my soul then I hand it right back at them. There is no reason to think they are not wasting their days on a fantastic lie and I fear for their sanity and well being. Two can play at that passive aggressive nonsense. They may be sure of their choices because of their own beliefs, and that is all fine and good. But belief is only necessary when people just flat out do not know. And if you don’t know but are willing to make choices about reality then do it for yourself and keep it to yourself. If you want to impress me with the power of your choice then do it by your actions and not your words. I will judge you by your actions.

  81. Louis Althusser wrote a great thesis titled: Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. Printed in 1971. “Ideology is a “representation” of the Imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence” (162)……Ideology (such as religion) ‘acts’ or ‘functions’ in such a way that it ‘recruits’ subjects among the individuals or ‘transforms’ the individuals into subjects by that very precise operation which I have called interpellation or hailing…….

  82. Wow! This could quite possibly be the most refreshing thing I’ve read in some time! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I know I’m not alone in my beliefs because a lot of my friends feel the same way, yet we all keep quite about it. I grew up Catholic, went to a Catholic school, the works. I think I may have believed in it when I was very, very young, but I mostly remember thinking things just didn’t add up!!! After graduating from 8th grade and going to high school, religion was pretty much left behind. The funny thing is, my parents don’t really buy into it either. They were only going to church and sending us to make my grandmother happy! There are SOOOOO many of us out there. We are not alone. That much I know. I too realize the need for so many to believe in God and religion. It’s a comfort. It is scary to think we’re all alone and die and turn to dust. But it’s the only logical way to think. Science doesn’t lie! The thing is, we’re not all alone. We have each other and the love of our families, and we’ll live on through them. That’s everlasting life! I applaud you and look forward to following your blog in the future! OH! And I found a really cool youtube video just yesterday you may like? You have to watch the whole thing though! It’s not God related, but about the universe and how we’re related to it. Very beautiful.

  83. Deb, d.a.m. good job :) I admire your courage. I too am raising 2 teens in Texas. We have discussed religion some, they did not want me to take them to church…I offered. I grew up in OK in similar surroundings. Had to hide non-belief. Really angry that K.O.C. had to ruin “The Pledge” in ’55, and now our patriotism is questioned. You are right on about easier to come out of closet. We have gays, lesbians, Jews, Mormons, etc., thieves, wife-beaters, even a now-deceased murderer in Congress, but no way we’ll ever see an atheist!! My twin sister is attending the FreeThinker event in Austin in a few weeks, but she has to come up w/an excuse so her clients do not find out! I sure wish I could meet someone (single) like you up here in the Dallas area :)
    Jason Alan obviously does not understand. He cannot comprehend a simple absense of faith. He thinks that everyone must think as he does. I am, and I bet you are, open to other explanations for things no one can answer, but the current mythologies, just like ancient mythologies, are not plausible or believable.
    Keep up the good work!!

    • @dal I did not know there was a free-thinkers event in Austin. That’s cool. Hopefully, the time when we can declare our beliefs to others is not too far off. THanks for taking the time to write.

  84. Hey, I saw a mention of your blog on CNN. I just wanted to say that there are more of ‘us’ and that I believe that you’re doing something important. It’s not about rebellion or ‘sticking it to them’. Everyone should recognize that a honest rejection of faith is better than forced conversion or just ‘going through the motions’. Sadly that is not the case.

    Best wishes from Poland.

  85. @Dam: I have been on this blog for a few days and must say you are an amazing person. I admire how respectful you are of everyone and that you do not judge, preach or criticize. We could use you in Washington.
    Because of your courage, one day we won’t have to say “I am a Theist, Christian,Agnostic,Atheist…” and just simply say “Hi, I’m Jacob”.

    • @Jacob Thanks, Jacob. That’s really nice of you to say. I really feel that it is all of here, together, that is making that change. Nearly everyone has been so kind. We all just want to be heard.

  86. I just read your iReport. Thank you for giving this topic a voice! I lost my faith when I was eight – I was being raised in a home without religion and I felt like an outcast among my peers and so I asked to join a church (and my parents happily obliged). It wasn’t long before I lost my faith as I was repeatedly told that I was going to hell because my parents didn’t attend services. Even at a young age I was able to see the lack of logic in this statement. As an adult, I feel more and more compelled in my own spiritual journey: the most religious of people I meet are often the most judgmental. Even so, I respect their beliefs and wish they would respect mine.

  87. Dam,
    I love this discussion, because it is all about “absolutes”!!! 2 Timothy 3:16 states “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” God breathed is synomous in the greek with “spoken” or “created”. The bible is a reflection of the “absolute” character of God and God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. If this is the case than the word of God is reflection of His immutable nature. I know this offends you, though it is not my intention, but if we do not stand for absolute truth than truth becomes relative and ceases be true at all. Hence why Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life.” He meant what he said, their is no other way according to His word, so again how can the bible be just a good book or Jesus be just a good guy to follow, because by the standard of Jesus and His own words there is ONLY one way, one truth, and one life. The Bible is the heart of God revealed in His own words! Just like your blog is your heart revealed in your own words! Would you like it if 100 years from now someone read one of your blogs and then proceeded to claim something about your character or your words that was completely untrue?

  88. About the movie Compliance, I have seen it. It reminds me of the Stanford Prison experiment. If you have never heard of it, it is worth looking up. It clearly demonstrated humans ability to adhere to obedience when prompted to do so in the presence of an apparent authoritarian figure. I mean, this was just an experiment where the participants clearly knew the difference between reality and experimentation before the experiment. They had to stop the experiment short of its planned course due to the intensity it reached in just a short amount of time with the participants. Researchers were shocked at the results. In just a very short amount of time, the “leaders” or prison gaurds and “followers” or inmates were consumed by their roles very quickly and intensely. What it basically proved is that in a structured social institution, such as a church, most “followers” can and will be ardent with impressionability and obedience. This is similar to the way the church gains parishioners. They provide a comforting and stable environment in which to coerce followers in all the while gaining trust and understanding between one another. Once they know they have your attention, they establish a heirchy of order amongst the leader of the church and its followers. They are then enabled to divise plans of leadership and adherence to the rules so as to gain control. Free thinking is not part of their plan. That creates dissonance. This is how every religious institution works. You can clearly see how powerful it is by the responses you read on your blog from those that condemn your blog and condemn athiests. People who follow God clearly have a problem with those who do not because it has been endoctrinated so strongly in their lives, they cannot accept any other way.

    • @Rachell Yes, I’ve read about the Stanford Prison experiment. I understand that believers get upset about nonbelievers, but I am still disappointed by how mean people can be.

  89. Give me a break. You are against everything this country was founded on !
    Stop making up excuses for your lifestyle. I agree with the comment that said your life is EMPTY !!!
    You are a child abuser, by not teaching your children about God.
    I know that you are going to delete this comment, leave it on if you dare !!

    • @Patrick with the gmail address. Hi there. Sorry, but your comment had gone into my spam box. Clearly, I’m not against everything this country was founded on: tolerance, sharing, peace, equality. Don’t know who said my life in empty, but you have to wonder how a stranger would know this. If you think my life is empty because I don’t have god in my life, well, that’s an imaginary concept to me. I appreciate the people in my life. I won’t even touch that ridiculous comment about being a child abuser.

  90. @Jason Alan No disrespect meant to you.
    I believe in God. However, I feel that some of your comments are a bit harsh.
    At one time, Christians were mocked, arrested and put to death. Let us not judge those with different beliefs. “Judge not, lest ye be judged”.

    BTW, as we both know the “747 junkyard analogy” is attributed to Fred Hoyle. It is also called “Hoyle’s fallacy” and is considered oversimplified and incorrect.

    • @jacob I’m not judging. The ultimate judge is God….. John 14:6 – “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. That verse sums it up doesn’t it? The analogy is simple yes but true. Lower life forms do not evolve into higher separate life forms. Why are there still monkeys all around? Also, Christians are being persecuted today. Ask the Egyptian Christians. Ask the Christians in every Muslim Country? Look at the US…. One mention of God and the ACLU and the media go crazy yet we cater to the Muslims…… The Bible discusses all that is happening in this World right now. What’s right is wrong and what’s wrong is right. Everything is upside down. People don’t like absolutes so they lean towards relativism because it’s comfortable and they don’t have to think about the “what if those Christians really are right?” Jesus was a rebel. God is a jealous God. We were created to worship him and the fall of man (Adam and Eve) created the separation. The Bible is about reconciliation. All God wants is for us to choose him. It’s that simple. Religion is the problem. I follow Jesus.

  91. @Jason: If the Americans came from the UK then why are there still British?

    You are only one god shy of being an atheist – I don´t believe in 2700 different gods and you 2699 :)

    • saab93f The one i worship just happens to be the only Living God. I have faith as do you. You have faith there is no God. How arrogant.

      • @Jason Alan We have no “faith.” Look up the definition. There is nothing arrogant about saying I don’t know or I’m not convinced. There is arrogance in saying I know X based on unsubstantiated claims Y, and you should believe as I do…

        • Deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God. It may be obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form or other it is there. For faith in a Power greater than ourselves and miraculous demonstrations of that power in human lives, are facts as old as man himself.

          My point is you as atheist, agnostic or whatever have faith. You have faith that Man just came from nothing. Actually think about it. You didn’t see that did you? You didn’t see what you believe? Look around….. It takes more faith to believe in nothing or no god than to believe that a creator created the beauty all around. Not an explosion.

          I travel to Africa a couple of times each year. Universally across the continent the common fabric we have is the yearning for God. I don’t speak their language nor do they mine but without fail they know Jesus/God. These people have nothing. Live in the middle of nowhere. We, in the West are Godless because we allegedly have everything yet most Westerners are not “happy” or just want to be “happy.” The only happiness is Jesus Christ. It’s so simple but Religious people make hard or complicated or judge because one is gay or whatever. We are all equal and we all are born sinners.

  92. @Jason Alan
    I think that your statement “..yet we cater to the Muslims…” is a bit harsh.
    Regardless, I like you ! I will share with you. I grew up an atheist in a Christian family. My parents said I had to go to church till I was 16.
    At 16, I dropped out of church and school. (My lack of education must be obvious)
    I felt happy and fulfilled. I never thought about God.
    Then came that day in Iraq ! I thought I was going die. I closed my eyes and said “God help me” and he did !
    I am convinced that I saw the face of God that day and have believed ever since.
    God and my family complete my life. I would never suggest that people without children are empty, nor people who do not believe.

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