About

One of the first things that I look at when I read a blog is “About.” So I suppose I should share some stuff about me. I love blogging. It brings structure, albeit artificial, to all the random thoughts I have 24/7. (Yes, my brain is still sprinting as I’m drifting off to sleep.) I like to think.

Let’s see…I believe we are our words, so we should try to always tell the truth and to keep our word. I originally started this blog as a way to record all the encounters I had with religious folks in my community.  I am trying to raise my kids to be agnostic, free-thinking, compassionate and peace-loving.

I don’t always stay on topic. Sometimes, I stray to other things that interest me: politics, parenting, medicine, health, relationship issues….ummm….it appears the list is long. But I hope to engage readers and to meet other people who are interested in thinking through topics.  I welcome feedback from everyone.

Other interests include: working out, tennis, reading, chess!, indie films, people-watching, creative writing, eating and skiing. I love kids, mine and others.

Now (please!) tell me something about you:

449 responses to “About

  1. Hi,
    I’m taking the liberty of including your blog in my database of links on Secular Earth that I am compiling as a resource for secular parenting.

    http://www.secularearth.com

    The secular parenting section is under the Apostate Alley tab on the main page title bar. I hope you get a lot or new readers.

    Rich

  2. Sure. Thanks, Richard.

    You have a cool website–and a great blog, too.

  3. Raising kids without religion. What a refreshing thought and a pleasant surprise to come across your blog! All of the apparent benefits of religion can be obtained through other means. Eliminating religion from children’s lives would help to greatly reduce religion-related child abuse (see my blog on my website for hundreds of news articles on that subject). Here in Canada, the province of Quebec has instituted what I think is a great educational program on religion and ethics, though it has plenty of criticism from parents who want their parental rights to trump their children’s rights to religious freedom and an open future. Religious freedom, by the way, includes both freedom OF religion as well as freedom FROM religion. Children in Quebec are now being taught what is essentially a comparative religion course, learning about religious traditions around the world as well as ethical principles. When children are exposed to a wide range of religious beliefs and are taught to apply critical thinking skills to those beliefs, they are less likely to become victims of dogmatic religious indoctrination and the intolerance and bigotry that goes along with it. The sooner children learn that there is no absolute truth as revealed by religion, the less of their precious life they will waste on pie-in-the-sky delusions. There are no second chances, so we had all better make the best of it, appreciate every breath we take, protect the environment for ourselves and the generations that follow, and don’t rely on sky gods or any other kind of god to rescue us from ourselves.

    • Great comment, thank you. I especially like this point you made: “Religious freedom, by the way, includes both freedom OF religion as well as freedom FROM religion. ” I don’t think we get that here! I’m all for a comparative religion course and would love to see that in our schools.

  4. Hello Perry and dam,
    Back in January of this year when I started floating my idea of launching an initiative to end hereditary religion many of my atheist friends told me I was nuts. Well maybe they were right, but being stubborn I went ahead with my plan anyway. The facebook site now has around 330 members from all over the globe. I personally recruited many of members based on their writings I found, their interactions with other facebook people, where they lived and their godless stance as revealed in their profile information.

    Parts of the world are far ahead of the USA on the secular highway, so I think people who live in secular democracies can be valuable allies. My idea was to link all the best thinkers and the most avid activists together and see what happens. facebook is a social activists dream application. We have people from all persuasions: satinists, atheists, pastafarians, gay straight and in between –you name it. My only criteria is can you write well, are you against hereditary religion and can we motivate you to action.

    A really great sign is that dozens of high school and college kids are coming to the group. They are smart, articulate and best of all they have the energy that only young people possess.

    Early in the program I recognized that I really did not know enough about parent’s attitudes towards indoctrinating their children. My suspicion was that no one really paused and seriously considered whether there could possibly be any downside to consigning very young children to such a program. I could not locate any research on the subject so I thought, what they hell why not just go and ask some parents. I came across an Amazon.com feature for connecting their customers in discussion groups and discovered there was one for parents. Perfect. Here is the question I posed:

    Why do parents believe they have the right to force religion on their children?

    Since March we have attracted 300 people and they have written 2200 posts. I carefully catalog the points parents raise and then research responses. I have around 50 point/counterpoint items in my database. I cannot say I have knockdown arguments for each point, but as time goes on I gain more insight and my rebuttals are getting stronger. Plus, there is more social research coming on line now that the taboo against critiquing religion has been eased by the New Atheists. And people like dam are a great resource also. (Check out the Atheist Bloggers social networking web site.)

    It can get contentious on the Amazone.com forum, but I work hard at calming emotions of the forum members. I have only asked Amazon to remove two members so far.

    The thing that really serves to quiet the list is when I play back some actual personal narratives from apostates who describe the pain and heartbreak their brush with religion caused them. True stories, ripped from the pages of exchristian.net and your blog Perry. We must do all we can to destroy the myth that religion is benign. It can cause great stress in families and even break them apart. For some apostates, breaking the truth to mom and dad is exactly like admitting they are gay would be.

    Every major faith category has a support group on the web. If that does not say something about how damaging religion can be I don’t know what would.

    At the same time I have put a lot of effort into trying to understand the laws around parent’s rights. In this respect, the work of family law professor James G. Dwyer at William and Mary has been an inspiration.

    As we go forward into 2009 I am hopeful we can mount an international day of protest to draw attention to the cause and get the media to pay attention. My sense is that secular people around the world are becoming more vocal and more willing to become activists in the initiative.

    Good luck to you both in the coming year. Let’s stay in touch.

    Regards,
    Rich Collins

  5. So happy to have found your site. Love the title!!! Both my husband and I were raised Catholic, but have chosen not to practice in adulthood nor are we raising our only son with a religion. He wasn’t even baptized. GASP!

    I loved what Perry Bulwer said above;

    “The sooner children learn that there is no absolute truth as revealed by religion, the less of their precious life they will waste on pie-in-the-sky delusions. There are no second chances, so we had all better make the best of it, appreciate every breath we take, protect the environment for ourselves and the generations that follow, and don’t rely on sky gods or any other kind of god to rescue us from ourselves.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    I am looking forward to going down the rabbit hole that this site is going to take me. 🙂 Thanks and PEACE.

    -Lori

  6. I’m not sure I understand your position…in one statement, you say there is no god, and thus no absolute truth, but in another statement, you say that we should live “ethical” lives. So, who defines what is ethical and what is not?…please don’t reply with “well, we all agree murder is wrong”, because in many times throughout history (especially in evolutionary development), killing was the way to determine which species was more developed than others. So, who determines this?…I mean, if there is no god, and no ethical standard that I would need to live by, then what keeps me from living the way I want, and killing anyone/everyone I don’t like…if you say this is wrong, then wouldn’t you be the “intolerant” person you keep saying that religious people are like?…
    And, please post my comment and don’t be some “bigot” and “intolerant” person that you claim others are and you aren’t…

  7. HMMMMMM……interesting posts. I would also like to see the interesting reply to Clifton. Kinda odd that his post has been there since January with no reply.

    Ok, well about me. I am a CHRISTIAN! Whew, glad that I got that out of the way. I just happen to come across this blog today due to Cafferty’s article on kids at http://www.cnn.com. I find it interesting to see what reasons that people come up with for not believing in God.

    I am not hear to condemn anyone for their beliefs, so I hope no one is getting huffy puffy. I was raised Penecostal but am now a Non-denominational Christian. Whats the difference? We all believe in Christ, but Non-denominational does not adhere to the rules of a particular deomination. Basically, eliminating the “religion” to focus in on studying the word of God with.

    Thru my life experiences I have been able to see God move and work in my family, so I can’t grasps how some seem to believe that there is no God and thus putting ourselves on the pedestal. I am not here to judge, because that is God’s job. Unfortunately, I think that many before me have left a bad taste in the mouths of many by trying to FORCE religion on others, even though the Bibles says that to receive it you have to be willing to accept it. So if is you choice to follow or not.

    I will try and check in from time to time as long as people try to remember that we are all entitled to our choices in life and are free to do as we please.

    To answers a question in a previous post. Christian parents should not “FORCE” religion on their children. However as Christians we are directed to raise our children in the church so that we they are older than they can decide for themselves, much as the author hear has done.

    • Well, Clifton never came back. But there were quite a few comments after I posted his response here: https://kidswithoutreligion.wordpress.com/2009/01/19/cliftonheres-your-comment/.

      I really appreciate your open-mindedness and gentle way of expressing your opinions. It’s interesting that you were raised Penecostal, but have moved from that extreme point. I don’t believe (or, perhaps I should speak only for myself) that I am “getting huffy puffy” about you or anyone expressing their opinion respectfully.

      I’d would like to address a misconception: “….so I can’t grasps how some seem to believe that there is no God and thus putting ourselves on the pedestal.” Because of how you think about religion, you may not be able to understand that I do not put myself or man in general on a pedestal. I actually am humbled by the world and my tiny, tiny place in it. I value all life-animals, too.

      Not believing in god doesn’t mean that a person is not as moral or not as appreciative of the life she’s been given.

      Please check back any time! Peace.

      • I remain surprised as well that someone who wants to do so much of life without “religion” is getting so much attention about, well…talking about religion, and taking so much time to tell adults there is no God, etc. I do not have to spend any time trying to convince people that other fictional beings like Santa do not exist or little green men on Mars. But a relative few people (so much smarter than the rest of us, they presume) are working so hard to convince us that there is no God and we do not need God. Hmmm.

        • Hi William, I think people just want to talk about this issue because they are ready for a change. Many of us have no desire to talk you out of your god. We just don’t want your god pushed on us or our kids. That’s all.

  8. Hello from a Catholic. If you want to be really fair, you should have your kids do a comparative study of religions by having prominent citizens (who belong and can speak for that religion) give a presentation. For a Catholic, a pastor or Bishop or Master Catechist might do, but if you were to do this, you should not rely on secular sources (this would be true of any Protestant denomination as well). At the very least, your children should read the Bible to find out what Christianity actually is. A history course teaching the facts without bias (or all both biases) would be a plus.

    You do a disservice to true people of faith by sweeping them all under the rugs. Yes, we are all human, which means that we are all bound to fail. But I’ve learned to put my faith in God, not man, to help get me through. Yes there are those in the hierarchy (this is true of government and religion) who are corrupt and doing immoral things to innocent people. But the Catholic Church is led by God in the three persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    I hope you will eventually come to see the truth in this. You’re right that belief in God does not mean that a person is moral, for the Devil believes in God. But belief in God and practicing his teaching leads to people closer to perfect than not.

    God bless.

  9. Hello David. I was raised Catholic and my mother remains so. My kids are exposed to religion, both here and at their father’s home–he is Baptist.

    My kids have read a lot of the King James bible. We have several bibles here, books on mythology, books on the history of religion, atheism, science and religion…you name it.

    “Putting your faith in God” is, in my opinion, a way of abdicating your rationale. It is leaving important decisions to time, luck and other people.

    You can see you and I look at theworld differently. I’d like to post your comment on the front of this blog since there are other readers (both Christian and not) who can comment better than me. If you don’t want it there, let me know, and I’ll remove it.

    Thank you for taking the time to write.

  10. You’re welcome to put my comment wherever you like.

    I think you misunderstand what faith is, and I wonder about your being raised a Catholic (what era? the faith was taught differently than it is now…) Do you believe that the Catholic Church was and is a hindrance to science and technology? To learning and human rights?

    Do you believe in a First Cause?

    Faith is not a blind leap.

    Real faith is never opposed to reason. Reason prepares us for faith and helps us to see the reasonableness of faith. Faith is not a blind leap, but is based on knowledge of and trust in God’s authority. Faith does not opposed understanding, but rather enlightens it. Faith yields and reveals truth, exposing reason to ultimate truth and stirring reason beyond its isolation to ogtain truth, beauty and goodness.

  11. Was up until close to midnight with my ten year old son who has run out of patience with the God crowd. He has always felt comfortable being himself (and rather a nerd, at that, I must say–tucks the shirts in and pulls his shorts halfway up his ribcage.) I fear adolesence could bring him a world of hurt (doesn’t every mother?). He is commited to his atheism (well, he is a bit attached to the Norse gods, but I told him Hitler and Wagner kind of messed that one up). He really lost it at that point and wanted to know why Nazism reflects poorly on Norse Gods seeing as how Hitler was Christian. I told him it was as illogical as most things human, but do a google search for your random Norse god and sooner or later you wind up on a white sepratist site. We have raised all our children on the mythologies of many cultures, though, I have to admit, I have been slow to teach them the Christian Mythology. If only the D’Aulieres had done a book on The Christian Mythology. I suppose I have to stop being a lazy Mommy and start putting it together myself. Knowledge is power. But I’m thinking my kid needs a support group of other kids who don’t believe in God. He’s feeling so lonely (we’re in the Bible Belt, alas–in fact the very state of idiot Governor Good Hair who suggested sucession last week. We must look like such yahoos down here.) At any rate, glad to find your site. Any suggestions on how to carve a place for kids of atheists to feel a sense of community?

    • I’m in TX, too. I don’t know of any support groups for kids who are on the fringe. My son takes a lot of grief at school because of his views. He no longer talks about it. There are a few extremists who believe in the creationist theories. They disrupt science class. He used to argue with them about it, but he learned that you cannot argue with people who are not thinking rationally.

  12. I can understand the not talking about it. We’ve always advised our children to keep their views private and try to understand different people have different ways to find answers in life–that we can’t judge. I guess I worry about the depression that could come from the sense of isolation. David above says “I think you misunderstand faith”. I would agree that there is so much beyond comprehension (not just abstract concepts like faith but also surrounding realities like sounds and colors beyond our human range of perception. We are so very small, such a sliver of the universe. I find it hard to comprehend how humans came to the decision that they and they alone were made in the image of a conscience being who created all of existence. As I said, much beyond our comprehension), but there are also misunderstandings that come from closed minds, and how does one open the minds of others when one doesn’t even feel comfortable speaking out loud? I don’t even want to “convert” anyone, so much as just be heard out. I know there are open minded Christians, and closed minded Christians, open minded and closed minded people of all faiths, good and bad people of all faiths. But if we know it is wrong to assume all Muslims are bad (I hope we all agree that’s a whopping falsehood), then why is it we assume atheists are immoral, or hostile, or, I’m not sure what all (something bad enough that my sister-in-law thinks that my husband and I and our three, [unbaptised] children are going to toil forever on the lake of fire in the pit of eternal darkness–no matter how many abandoned children I have comforted, no matter how many cold I have clothed, or hungry I have fed). Are we truly a country with liberty and justice for all if there are children in schools everywhere, good children, kind and loyal friends, kids with compassion who remain silent because they have been worn down by persecution for their beliefs? I am happy to discuss my atheism, in fact, I really enjoy a good theological debate, but I also fear people will make assumptions about my values or moral compass or mental state, and so, find myself, like so many atheists, simply leaving it out of conversations and deleting it from my identity. I can live with some degree of injustice, but shouldn’t I do something to create a more just world for my children?

  13. Hi Beth, Thanks for sharing. You are preaching to the choir. I think it’s ashame–really ashame–that you have a sister-in-law who is so self-righteous that she doesn’t see goodness.

    I agree that children need other kids of the same belief systems. All sorts of faiths have established youth groups for this reason. If you can find other agnostics/atheists in your town, maybe they have kids. There’s a “Coalition of Reason” in the DFW area.

    Also, I encourage you to visit Lottie at http://lottierambleson.wordpress.com/. She’s a great debater and has some salient insights into raising kids without religion.

    It’s too bad that people can approach us on the street and talk religion, but we’re seen as freaks for not beleiving. You have an audience here, though, whenever you’d like to talk!

  14. Hi! Me, Linda–Christian, blogger, daughter, wife for 33 years, mom of 3 girls, retired Navy Chief, traveler, gardener, painter, reader, writer, and soon to be Grandma (times 2!) Anyhow, we chatted back and forth a bit last year and I’m SOOO glad you’re back to blogging! Missed you!

    I think of you sp often, will visit more, and will always pray (because that’s just what I do 🙂 Take care, Linda

  15. Well hello, Linda! It’s GREAT to hear from you! I hope you are well! Congratulations on the grand-babies (twins!!).

  16. Thanks!! It’s great to be back in touch!!

    Twins would be cool, but actually two of our daughters are expecting at the same time–Hope is due in July, and Joy is due in November! Yeah..we’re excited!!

  17. How exciting! They will still be playmates–as cousins!

  18. I just want to thank you ladies for setting a fine example of what mothers everywhere should be. The world would not be in the sad state it’s in if there were more open-minded, loving people out there. No doubt you are creating productive, thinking, questioning members of society. People like that are hard to come by…

  19. Hi – I’m a Mom of 2 in NJ. I just found your blog and wanted to thank you for reaching out to other parents struggling to raise kids free from mainstream religious indoctrination. I help to run a Sunday School at the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County – a secular Humanist organization. I’ve found all kinds of support in belonging to such an organization. We recently had a parenting meeting which was dominated by discussions of how our kids can deal with people with strong religious beliefs that they come across everyday at school and at play. It’s always distressing when one of my children’s playmates informs them with absolute certainty that they will “go to hell” because they don’t believe – but it’s even more distressing when I don’t have easy answers to help my kids deal with this kind of situation. Any time I find an excellent source of ideas from like minded parents (this blog for example) I feel compelled to send my sincere and heartfelt thanks for the service you are providing – keep up the very good work 🙂

    • Hi Anne,

      Thank you for the nice note!!Any time you’d like to author a post, just let me know. I’d love to hear any suggestions or stories you have.

      I think it’s wonderful that you have a supportive community. I don’t come out of the closet much around here!

  20. Yes, I realise how lucky I am here in the North East that I have options to belong to a community of like-minded people. I was also raised in a Catholic family – and began seriously questioning the faith I was being raised in when I was 14. Once I moved away from home, I was free to do what I wanted in terms of religion and was happy to be religion free for quite a while. Having kids made me really think about the support I would need from the kind of community that religious groups offer. An affirmation of values, a sense of belonging etc. How fortunate for me that we lived in a town with an accepting Humanist community. We are still a minority and still very misunderstood, but at least we have each other. I would be happy to share some experiences and suggestions with others on your blog and feel flattered to be asked by you.

    One thing we do at the Sunday School is teach world religions to the junior class (ages 9-11). We don’t have time to teach every religion, so we cover the main ones, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Budhism and Confucianism. We also cover a bit of history by introducing early religious belief – Greek and Roman, Egyptian etc. and place Humanism in the mix as a belief system. Our aim is to teach tolerance and respect for other’s beliefs and to give our kids enough information to make up their own minds about religion. I read one of your posts that says you are doing the same at home. It is sometimes difficult to make the lessons fun, but we are working hard at getting the kids involved through interaction and games while they learn.

    I’ll try to check your blog regularly and comment on some of your posts. I’m extremely glad I found your site.

  21. Wow. I love what you guys are doing, Anne. If anyone else is interested, check out the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County’s website: http://www.ethicalfocus.org/.

    p.s. If you guys haven’t read Ishmael, it’s worth including in your book list….My 15-yo enjoyed it.

  22. I’ll look into Ishmael – I’d be interested in it even if my 12 year old is not ready for it yet!! Thanks for the tip.

  23. Hi, I just wanted to say I love your website. I was looking through the comments and I think I saw that you are in TX? I’m in TX and have a hard time finding any groups (other than online) for support. I was wondering if you might consider emailing me letting me know where in TX you are (if you are in TX). I’m just north of the DFW metroplex, so I’m wondering if we’re anywhere close to each other. My kids are about to start a new school in a new city, and I am on a quest to find others so they know they aren’t alone out there. Keep up the blogging, it helps us all feel sane in an insane world!

  24. Hello, I just came across your blog. I am lucky that I live in an area where you usually are not asked where you attend church. I was raised Methodist and my husband Southern Methodist, believe me there is a difference. He is Atheist and I am Agnostic and we are raising our two daughters to be freethinkers. We have decided to do teaching of religions within our own home with the understanding that if they question more than what we can answer we will attend a local UU Congregation for guidance. We teach them to have respect for others religious choices and that not any one person has the right answer.

  25. @Tina. Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you stopped by. It’s always nice to meet other parents with similar beliefs!

  26. Pingback: Eternity Questions « The Ethical Dilemma

  27. A user on our site Splore.com wanted to use our site as a gathering place for parents interested in secular teaching for their children. I have listed the website for the group that she started, FYI.
    http://www.splore.com/splores/241#1586

  28. theagnosticswife

    Hi I just found your blog on UndeniablyMaybe. Though I don’t have time at the moment(twin boys running around at the moment) I look forward to coming back and having a look around.

  29. Hey, excellent site here. I was wondering if, since this is particularly your area of interest, you could answer a question for me. Do you know how many children grow up in religion and retain it into their adulthood? I am looking through some Pew Forum statistics right now and can’t seem to find about what percentage of children brought up in religion stay with it through their adulthood. I’m one of those lucky ones that went to an ACE Christian school, seminary, and even became a pastor, missionary, and evangelist before deciding to leave an entire lifetime of drilled-in faith. I’m writing an article for Secular News Daily about this phenomenon and would really appreciate any help you have to offer. Thanks!

    • I don’t know, Gordon, but I will keep an eye out. Also, if any other readers come across your comment, maybe they will know. Sounds like you’ve had an interesting journey!

  30. I am so glad that I found your blog! I am a new mom, and although I have a few years before the “real” questions start coming I am starting early so that I will be completely prepared to answer any questions my son might have. My husband and I live in a very conservative TX town, and we really have no other resources to go to other than online support. I look forward to reading more from you!

    • I’m glad that you found me, too. We could all use the support! I also live in a conservative TX town. Glad to hear that there is another mom out there with similar views. You are just starting your journey with your son–that’s so exciting! It goes by so fast!

  31. Always nice to run into a fellow freethinking blogger parent! Looking forward to reading through your stuff…

    Mine is at http://wickedskepmother.wordpress.com/.

  32. Hi! I just wanted to say I LOVE recieving email updates that alert me of a new blog post by you! You write very eloquently about subjects that peak my interests. Thank you!

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  34. I am not a believer or a non-believer. If people are drawn to religion because it provides external guidance on being a good person then more power to them. If people can draw that goodness from their own internal sources then more power to them. What I don’t like seeing is one party saying or insinuating that the other party is illogical when pursuing goodness. There is nothing shameful or illogical about wanting to live a good life – a life that inflicts as little harm as possible on oneself, others, and the planet. Rather inspiration towards goodness be found by some in literature, the Bible, the stars, the Earth, family, friends, or in oneself – most of us are seeking out higher understanding of how to care for one another, ourselves, our Earth, and are looking to carry forth that goodness beyond our lifetimes. Both atheists and believers are neglecting to see that they are working towards the same goals, and that is sad.

  35. Hi…read your piece on CNN…thanks for your courage, and I do mean courage. I lived the first 3 decades of my life as an Evangelical Christian, and the last 2 trying to figure out “what was ‘there,'” a kind of place-holder. Now, as I have encountered more of the world we live in and the rational arguments against there being anything other than the empirical, I find myself heading into a complete atheism…and, for me, it isn’t an easy path to take. I would like to get your thoughts on how you encounter life and the very human need for there to be “something there”; how you deal with “hope,” and how you’ve thought about hypotheticals such as dealing with a terminal illness or the loss of a little one; meaning and purpose (the two subjects theists are certain that atheists cannot live with or without; and if you’ve ever wondered how an atheist might deal with a long term situation such as the Jews dealt with in WW2. Again, appreciate your presence in this odd world we are a part of.

    • Hi Kevin, Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your personal story. It is also nice to have some support on this topic as there are people with really harsh judgments! 🙂 I just lost my father, and that was very, very tough. I know I’ll never see him again, and I accept that, but it’s still difficult. I also know that, with the way you and I view the world, life really is pointless. All we really have is the meaning we ascribe to our lives–whether that is to spread kindness and love, to be the best at a sport, to discover medicines that will help people, to have children, etc. We give our lives meaning; we define ourselves and hold ourselves to certain standards. My biggest hurdle was just learning to accept and live with uncertainty and fear of the unknown. But I really look at life as a gift, as an experience, and I’m just damn lucky to be on this ride, even when there are scary moments and sad moments….What about you? How do you give your life meaning? Do you find that you are generally hopeful?

  36. So wonderful to see your site here. I’m an atheist mom of 2 young girls, and I also live in north texas. I am closeted, though, because religion is so amazingly prevalent here that it truly touches everything. I feel like a hypocrite, but I know I am correct that people would not let their children around mine if they knew my (lack of) beliefs. It was bad enough when they found out I am a Democrat (no, I’m not kidding). So, not even my children know that I’m an atheist. I agree with your post about ‘planting the seeds’ for them. So we attend the church I’ve been a member of my whole life. It’s a surprisingly open-minded place, and it gives them a sense of community that I so wish could exist for non-believers. I do hate feeling as though I’m lying to my children. I wonder when I’ll feel the time is right to let them know.
    But I also feel like a hypocrite for other reasons. I feel that our society has such a problem with atheists because they feel that we are all amoral and will corrupt their children and society at large. So the true answer to that problem is to come out of the closet and be an example to others of what an atheist looks like. I’m a good, decent person. Exemplary even. But I don’t want to sacrifice my kids for the sake of becoming an atheist role model for the world. So I stay in the closet. I wonder what it must be like to live somewhere more progressive. I’ve been in Texas my whole life and have grown to despise it. And now with the Newtown tragedy, not only is every facebook post peppered with ‘PTL’s, but now they are all having hissy fits about their guns being taken away by the ;socialist in the White House.’ Sorry for the rambling! Love your site and will look forward to each new post.

    • ntxma– Wow. You and I must be related! 🙂 I had a lot of the same concerns as you did. In fact, the reason why I asked that my hometown not be run with my name is because of my children. They don’t want their friends to know. People can be very confrontational, and they do exclude you if they think you’re not Christian. Once, when my older son was in elementary school, the teacher asked all the kids what church they went to. My son told her we didn’t go to church. So she asked the kids if anyone would come to our house on Sunday and take my son to church with them! Amazing, huh? But, yes, I can relate to all your concerns, and since I am a Democrat, too, I know how harsh people can be. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experience. Feel free to comment any time. I am glad you’ve found a church that is open-minded, at least. I do think churches can be a good place to raise kids, too. There have rituals, structure and good deeds that help our children, too. I don’t think you’re a hypocrite at all. You’re just trying to survive and raise kids in a very biased society (just read some of the comments on the CNN story!).

  37. I’m so glad to see your story trending on CNN! It’s a step in the right direction to have sane, articulate voices of reason like yours to explain our view of things. But you are much braver than I am. For now I’ll just follow your blog to help keep my sanity! And judging by some of the comments on the CNN story, some sanity is definitely needed 🙂

  38. @ntxma – I am also in North Texas and take my kids to church despite having a bit of an alternative view of religion. In hope that it helps – I will let you know what I do and say to my kids so that I do not “lie” to them. The church, and most of it’s members, very much believe in the stories of the Bible. I find them to be more like literature, folktales and nursery rhymes, there is a deeper literary meaning in them that we can draw from and connect with others through. I tell the kids that I do not know if the events in the Bible occurred (because, frankly, I don’t). I tell them they could have occurred, or that they could not have occurred, but that it is important to see the underlying principles in the stories, and then I point out what I believe those to be (valuing honesty, valuing love, being optimistic that situations in life will work out, valuing family). I think it is good for them. We don’t discuss the idea of God much outside of church. Sometimes they ask and I will tell them that I do not know if God exists or does not exist, but that I think the idea of God provides encouragement towards goodness for a lot of people, and that sometimes people don’t need the idea of God to feel encouraged towards goodness. I don’t talk to them about what constitutes as a “sin” much beyond letting them know it’s important to be respectful towards our relationships and other people’s relationships, and to be respectful towards ourselves and our physical beings. I encourage them to question everything and see the whole world not just from the narrow scope of believing and not believing. I don’t know where it will take them, but I hope that it provides them some good.

    So to sum up – A parent can have an intelligent, insightful, open-minded conversation with their kids at all ages. I view church as an educational opportunity. The Bible is deeply embedded in culture throughout the world and I want my kids to by familiar with it. They aren’t expected to continue their education in it beyond adulthood, or their teenage years for that matter. Other religious readings are also very relevant. I have a copy of the Koran in my living room bookcase in case any of the kids ever want to pick it up and take a look. I don’t know much about it myself, but maybe someday I’ll have some time to pick it up myself and give it read-through.

  39. I just want to say that I think you are an amazing example of a mother.

  40. I loved your piece on CNN. We should teach our children to be logical and not just them, adults who’ve become delusional by religion. I was born Catholic and now am Agnostic. I truly feel and know that I’ve been lied to about so much in life i.e. religion = authority, humans are in fact only human and if there is a God, it does not care about the affairs on Earth and of mankind….

  41. I just found your website from your IReport article on CNN. I just want to say thank you. Thank you for speaking candidly on something mainstream American society tells us is taboo. As a new mother I have struggled with thoughts on how to handle religion when raising my children, and how to handle family and friends potential backlash on my decisions. I look forward to following your blog.

    • Hi Emily–Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It’s good to know there are other parents out there like you and me. Please share your stories any time…I know a lot of people are not very accepting (yet) of agnostics/atheists/free thinkers.

  42. I’m sure you’re getting lots of hate mail so just wanted to stop by to send some positive energy your way and let you know that your efforts are appreciated by this random person who is a member of the last minority in this country that can be openly attacked, bashed, called the most horrible names and hated without any consequences what so ever… the atheists.

    Take care and all the best,

    Dean K.

    • @Dean. You have no idea! Thanks for the positive energy!!! And you’re right–we probably won’t see an atheist president in our lifetime as it is the last minority in this country to gain acceptance.

  43. hey dam,

    really enjoyed your post on CNN opinion I think it was, it lead me to your site. I am a father of three wonderful kids who is married to a lovely atheist that reminded me much of yourself. I personally believe humans are incapable of understanding life’s meaning (even though Douglas Adams probably was the closest with the answer of 42). I think I would fall into the “ignostic” category.

    Anyways, I just wanted to say I am currently dealing with the issue of raising children in a, “heaven forbid”, godless home. Scrutiny from our families isn’t too horrible compared to what some other people have to go through (its just passive aggressive hints that people don’t like it etc). I like to hear that there are other parents out there trying to do a similar thing: The goal is to raise good children first and foremost, not particularly “good christians”. I look forward to seeing more of your experiences with battling the entrenched juggernaut of Christianity within Western society.

    I didn’t know if you have seen this picture before, but it might be worth it to check out:

    • Hey jayseowl! Ha-love that picture!! And thanks so much for stopping by and sharing. It is such a relief to find others out there facing these same issues, and the support and kindness of people like you has just reinforced my belief that people ARE good–and they can be good without religion and the fear of god.

  44. @ntxma Thank you. You are brave, too, for speaking here. Keep in touch.

  45. @SDell, thanks for your feedback, and I agree with you and also respect you for how you are teaching your kids. Religion–and regular church attendance–does have its place and can be a good thing. We have a lot of books on religions as well as the history of religion.

  46. My Daughter is almost 20 and was raised without religion. She questioned it quite a bit when she was about 5-6, attended church, asked a million questions, but after no one could provide any concrete proof that there was a man floating around in the sky, she called bullshit and went full force science nerd on people that tried to convert her. She is the most loving, caring, smart, free thinker, with amazing ethics and a set of values to rival mother theresa. I do not regret my decision for one second to raise her without religion. Kudos to you to be in TX and tackling this feat, its not easy to do here!

    • @Holly- Wow that is awesome (and encouraging!) to hear about your daughter! 😉 You gave her exposure to religion, and she made her own decisions. That’s cool! I don’t know why people are so fearful of agnostics/atheists….

  47. you are one dumb bitch.

    • Hi Andy, I’m approving your comment only so you can see how silly you are. Is this what a liberal arts education at Rhodes College gets you? Wouldn’t the staff be proud of the way you express your disagreement?

  48. oh and the hypocrisy of your words astound me.

  49. Heather Strahan

    Hi! I stopped over after reading the article you posted on CNN. I wish we could sit down over a cup of coffee and talk about my experience with God. I grew up in the church and as soon as I got to college, rejected everything I was raised to believe. That really was the problem though; what I had been reared on were fractured stories of “heroes” of the Bible. Men like Abraham who valiantly offered to sacrifice his son in response to a test given by God, and who also just a few years before also offered his wife to the king in order to save his own butt. What was that all about anyway? And then, just a few years ago (at the age of 40), I came across Chronological Bible Teaching. It has rocked my world and changed my life. Long story short, I have gotten to know the entire story – God’s story. Unfortunately, a LOT gets left out most of the time. We call it Biblical illiteracy. And most Christians suffer from it. Now, am I saying I know everything about God and His book? Absolutely not. But I can say that I have no doubt that He is who He says He is and He’s been striving since the beginning to make Himself known to us. I would love to chat with you about it sometime. If you’re interested in talking some things over feel free to email me. There’s also a great blog by the woman who taught me this method of deciphering God’s Word at http://www.chronologicalbibleteaching.com. Good stuff. If we don’t ever get to speak maybe one day you will encounter someone who will be able to talk with you about the God that I’ve discovered – who was actually there all the time 🙂

    • Hi Heather-Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story. When I have a little more time, I will take a look at the blog you suggested. I really appreciate the respectful way you’ve presented this, and I can tell you are deeply committed to your beliefs.

  50. Well it looks like I have missed, what seems to be, an excellent article on CNN. I must go look that up! Congrats on putting it out there. I’m enjoying the comments from your new readers. It’s so nice to know that there are others in the bible belt raising their children like I am trying to raise mine.

  51. I really liked your CNN post. There must be millions of parents like us (I am a father of 3) raising our kids to be kind and loving and generous and open-minded. And doing good deeds ourselves. Perhaps our voices will grow. I am 47, raised Catholic, and it’s time for me to be more open about this. I am scared to be open with my mom and brother. I don’t want them to think I am critical of them. I just want to be me, with by thoughts and books and beliefs. It is so helpful when more people speak up.

    • @Anonymous.

      I really liked your CNN post. There must be millions of parents like us (I am a father of 3) raising our kids to be kind and loving and generous and open-minded. And doing good deeds ourselves. Perhaps our voices will grow. I am 47, raised Catholic, and it’s time for me to be more open about this. I am scared to be open with my mom and brother. I don’t want them to think I am critical of them. I just want to be me, with by thoughts and books and beliefs. It is so helpful when more people speak up.

      I hope you can find a safe place to voice your views. You certainly sound like a good dad and a compassionate, caring person. We have a lot in common. My mother, who’s Catholic, is actually very accepting and has similar views. I was a little concerned about her reading what I had written. My brother is not as open to my views, so I don’t bring it up and we don’t discuss, but I still love and respect him…

  52. Hi There! I love your blog! So much of what you say resonates with me. I live, luckily, in MA, so it has not been TOO difficult, socially, to sort of be “out of the closet” as a secular humanist raising a family. However, we still have our struggles and many, many questions. There is an excellent article in Boston Magazine this month about raising kids without religion, you should try to check it out!

    thanks so much for being so courageous and so kind–far too often, I see people from “our side” become so defensive and angry (from the other side, too–kinda like Andy up above, eh?), although it is easy to understand why after likely a lifetime of facing harassment.

    My message to my children, among many other things, is that I don’t have all the answers, although I am comfortable with not having them–and too keep on questioning. And learning.

    Peace.

    • Hi Jenny–I loved your comments. Thanks for taking the time to write. I used to live in the northeast, and there is less marginalization for different belief systems, IMO. Sounds like you find that true as well. I do try not to be angry and defensive, but sometimes I fail….I don’t like seeing it from either side. And, yes, I think it’s important that we teach our kids it’s OK not to have all the answers. Helping kids live with ambiguity–but to keep searching for the answers–makes them resilient. Yes, peace.

  53. Hi! Trishia again. I just read Nikki’s lengthy post and it reminded me of two quotes I came across just a couple of days ago. You are much more gentle in your response to religion than I am:) But since you moderate your posts, I wanted to share these with you — and if you don’t post publicly, no offense taken. Anyway, I’m a Franocphile and doing some research on French history, I learned of a man named Jules Renard. Here’s two things he said that I believe are real gems:

    “I don’t know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn’t.”

    “I have no religion,’ says Borneau, ‘but I respect the religion of others. Religion is sacred.’ Why this privilege, this immunity?… A believer creates God in his own image; if he is ugly, his God will be morally ugly. Why should moral ugliness be respectable?”

    From reading others posts, I believe folks feel like I do. Thanks to people like you, in another decade or two (??) there won’t be a stigma to being an atheist or an agnostic. More and more of us can come out of the closet:) THANK YOU!!!!!

    • Hi again, Trishia Jacobs! I only moderate the comment the first time….just to keep the really extreme people subdued. 🙂 Thanks for the quotes below! Comment any time!

  54. The offense that Jesus causes will never die out. It is interesting that most agnostics/atheists will target their worst insults on Jesus. Not mohammed, krishna, etc. Jesus is a rock of offense. Over centuries men have stumbled when it come to Jesus. You can indoctrinate yourself and believe he does not exist 🙂 It won’t change the truth of who He is. Eternity is a great equaliser. We are all proud and arrogant this side of life but He will outlast us all. No matter how many of you come out of the “closet” it will never erase the influence and impact he has on our lives today and in life to come…. Regardless of how much you don’t believe it.

    • @ Heinrich. Thanks for sharing your views respectfully. I think agnostics/atheists in this country target Jesus because there are so many Christians here, and they tend to be vocal and extreme.

  55. Good morning! I appreciated reading your CNN post this morning. I have been an atheist since as long as I was old enough to think, but its hard for me to put that in writing – even at age 35! I too have children (ages 1&3), and have recently been thinking about how I am going to address the idea of God and religion with them. I plan on letting them choose and presenting all religions, but I understand that what I tell them Mom believes will have a great affect on them. As you state, the overwhelming desire to protect them from the harsh realities of life is strong. I was asked by an ex-boyfriend, why cant you just choose to have faith in a heaven/god, because the alternative is so bleak? But I have never been able to be untrue to myself, so I know I couldnt do that to my children either. We recently moved to Alabama and religion here is quite prevalent. I feel like its seen as a sign of a ‘good family’. I have been asked what church we attend and I am sad to admit that I just brush people off and say, oh we’re catholic (my parents are). I worry about how we might be judged, or how my kids will cope with answering their friends questions when they are older. I wish at times there was a more organized community for people like ourselves to share and support each other. The one thing I do think is great about those with religion is the sense of community and support created by churches. There is no reason why we cant have this too.

    • Hi Anonymous. Thanks for posting. In regards to your comment here:

      I worry about how we might be judged, or how my kids will cope with answering their friends questions when they are older. I wish at times there was a more organized community for people like ourselves to share and support each other. The one thing I do think is great about those with religion is the sense of community and support created by churches. There is no reason why we cant have this too.

      There are quite a few free-thinking organizations that have something similar to “church.” I’ll write a post soon about this topic, and hopefully you can find some people with similar views near you.

  56. I was raised Catholic, but i am glad to see your posts. I believe we need more science in our lives. I prefer to say to someone who asks for prayers, that “i will keep them in my thoughts”. I also like to tell others, “Do not let religion get in the way of healthy living which is improved by good science”.
    Religion is holding back stem cell research too much in recent years and that and too litteral bible interpretation has reduced our quality of life. We should be rewarding scientific research more than our sports figures.

    • I agree, Mike G!

      “Do not let religion get in the way of healthy living which is improved by good science”.

      I, too, also say that I will keep a person in my thoughts rather than pray for them…

  57. Hi. Came here from CNN, also. Have only had a few minutes to peruse your blog and read some of these comments–as always, some of the theistic responses are simply stunning. I too was raised catholic and am raising my children to be critical, free thinkers. I wrote a book on my deconversion and am ever pleased at the many like minded people that have contacted me since then (sadly, as you have gathered, many are forced to be closeted). I’m actually putting together a brief video to help let these people understand they are absolutely not alone. I now count your blog as further evidence of that fact and I selfishly thank you.

  58. TxBlue08,

    I don’t have much time to respond here…I have to head to work…

    But I just wanted to say – absolutely awesome article and I am just so relieved you had the guts to post your article to CNN. I have a couple friends and we vehemently discuss the topic of God, God in politics, God in schools, God in society, God in raising kids (I don’t have any yet), God in media…

    Problem is people who are religious will very rarely discuss the topic – if anything they become defensive and unreasonable, and the discussion breaks down.

    But, I could sit here and type for days. Wish we could grab a coffee and chat.

    I own a production company in Denver – and my dream is to make a anti-religion (maybe I have more of a problem with religion than you?) – or just basically an anti-God in society documentary, covering similar topics discussed in your article. Religulous by Maher is a great doc, but we are seeking to do something that isn’t as tongue in cheek, comedy driven – but more serious and thought provoking.

    Again, great article. Someday I will do as you will and raise my kids without God too. I hope you know that you should stand by this article and defend yourself at all costs – because you go against the majority when you post something like this…and unfortunately the mass mind controlled flock to attack you…so maybe they can feel like they’ve reassured themselves that God does exist.

    Do these people every read about science, the universe, biology, physics, etc and at least ponder the fact that there isn’t a God? To me, there are so many, SO MANY, arguments against the existence of God/Religion that it is really no contest. No contest at all. Oh wait, they have faith. And oh wait, it freaks them out to even consider letting their mind wander just a LITTLE bit. WONDERFUL. Forgot how great of an argument FAITH is…

    Good luck, James

    • @James Joliat. LOL! Yes, that wonderful thing called faith! Good luck with your documentary! I hope you get to it soon…we need it! Thanks for taking the time to write!

  59. I was so relieved to find your ireport about raising kids without god. I grew up in an environment comprised of a strange mixture of strict religion, alcohol and abuse. I started questioning the idea of god as a teenager and in my adult life have come to the beliefs similar to yours….god is an imaginary friend for those who need something great and nonexistent to cope with life. I believe in logic. I believe in things which present facts. I have an 8 year old daughter now and I have often struggled with the fear of expressing my lack of belief in god because I have always been afraid kids in my daughters school or even the adults would ridicule her. Or that neighbors, family or friends would make life difficult for her because of my beliefs. Isn’t it strange that we non believers have to walk on eggshells around the subject of religion? If believers in god have the right to express their opinions so freely and without ridicule, why don’t non believers get the same respect?? Believers want to be able to express their thoughts and to pray in public, but what about the public forcing non believers to take part in prayer and other religious activity (I’m referring mostly to schools here). I look forward to reading your other posts and am so grateful to have found a person and community like me.

    • @ amomma1st I’m really grateful, too, to know that you and so many others have similar views. I couldn’t agree more on what you wrote here:

      If believers in god have the right to express their opinions so freely and without ridicule, why don’t non believers get the same respect??

      Just take a look at how many times people flagged the article after CNN asked them not to….Frustrating.

      Thanks for taking the time to reach out and comment.

  60. I know that I will be condemned for “name calling,” but your viewpoint is so incredibly stupid, that it would take an hour to respond logically (which I will be happy to do, if you wish). What are you, six? You expect God to be fair, and measure up to your insignificant little standards. Wow. You lack wisdom, you are more like a petulant child who doesn’t get their way. I hope your kids wake up to the damage you are doing before it is too late.

    • @James,

      I know that I will be condemned for “name calling,” but your viewpoint is so incredibly stupid, that it would take an hour to respond logically (which I will be happy to do, if you wish). What are you, six? You expect God to be fair, and measure up to your insignificant little standards. Wow. You lack wisdom, you are more like a petulant child who doesn’t get their way. I hope your kids wake up to the damage you are doing before it is too late.

      @JAmes. You will be “condemned for name calling,” but you’re going to do it anyway. I’m a “petulant child”, a 6 year old, because I don’t agree with you? How ironic.

  61. I was lucky to be raised by freethinking parents in the 70’s/80’s so even though I’m in the deep south I feel more comfortable expressing my thoughts and opinions. I’ve even started telling strangers! That moment when their jaw drops….

    Love the blog, love the CNN ireport. Keep up the good work!

  62. HI! I was just turned on to this blog today by a co-worker that was raised atheist. My boyfriend and I are both atheists and live in the Midwest – which makes raising our son without religion not just difficult, but highly controversial. My family (mother, brother – sister-in-law…) is still struggling gravely with our decision and that is a battle within itself. I look forward to reading your posts, not just on religion but politics and mothering. Thanks so much!

    • @Chelsea. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I wish you luck with raising your son without religion. Don’t get discouraged by family objections. It’s good that both you and your boyfriend share the same views…that makes it so much easier!

  63. Hi Dam, here is a link to the article in Boston Magazine.
    http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/2012/12/losing-our-religion-non-religious-parenting/

    My husband and I were in Texas a few years ago for a family reunion (on his side) and I was really surprised by how many people asked us, in very casual conversation “what kind of a church do you all attend?”–here in New England, this is not really the type of question people ask when meeting someone new. You can imagine that it was kind of awkward to reply “we do not attend a church”.

    thanks for the reply! 😀

  64. I discovered your blog via CNN. I also am trying to raise my two children as atheists/agnostics. And I also live in Texas where the religious community is large, vocal and influential. I am committed to being open, honest and loving about my atheism and appreciate your willingness to be the same. Look forward to reading more of your blog!

  65. I just found your site through the CNN article. Just wanted to say thank you for putting into words how I feel. Look forward to getting some time to read through your posts- it’s so great to find others out there like myself.

  66. Hey, Jeff here checking in to say hello, and that I will be keeping up with your blog. I read your piece “Why I Raise My Kids Without God” on CNN and decided to check you out further. What you have to say is important and timeless, and has serious implications in our world wracked by gods and their human foot soldiers. So far, I agree with what I’ve read that you’ve said.

    About me: I grew up in a conservative, non-denominational church-going household attending my church’s high school as well as church services at least 3 times a week (it pains me to even think back to that time)… in addition to weekly “soul winning” activities. I had plans of going on the mission field to southeast Asia after attending Bible college. After one year of Bible college, something clicked within me that triggered my connection with reality causing me to realize that all I had been learning and living (theology) was nothing more than philosophy, merely man’s historical attempts to fill in gaps in the “Word.”

    The tipping point for me was learning about “Dispensational Truth”, a Biblical historical philosophy summarized by Clarence Larkin that basically says that we today don’t see the miracles and strange events described in the Bible because “God” has different lessons for us to learn, and that those events were enacted to teach those alive at that time certain lessons. Of course, I was told to just have faith that this philosophy and what the Bible says are true and to deny my god-given ability to rationalize and think about the matter. What a crock… and a perverse denial of the best gift “God” has given “his” creation… our rational thought.

    Needless to say, over the past 20 years I’ve done a near 180 having disavowed that philosophy and embarked on a life without “God.” It’s been a struggle at times, but finding people like you has made each year more easier and more hopeful. Thanks for standing out, speaking up, and putting it out there… it will do everyone some good.

    • @ BigDMJ Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and for sharing your story. And, I love this:

      Of course, I was told to just have faith that this philosophy and what the Bible says are true and to deny my god-given ability to rationalize and think about the matter. What a crock… and a perverse denial of the best gift “God” has given “his” creation… our rational thought.

  67. Hi there fantastic, courageous, responsible parent and person,
    I am so glad I found your article on CNN. If you are 49 and soon to be 50 in May you might just be my twin-heart/brain sister? More later busy day. Just wanted to say Hi and thank you for putting your thoughts into words for us to read, relate to, learn from and increase the value of our already valuable lives.
    a shared love of truth,
    dayna

    • @ Dayna Oh, well, thanks for that really nice (and generous) comment…I always suspected I had a sister! Or, at least, I always wanted one!

  68. I too am not religious but I believe there is a difference between religion and a belief in god. If you have not heard of Neale Donald Walsch’s book “Conversations with God”, I recommend it. For a non-religious person like myself that has not shut out the idea that a god may exist, this is a very interesting and insightful read.

    • @ Mom of 3 boys Thank you for taking the time to comment. Yes, I have heard of “Conversations with God.” Maybe I will pick it up sometime. You are correct–there are also a lot of people who are not religious but beleive in God. (I am not religious and am highly doubtful of the existence of God.)

  69. I, too, saw your CNN article. While some of my points of view differ from your own, the most significant point is that your views as a non believer were published world wide in such a public forum. Congratulations! Your CNN article was flagged as inappropriate, so I signed up with CNN so I could flag it as “perfectly appropriate”. Well done!
    Respectfully ~

    • @ ArizonaJones First, thanks for stopping here and taking the time to comment. And, thank you for signing up on CNN so that the opinions of nonbelievers could be heard…

  70. Chalk us in as another Texas family raising our children in a deity and religion free home. We teach our kids to do the right thing, to be compassionate, to do things on their own steam instead of waiting for someone/something to get it done for them, and to question everything. It’s a challenge, but it’s our family culture.

    • @cas All these years…only to find there are so many others out there raising kids without religion. I’m glad to connect with others. Do your children feel pressure from peers to join a religion? Good luck and thanks for commenting.

  71. I am quite happy to come across your blog. I am a firm doubter living in a location where Christianity is King…the social law of the land. Anyone who doesn’t go around touting the names of God and Jesus are social outcasts, much akin to lepers. The primary social categorization here is Christian or Non-Christian – and yes, it is indeed a social label. Because of the pressure of my surroundings, I am one that reluctantly sits in the sanctuary on Sunday knowing that I don’t fit in there; simply stated, I just do not belong there. I like your blog so much because the way to earn credibility in my mind is by the use of logic, reason, and addressing key your key points in a sensible manner. You certainly achieve all of that here; quite eloquently, I might add. After a nearly fatal brain trauma last year (during which I was somewhat conscious but remained fully aware of my brain functions starting to shut down one by one) I have only been able to ask myself: where was God then? Where was his ‘hand of protection’ over me that day, if he is indeed ‘my father’ where was he…because I know for fact that had my biological (or as Christians would say my ‘earthly’) parents been present and had the power to do so, they without doubt would have intervened at all costs to prevent what happened. I stopped praying, and this has only supported my doubts. My brain injury recovery has defied Medical expectations and a number of Neurologists are baffled by the speed of my recovery. At no time did I ask God for this. Clearly if he exists, he turned his back to me that day, so why should I then grovel to some mysterious entity for healing? I didn’t. I refused. Yet my healing came at a very rapid pace in spite of that. I hope to someday have the bravery that you have shown here to voice my true feelings and step out of my veiled shadows of doubt.

    • @ Charlotte Wow. What an incredible story and thank you so much for sharing. I like your logic, and you certainly don’t write like someone who has had a brain injury. You must have a lot of fight in you. I think what is so intersting about your experience is that, you were one of those who did NOT find God or see heaven as your brain was shutting down. We sometimes read or hear of those people who say they saw a light…I’ve always wondered what exactly they were seeing. I look forward to hearing from you more.

  72. Nice to hear reason from a fellow Texan! A few years ago, as I woke up to reality and began to question then reject all things religious, I wrote my thoughts down so I could always look back and understand my conclusions. If you can spare a minute or two, this is I what I wrote:

    Religion is , ironically, a predictable consequence of natural selection. While there is no way to prove macro-evolution ( evolution as the explanation to the origin of all living things ), micro-evolution ( a species ability to adapt to its environment ) is an observable fact. When a particular member of a species exhibits some trait that increases it’s chances of survival, this member is then more likely to pass this trait on through reproduction and this trait becomes more common in the species’ gene pool. Overall the species as a whole is strengthened by this trait, and more capable of survival. One particular trait that is dominant in all intelligent species is a fear of death. A natural conclusion to the existence of this trait would be that members of these species that did not have a fear of death, by consequence, did not live as long as those with at least some innate fear. This trait would breed true time and time again until it permeates the species. All would then have a natural fear of death. This would also be a trait of humans. We humans, being ostensibly the most intelligent species on the planet, also posses the singular and unenviable privilege of not only having a fear of death, but also an awareness of our own mortality. It is from this intelligent awareness of mortality that religion has sprung. Short of religion, there is really no other direction to turn one’s thoughts concerning our existence. Religion, like animals, must evolve to survive. When newer, and more comfortable perceptions of an ‘after-life’ arise, we humans are prone (against all logic) to cling to these notions to dampen our understandable fear of our own mortality. Religion and our notions of God (or gods) exist as a byproduct of our own intelligence. What then are we to do with respect to religion? There are perhaps 5 possible answers. 1) Achieve immortality (no death to fear), 2) Artificially remove the fear of death (this would be socially disastrous), 3) Cling to logic, avoid religion, and tolerate but understand the fear (Agnosticism, Athiesm or possibly Deism), 4) become one of the minions that adopt a particular ‘faith’ or 5) eliminate your intelligence and thus remove your concept of mortality (this ties into #4 sometimes I think). An interesting footnote would also be along the lines of the expression ‘just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean someone isn’t out to get me’. In the same vein of thought, just because you’re a religious minion, doesn’t mean you aren’t correct, it’s just not very likely (to say the least). I’ll lean toward agnosticism personally…

    Yes, a bit of a rant, but I still read it from time to time to keep myself grounded in reality!!

    Love your blog!

    • @tuscolajake I love what you wrote!! It makes a lot of sense, and I have always thought of this statement as a truth, especially about the Catholic church:

      Religion, like animals, must evolve to survive.

      Please feel free to comment again, and thanks for taking the time to share your views!

  73. Hi,

    My husband happened across your iReport, today. He forwarded your info. on to me, hoping that I might reach out to you and introduce myself as a fellow TX free-thinking Mamma. Being a homeschooler, people often assume that I am pursuing that form of education for my children for religious purposes. The largest organized homeschool community here in San Antonio requires members to sign a statement of faith.

    We try to raise our kids not to be ashamed of our frame of thinking, but also not to unnecessarily force our ideas upon others. The isolation I sometimes feel here in TX would be more readily handled if we had like-minded family members. I was born into a very strict evangelical Christian home. After many years, I finally “came out” as an unbeliever. I’m now fielding lots of questions via email and in-person. It can be wearisome, but I truly believe I can help make a difference, at least among my family members, in how they view “others” beyond me.

    Thanks for your posts! I look forward to reading them!

    Audrey

    • @ Audrey Keel I am so glad you did reach out to me. Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your story. There was another mom from TX who is also raising her kids as free-thinkers and as homeschoolers. I had actually considered it for my younger son, and you are right–here all the homeschooling organizations I know about are faith-based. Good luck with your family. I hope they do see that we are not immoral just because we are godless. I think every time a person comes out of the closet, it helps change those perceptions.

  74. Wow, I found your article on CNN. You have no idea how refreshing it was to find out I’m not the only mom raising her kids without a god here in Texas (this place has a tendency to make one feel completely alone on this). You made my day!!!

    • @ Brenda Blackburn Thanks for reaching out. I ditto your feelings here:

      You have no idea how refreshing it was to find out I’m not the only mom raising her kids without a god here in Texas (this place has a tendency to make one feel completely alone on this).

  75. Hello dam. What I will say here I’m sure could be said better, with more time and energy than I can commit to this evening. I read your CNN ireport. As a Christian, I’m kinda in the minority of believers who don’t run from your article, or immediately try to develop rebuttals. I understand your points, and agree with many of them. Might seem impossible to call myself a Christian and call myself a supporter of your perspective. That either makes me open-minded, or a mess. My wife and I live in Houston. We parent three kids who are both a joy and an exercise in patience. I play drums for our worship team at church. Like most churches, it’s a place full of flaws, and I contribute to those flaws. It’s a place where people spend their free time blaring Fox News or over-applying the word ‘blessing’ to situations where they have no clue. But it’s also a place of many good, thoughtful people. Thoughtful of others and their own faith. Thoughtful of equipping their kids to grow into a spirit of service to and compassion for others.

    The Newton tragedy is the latest event that leaves me disappointed in “God.” I think your strongest point is the paragraph under “God is a bad parent.” Your words resonate. I won’t stand up for God or make excuses. Children were massacred. The affected families are grieving. Some of those families are praying for comfort. I doubt they are feeling much comfort.

    Some time ago I abandoned the need to believe in God, or surround myself with other believers, so I could preserve a sense of eternity. That’s just a selfish driver. Honesty now becomes central to my faith. I simply review the evidence. There is much evidence that the “God” we have Americanized does not exist. Yet, there is much that does exist that cannot be explained. Not ‘the earth is flat’ stuff. Other things, like greed, like self-righteousness, like benevolence. I can no more prove that those things evolve naturally than I can prove God is watching me. So I’m stuck doing what I do, reviewing the evidence in my life, taking it all in, encouraging my kids to do the same. I will admit that when push comes to shove, I show my kids Jesus Christ as depicted in scripture, because he’s depicted as a greater servant of people than anyone I’ve ever met. The older I get, the less service I see around me.

    So I guess I just wanted you to know that I seek the same for my kids as you do for yours. I want to see them develop character traits that leave them to be more givers than takers. If I were to write an article, and plagiarize your title, I might title it, “Why I Raise My Children Without World.” Because as much as you and I agree that mythology is not good for kids, the junk this world serves up isn’t much better. So we search for honesty, in ourselves and in the people, places, and evidence around us. Hope that makes some kind of sense.

    Keep writing and reflecting.

    • @ Mark Thanks for taking the time to write and share your thoughts. I hear you–religion/faith/humans are not perfect, but churches like your have good people with good intentions. I appreciate your respect.

  76. Just wanted to say I loved your article on CNN today. You are not alone, keep up the good work.

    • @ Todd Thank you for this:

      Just wanted to say I loved your article on CNN today. You are not alone, keep up the good work

      It’s so nice to know others are out there. I appreciate you taking the time to reach out.

  77. I appreciate the professional and logic method in which you outline your position, however I, myself decided to let my children make this choice for themselves, all 5 of them and what I found is their embracing of Church was a character builder as opposed to the lack of character in a lot of my secular-humanist friends. I found it lacking in character to impose my belief, as oppose to allowing them to embrace or walk away from Church. Interestingly, all my children found the secular friends to be selfish and lacking any larger purpose. I can see that myself, despite the lack of logic in Church and pure emotion. No, I do not agree that their God is a bad parent as you write, I think we all have a right to succeed or fail and that is the best option any parent can provide us.

    • @ Larry Simes Thanks for taking the time to comment. I whole-heartedly disagree with your suggestion and am skeptical of your findings that your secular-humanist friends selfish and lacking in purpose and character.

  78. I am so sorry you feel the need to raise you kids without God. I am afraid you are basing this decision on people who claim to be Christians but are not. God has one purpose…to show you his never ending love. All he wants is a personal relationship with you.

    • Hi Robert Floyd. Thanks for taking the time to write and share your views. No need to feel sorry. My kids have a lot of love, patience and understanding.

      I can’t have a personal relationship with someone I don’t know, have never met and who has existed only in legend…But if belief brings you hope and comfort, I respect that.

  79. Hi dam,
    I have a few minutes to say a bit about me. I am a mom of an 8 year old. I was raised “Letter of the Law” Mormon and choose to raise my son without religion and will teach him what we know can be proven scientifically. We originally called ourselves science minded but I really like Humanist, Secular and Agnostic. I never identify myself as any one label but if asked find comfort in knowing the difference between all of them and can proudly declare it. I struggle with calling myself Atheist only because of the extreme nature of the definition. I was raised to believe I/we (LDS/Mormons) had the one and only true religion and truth and anyone else that doesn’t believe it is lost. Understanding that origin it really doesn’t surprise me that I might be a bit uncomfortable with the label even though it might be the closest description of my belief system. The further I moved away from religion the more honest, ethical, moral and responsible I got. Okay, my son is reminding me it is time to watch the chima legos special. More later.
    So glad you were born,
    dayna

    • @Dayna Such a nice comment you wrote. Thank you and thanks for sharing a little about your life. It’s hard to imagine moving from Mormon to where you are now. That must have been tough. As for the declaration of being an “atheist.” Funny you should say that. I, too, claim agnostic/free-thinker/humanists as my “label” for the same reason as you. Atheism is on the opposite extreme as fundamentalism–that belief beyong doubt that we know the answers….

  80. Hello from a fellow Texan living in the rio grande valley. First off I’d like to say how impressed and surprised I was this morning when I signed on to CNN like I do every morning and saw your essay. I could just see the rest of America reading the same piece and hear the collective gasps and it filled me with pride for whoever had written it. That is how I came to your blog now. I totally understand the difficulties of living in such a conservative state and town. I read through some of your earlier posts and can relate to many of the same experiences. Like the church I pass on my way to work everyday with offensive signs against nonbelievers. “God doesn’t believe in atheists therefore they don’t exist. ” I am a 32 yr old freethinker and single father trying to raise my 8 yr old daughter to think for herself and decide in her heart what is right and wrong. Her mother is Lutheran and thinks I’m going to hell even though she’s the last person I’d call a good Christian.
    I don’t usually spend time in blogs but I just wanted to thank you. One of your stories touched me deeply. It was about your son asking if his eyes were closed after death how would he find you. I know the feeling of wanting only to comfort and protect our little ones. My daughter asks many difficult questions. Most of the time I don’t have the answers. I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

  81. I found your site – now bookmarked – when a Facebook friend posted the link to your “Why I Raise My Children Without God” essay that appeared on the CNN site. She wrote “My thoughts exactly”, and I left this comment: “When I grew up, we were taught in public schools to believe, and I did. Every day we had to bow our heads in class and recite the Lord’s Prayer, which I still remember word-for-word. It’s an awful thing, which subtly inculcates in young minds misogyny, intolerance and confusion regarding realities about the cosmos. Today, there is nothing in Abrahamic theology that I find the least bit worthy of following. BUT…because of my early exposure to that nonsense, I can still get a whiff of what it felt like to believe that there is a cosmic mind-reader monitoring and judging not only everything I did but everything I thought. I am not entirely free of it. You do your child a great favour by protecting him from that psychological abuse and tyranny. If, when he grows up he decides he wants to find meaning in religion, then that will be his choice to freely make with a clear mind, free of the dire threats imposed by ancient, irrational superstitions.”

    You are doing a great service. Children should absolutely NOT be exposed to religious dogma. There was a time when I questioned that, I wondered if our own kids shouldn’t have been at least introduced to religion so that they would be able to make their own free choice later as to whether they needed whatever comfort or structure it could offer – or not. (Some people do need religion, whether or not it is true being besides the point.) It is now very clear to me that we did the right thing. Their having the freedom to make up their own minds with regards to the beliefs they might feel are useful (or not) is best served by not having the extreme prejudices towards truth that religion requires imposed on them at a young age.

    All the best,

    J.A.K.

    • @ J.A. K. Thank you for your support and for sharing your story. I, too, remember learning the Lord’s Prayer and can still recite it. That’s how brainwashed we were…

  82. My husband forwarded your article for CNN and the link to your blog. Thank you so much for putting into words my exact feelings on raising children without religion. I am a stay at home mother of three and live North Dallas. Any suggestions on how to help your children navigate a highly religious public school?
    I have one child at each campus level. Our eldest daughter is currently a sophomore and on numerous occasions has had to defend her position on religion. Where we live the question isn’t, do you go to church but where do you attend. Once you mention that you don’t, the entire conversation goes cold. You are then treated differently, as if you are a devil worshiper, lack any morals or self restraint. Many families just assume we are christians because of the way we raise our children. You are right, you can raise healthy, happy and respectful children without a belief in any god or system. It’s called common sense.

    • @ Amy from North Dallas. You may know that’s where I live, too. Thanks for reaching out to me. Obviously, I didn’t list my city because I was concerned about backlash. You probably know about all the negative feelings towards people like us–and yes, I’m been told that I’m an agent of the devil, that I can’t have morals without God. The best things we’ve learned in school, at this time, is just to avoid the subject. Telling people what you really believe causes confrontation or alienation. Some will think this is a cop-out. But for kids, it’s much different. We don’t want to push our kids to the fringe of their peer groups. Hopefully, the more people come out, the more we will find acceptance. Thanks for reaching out to me and commenting. Please keep in touch.

  83. Hello “TXBlue”,

    Well, it looks like you got plenty of responses from your ireport. I hope you don’t mind if I respond also.

    A lot of your questions/comments about God and suffering resonate with me. I felt your questions and comments were heart-felt. I ask them too.

    I would like to respond to at least one of your questions. You framed in a two-part question:

    If there is a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God who loves his
    children, does it make sense that he would allow murders, child
    abuse, wars, brutal beatings, torture and millions of heinous acts to
    be committed throughout the history of mankind? Doesn’t this go
    against everything Christ taught us in the New Testament?

    I’m not assuming you were looking for answers to these questions. I’m assuming you were using them as an argument. Still, I’d like to engage here.

    Many ask the why’s and the how’s? Drawing from my own world-view and your reference to the Bible, Job, David, Solomon, Jeremiah, Mary, Jesus(pardon my mostly male references; these stand out to me though). They all had or asked questions relating to evil and suffering and God. The Bible doesn’t shy away from these questions or experiences at all. The “how does this make sense” question(s) are wrestled with throughout. The Bible actually reveals these types of questions to us and validates our struggle.

    You mentioned Christ. As he was experiencing horrific injustice, evil, and suffering he cried out, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” This relates to the second part of your question as well. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble…” This was in the context of diseases, wars, poverty, injustice, oppression, bondage, death (including his own) … all kinds of evil. Christ didn’t teach that all of this evil wasn’t a part of this world. So, I would have to say that this doesn’t go against everything Jesus taught. He’s not saying it’s good, but he’s saying it’s our reality. What’s mind boggling is that he added, “be of good cheer; for I have overcome the world.” It’s mind boggling because this is the part we don’t fully see yet or sometimes don’t see at all yet. At least part of Jesus’ message is that it is through his horrific suffering and through horrific evil that he overcame and overcomes suffering and evil.

    The interesting thing, is that all of these people, along with countless others today, look to God, namely Jesus, in their suffering and cry out like him saying, “take this cup from me” or “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” So even in their and our questions, doubt, confusion, suffering, we still cry out to God; we still cry out to Jesus. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable faith, but I do think that it is a faith that comes from God, who is far above our reason. I understand that some call this kind of faith foolishness.

    Again, many things you said resonate with me; some I take issue with. Still, we have a lot in common in regards to the things you wrote, and I don’t buy many of the answers I’ve heard either. I haven’t found a whole lot of answers to my own troubles, other than in Jesus Christ, who is no stranger to them.

    Sincerely,

    Scott

  84. Your blog, and the premise upon which it is based, is moving toward irrelevance. At least I hope it is, like the scandal in Gore Vidal’s ADVISE AND CONSENT and the outrage over the first inter-racial kiss (between OJ Simpson and an actress I don’t remember) in primetime. Unless a kid had been raised in a repressive, homophobic (and probably extremely religious) home, it would take you a while to explain how a homosexual affair could threaten to topple the US government. Likewise, unless a child had been taught flaming racism from an early age, it would be even harder to explain why a black man kissing a white woman on television was an event worthy of moral outrage. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, some kid will stumble across your blog and say to his or her mother, “What is this?”, and mom will try to explain that people used to think there was something wrong if you said you didn’t believe in God, and then the kid will point to a thing in the corner and say “What’s that?”, and mom will say, “It’s your great-grandmother’s butter churn. After you milked the cows, you’d pour the milk…” “What do you mean, ‘milked the cow’? What cow? Like the ones in the Chick-fil-a commercial? I don’t get it.”

  85. Hi! I look forward to reading more of your blog now that I’ve discovered it. I’m a mom of 3 in British Columbia. It’s fairly easy for me to raise my kids without religion because I was raised without (my dad is atheist and my mom agnostic). And I live in a province where 1/3 of the population says they do not identify with any religion. Great article on CNN, and I look forward to reading more.

    • @ Katrina – Thanks for reaching out. So, my kids will turn out level-headed like you! 🙂 I did not realize that a third of the population in BC do not identify with any religion. I wonder if they are just not part of a certain religion or if they are atheist??

  86. Thank you so much for this blog. I am a teenager living with religion all around me. I am lucky enough to have parents that have never forced religion on me, even though they were brought up in a strong Catholic upbringing, and still consider themselves Christian. My parents definitely have done it right, just as you have. I only see hatred and judgement in religion and I completely agree with everything you have stated. It has even opened up my eyes more to what religion really is. I believe that religion shouldn’t disappear either, because everyone needs motivation to live, but it should NEVER be forced. Even though I don’t believe in a higher being or anything stated in the Bible, I will allow my kids to choose what they want to believe in. I have the utmost respect for you, thank you for sharing!

    • @ pandabear247 Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your perspective! (My sons are teenagers, too.) You seem very well-adjusted–and tolerant. Best of luck…

  87. I too wanted to thank you for the article and the effort it takes for this blog. I often wish I could be more vocal about being an atheist, but I shy away from it because I am a nurse and most nurses are very very religious. I think it is easier for them to deal with the death we often see, of the old, but most especially of the young. My family and I are getting ready to relocate to TX and I have to say the biggest qualm I have had has been worrying about how my daughters will be treated. I’m still concerned, but it is nice to see so many others comment that they too, are in TX, and are also non-believers. It gives me hope! Thank you again!

    • @vballrh Thanks for taking the time to reach out. I think you’re right–believing in death and the afterlife must ease some of the burden in nursing. That must be a hard profession in many ways. Good luck with your move to TX. I’d love to hear how it’s going!

  88. Hi there. I just read the CNN piece about you and your blog. You’ll be glad to know that I’m not going to scream at you or invoke hellfire or whatever other miseries folks have inflicted on you via your blog. I’m a parent of two young children and struggle with my faith (Christianity) and how to explain it to them…and wondering if I should even bother. Anyway, I look to reading more.

    • @ Robert. THanks for reaching out and commenting. This is hard to believe, but for every 200 comments, I’ve had 1 negative one. It just amazes me. People have been so kind, no matter what side of the argument they fall. Good luck with your two children…

  89. Great Stuff! I have quite similar views to you, but being just 21, I don’t have children yet. I have been an Atheist nearly all of my life – or as far back as I can remember. My parents raised me to ask the tough questions, and they responded the best they could, never sugar coating anything. It’s quite ironic that I was born and raised in the heart of the Bible Belt, Tulsa, Oklahoma – but I am such a fervent Atheist.

    When I eventually have children of my own, I will turn to how my parents raised me as well as draw on the insights from your blog. Thanks!

    [And like you, I write about Atheism on my Academic Blog: http://www.TheNolanK.com – and I will be published in the University of Oklahoma’s Academic Journal for Religious Studies here in 2013!]

    • @ Nolan Kraszkiewicz It’s good to hear from younger voices. I see you know a lot about guns, too. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  90. I want to thank you for entering this viewpoint into the public discourse. As my own beliefs have evolved, my wife and I have disagreed over the way to raise our daughter–and upon reading your article on CNN and now your blog, I feel less alone. I agree completely that our children should evaluate their own decisions as to morality, and that doing so often leads to different decisions and beliefs than those of organized religion. With or without faith, it is my sincere wish that my daughter become an emphathetic individual, able to recognize morality as a complex rather than polar concept.

    While not living in Texas, the area we live in is populated by a majority conservative Christian population, and while being different from other children can be challenging, I think it will be an experience that will help my daughter grow into a stronger, more independent person. Furthermore, I think we have an obligation to teach our children to be true to ourselves, and through living this we teach.

    Please continue to write, I plan on returning often.

    • @ Bryan I know you’re in a difficult situation–when spouses don’t have the same views it is tough, especially when one is atheist or agnostic (it’s very threatening). I was raised in a similar situation. I agree that we just really need to teach our children to be true to themselves, and we are the best example. Good luck and thanks for reaching out to share your story.

  91. My whole family is catholic and I was raised catholic and baptized catholic but I never go to church. I get criticized by my family because I told them that I believe in Jesus, because there is proof he existed, but that I have a very serious problem believing in that one God everyone believes in. I just don’t think that there is an almighty being out there that created the universe and the earth and all living things because if that’s the case, then who or what created him-it?

    Jesus once said, and its printed in black and white on the bible:

    “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

    I have always believed that Jesus was not from this world. He was not really human, even though he looked like one. I believe the universe is filled with life and our planet is not the only one with such life. There are more out there and our ancestors are not from this world. Maybe some of you might think I’m crazy when I say this, but I believe Jesus was sent here by our ancestors to serve as a guide. To teach us and even though the Bible and the church tell us that he sacrificed himself to rid humanity of sin, I believe He sacrificed himself for nothing because humanity is 1,000 times worst now than it was 3,000 years ago. We are more savage and more violent than ever. We commit more murders and crimes now than we did back then, so his sacrifice, with all do respect to those who think otherwise, meant and fixed nothing.

    If children are the future of mankind and “God’s children”, “free” of sin and evil, then why does God let them die in wars and disease? Why are children dying of AIDS and on violent crimes every day? The church will tell you:

    “Oh, it’s not God, it’s man that allows that. It is man’s fault.”

    I say: B.S.

    If God is almighty and powerful like the bible and church claims, then why doesn’t God do something about that? Why does he let his innocent children die? Why does God put up with the evil and horrible things that are happening in our world and not do something about it? If he is God, then he has the power to do whatever he wants to do, correct?

  92. I would like to chime in with your and Bryan’s remarks. The main “positive” I learned from being raised a Jehovah’s Witness is that I learned (despite being shy and sensitive) that I had a backbone to stand up for what I believed in. Yes, it made me stand out and I was the different one. But if we look around our sick society today, we could use more who know how not to succumb to peer pressure:) Many parents keep saying they want their kids to fit in. I think we need to stress that it’s OK to be different.

  93. I found your website today browsing the web and cnn. I found your blog and ireport article to be refreshing knowing that others raise their children without religion. I was raised a baptist and left the religion behind after college. I have taken my children to both baptist and catholic churches and I raise both of the knowing that how do we really know there is a heaven or hell? The bible, in my mind a book based on someone’s believes and pushed upon others for the past 2000-3000 years should not be the defacto basis of believing. There are other religions such as buddism that has been around much longer than christianity, but how do some of the christian’s believe that their religion is the main religion. I let my children make their own choice in religion and have asked if they want to attend church. Forcing a child to attend church as I was could tend to make one leave the religion. I know there are parents out there that believe we should lead our children and they should follow us, but children need to learn from us as well as be independent.
    I just find too many christian’s that will force a person to believe and that really turns me off to that religion. Again God is what a person believes and should not be forced upon a person even if it is a child.

    Just my two cents for what it is worth.

  94. People like you should speak out more often. I was borned Buddhist, went to Catholic schools and still don’t understand the use of religion. My husband’s a Christian and both of us don’t see the need of religion in our home. We are strict on our children, and we don’t bring God into excuses. Morality? Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie, work hard and get rewarded. Is that so hard to learn? We have 4 degrees between me and my husband, so yes, a bunch of educated parents who can explain and teach their children without excuses of a religion. ( And please, I’m not looking for my soul to be saved, because I’m not afraid to burn in hell, if there is one) I’m looking forward to following you!

  95. Deborah Mitchell, thank you for possessing the courage and bravery to stand up for your beliefs and world-view. I applaud CNN for covering your iReport and allowing this important discussion to become mainstream.

    I am a public school teacher in a rural American township… and a liberal, thoughtful agnostic. No one – I mean, no one – knows this. Religion is as embedded in the local culture as football and farming.

    I shouldn’t need to lived a closeted life, always careful to avoid religious discussion and deflecting when personal belief becomes involved. Yet, so many Americans do not understand your most important point: religion is a personal effect.

    Thank you for your words and willingness to share. I hope we can progress as a nation and a culture in returning religion to a proper place.

    • @ Coyote It’s ironic that so many religious can speak out and yet you and I are afraid to come out. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  96. Just found you via CNN, and I can’t wait to read every word here! My husband and I are–after a several year evolution of our ways of thinking–‘born-again’ agnostic atheists, after being raised Episcopalian and Catholic. We are lovers of everything scientific and educational; he is an engineer, I am a teacher and university instructor. I have formally studied human psychology (one of my Master’s degrees is in ed.psych.), and informally studied physics and our universe, and I can truly no longer even fathom how I was once a believer. We are attempting to raise our seven-year-old daughter as a free-thinking, peace-loving, compassionate agnostic as well, but it is proving VERY difficult to do here in the South where people eat, sleep, and breathe their religion. She doesn’t like being different from her friends at school in her beliefs (she once told a preacher’s kid that the Bible was a book of teaching fables and not actually True–whew, we caught hell for that one, and our daughter was very abruptly introduced to the realization that *we are different*), and so she now says things that make me cringe: “I love Jesus” “Of course there’s a God, how could somebody not believe in God?” and “I’ve decided to believe what the other children believe, Mom, and believe about Jesus.” I’ve made the difficult decision at this time to let her be, as part of my stance that I want HER to make her own decisions about religion and belief, but dang it’s hard!! I so eager to read how you handle all these things. Thanks for speaking out. 🙂

  97. It was very refreshing to read your thoughts on god. The people that got most of this started thousands of years ago , regardless of which religion you consider, must have known what they were doing … that people can be influenced to do the “right thing” by fearing some greater power. As you point out, ;people should be influenced to do the right thing by being taught the right things to do and how to be moral, honest, compassionate, and other characteristics of being a good human being.

    After going to parochial school from 4th grade to 8th grade and a short stint at Jesuit High School in Dallas … I started asking questions, and more questions. My mother was upset (she raised me single) but … it didn’t make sense to me … yet I couldn’t put my finger on it. And for many years, I would “defend” the Catholic church as the one true church (even though I didn’t go to church) because Jesus said “Upon this rock (Peter) I build my church.”

    I don’t know if it was age or what (I’m 69) but eventually I came to the same conclusions you have, except I couldn’t articulate it as elegantly as you have. And you may call me a hypocrite, because I go to a Methodist church in the small area where we live, partly becuase I like to sing (LOL) and I listen to the sermons, and I do ask the preacher (Jim) difficult questions, but have not gotten to the root of the matter. I sometimes wonder whether preachers/clerics “know” … but I am sure many or most of them are sincere in their beliefs.

    Thanks for listening,
    Bob

  98. I wanted to pop in and say hello. I have a similar story as yours, but I probably took the extreme opposite path as you did. I grew a “born again Christian”, but later faced some challenging things in life that made me question the do’s and don’t’s of Christianity. It’s been almost 20 years since I left my church, and I’ve come full circle with children of my own. Instead of raising them with one religion, I raise them with all religions, encouraging them to find their own path, but with the disclaimer that faith should not make you feel guilty, should not belittle others, should not instill fear, should not make you ever believe you are above another human being. I remind them that in the end, if and whomever God might be, none of us will stand next to Him/Her to judge our fellow human beings. Therefore, we might as well worry about our own path and how to live a life with integrity rather than follow what “religion” tells us to do. My three boys know they can come home and tell me they believe in Christianity, Mormanism, Islam, Wicca, or whatever they want to believe, as long as it promotes peace, love, and equality. They have gone to multiple faith activities and have come home with questions and more enlightened how most faiths are more alike than not; each with their own pros and cons, but almost always fundamentally grounded in loving one another. Thanks again for your openness and thoughtful blog. I am glad you have a found a path that suits you and your family. For me, this another teaching tool for me for my own kids to love, respect, and honor those who choose not to believe in deities. Best wishes!

  99. Greetings from Alaska! Love your blog (thanks CNN). You and I are on the same page. 🙂 I have been told many times “you’d make a great Christian” or “are you sure you’re not Christian?” No, my name is Misti thank you very much. Doing things because they are the right thing to do should not be such a strange concept. Keep going fellow realist mom! I’ll be back!

  100. I’m an expat American living in Singapore. Technically it’s a secular society, but there’s a growing evangelical movement here (largely funded and driven by the American Evangelical churches) that thinks they should have a voice in politics. At the moment, the anti-gay law is under debate and they are screaming all the same nonsense we hear in the US every time Gay marriage/gay rights comes up. Frustrating.

    Raising my kids without religion–not been an issue so far here, but I sort of expect drama when we get back, especially since I’m anti-pledge.

    • @Expat Bostonians Thanks for taking the time to comment…As to your other comment, who knows if we actually have some sort of life force that lives on.

  101. Loved your article and just signed up for your blog. May I recommend two wonderful books on parenting without God:
    Parenting with out Belief and Raising Freethinkers, both by Dale McGowan. I found these very helpful…

  102. When my Grandmother moved to Florida from RI, she discovered how culturally different it was. People would say things like, “He’s a good Christian doctor.” She always said that she would ignore such recommendations. “I want a good scientific doctor, not a Christian doctor, or a Jewish doctor, or a Voo-doo doctor.” I’m proud to say that I was raised without religion and I’m grateful for that.

  103. Thank you for the speaking up for those of us raising good, but non-Christian children. My wife and I are both non-religious; we’re more inline with the ideas espoused by Buddhism–loving kindness, mindfulness–all without the indoctrination. Having lived in Salt Lake City, Utah and both children born there, I can understand your feeling of isolation in Texas. You are not alone in this world and there is a future that demands freethinkers to exist. A new era of Thoreaus, Einsteins, Camuses, etc. must have parents guide them along. Thanks again for speaking up–we, the minority in a society of squeaky wheels, need people like you.

  104. Unitarian Universalist

    I just ran into this website, and found it very interesting. I am a naturalized US citizen who immigrated from a Muslim Country. I was always a nonbeliever, so was my also immigrant husband (raised Christian). But instead of raising our kids “Godless”, we raised them multi-theists, pantheists, or whatever you call it. We joined a Unitarian and Universalist Church and let them explore. We never dismissed beliefs of others, or blindly followed atheism.

    Our children are both happy, well-adjusted, well-educated adults now. Neither is religious. A divine entity or entities might be a topic of philosophical discussion for them, but never a blind faith. They are respectful of others’ beliefs, but know how to handle those who try to push their religion onto them.

  105. Thanks so much for your courage in writing about raising secular, critically-thinking children. We need all of them we can get.

    I was a traditional, devout Catholic who, through convoluted logic and cherry picking, stuck with my faith in spite of everything I’d experienced telling me it was a sham. Finally when it came time to send my kids through the sacraments, I realized that I had to be brave enough to break the chain of superstition and not burden my kids with the weight of trying to believe in things we know darned well aren’t true. I just couldn’t look them in the eye and *lie* to them.

    I’m so glad I made that decision – and so is my wife (the less religious of us who only participated because she thought it was important to me) and so are my kids. Admitting to the world “we are atheists” has actually made us feel more responsive to the needs of the poor and downtrodden of this world because we know the truth: there is no supernatural showcase waiting for them on the other side.

  106. David Cornelson

    Hi Deborah,

    I am a divorced father of five. During my marriage I had committed to my ex-wife leading any and all religious activities. My children were baptized, went to Sunday school, and went to church on a semi-regular basis.

    During this time I constantly wanted to speak up, to my ex and to my children about my own feelings. I was baptized and spent the first five years of my life going to Catholic church regularly. In 1970 the Catholic church started charging for school and my dad accurately pointed out that in the end, it was just a business. He left the church, but I don’t think he ever stopped believing in God.

    In my own case, I can very clearly remember that all the bible talk was just like my story books at home. A lot of stories that sometimes were dramatic, sometimes humorous, but stories nonetheless. I was pretty sure everything was “made-up”, even at a young age. I have never wavered from that position in the 49 years of my life. I live in the Midwest where people get really upset (not mad) when you tell them you don’t believe. They will actually start crying and praying on the spot! It’s jarring, uncomfortable, and sometimes silly.

    Now here’s the thing. I’m also a pretty smart guy and the reality is, this is the world we live in. Most people you run into in daily life are religious to some degree. I agreed to have my kids be taken to church under strict guidelines. If anyone ever discussed “original sin”, my kids would be removed from the process. If anyone talked about “sin”, “hell”, or “the devil”, my kids would be removed from the process. My ex-wife agreed to these terms and she agreed to the general thought process behind it as well. My kids are pretty smart and they’ll eventually solidify their belief or non-belief. I am okay with either direction, but secretly hope they become atheists. I think the sin and hell and devil aspects are used as tools of fear and control. My kids don’t have the traditional view of religion and that’s likely to stick regardless of whether they become regular believers or not. I do have a belief that having been a part of the religious community that they will feel comfortable in all communities. I know as adults we can pick and choose our company, but as kids they’re kind of stuck. I’d prefer they “fit-in”. I’d prefer they were raised as I believe, but I’m okay with things as they are, but mostly because their religious education was pretty light. You know, Baby Jesus is cute. How can you fight that?

    They’re still too young to have the discussion, but as they ask questions, I simply answer or ask more questions that direct them to a more scientific and empirical way of thought.

    But I hear you. It’s damn hard to socialize when the people you really connect with are so few and far between. It’s hard to express yourself openly to coworkers and friends. But I don’t rant. I just listen and shake my head. And talk politics!

  107. Just another freethinker here. I could say a lot but I have many bright people on both “sides” of religion. Many people I respect. I simply cannot reconcile belief in an active supernatural being etc. It depresses me to see people turn control of their lives to an imaginary bigger plan. I personally think of it as almost like a “delusion” virus really. Anyway, good on you.

  108. I am so very excited to find someone who thinks like me, embraces the same thought process and applies the same principles that my husband and I do at home with our three teenagers. Born and raised in Texas and having come from an often overtly religious family, Southern Baptist for me – my husband was raised Catholic – I grew weary of the unanswered questions and ambiguous moralities that we were bombarded with at every turn. I want my kids to know that choice is a huge piece of what makes us human and determines our success in life… Sometimes I feel like my husband and I are the only ones that can have an intelligent discussion about the matter. Thanks so much for blogging about this issue. Relevant, timely and I just love that I identify so much. Keep it up!

  109. I just found you through CNN and your post there. I am only beginning to read your blog, but from what I have read so far I am in LOVE! I was raised Southern Baptist, but chose to become Agnostic after making friends with those who I was taught were “abominations”….I still face criticism from many family members who know I am no longer “religious” so instead I have had to basically live a lie. This blog helps me know that there are many others facing the same problems, as well as let me know how to handle issues that come up. When I decide to have kids I will definitely be raising them without religion, because in MY opinion it does more harm than good.

  110. I purposefully observe people. I find us interesting. I took 2 years of psychology classes just for the fun of it, also got an AA in it, for what it is worth, but my point is I really observe people on a level most do not. Much like some cook way beyond “add one cup of boiling water”. I got into this because I have recognized a gift/curse that I really can read, and understand individuals, many times, even better than they can see for themselves. I have used this skill to work in fields that help people to reach beyond their current personal limits to find new levels of their true ability. So enough of my credentials and on to what I see in many people on the subject of God, and religion. My guess is that about %50 or even up to %75 of “Christians” pretend to be, what they think they should be according to what is expected of them from our culture, their church, their friends and their family. “Thou shall not lie”, unless we think it is ok, like about Santa, or she really does look fat in those pants. I know a woman that wears her religion of “Christianity ” on her sleeve and attacked Hillary Clinton about going into the hospital with her blood clot, accusing her of lying and avoiding the Benghazi issue. Is that really how a good Christian acts? Not a word about, I hope this woman is ok, It was all out Republican attack mode. I can go on and on about the contradictions, those that lay claim to, and, even use the righteousness of Christianity, and how they behave when true Christian behavior doesn’t serve them. So that covers many of the %50 – %75, but think of all the times, we all, me included, do not speak up for fear of confrontation. How many women bow to the man, because of her duty to family when it comes to religion. My wife, who does believe and even talks about wanting to attend church, walked out of her sisters church, when the Pastor said ” there would be less domestic abuse if wives would listen to their husband, to follow the leader of the home”. When she did not come back, her sisters entire family had no idea. they thought that the pastor had a good point. Of course I know some of these are extreme and please do not get me wrong, I am not trying to make points against religion. My point is how people behave in contradiction to what they “say” they believe AND how to me, shows the “real” them, which is not what they say they are. Santa is the first lie, and breaks one of the 10 commandments. It also teaches the child, that they can not %100 trust their parent and family, as well as, it is ok to lie even if the commandments say you shouldn’t.

    • @ Observer Tim…Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences. I was floored when I read this…unbelievable:

      I know a woman that wears her religion of “Christianity ” on her sleeve and attacked Hillary Clinton about going into the hospital with her blood clot, accusing her of lying and avoiding the Benghazi issue

  111. Stephen Abdul Maalik

    Deborah, I thank you for contributing your thoughts to CNN and for CNN in publishing your thoughts. The discussion of faith and belief are so important in this day and time. I believe that trying to understand what others believe regarding God can only make us all better, whether you believe in God or not. I was raised as a Catholic but questioned Christianity’s belief in God as a Trinity and Jesus as the Son of God. As the Church has changed and become more dogmatic, I reached out and explored other religions. As you can see I settled on a belief system that I feel is misunderstood by most, including most Muslims. What attracted me was the one to one relationship one builds with their Creator. As a result, my focus in life is to live my life as I believe God wants me to and to assist those in need around me as much as I can. In essence following the “Golden Rule”. But I also believe this “Rule” is fundamental to most individuals whether they are believers or non believers. I choose to believe in God because for me it makes sense. But I also believe that there is no compulsion in religion, which is consistently stated in the Qur’an. Therefore, understanding the beliefs of others is important in knowing that individual, that community, and that society.

    I look forward to reading you posts as they give me a different perspective to consider in living life. I wish you and your family peace and health!

    • @ Stephen Abdul Maalik Wow. It gives me great pleasure to have such a respectful dialogue. This is how we move to an understanding. it sounds like you have given quite a bit of thought to your beliefs. Thanks for taking the time to comment and to share your views.

  112. dam,
    Thanks … I was encouraged by your iReport and I plan to follow your blog. I have a history similar to yours, but with the added difficulty of being a High School Science Teacher in the midwest. That in itself presented some serious challenges. I could fill the page with both good and bad incidents but will reserve them for my personal history.
    I appreciate your position and I’m GLAD you’re raising your children in a way that will allow them to make a decision for themselves at a time when THEY can make a mature decision.
    Thank you…

  113. I have read a bit about your blog and all I can say is I truly feel sad for you indeed. It really must take a lot courage and denial to think this is all their is and after this their is nothing. You are correct in finding many faults with humans today and in many points you are right indeed. Hence the need for salvation from Jesus Christ. I do not look to man for answers- I look to the one living creator of all things including you and I and that is Jesus Christ. Looking at man will only make you feel sad and dismayed. Yes the RCC has chased many people away from God and that is sad, but yet a fact. I will continue to pray for you.

    • @ Merle And I have learned a bit about you in your comment. You have no respect for other’s beliefs. I don’t tell you NOT to believe in your god, so why would you tell me you feel sad for me and will pray for me (I doubt that anyway)? I’m glad you look to JC for guidance. But I do not. There are MANY of us out there, and your stance will appear arrogant and offensive to nonbelievers. Thanks for taking the time to comment, however.

  114. The sooner children learn that there is no absolute truth as revealed by religion, the less of their precious life they will waste on pie-in-the-sky delusions. I read this from one of your godless posters and all I can say is wow indeed. No absolute truth so its every person for himself and whatever feels right at the time is right. Even if that means opening up at a elementary school and wasting 20 kids-who are you to say its wrong with your moral reletavism.

  115. I am very sincere in saying I will pray you and that is no joke. You can certainly tell me not to believe in God all you like and the fact that you say their is no God shows the weakness in your ideal that their is no absolutes as saying their is NO God is an absolute statement and hence a big hole in your world view. BTW its not JC its Jesus Christ as he is not a rap singer with 2 letters for his name. Thank you.

  116. Disagreement is not disrespect at all its that I truly care for your soul in the face of eternity that I do care.I have a duty as a Christ follower as I would if you were driving down the road and I knew the bridge was out and hence if I had the chance to warn you and did nothing that would make me a terrible person indeed.

    • @Merle You believe you have “a duty as a Christ follower” because saving souls is a ticket to heaven, according to the church. I agree that disagreement is not necessarily disrespect. But we’re not disagreeing here. I’m telling you I have no interest in what you’re selling. That’s all. I’m willing to listen to your arguments, but telling me you’re going to pray for me is not an argument.

  117. @ Stephen Abdul Maalik, and anyone else that feel they can address this. When you say ” What attracted me was the one to one relationship one builds with their Creator. As a result, my focus in life is to live my life as I believe God wants me to and to assist those in need around me as much as I can.” I wonder how this is possible? If it were my name inserted for God, I would understand. Here is why. Unless you have met and sat down across from God, I believe what you are doing is, putting what others have told, and taught you to imagine as God, into your “one on one” relationship. Of course I know of the literature around all religion, including the Bible, written by mortal men, exist, but still you have not met God in any empirical way, to have a “One on One” relationship. I even know people that say they talk to God and he answers, but I know that is the individuals thought, and given the same “faith” they could say they talk to me and I answer. I think if you were born into and experienced FIRST in a DEEP way, that, that you experienced in the religion of your choice, you may be saying these same words, with a different God in mind. I will go further, I believe that, I know you would. Not challenging you or your beliefs, just interested in the point of view. To be sure your name could be Pete and mine Jeff, I just am interested in the subject not the people in it. I hope that makes sense. I am more about the brain and thought than the person and their beliefs being right or wrong.
    Food for thought….
    “Religion….if you believe, it helps” “Placebos… if you believe, they help.”

  118. I just read an article about your blog on cnn.com. I’m an atheist mother of two. I’m a scientist and lover of logic and reason and data. I was raised southern baptist but refused to continue going to church at age 12. I have many believers in my life that I dearly love and cherish but cannot bring myself to believe something that is so clearly not true. Like you, I understand the comfort and peace that religion brings to others but I just can’t ignore reality. I raise my children to be compassionate, kind human beings that understand the value of loving others. I look forward to reading your blog.

  119. Dam,

    I just discovered your blog through your iReport (actually, through CNN’s follow-up to it). So far, I’ve only read the original report and a few of the more recent blogs, but I look forward to diving back into the archives. My story isn’t terribly different from yours – I’m just in the beginning chapters of the “child” section.

    My son is 3; my daughter is 15 months. And I’m now getting toward the age that I’ve been dreading: Where we have to figure out how to teach our children to make their own decisions on religion, in an extremely Christian area of the country (the Midwest). I don’t necessarily feel that there is anyone around here we can talk to about this (and certainly family isn’t where we would turn), so I’m excited to find your blog, and to read about the firsthand experiences of someone in a similar situation.

    As for me – I was raised Catholic, and started questioning it about the time I went to college. It wasn’t really front-of-mind until I hit my mid-20s. I started reading up on religion and, as a writer, began working out my issues by writing my first attempt at a novel – a religious satire. The novel didn’t come out well, but as I continued my struggle with religion, I started working the story into a screenplay. When I finally came to peace with the idea of not believing, I realized I had about half of what I thought was a really good script. So I finished it; working with some other local independent filmmakers, we turned it into a fairly successful independent web series … it’s not really an atheist story so much as a story about how people can use religion as a reason to hurt one another, and that it’s not okay to do that. If you are interested in checking it out, I would be happy to send you a link; we’ve had about 1.4 million views on the series so far, with surprisingly positive feedback (I don’t want to just drop it on here and hijack your blog to promote my own stuff … it’s just part of my story).

    But anyway – that’s me, your newest reader, by way of introduction. Thank you again for doing this – I look forward to reading more as my wife and I embark upon a similar journey to your own!

    Sincerely,
    Joe

  120. I have no idea where you get the idea that salvation is based on soul saving. Yes the Bible calls on us to spread the word but salvation is based on a gift by God and it can not be earned in any way. If I happen to never save anyone from hell my salvation does not change. I do tho earnestly care about your eternity tho.

  121. Ok fair enough about spelling. The point is that I doubt you believe their are any real absolutes and if so saying that their is no God is an absolute statement.

  122. Just a simple note from north of the 49th (Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada to be precise). Found your piece on CNN and felt compelled to say hello. We’re lucky in Canada as religion does not play a significant role in our lives and I’d have to say the vast majority are non-believers (contrary to what our national anthem has you believe). I’m the father of two wonderful children who are taught to explore and learn on their own – we raise them without ‘god’ but if they eventually find him/her to be important in their life then all the power to them. Kudos on you for sticking to your beliefs as I’m sure it can be somewhat stressful around your parts.

    • @ Chris B from Nanaimo. I really appreciate you taking the time to write. It’s good to hear about others raising kids the same way. Maybe the US is moving the way of Canada, and one day religion will not play such a significant role in our lives.

  123. Thank you for submitting your commentary to CNN. I can absolutely relate to your story. I am a mother of 3 boys living in the Midwest and usually do not discuss my views on religion with people because I do not wish to be chastised. It’s upsetting that so many people think it’s okay to infringe on one’s choice to not believe. My oldest son (11) has been harassed more than once at school when the topic comes up and he chooses to express his beliefs. I’m saddened by the intolerance of others. But it does bring hope to read that there are many others like us.

    • @Anonymous Sad to hear about your oldest son. Thanks for taking the time to comment here. I’m so glad to meet others with the same views…

  124. Great blog, thanks for sharing!!! I’ve got spiritual beliefs, but they cannot be pinned down to one religion, as I think all faiths have an element of truth. I refuse to attend any church or conform to any set of beliefs. Religion alone is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, I find organized religion to be as dirty and corrupt as politics! I have raised my kids completely outside of any church and being from the Southeast, that’s not an easy thing to do. They aren’t banned from attending church, and they have attended here and there with friends, but they have to find their own answers and beliefs in their own due time. In the meantime, morality and faith aren’t mutually exclusive and there’s no reason I can’t raise decent people without a bible shoved down their throats. It’s so nice to find your blog and see that I’m not the only parent who has actively made the choice to exclude faith in my children’s upbringing!

  125. Stephen Abdul Maalik

    @ Observer Tim, I am not sure that I can really answer the question you are asking — how does one communicate with God? It is like trying to explain why I loved my wife, how I love my children, how I love my brothers and extended family. It is an emotion, but it is real. But how do we show our love? To show our love to others we try to console them, nurture them, laugh with them, talk with them. In short, we try to understand them and know them. The problem with this answer is that God is not physically present. So how does one communicate or love someone who is not physically present? Unfortunately my wife passed away almost a year and half ago but since then I talk to her every day. How do I do this? I remember her and look at things she created and shared with me. I think about her and wish her peace. Does she answer me back? No. But I feel at peace when I “talk” with her. It is the same with God, at least for me. I look at nature and its harmony; I strive to learn from both religious and non religious texts about what it means to be human; I try in very simple ways to give something to others when they are in need. All of these give me peace and a sense of communicating with God. I am sure that this answer does not satisfy your curiosity. It is not theologically, philosophically, or intellectually based. It is only based on the love I have for God and for my family.

  126. Just discovered you through cnn and I love your perspective.

  127. I too just discovered this through CNN. I loved reading through some of your posts. I’m from Missouri and have 3 kiddos. I wasn’t taken to church as a child, nor was I baptized. My mother, who does believe, had never felt comfortable with organized religion, we hit the major holidays when I was a child and that was about it. I was given the opportunity to explore my own ways of belief. I bounced back and forth between everything from Wicca to Christianity until finally I gave up trying to “believe” in something. I never felt more free then in that moment. That’s when I read the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, he put into words everything I had been feeling since my pre-teen years.

    Now with three kids of my own, it can be difficult to raise them without indoctrination by others. But I truly feel that if I teach them about every religion they will come to the same conclusion that I have come to (hopefully without the mental and emotional struggle). They are young still so right now we just concentrate on learning about science and critical thinking. My main goal is to teach them that “the garden is still beautiful and wondrous without needing to believe that fairies live under it”.

    It’s a comfort knowing that I am not the only one struggling with side-stepping religion when it comes to raising our kids, especially in the Bible belt. I know for many their faith is a comfort, especially in hard times. But for me, it never helped. It never felt real, and it never felt as if I was DOING anything about my own problems.

    I also just want to say that with the new publicity from CNN there will be a lot of people (and trolls) who will comment with vile words and sentiments. They will spew hate as they tout their wonderful and peaceful religion. I just want to say that the rest of us are here and supporting you. And hopefully, supporting each other!

  128. Thank you so much for your blog! I also discovered you through CNN.com and your blog has brought me so much comfort! I’m from South Carolina and was raised in the the church. My parents still go to church pretty much anytime the doors are open there (both volunteer there several times a week and serve on various committees, Dad runs sound for services, and such), my brother and I have both chosen to leave the church as we’ve gotten older (my brother even felt that announcing that he both didn’t believe in God and was gay in church during a service was a good idea). I am helping raise my boyfriend’s child and all four of the child’s parent figures are big on letting him chose what (if anything) he decides to believe in as he gets older. My boyfriend’s parents both respect that (his mother is more religious than his father), and my parents will take him to their church to play on the playground sometimes, but haven’t gone so far as to insist that he attend services with them. The child’s maternal grandmother, however, insists that he attend church with her when he is in town and we’ve heard him come back to our house saying things like “it’s raining because someone made God sad.” We don’t mind him being exposed to different religions (we even put him in a preschool located in a church because it seemed better able to prepare him for Kindergarten than any of the other preschools in town), but we certainly don’t appreciate anyone pushing their religion on him (or us). It’s very frustrating and knowing that we aren’t the only ones out there trying to raise a child to be a good person and not just a good Christian is very comforting. Thank you *so* much!

  129. Like scarymommy I too learn of this blog though CNN. You have great courage and conviction and I admire you for your efforts here and your devotion to rising your kids to think themselves!

  130. @Merle, you say that “you truly care for her soul” and “hence if I had the chance to warn you and did nothing that would make me a terrible person indeed”. It is a well known fact that people who are overweight and obese are going to be riddled by long-term disease and struggles, do you also warn them? Or would this be offensive? Or do you believe that God has chosen for them to be fat? I am a health care professional and hold a lot of knowledge on people’s health but that does not give me a right to criticize their opinions and choices.

    I really appreciate your blog, I obviously have a hard time not being vocal with people who are so narrow-minded! Maybe you can teach me a thing or two:)

    • @godinvasion I thought you were polite in what you wrote! 🙂 And I actually had never thought of that analogy. That’s a really good one. I, too, get frustrated when people keep pushing their views on me!!! Ugh. It’s like telling the salesperson “no thanks,” and they keep pushing.

  131. I don’t usually comment on things like this, but found the CNN article and blog posts to be very refreshing. I grew up in a Southern Baptist community in the south and encountered many of the same experiences. Now I am raising children and have a similar perpective on religion as you and many who have posted here. Thank you for starting this important conversation.

  132. Thanks for being heard – your approach is clean and simple. Because really, it IS that simple. Unfortunate that some don’t see it that way, and instead make the large leap from godless to moral-less to bad parents etc. I’d had enough of the evangelizing to my kids, and the Precious Moments franchise with it’s place in libraries and warm fuzzy imagery, so I created a children’s book for atheist parents to share with their children. I’m especially pleased it is being picked up by libraries across the country. I’d be happy to send you a complimentary copy if you are interested in checking it out. You obviously have no problem discussing religion with your littles, but I know some who have recently walked away from faith who don’t find that dialogue as easy to generate, and I hope this book is helping give them a starting point for conversation. Thanks again for helping normalize the feelings of our growing group of parents who are proud to be raising inquisitive, skeptical kiddos.

  133. Thank you for doing what you are doing!

  134. Atheists or agnostics can be as moral as religious folk. In fact there are various studies that show some animals exhibit some basic moral behavior and that morality is built into our DNA i.e behavior. Also being athesist doesnt preclude the existance of an afterlife, just that it would be built around science with the “soul” being a form of energy and consciousness exisitng outside of and apart from the body and mind. There are studies going on right now on this subjects. Some of the most comforting principals of religion are available to atheists also. Ultimately, the universe will be shown toruled by science not mythology and superstition.

  135. I once raised my children without God. I wasn’t raised in religion. I felt then the same way you do now. I used to struggle to answer my kids questions about life when I was younger. Half the time I didn’t believe what I was telling them myself, and I’m sure they knew it. I consider myself intelligent and extremely logical, hence my chosen profession of a computer programmer. But most importantly, I am a truth seeker. I had tried the Christian thing a few times, but there was no change in my life. I didn’t get the lightning bolts from heaven or become super spiritual. But, I eventually got to a point in my life where I just wanted to know the meaning of it all. I just wanted to know the truth! Whatever that was. Long story short, after really seeking God, He revealed his truth to me and I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for 10 years now. Every day growing in my faith and understanding. Having said that, I don’t want to force my beliefs on anyone. The Bible is very clear that it is not possible to prove God’s existence to an unbeliever. It is frustrating for me to see so-called Christians treat unbelievers with hate. We are called to do exactly the opposite. I am excited when a seeker sees something in my life that makes them question what is different about me. And when they ask, it is a joy to share what the Lord has done in my life. I just want others to experience the same thing in their lives, because there is no comparison between BC(before Christ) and AC(after Christ). I respect the kind and thoughtful way you have expressed your beliefs. There’s so many questions that you have asked that I had asked as well. I now have a greater understanding of these things and that gives me a great sense of peace and hope. Take care! ~Hope

    • @Hope Thanks for commenting so respectfully….I’m glad that you find joy in your belief, but also glad that you wait to share that joy until asked. 🙂

  136. Great article! It amazes me how mean and nasty ‘Christians’ can be when someone uses logical arguments to talk about what they believe as an athiest. I’ve never seen any athiest’s go after a Christian blogger, regardless of the post, with the same vicousness and venom.

    BTW…I’m in DFW area….and it’s good to know I’m not the only person in this state who isn’t delusional about “JAY-ZUS, AMEN”!

  137. warning someone that they will face health problems if they are obese does not carry the same weight as in warning someonme of eternal hell fire! What you do with the message of salvation by Jesus Christ is your choice, but at least on the end day I can say I informed you and when youi are before God as you certainly will be you will not be able to say ” No one told me” That is the truth. Why any one of you talk about doing in any good in a world view of when you die its all over is beyond me? This darwin ideal is live for the moment and survival of the fittest is it not? What benefit in the long term is their to care for anyone if all that happens is you die and its done! Seems rather pointless to me.

  138. Hello. I’m Eryk. i have a degree in Anthropology and spent a number of years studying comparative religion. I am agnostic and have struggled with GOD since the age of 6. I am 43 and I still struggle with God, not the state of the church. I do not attend church and if I do I can attend any church i choose (religions are listed in second paragraph). My children are allowed to make their own decisions from their heart if they want spirituality. It is not my choice. I can only help answer questions, provide support and give guidance (if needed) to them and my wife. My wife believes in God and she agrees that the choice for our children’s spirituality is their own.

    I noticed that all religions have beautiful historic stories that attempt to provide the same answers that we look for even today. It does not matter if it be Chinese or Japanese Religions, Judaism, African or Native American religions, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism or Christianity…their stories all have similarities. I’ve noted, in my studies, that the idealistic person of each of these religions struggled internally about their God(s). One of my favorite stories is about Siddhartha. I applaud everyone whether you are atheist, agnostic, or a true believer if you struggle with God. It is an individual challenge and your conclusion, for you, what is right.

    My struggle with God…
    – My father left when I was 2. Only 3 times in my life has he reached out to me. He sent me a bible on 12/25/75 and quoted John 3:16. The other two times he sent me Jesus ‘pep rally’ cards for my birthday. My conclusion is that he gave into GOD and didn’t pursue the struggle. I’ve never opened that bible.

    – My mother remarried and we moved (Atlanta), I was 4. Her new husband was an alcoholic and became physically abusive to me, starting at age 6. My mother would send me to her friends house. Unfortunately, I was being sent to a house of a pedophile. Sodomy and captivity were introduced to me at a very early age. By this age I had been taught to pray and PRAY, i did. Every night I prayed and I prayed hard and long. The problems went away, but it was not because of praying. The pedophile and family moved, the alcoholic was divorced. NOTE: By this point in life I really questioned religion. At such a young age I began a struggle, I already did not believe in God.

    – A number of years later I told my mother about the pedophile and she never discussed this matter with them or any type of authority. She decided to remain friends with this family. I decided when I was an adult to report this person to all proper authorities (I even told the FBI), nothing ever happened. I still pursue to this day to get this pedophile caught, arrested and off the streets. Note: God is not going to make things right, neither were the people around me. There are children, right now, in very uncompromising situations and God can not help them.

    I have more of these experiences, each leads me to the same conclusion. I struggle with God. If there is a so-called ‘GOD,’ it has never, ever, been there. I hold no grudges, need no sympathy and I have forgiven everybody from my heart. These folks, if they believe in God, gave into him and stopped their struggle.

    • @Erik I’m really sorry to hear of the rough times you’ve had…Don’t know if I’d be able to forgive like that. Certainly, as a mother, if someone did those things to my child, I would never forgive…THanks for reaching out and sharing your experiences. I hope you find peace now…

  139. I have felt isolated by my non-belief my entire life, so I thank you very much for sharing your views. I too am so tired of having to fend off those who have tried to save me (I was also “prayed” upon by a fellow parent). I grew up going to church and the message I received from that experience is that I should live my life with fear and guilt. Not cool. I choose to live my life with love, loyalty, inclusion and honesty. I have absolutely no problem with anyone who lives their life centered around faith in God, but when that faith morphs into righteousness, judgment and fear I think that is a whole different ball game.

  140. All people have values. It makes sense to me that parents would want to share their values with their children.

    I happen to value both religion as well as independent and logical thinking (I am a Christian pursuing a PhD in Mathematics), so I intend to share both of these values with my children. The implication in the title of this blog that the two are mutually exclusive disturbs me, for it is a fairly broad generalization that those who subscribe to religious beliefs must not subscribe to rational thought.

    Perhaps I am reading a meaning out of the title that is not intended, but I don’t think it is too hard to see why one might receive the phrase “Kids without religion: raising kids as independent, logical thinkers” as I have.

    Also, it seems the two parts of the title can be contradictory. If we want to raise children as independent thinkers without religion, what happens when they independently think that they want to follow a religion?

    I understand the desire to raise logical thinking children, but be careful in assuming that this desire is inherently connected to raising children without religion. Certainly in some cases it might be, as controlling parents might not allow their children to consider other world views, but it is also true that some of the most logical thinkers in history have been religious.

    I suggest a title along the lines of “Raising Free-Thinkers: the dangers of hereditary religion.” Perhaps I am being pedantic, but when I visited this site and read the title of the blog, I cringed at its implication.

    Respectfully,

    Anonymous

    • @Anonymous I hear you, and I do understand. I don’t think you’re being pedantic. The title is a pretty good description of the content and my goal. Does it mean that raising a Christian child excludes raising a thinking child? Of course not. But I’ve been writing this blog for 8 years, and I’m not going to change it. Don’t take it personally.

  141. Hi,

    We are originally from The Netherlands where 56% report “No religion” when asked what religion they practice. We raised our kids religion free and information rich about regions and their histories. Our kids are perfectly fine, loving and very tolerant individuals. No need to scare or persuade them into some tradition or folklore in our view.

    Martin

    • @Martin I always like to hear success stories from other parents. Thanks for sharing…Also, surprised to learn 56% of The Netherlands claim no religion. Much different there.

  142. @ Stephen Abdul Maalik
    Actually I think you answer my question very well. I to have lost loved ones, my 2 brothers, father and a nephew I was very close with. I too, sort of talk with them, but I know it is my own thought/imagination of what they may say that speaks back. Also it is nice to think they are still aware of me, but there again, just a thought I am very clear it is just me. Best to you and thank you for your input.

  143. I’m impressed by the overall peaceful tone in your posts and in the comments, and I am glad that you are working generate awareness of this subject.

    I was raised without religion and am quite happy for it, though of course I have no experimental control to compare this path with. And by “without religion” I do not mean that I wasn’t exposed to it: my parents walked us through the Bible along with historical accounts of other world religions, and we would discuss our thoughts on the subject. Religion was always presented as, “Here is something that some people believe; What do you think about it?”

    Reading your blog a little, I realized that I had not really thought about what my parents might have had to deal with in raising my brothers and me without religion. I recall it becoming an issue at times with my own friends and with the extended family, though it rarely seemed like a big deal. But I have no idea what battles my parents fought. I suppose I ought to ask them and then thank them for it!

    Anyway, best of luck to you in your parenting and in your awareness efforts, and I hope you stay afloat on the sea of comments coming from CNN.

    • Hi Adam Coster. It’s interesting that you’re seeing your parent’s perspective now. I actually raised my boys a lot like your parents did, but now that they are older, they don’t have as much time….Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

  144. Thank you! for being so brave, fair and honest! I don’t have children but I share many of your views.

  145. But what if you are wrong and it’s all true – that God exists and Jesus is the way of salvation. I am sure you all love your children very much and would do anything for them. That’s why it was so important for me to search for the truth. Knowing that I have the most influence of anyone over my children, I knew that I could be used to show them the way. People get God all wrong. As followers of Christ, we are taught to love God and to love others. The Bible also teaches that you will know followers of Christ by their love. That’s your measure. That’s how you know. If you don’t see this in people who profess to be followers of Christ, then disregard their witness as someone who is trying to practice a religion rather than someone who is truly following the teachings of Jesus. Remember, the religious order are the ones who persecuted and ultimately killed Jesus. No doubt the teachings of Jesus have been perverted and that has caused great harm to people but these are the failings of people, not the failing of God. The Bible says that if you seek God, you will find him. If my and my children’s eternal salvation depends on my resolve to seek out God until there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it’s all some story made up by weak-minded people, then I would not relent. And since none of us are in the after-life yet, you will never know for sure. It is illogical to me that we came into existence for no purpose. And if we do have purpose, then we must have had a creator. And if we had a creator then I want to know him because he will show me my purpose.

  146. Why would anyone be suprsid with the lack of Godly beleif in the Netherlands? This is the same countyry that kills their seniors for conveniene and calls it eauthanasia! Kids w/o relegion oh such adn brave ideal people say- well see how well its going in the USA with all these godless kids being pregnant at 13 and or killing people in mass shoootings.

  147. @Eryk God created people to have a choice. Some people choose to hurt others for their own sick and selfish reasons. I have such a heart for children and struggled to understand how these things can happen. What I learned is that God is love. He created you because he wanted to love you. People are going to do things that hurt you all your life. God gave them that choice. If he did not give us a choice, then we could not freely give love. And love that is not given freely is not love. When bad things happen we blame God, rail against him, and look for other things to give us peace and comfort. Instead, we should run to God and pour our heart out to Him. Then allow Him to comfort us and heal our heart. I am glad you were able to forgive your abuser. That is a very Christ-like thing to do. That’s where most people get hung up. They believe what the Lord teaches, but don’t act on it. God is good all the time – even in our darkest circumstances. Our circumstances change our view of God, but God doesn’t change.

  148. I appreciate your post that has become so popular on CNN. While I do have faith in God, I have always enjoyed discussions with others about what they believe, and I enjoy asking why they believe it. For much of my life, I was an agnostic. I believe that we can all learn a lot from talking openly with others and being open to viewpoints, with open debate and disagreements, but with recrimination or accusations.

    While your CNN post focused on the issues you have with religion, what I would love to know is what you believe about various topics and your reasoning behind those beliefs. Obviously in my case, my beliefs about God influence what I believe, but I would love to hear your reasoning also as I believe that solid reasoning without God’s influence can be good for all of us to hear.

    Some of the topics I would be curious about are the typical, some are not. Such as: What do you believe about abortion? What do you believe about sex outside of marriage? What do you believe about marriage in general (Does marriage even matter? Is it only between 2 adults? Is it only between one man and one woman?) Do you give to charity, and if so who and why? What do you think the solution is to the current financial problems of our government? What do you believe about using drugs/alcohol? Do you believe that caffeinated drinks are bad? What do you believe about gun control? And many many others.

    All of these are colored by my faith in God and what I believe about morality and the human condition, and so I would love to know what your beliefs are in these areas also. I understand if you don’t want to blog about them as many may produce additional controversies that you may not want on your blog, but I would appreciate hearing from you in any form on these areas. If you have already posted, feel free to send me the links to the posts as I have limited time to search for what you have already posted.

    • @Jeff. Oh my, that’s a lot of questions! I’ll try to come back and get to some of them. Perhaps others would like to contribute. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  149. Oops, I meant without recrimination or accusations, not with.

  150. Oh my dam, you are VERY kind to allow your blog to be a soap-box for the those who feel the need to preach their myths. lol. Apparently they have no other outlet in which to vent? Perhaps they should hit the streets of the slums in Africa and the Middle East (and other places around the world), where people are truly in need of help. Two hands working accomplish more than a thousand clasped in prayer. Good Grief!

    • @Misti….I know but we have to practice the tolerance we preach, right? lol. But you’re right…I know there is a line between tolerance and preaching….

  151. Truth hurts to soem I know. As for Africa well I can tell you that my church has missions all over the world in helping the poor. That does not change the factual content of what I posted earlier. Why not respond to the facts rather than make silly statements.

  152. @ Misti it seem you are fine preaching your world view of godless moral relatvism, yours is in fact a doctrine as well! So I am equally within my right to make comments on your atheism as you are on my Christianity.

  153. @Merle-you’re aweful sensitive and self-centered. I did not comment on “your” Christianity. Lol.

  154. @Jeff…I’ll give my answers to some of your questions.

    Abortions happen all over the world. There are natural abortions, medical abortions and political abortions. None of these are determined or handled by God. My wife has had two DNC’s due to the fetus terminating in her womb. It wasn’t because of God.
    Females (males, too!) are trafficked for the sex industry all over the world. If the woman gets pregnant, the fetus is aborted so the sex and money can continue. Being pro-life won’t help these victims.

    Sex outside of marriage. It’s okay to have sex outside of marriage. Many folks have never gotten married, have kids, enjoy life and don’t have anything to worry about. I was a victim of a pedophile as a child. Isn’t that, also, sex outside of marriage. Or is sodomy supposed to be hidden behind the curtains of church?

    Marriage: Did you know there are writings of matriarchal societies where woman had multiple husbands? I don’t care if two woman, two men, a man and woman, one man and 5 woman or one woman and 5 men are married. If they are at peace with their heart and life….GOOD for them.

    Charity: Yes, I give to charity. I always contribute anonymously. And, i do not just give to charities i give to people.

    Financial crisis: God has never entered my mind when it comes to the financial crisis. There are financial crisis’ happening all over the world. God hasn’t taken any time off of his other duties to help. The solution to financial crisis can not be made in a few sentences. If you need help with your answer there are many theories that economists banter to help support a resolution. Unfortunately, these theories can be weighed to help benefit some and not other’s. This has been going on a long time.

    Man, you have some silly questions…
    Drugs and alcohol: I’ve done both. I have met people that have never taken a sip of alcohol or touched drugs, but they have done some very horrible things to others. I have a 16 year old and this is one of our forefront subjects. He is honest and talks to me very openly about himself and friends. Son, thank you very much about your honesty and ability to talk to me about this subject and all the other’s we discuss. God has never been part of the conversation.

    Caffein: If your mormon, don’t touch it. (sorry, i couldn’t help myself. Sorry, JCLDS.)

    Gun control: I own no guns. I cry a lot when children are harmed. Take away the guns and children will still be harmed. Bad things will happen with or without guns.

  155. Zowie! You certainly garnered lots of responses from the CNN article.
    Just wanted to say that I think you are wonderful for both standing up for your beliefs and for striving to raise thinking persons.

    In USA, one can think or believe anything they wish. No one can dictate what to think or believe. My grandfather had to flee for his life from the old country because of his beliefs. So it is of greatest importance to me that I can think and believe how I want –and everyone else can as well. Therefore it distresses me to read other’s posts where so many have been ostracized or otherwise shamed because they do not belong to a church or have made their atheism /agnosticism known. How about a little respect please?

    I would think any God worth worshipping can stand up to questioning, criticism, application of reason. Some might say God gave us reason –so why put it aside when discussing matters of faith?

    Keep up the questioning and the use of common sense. I wish folks would stop the hurtful statements when beliefs are voiced.

    Take care.

    • @vh I just wrote that, too, to another person….I am disappointed by the attacks people make on each other. I love what you wrote here:

      I would think any God worth worshipping can stand up to questioning, criticism, application of reason.

      Thanks for taking the time to reach out and comment.

  156. @Hope. First, thank you for your response. I can tell that you must have a big heart and a very comfortable life with God and your beliefs. Your words (as well as @Dam) are very touching. When children are harmed it sucks!

    Interestingly enough, I’ve never blamed God for anything. I wasn’t blaming God, at age 6, when he didn’t respond to my prayers. I realized at that age and the next few years (well 43 years) that good and bad things happen with or without God. A person who is atheist or agnostic experiences the same good and bad. They do not have to believe in God to forgive or experience jubilation. I have learned to forgive, but unfortunately you never forget. The mind is pretty powerful, especially when it works in conjunction with the heart.

    I like your statement about forgiving as being christ-like. Let’s remember that it could be hindu-like, islamic-like or atheist-like (the list could be longer).

    Thanks again…eryk

  157. @Eryk. You too seem to have a big heart and I really appreciate hearing your perspective. I do understand that forgiveness is not just a Christian tenant. I was just pointing out that I would think most people that have experienced what you have would have a hard time with that. I would just let the discussion end there, but I would still like to hear your (and Dam’s) thoughts on the possibility that you may be wrong. Are you completely at peace with it?

  158. Sorry, name change on my post as I created a wordpress account. My last post was as Jeff.

    @dam: Take your time, and don’t feel like you need to answer all of them or any of them for that matter. What I am looking for is not only what you believe, but as much as you are able, why you believe what you believe in any particular topic. As such, I would prefer a much more in-depth thought about one topic than answers on all of them. I have always enjoyed these conversations as they also help me to understand what I believe and why. I am also very patient so take your time to answer. One that I would probably be most interested in is your thoughts on charity, who you donate to and why if you do? I understand, though, that not all people are in a position to donate even if they would like to, so that is not always an area people have thought about.

  159. @Misti. I ditto your comment “Two hands working accomplish more than a thousand clasped in prayer” I have used that very same quote from time to time. It’s a great motto!

    @ Merle.
    We non-believers know that the religious that have missions all over the world helping the poor also go with a Bible in hand with the intent to indoctrinate those less fortunate. There are plenty of non-religious that contribute their time into helping all over the world and do it because it’s humane and with no intentions of a reward other than self gratification. Unfortunately though they don’t get the recognition like the churches do or those with celebrity status.

  160. @Hope….I love it. That’s a fair question, for everyone.

    My answer: We all could be wrong.

    I’m at complete peace of mind and heart that I might be wrong.

    One of the world’s oldest living cultures are the Chinese. China has had inhabitants nearly 500,000 years. Their beliefs and values began developing that long ago. Maybe Chinese Religious traditions are right and christians (hindus, buddist, agnostic, etc…) are wrong.

    Since I am at peace the Chinese gods will accept me with open arms.

  161. @Eryk… Well, the age of the earth is a completely different discussion… haha. Thanks for the discussion. All the best…

  162. I was painting my house one day, up on a ladder and along come 2 women down the street. Of course from a block away I knew what was coming. Even though I was obviously busy working, And for all they knew it was not my house and some one was paying me to work. But, for some reason they saw it “their duty” to interrupt my work to attempt, what they thought was more important, than my time, or the home owners money. So they had their literature, and when they asked if they could have a “minute” (as if). I said no, in case you didn’t notice I am working. So then the one says can I leave this? and I thought sure, I will throw that away for you, so I said sure. Well she laid it in such a way that I could read it, and it said “Can we ever just get along” This was back in the Rodney King days…. so before they got off my property, with out stopping my work I yelled out to them, “I can answer your question there”. I waited for them to come back and I said “your flyer there asks if we can ever all get along and the answer is NO” To which she said , “well why not?”: and I said …….”because some people always think their belief is right, and they need to get others to have the same beliefs. Kind of like you two, out here pushing your beliefs rather than , just getting along….live and let live. Do you know how many wars are fought because one side thinks the other sides religion is wrong?
    So until people like you stop pushing their religion on people like you are out here doing, the answer to if we can all get along is NO.” They looked at each other and just left…..I always wonder what they thought?

    Last word,
    Please keep your religion out of our laws, it will help us all get a long better and strengthen our country, as a country with many beliefs, rather than a broken country with just one belief.

  163. I just stumbled across the CNN story when someone posted it on Facebook and while I rarely, rarely comment on anything in the social media stratosphere, I just had to take a moment to say THANK YOU.

    I am the mother of two wonderful kids, ages 9 and 11. I also have struggled with how to deal with religion with our children when both my husband and I have lost any desire to be a part of the Christian faith and do not practice any religion. My epiphany regarding this issue came to me in a moment that is clear as a bell. I looked at my beautiful baby son when he was just about a year old and I realized how amazing it must be to be a human being who has never had prejudice, regret, has never been ashamed, cruel or jealous. Has never experienced any of the human failings that one comes to learn in life when one is taught what is right and wrong, much of which might come from our religious upbringing. I decided right then and there that wouldn’t it be amazing to try and raise him without any prejudices or hatred and to only be guided by the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. To always be the best human being you can and to help people whenever it was in your power to do so.

    He is just about 12 now and my daughter is 9. I have explained to them how others believe in various Gods and the basics of religion and that they were free to believe in whatever they choose, but have explained also what their father and I believe. They have been to various church services, weddings, funerals, holiday services and Sunday services with other relatives. I have always been very honest and open about all things, and have tried to never, ever share information with prejudice or bigotry. For example, with homosexuality, my kids were taught that some women love men, some men love women, some men love men, some women love women. My children do not know any of the harsh realities of racism and believe that skin color is just another facet of who you are just like your hair color or size of your feet. We always instilled that insulting words such as “stupid” or “fat” were the true bad words of the world. My kids are not allowed to curse, but know that I find cruel words much worse than basic four-letter ones.

    The interesting thing is, I can’t share with anyone my true feelings on how I have raised my kids. The fact of the matter is, they are much better human beings than almost any other kid I know, all of whom have been raised with church and religion. But no parents I know would be open to this statement or want to believe it. My kids are never, ever cruel. They never, ever tease – my son does not even tease his younger sister – ever. They do not act out, call anyone names, or think anyone is “different” because of the way they look or dress. They don’t care about having the “right” friends and are kind to everyone. They have absolutely no desire to be popular or impress anyone with the right clothes and accessories. They never use the words “stupid” or “fat” or any other word that might hurt someone. It wouldn’t even occur to them to do so. They do not like violent tv shows, movies or video games. My son does not even like to use the word “kill”, instead he uses the words “taken out”.

    Now, there have been some foibles along the way. We were at a church service for something when my daughter was around 4 and she audibly gasped when the minister first said the words Jesus Christ because she had only ever heard those words from me and because she typically heard them when I dropped something on my foot, or was angry – she thought the minister was cursing when she said it. My son will talk about people who have died as having been “taken out” and most of the time no one has any idea what he is talking about. They also were a bit disappointed when they saw the parties and goods that befell kids on their bar/bat mitzvahs, christenings, etc. My son, as he gets older, is finding it more and more difficult to fit in with the rough and tumble world of today’s boys. My daughter is especially prone to being teased, as she has not built up a resistance to it at home. It’s not a perfect system, but the pros far outweigh the cons.

    I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished. I often think of what an amazing world we would live in if all parents raised their children not to live by the rules of organized religion, but by being a kind, compassionate human beings.

    Thank you for speaking up – I found your writings to be wonderful, honest and brave. Please know there are so many of us who feel the same way and who support your point of view.

    • @Cathy Stieve Thank you for writing. I really enjoyed reading about your experiences, and I’m glad you chose to share here. That was funny your daughter thought the minister was cursing when she heard the word JC!

      The negative side to your sensitive and thoughtful parenting is that there are too few of you. As your kids get older, they will find not everyone is like them or their parents….It is very disappointing. Having selfless kids in our society can make them vulnerable, which it sounds like you’re starting to see. Hopefully, they have friends like them.

  164. So I am reading this at work and have only had a chance to glance at the site, but I want to thank you for your outspokenness in the subject. I live in a small town in Utah and the religion here is overwhelming. I am an atheist as well as my husband and it is only recently that we have felt comfortable in stating that publicly. (Although it is still not openly, we had a neighbor tell us that he doesn’t think that he could handle having atheist neighbors as they have no morals in life. Needless to say, he has no idea that he already has those neighbors!)
    I worry about my daughter. She is only 2, and is being raised without religion. I worry about her being ostracized as she gets older. Enough that I am hoping to move away long before middle school. I have heard far more than one story about kids being told they can no longer play with their friends because they are not Mormon. I fear for the day she receives the “Word of God” for the first time and it becomes apparent that she doesn’t know what it is.
    I have seen the “religious” culture here. (I put it in quotes, because I honestly believe that it is not entirely the religions culture, but the states. I have known many Mormons outside of Utah and they are completely different. One of my very good friends is a NY Mormon and even she is put off by the Utah branch.) I know it is a society of putting women second to men. A society that requires marriage and children by early twenties. It suppresses, embarrasses and shames its followers let alone those who don’t follow.
    I don’t know that I will come back to this site as I am sure to suffer backlash from people who don’t agree. But thank you for giving me a place to get it out. I feel like I live my life in secret to avoid the wrath of the religious around me.

    • @Rebecca Wow. I hate to hear that you can’t even discuss your views with an on-line community. You must feel very alone. I have heard from a few atheists/agnostics from Utah, FYI. So there are a few there, at least. I do hope you can find a more accepting place to live. And I have to tell you, what you wrote here was pretty damn funny:

      (Although it is still not openly, we had a neighbor tell us that he doesn’t think that he could handle having atheist neighbors as they have no morals in life. Needless to say, he has no idea that he already has those neighbors!)

      Best to you. Thanks for taking the time to reach out.

  165. Brave and commendable effort. If you haven’t already – you might like Frank Turner’s song ‘Glory Hallelujah’ – As an atheist, I find it uplifting. It’s easily available on youtube.

  166. @ Cathy Stieve… First I’d like to say that you are an amazing mother. The love and dedication you express is something to be both desired and admired! I too have raised my kids color blind. I have also taught them the golden rule from the moment they were born. The amazing thing to me is that before they could even talk or understand anything, they fought. Even though they had never witnessed people being that way to others and they were certainly never treated so, they were selfish. Even before they knew what it was, they lied. They are boys and close in age. They were not taught any religion at such a young age, because they can’t understand it. You just teach them to be kind and patient and selfish. Only now, at 6 and 7 are we introducing them to our faith. I whole-heartedly agree that teaching the rules of an organized religion is not very beneficial to us spiritually and can even harm some. But I don’t consider myself part of an organized religion. Jesus didn’t label his followers Christian – man did that. We are called believers in the Bible. I share the teachings of Jesus with my children and that is far different than any rules of organized religion. The Church is not a building, it is the believers who Christ calls his Church. I know that the teachings of Christ have been perverted into religion by many men and governments, but I wish people (believers and unbelievers alike) could see that the last thing Christ came to earth to do is to set up a religion.

  167. @ Hope
    You certainly have the right to call it what ever you want, but I think most people would say, that if you are teaching your children of the bible and about Christ, by definition you are Christian. A simple dictionary will show this. An apple can say it is not an apple, that it is fruit, but in the English language, most of us will still call it an apple. Religions of Christians are many but, they all, also fall under the religion of Christian. Again, a dictionary will give this information. So for me, because I think language matters more for a whole of society than for individuals that mis-use it. You are in fact in the organized religion of Christian, given your stated beliefs. Maybe it helps you to preach the bible by hiding behind this veil you have stated here, but I see you, because I understand the English language.
    The other thing that made me cringe was that you stated “Only now, at 6 and 7 are we introducing them to our faith.” Did you hide them under a rock or did you hide your beliefs from them? Maybe later you will see, but my kids are 21 and 24 and take it from experience, they easily learn way more than you apparently or claim to think, whether you formally teach them or just by observation.. I am not trying to be mean to you but I am pointing out the discrepancy with your words, and I will even go as far as saying, I think you know they are not openly true. Things like what you have stated, and how you state it, and how I really see it, are some of the reasons I moved away from religion. I think many try to push it upon us, and I think this is your way to sneak it in. I think you know better. My fear in speaking my truth here is that, it is also possible you really truly believe what you say. I would then suggest you reference the dictionary, to see where, you may be calling it an orange, but I see it for the apple it is.

    bi·ble
    /ˈbībəl/
    Noun
    The Christian scriptures, consisting of the Old and New Testaments.
    The Jewish scriptures, consisting of the Torah, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa.

    Noun 1. Christian religion – a monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as saviorChristian religion – a monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior

    • @Observer Tim. That was very politely put, and I have to say not only do I agree with you on your points, but also that there are a couple of others who, as you said here:

      “Maybe it helps you to preach the bible by hiding behind this veil you have stated here, but I see you, because I understand the English language.”

      Because they’ve come here, into our conversation on non-belief, I feel that they are still trying to “sneak it in” as you said. Perhaps not, but I am highly suspect.

      I do value a respectful and open discussion, so I appreciate the tone taken here. But I also understand that some Christians have been so indoctrinated that they believe it is their duty to convert.

  168. Thank you for the courage to maintain this blog. I just read about your iReport essay on CNN. I was raised in a christian faith in the US, my wife catholic overseas. Neither of us believe nor are we comfortable raising our future children in any church. We will let them chart their own path without our support and non-interference as they grow.

  169. I know you must get at ton of Messages like this but as someone who has “come out” as an Atheist to my Catholic parents finding out about your story was heartwarming its good to know im not the only one who has faced Resistance about it thank you.

  170. @Observer Tim and @dam… It is obvious that I have not made it very clear that it is not my intention to convert you or anyone else for that matter. Maybe you have never met anyone like me and are judging me based on your past experiences? I don’t judge you or condemn you for your beliefs. Sorry to make you cringe, but what I meant when I said that at 6 and 7 I was begining to introduce my boys to my faith is that I am beginning to teach them abouit salvation and other concepts that they were too young to understand. We have always practiced biblical principles and taught them who Jesus was, but only at a level that they can understand. Interestingly, most adults don’t even understand some of these teachings. Also, I understand that the world refers to a follower of Jesus Christ as a Christian, but again I was only pointing out that a follower of Christ was called a believer in the Bible. I use the word Christian loosely because there are so many examples, especially in the media, of so-called christians acting the complete opposite of what our Lord teaches. So all the good, the bad, and the ugly get lumped under that one label. Even in the Christian community we see the hypocrisy. I appreciate the dictionary lesson, but if you had read my other posts maybe it would have been made clearer what I was trying to say. I honestly am not trying to sneak my way into anything. You are quite suspicious. I am well aware that I am posting on an anti-Christian blog. But whether you choose to believe or not is not my motivation on writing. If nothing else, it’s to show you and others that there are believers out there who are perfectly content to just love you and be your friend without trying to change you. I too have older children that are not believers and the last thing I do is preach to them when they visit me. I will love them regardless of what they choose to believe.They don’t hate me because of what I believe. Perhaps if you were looking to truly understand what I am trying to say instead of looking for the discrepancy in my words, you would see that I mean you no harm. ~Hope

    • @Hope I do think we understand you. There are two of us, and I tell you that I’m pretty patient and laid-back. I’m telling you how you’re coming across. You are still welcome to participate. This is not an “anti-Christian” blog. This is about raising children without religion and the issues associated with that. It is not about raising kids to be anti-Christian or anti-anything. Just be respectful and know that we can read between the lines.

  171. @dam… have I been disrespectful? Would you prefer I not post? You and Tim have made it clear how I come across and I will just admit it. The gig is up. I am trying to convert you. That may be what you want to hear but it’s not true. I honestly have no delusions that I have that in my power. I can accept you for who you are and what you believe, can’t you accept my intentions as being true? Have I given you a reason to doubt that? Aren’t you making assumptions and applying a stereotype to me?

    • @Hope I did not say you were being disrespectful. I don’t think that–I just thought you had another agenda. I said you are welcome to post. As for whether I accept your intentions as true…just write and show who you are. Not making assumptions and not stereotyping.

  172. Hi, I read your report on CNN, and I know how difficult it can be to tell people that you have no religion, or even belief in a creator being that lives on a spiritual plane (which, I think is the definition of agnosticism). I think the hardest part for me, was actually getting to a point in my own head where I knew I wasn’t a believer, not just anti-dogma, or sick of religious hypocrisy, or content with belief in only Jesus (his words still resonate with me. Even not being divine, he was a compassionate man with valuable teachings.) Only then could I say with the confidence, and lack of concern in other people’s opinion, that I don’t believe in the Christian God, or any other.

    I live in Japan, and Japanese society is very secular, while at the same time full of rituals that have a religious base (praying at shrines or temples, buying little charms) but these are more habits of culture than religion. I like that about Japan.

    • @Vividhunter Hi & I’m glad you stopped by to comment and share. The unraveling of belief is definitely a process, especially if you were brought up in a religious family…I think Jesus was a good example from what we know of him. I want to be Christian, just not a Christian. That’s intersting about Japan’s society…Do you plan on staying? Where were you born?

      • Exactly – we can follow models of excellent human beings without necessarily subscribing to the rest.

        I’m Australian, and while I have a strong connection to my Aussie identity, I am grateful everyday I am here in Japan. That’s not to say there aren’t issues here as well, but it’s a beautiful country, with warm people and a long, fascinating history. Hopefully you can come over one day ^^ I write a Japan travel/culture blog called http://www.wherenextjapan.com if you want to check it out ^^

        Good luck with everything. I’m following your blog now so I will be able to keep up with how you’re going now you’re an internet celebrity. ^^

        • @Vividhunter. Wow! You have a beautiful blog, very rich with colors and photos. Do you take all those yourself? I have a friend who lived in Japan a while and taught classes (teaching execs the colloquialisms and etiquette in America). He loved it. Married a beautiful woman and moved back here to TX of all places (to take care of aging parents).

          Good luck with your blog (which I’m following) and as for the fleeting celebrity thing…it’s not me…this is about all of us working together.

          • Thank you! Yes, I love photography. I’m always learning new things, even when I think I’ve got it completely figured out, and it’s very expensive… probably a bit like having kids?

            It must have been a big change to go from Tokyo to Texas, but I know how friendly Americans/Texans are, and my friends are always missing the Mexican food you can get there (for some reason, it hasn’t taken off in Japan).

            • @Vividhunter…ha! Probably a lot like having kids, yes! I didn’t like Mexican food when I moved here, but after a couple of years, it really does grow on you! (Not literally, though.)

  173. @ Hope, If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck….it’s a duck.

  174. @dam @ hope…yeah the” anti-christian blog” thing…..cracked me up. I heard somewhere that because so many people are moving towards just “being ok with gay marriage” and “being ok with free choice” and “being ok without religion” that the christian voice feels they are no longer being heard, so they need to yell louder. I suppose for the top dogs it is about saving their jobs and income at some level. That makes sense to me.
    I voted for gay marriage in MN this year, not because I am “pro gay marriage” I did just because I don’t care if gay people want to marry. But my in laws that are holier than me…. scream about how bad it is because of the “bible”. see the difference…I say live and let live and be good to others, they say “my way or you are wrong”. Doesn’t sound like the kind of god I would ever accept….unless I really thought this great god would burn me like an ant under a magnifying glass if I didn’t buck up. I know a lot of very very good people. By anyone’s standard, wonderful human beings. And they worship many different gods besides the “christian” god. So my thought is, if they are going to go to hell, then I would rather go with them, and I am sneaking in lemon aid. Because they are a lot more accepting, and loving of all people than most hard nosed christian I know. Here is one for you…. I pray for those that I know pray, if they are in need. I respect them that much. lol I don’t think it works, but if it works for them…so be it.

  175. I said anti-Christian because you and others are talking about people trying to convert you. When you hear of people trying to impose their beliefs on others it’s usually Christian. And since this country is majority Christian and founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs I surmised that we are really talking about Christians. Was my reading between the lines incorrect?

  176. If you all have time, you might find the following links interesting. All podcasts related to nonduality.

    http://urbangurumagazine.com/ and

    http://urbangurumagazine.com/?page_id=292
    especially recommend the talks by bob adamson.

    enjoy !

  177. @ Hope I call, reading between lines “making stuff up” Not sure why you keep doing that. As far as, are you wrong…yes. and it never occurred to me you were trying to convert me, although I can see the reach. But what you can not see is that for me it is not even a debate. I could not care less what you believe or do not believe, so maybe that is why I do not see it as you trying to convert me. I am so far from your kind of thinking …it just never occurred to me. I was only commenting on your words, and how they come off, not their intent on me. I am just calling it for what it is. I mean why else would you be here but to debate with your opinion? I mean, my answer to that would be because I was curious, why would I need to tell my story? Wouldn’t it make more sense to ask others their story,with out the bias of my beliefs on them? These a rhetorical questions.

  178. @observer Tim… Actually I was curious to see how people arrived at their anti-God beliefs. In some of the responses I saw there were several who had been hurt by organized religion or turned off my misrepresenting or imposing Christians. I wanted to give a different face and voice to what some of those people had seen and heard before. To me, a truer picture of what a believer is (or at least striving to be). And I apologize about the whole converting thing. Not sure why I thought you had said that.

  179. I just wanted to take the time to thank you for taking so much of your time to talk about a topic that most people just keep under wraps (like myself). Like you have talked about in many posts, there’s a stigma about not following a religion, and it seems that almost automatically when people find that out about you, they try to change you or make you feel inferior. I was baptized and went to a Catholic church in my early childhood, but then my family fell out of religion (thankfully).

    Since my childhood I guess I have become more agnostic and certainly don’t follow any certain religion, although I have recently looked into a Unitarian Universalist church (I’m curious about your thoughts about the UU church!). Anyway, I appreciate that you’re writing about this, and it brings me such comfort to have come across your blog. I have always wanted to raise my children (in the future because I am only 20 now) without religion but I always think about how difficult it would be to do that given how other family members and neighbors would react. But seeing your blog and reading what you and others has to say is very enlightening and comforting in confronting the issue in my own life!

    So, in a nutshell, thank you! I have really enjoyed reading your blog and I will certainly continue to do so!

    • @j_drew_c Thank you for reaching out to share your experiences. It really is too bad that so many have written and said they still fill fear or discomfort about speaking up. (Include me in that group.) I have heard many good things about the UU church (and even attended once a long time ago). You can have a community or church experience without all the religious dogma. Good luck. You’re so young and have so much ahead of you. 🙂

  180. @ Hope Your words ” I wanted to give a different face and voice to what some of those people had seen and heard before.To me, a truer picture of what a believer is (or at least striving to be). ” EXACTLY, you wanted to give them a new point of view to consider… so that they would do what? Change my point of view, or “convert” my point of view….AND who are you to tell me that I am incapable to see truth in what I see. Dear, I am 54 years old, consider what “forever” is to you. I have been here almost 20yrs? more than your forever. Really, you as one person think after my 54 years, you can change the aggregated face of thousands of the faces I have seen in my life? And to be sure, as individual as your face is, you fit right in with the general cumulative picture of Christians. It is why I knew in my first statement that you were, exactly, trying to change / give new face/ convert our / my / point of view. You are getting there, keep talking, soon you will either admit what we see in you, or maybe it is “realize” what you and a lot of your group are about. You know as I type this it occurs to me that just like humans egos help us to think we are the end all in the universe, your ego might very well blind you to how you are and what you are doing. I know I am trying , at this point, trying to convert you from, saying you are not trying to convert anyone, TO seeing or admitting you are. And really, that is fine with me. I really really give you permission to do so. It is not my blog and the owner may not want you to do your converting here, but in general, I do not care. To be sure, I have 1 friend that is a DR graduate of Notre Dame in Moral Theology, 1 friend that is a Lutheran Pastor, and a nephew in-law, that is a youth Pastor. Mind you I do not mean these people are casual friends, I mean very close personal friends, like going to each others weddings, months of trips together, very very close friends. I encourage them, help them even pray for them. (not sure their gods listen) but I respect them, and oh hell yeah they convert people. so really I could not care less if that is your goal. But I will speak the truth to you as I see it, just like I would mention your breath stinks rather than let you walk around turning people off. “Only your best friends will tell you your feet stink, everyone else will just stay away.” That is a little ditty I live by, for anyone. And what I am doing for you. oh yeah… I am saying you are trying to convert people, It is just for my part in that, I don’t own it anymore when I see it. lol I know that might be confusing to you, but for your part, yes I am saying you are trying to convert peoples thinking at least, and you may not get this, but the only reason we change peoples thinking is to draw them to our “side” of the line. peace

    • @Observer Tim You have a good understanding of yourself and others and no doubt you are a very smart man. I think you mean peace when you say that, but you also have good boundaries.

      I know what you mean about praying for others because they’ve asked you to. When a good friend of mine was distraught and she asked me to pray with her, I respected that. I don’t think it does any good, but if it made her feel better, that’s all we know.

  181. I have toyed with the idea of having a gathering place on Sunday mornings, to just talk about life and how we handle it through our week. Maybe lessons of how we turn adversity into experience, or battles, into conversations. About respecting others, and being the change we would like to see. I have been to a place like this but in time it became ….well the people running it, thought their way was “right”. Maybe that came as the following grew…but it changed. I like the community church’s offer as far a plain social gatherings. Why is it when a group of people get together, some feel it is their way or no way. Peter Mayer sings a song called “The Birthday Party”, it is about Buddha, standing up and saying he is going to a party for Christ. along the way to the party he runs into Mohammed and Hindus, and Abraham and finally to face thousands of faces from holy lands. And after a toast to Christ, Christ says …”hey, let’s not be such strangers”. I like that, and I would say, add me and those with no gods into that mix. I wish I could be at that party. Lets just live and let live, after all, the only thing, that any of us really knows exist, is our own thought. And please just because I disagree with you, do not think I am against you or your beliefs. Just do not put them on me or my countries laws.

    • @Observer Tim…Nice comment, especially this: ” And please just because I disagree with you, do not think I am against you or your beliefs. Just do not put them on me or my countries laws.”

  182. @Observer Tim… Do I want other people to experience what I have after becoming a believer? Of course I do. Is it because I think I’m right and non-believers are wrong? No. I lived the majority of my life as a non-believer. I used to experience exactly the same thing as you have described. Bible thumpers and door-to-door evangelist. I’ve only been a believer for a few years. And I am over 40, so you are talking to someone who has lived a little as well. And the “dear” was condescending. I would like to change your point of view, but not on God or religion. The point I was trying to make is that I am not trying to convert you or anyone else to my religion. There’s a negative stereotype that Christians are judgmental and pushy with their beliefs and I agree that that does exist. But that’s not me. I really don’t care if you’ve met 10,000 faces or have hundreds or christian/religious friends. You have not met me and cannot possibly know my intentions. I am a truth seeker. That’s more important to me than my opinion. As I have grown in my faith, my opinions have changed. I would not disagree with you on religions place in laws and government. I don’t think the answer to ending abortion is a law that prohibits it. I don’t think that promoting traditional families and values is a law that prohibits gay marriage. You can’t legislate morality. Your views on God and religion don’t make me think you are closed minded but your interactions with me give me the impression that no matter what I say, you will not take what I say as true. I’m ok with that. Go ahead and disagree with me and tell me what I really think and what I am really trying to do.

  183. @ dam, thanks. @ Hope, to you, dear, was condescending because you decided it was, for you, again painting my picture for me. Maybe you should ASK if I was being condescending since it is for me to choose what I am being, not you. You have gone from saying you are not converting to now in your own words…”Do I want other people to experience what I have after becoming a believer? Of course I do.” That is a duck if I ever saw one. Really I am done with a conversation with you. You may say more and I would read it but I feel I have made myself clear, and that you do not get it, is ok with me. I can let that go. Have a nice day and life.

  184. @Observer Tim… Wanting someone to experience what I have and actively trying to convert someone to my religion are two very different things in my mind. I can accept that that may not be the case in your mind. Interestingly, you don’t seem to read (or comprehend) all of what I am saying in my posts. You just pick out one statement or thought and jump on it, discounting about 90% of the rest. You are right (you must love to hear that) I did decide that your “dear” comment was condescending. If you are saying it wasn’t, I accept that and apologize for the incorrect conclusion. I was basing my decision on how you have interacted with me thus far and I really didn’t think you thought so highly of me enough to refer to me with such an endearing word.

    • @Hope I’m sorry but when Observer Tim posted his original comments, I agreed with him and saw it, too. He was open and addressed it. I do understand that you are passionate about your beliefs, but I think you are fooling yourself…As always, peace.

  185. @ dam… yeah I also pray when asked but I also pray for them even if they do not know. For me it helps me respect their way of life and doesn’t hurt me..so…anyway not saying anyone else should it is just an interesting thing I have recently started doing. FOOD FOR THOUGHT TO FOLLOW, enjoy or ignore, me just rambling. …..I think , as I write, that it may have been born out of looking at how our congress and country and world is today. Lack of respect….. I try to nail it down so I can go out and save us all…lol… and narcissism and lack of respect are up there in the mix….so then I ALWAYS …from a forced habit, turn to me and say….what is my role and how am I being. I try to take what others say to me as “fact” long enough to really see if it fits and more …what can I do if it is true to better my self and respect them. So I came to respect and how am I at it. Then I go to welll…. I can accept everyone truth as truth for them and truly accept it as true. As long as I do not have to wear it as my skin, I find I can really believe they are in truth. Weird huh….sounds double standard but really I just some how , through practice can pray for my pastor friends and their mission and not own it as my truth. jez…this is hard to explain, and new over the past couple of years…so hmmm…anyway. So another interesting thing (I keep saying interesting, I mean to me) and I hope you but ok if not just tell me to quit…lol you know how savants can use their brains in ways way way way wy of the chart beyond “us”. Like the guy that flew over Japan in a helicopter for 30 minutes, and several years later could draw down to the detail of the people that were on the street that day, a replica of the entire city? So people like that. To me it shows our brains can do way more than we allow. SO…in all that I think and wonder that I can then believe my friends beliefs are real and at the same time, not believe in their beliefs. lol and no I am not on Acid today. lol… We say their beliefs are real for them and ours for us, but …maybe in a world such as a savants… both could be right. and that is where I am today. So as Hope thinks I am saying she is wrong in her beliefs, I am just saying I do not believe in them. However I do think she, and HOPE if you read this I am not excluding you from this conversation, just the debate we were having I am done with, but I think ok not hope, I think some people can not be in a place other than , “my way or your wrong”.

    • @Observer Tim….Are you related to Virginia Wolf? Haha with the stream-of-consciousness thing, but then again, that is truly how our brains work. Or, I guess I can only speak for my brain. Yes, interesting, and you’re right our brains can do way more than we realize. I think that’s what happens when people speak in tongues and do all that weird stuff…They are tapping into something below the surface that they rest of us don’t use…

  186. @Observer Tim..Interesting perspective. I too have always wondered about the other 95% of our brain power. I believe it could be untapped spiritual power. But just to be clear, I do not think you have said I am wrong in my beliefs. I think you have said that my intentions are not what I say they are.

  187. @ j_drew_c saw your post, and I did the UU for a time , it was ok for while, and then I did the Buddhist mediation Sundays, that was nice too…I guess parts of all I have looked into are nice. Maybe like %3 of all religion mixed into one is really the truth…lol. Anyway on the raising kids without religion and family and reactions. I find saying “Well to me, I just haven’t figured it all out yet” works best. LOL now I say it works best, I didn’t say it works. Of course they all want to help me “figure it out”. But then I say, “well I am not looking for more research at this time, but thanks.” and then I change the subject. The cloud still hovers, but in time, as much as I still feel the edge from them, it is less of a battle. In all that I have not condemned their beliefs, so it puts it on them to decide if it is their place to pass judgment on me and to do that they have to break their own belief about thou shall not judge….. so good luck. By the way I did raise my kids successfully, and we did go to church back then. My daughter held on to the church longer than my son and I think she stills holds some of her beliefs in the Lutheran god. I don’t think she attends church anymore. My son gave it up right after Sunday school, he felt pressured and didn’t like that his mind was not considered by the church. I should ask him where he is at on it these days. I did teach them to respect others and see life, people and their intelligence as gifts that they should value and use. They do. They were both exposed to many different religions and to those without, in that they are both very intelligent, and in that they hung out with me and my friends as much or more as kids their age. We traveled a lot to climb, hike and ski together with groups of people. so around a lot of camp fires they were involved with or heard a lot of philosophy of life and the earth and all as you can imagine adventurers would. Example, both have been in the bottom of the Grand canyon at 6yrs old and last spring at 20 and 23 with their 80yr old grams and a hiking club. So they are exposed to life like that in that age range a lot. I guess what I “accidentally” did right for them, was to allow them their own thoughts and respect them as ok to have. That coupled with their experiences of many cultures and believes, I am sure they will find their center and what ever it is is ok with me. I think you even thinking about how to raise your kids, puts you in a rare group of what will be great parents. Many people, most, make it up as they go or simple follow the leader. I congratulate you for your foresight and open minded approach and I am excited that you will be adding to our race, some really cool people. Best of luck! And think about this if it fits…. they are not my kids, I am their support to be who they will be. I wanted a little leaguer so bad….instead he wanted to climb, mountain bike, and paintball, now I do too. Kali loved to hike and climb, so now we all do.

    • @Observer Tim Really cool story & nice sentiments…I love the Grand Canyon because it makes me feel so small and so incredibly mortal, and I get a little down for a bit but then I feel like I should do something with this very short life I have. It’s nice that you and your children did so much. I’m sure that’s why they turned out so well…

  188. @ dam well you have given my homework…I know the name but not much about Virginia….. Never put the speaking in tongues or maybe voodoo mumbo jumbo stuff to it but interesting thought. I have wondered when my ADHD dog wants something suddenly she can focus and stare at me like she is sending a message and often I do know what she is thinking.

    • @Observer Time bahaha. There’s a business idea there…Oh, wait. The dog whisperer is already taken. You could be a dyslexic dog whisperer and be the god whisperer.

  189. @dam… You don’t have to apologize. I remember that you agreed with Tim’s assessment of my intentions. I’m assuming you mean that I am fooling myself in the thinking that I am really trying to convert people and am so blinded that I can’t see that. I’m not sure how I should feel about that, or what your intentions are in telling me. Maybe if you and Tim keep repeating it, I will finally see the error of my ways! haha Please, please, please remember that I was an atheist faaaarrrr longer (30+ years) than I have been a believer. Your thoughts nor your experiences are anything that I have not experienced myself (those that I know of anyway). I am not afraid to have my faith tested. After all, faith untested is unproved.

    The way I see it, if I am wrong and there is no God and Jesus is not the way, then the worse that can happen is I just cease to exist. But if you’re wrong, then you will be eternally separated from God. And I understand that you are ok with that. If it ever does happen that you become a believer, what an awesome testimony you will have!

    If nothing else, my conversations with you and Tim have reminded me that I should continue to take special care to not push my beliefs on others and to love people just as they are.

    • @Hope OK. Well, thanks for commenting. We’ll move along now. Your folks must have had hope that you would one day find grace. Hence your name.

  190. @ dam have you hiked down into the Canyon?

    • Not all the way to the bottom. But I’ve been on that 3.5 or 5 mile trail twice with my boys and once when I was in college….I love Sedona and the Granite Dells not too far from there….

  191. Haha! Actually my parents didn’t know a thing about grace. My mom named me after a soap opera. Oh well, it fits now! I get the hint… Take care.

  192. god whisperer funny… we have enough of that I think. Try this > google images search this > havasu falls most people have no idea where this is. Yep love Sedona too. I learned a really cool thing there, a famous sculpture walked up to a huge horse head of clay….it looks at it for a moment and takes 3 or 4 little swipes at it with a tool….looks a little longer and then moved on to where ever he was going. It occurred to me, that I rush my art. So later when I saw him again I asked him how long a piece would take him and he said, somewhere between 2 weeks and 5 years…..just depends on when I feel it.

  193. I was raised Protestant, and it has taken me 40 years on this planet to get to the same place you are. But I am there. You are brave for doing the CNN blog – I salute you! I’ll be following your blog. Love the Einstein quotes too – that pretty much says it all. Cheers, Chris.

  194. @ dam…see ya really need to get the boys down there. well worth the hike.

  195. @ dam or maybe they will take you, like my kids did with their gramma when you are 80…lets hope.

  196. they will…

  197. Just wanted to say a big thanks for sharing your thoughts with the world. I’ll definitely be recommending this as a resource to our many families! Please feel free to contact me via email: admin at recoveringfromreligion.org if you have questions about us or would like information, I’m happy to chat with you sometime. ~Sarah Morehead, Executive Director, Recovering From Religion http://www.recoveringfromreligion.org

  198. Hi, so here is something I wonder about a lot. If this isn’t the place to discuss it , just let me know. So I hear people say things like this next quote, in fact this is a quote from someone on here. I do not want to make this discussing about them and if they or anyone figures out who it is please respect that this isn’t about any one person but this thing I see, so here goes. In 2 separate parts……………..a persons own word > “Do I want other people to experience what I have after becoming a believer? Of course I do.”…………. compared to this statement that came later…
    “It is obvious that I have not made it very clear that it is not my intention to convert you or anyone else for that matter.” and then 2 more statements to compare to each other…………1) “They are boys and close in age. They were not taught any religion at such a young age, because they can’t understand it.” ……….then when confronted that kids learn before 6 or 7,…… this statement was made………..
    “We have always practiced biblical principles and taught them who Jesus was, but only at a level that they can understand.”
    So to me, these are pretty clear cut examples of statements that contradict each other , So here is my question or what I wonder about. How is it that people like this, do not see even in their own words, what they are saying? It has been suggested that they are only fooling themselves. Not that they are fools but , they really do not see what they are doing, thus fooling….themselves. Or are they lying and in that, promoting their “Christian” beliefs while breaking their beliefs by lying? (meaning they really know what they are doing but lying to say they are not trying to convert) Or am I wrong? Mind you there is a lot more to the conversation, but I have included the just of it. This is a person that in one sentence says they are not trying to change people, but in the next they say they want people to “experience” what they have once this person “give” them the information.

    • @Observer Tim I actually think what you’ve described is a type of passive-aggressive behavior. I do think people are aware of it; however, I’m not going to argue with people about their own intentions. Behind the ruse, I think they know they’re not fooling people. I know people like this and keep them at arm’s length because they lack emotional and intellectual honesty. But I do think this is common in the general public. I think it’s manipulation that is intended to incite people to behave or think a certain way. That’s my 2 cents for what it’s worth!

  199. One last quote…says it all given this blog is about not believing
    in Gods or religions. “I would like to change your point of view, but not on God or religion. The point I was trying to make is that I am not trying to convert you or anyone else to my religion.”

  200. to be clear my question….. do you think that people that “preach” do not see what they are doing, when they claim they are not preaching to convert? or do you think they deceive, to make their point? and how much of this do you see?

  201. @observer tim….I’m not sure if this really answers any of your question(s). First thing that comes to my mind is the “Golden Rule.” Everyone has some similar phrase…”Treat People the way you want to be treated.” “Do unto other’s as other’s do to you.” Etc…

    As I observe relationships between people, i.e., friends, coworkers, spouses, being out in public. I keep that saying in the back of my head.

    People tend to forget how they want to be treated. During dialogue we get tied up in our own arguments and defense mechanisms are switched to the ON position. Probably the best example for me to use would be myself and my wife. She is a Double Type A personality (haha…sorry sweetie). I have a passive-aggressive personality (laid back, laid back, laid back, pissed-off). Laid back and Type A people don’t always work well together. I have never heard my wife raise her voice in a heated battle, rather she becomes a prosecuting attorney and delivers questions and not answers. Me, on the other hand, finally blow-up. I raise my voice, get flustered, can’t answer those prosecuting questions…needless to say, I’m no longer passive.

    At this point we have totally forgotten our golden rule. We both want to win. Win what? I don’t know. By now, we are pretty far off the original topic. I’m wanting to be treated my way and she’s wanting to be treated her way. DEAD END!

    Maybe, some, if not all of us, get tied up in our own dialogue. In this case, it is the topic of religion. Maybe, we’re forgetting that so-called unspoken rule.

    That may be pretty cheesy, but that’s what popped into my head. I went with it….

    • @Eryk It is a work in progress, for me at least, to try to remember that unspoken rule. And it seems easiest to lash out at the people who are closest to you!

  202. @ Eryk @ dam Thanks Eryk…yeah that makes sense too… and you seem to have a good understanding of your self and relationship…
    Also dam, yeah I get that too….
    I guess in trying to “allow” people, in my mind, to be up standing people, I always look for a reason to, allow or forgive, rather than think they are being sneaky or lying. Yeah I to come to a place of ok I have heard enough as you have seen. Just “hopeful” some day people will not be so manipulative. Also with a strong interest in humans and how we work, I find it interesting when such obvious things come up. Brainwashing is more prevalent than most think, because it is vary subtle not the zombies we think of. I wonder if some religions, more, I think some religions do this to people, even if it is not their intent. So I like both your ideas and I would add brainwashed.

  203. Having moved to TX (I beleive we are in the same area) 10 yrs ago I was shocked at how much religion is everywhere here compared where we moved from. Moms were doing bible workbooks while their kids were doing swim lessons….. My kids have been asked what church they go to and they why when they till them they don’t. We are not a reglious family, I went to a variety of churches over my youth but did not feel that it was necessary to be talked to./yelled at over my way of life/thinking. I personally do not believe but do not push this on my kids, they have their own minds and can decide for themselves. Sometimes the church seems to ask to much of folks from church on Sunday, parent bible studies, youth groups, men bible studies, woman bible studies, mission trips, etc. When do you have time to be with your family? So it is refreshing to know that their are others out there that have not folded into a church due to peer pressure from others.

  204. Thank you for this blog. Great insight for parents. I can say that my husband and I try to do the same with our son but it never fails that family members have a way of making us feel like “lesser” or “bad parents” for it. Anyway, keep it up!

  205. Just wanted to congratulate you on the CNN iReport post. I couldn’t agree more on every point made. “God Teachers Narcissism” was particularly poignant to me in a personal way. It’s nothing but unwise, almost perverse to teach kids stuff we hardly believe or can demonstrate as adults. I could join Dawkins when he asserts it is child abuse to brainwash the minds of children with bronze age myths as factual truth. Thank you for taking the time to think and write about these issues. It’s critical we all get involved to preserve the secular society it was given to us by the enlightened Jeffersons and Madisons of the past. Our kids very existence depends on it.
    Angelo Corbo
    http://www.bolsondigital.com

    • @Angelo Corbo Thanks for writing and sharing your thoughts. While I personally do not feel that it is child abuse to teach children about religion, I believe (obviously) that it is better to raise kids without it, although learning about all religions, past and present, is important. I look forward to having more discussions with you.

  206. Was it on your blog that I read: ‘we are the words we use’? I was careless in my previous comment because when I said ‘teach kids…’ what I really meant to say was ‘indoctrinate kids…’

    Daniel Dennett suggested including comparative religion in the curriculum of the public schools. Absolutely. But I get the feeling many religious conservatives won’t like it.

    I think teaching about all major religions is part of the key to understanding the cultural differences that differentiate peoples of all sorts, to the point of violence. For many years I was victim of the very narcissistic worldview and mindset you listed in your article. It’s with that baggage in mind I was referring to when I cited child abuse.

    When kids become of age, I will consider them free to believe whatever they want to. My hope is that by then they’ll have already learnt not only what to think, but what is most important, how to.

    • @acorbo…Yes, I agree indoctrinate. I was reading today that some school districts in my state do allow teaching religion in the classroom, but they are mostly courses like, “Bible as Literature.” Seems like there is a lot room for abuse.

  207. @acorbo When you say…”When kids become of age, I will consider them free to believe whatever they want to.” what age is that?

  208. It’s my view that by the time kids reach 18 years of age, in most cases, not all, their minds should have already been sufficiently developed to make decisions based on critical thinking, deduction, and personal preference.

    There are no guarantees, though. I always try to remind myself that being human also means being only partly rational. So it’ll be my duty to facilitate growth and development to the best of my ability, so help me science and reason. But I admit my sometimes it seems to be more than I can handle.

  209. I just watched this TED talk and thought you mght enjoy. I thought the speaker had very good points about pulling ideas from religious communities to use in a secular way. http://www.ted.com/talks/alain_de_botton_atheism_2_0.html

  210. The prefrontal cortex, the part of the frontal lobes lying just behind the forehead, is often referred to as the “CEO of the brain.” This brain region is responsible for cognitive analysis and abstract thought, and the moderation of “correct” behavior in social situations. The prefrontal cortex takes in information from all of the senses and orchestrates thoughts and actions to achieve specific goals. This happens at about age 25. so that is the clinical answer to that, just fyi. The reason I asked and back to your statement of kids being “free” in your consideration, to believe whatever they want. It seems odd to me that you do not allow them to freely believe on their own, until they are 18 and I am not sure how one controls that. Further if we fill our kids with our beliefs, and we do, even if not pro actively just by association, they have a strong basis for their beliefs based on the culture they are born into. So, when I see you say they are not free until 18 I wonder how free they are given they are not free to think for themselves before that time. Maybe you mean something different than your actual words?

  211. Interesting points and I always welcome re-loaded questions.

    If a person’s “full cognition and power of abstraction is clinically mature” at 25, then that would explain why I had to be 21 to purchase alcohol in the United States, for example. But not why I would be authorized to cast a ballot in the national elections of Argentina with only 16 year of age, or being authorized to purchase wine without showing ID at 17 in Barcelona, Paris or Milano.

    I understand the examples may prove nothing. Or do they? Is there a suggestion proven true in other coordinates? You make your own analysis. But, it would suggest there’s more to clinically developed brains than meets the eye. One could say that 25 years of age need not be a precondition for some important decisions in life.

    On the other hand, maybe, just maybe, clinically mature individuals are not always mature enough, not at 25, 35, or even 45. Heck, I’ve heard of presidents in their 50s having oral sex under a desk in the oval office and then lying about it in front of the world.

    One could say that it would seem likely that absolutes are over-rated, and that a biological understanding of human behavior at the level of the brain, as reported by neuroscience, may still be incomplete as the data is insufficient due to missing variables we were unaware existed.

    Something should explain it, right? May be some day, if we live long enough, but until then…

    I acknowledge using poor judgment in the choice of words when I said ‘free to believe whatever they want’. The intention was that by the time teenagers leave for college, parental tutelage might be effectively over.

    What may have our tutelage been like? Or as you suggested how intense was ‘the filling of our kids minds with our own beliefs’? I would venture to say that is altogether a different matter, but of paramount importance.

    By way of example, my wife and I decided that it was preferable to promote critical thinking the way Socrates showed us, than any of the alternatives. We tried to teach our daughters about the dialogues Socrates had with his fellow Athenians, and the importance of arriving to the truth by way of our own “what ifs”.

    Every time a topic comes up requiring some explaining, the goal is never to forget what Socrates would’ve done (!) and always encourate them to try to think it through on their own first, and if unsuccessful, to try again tomorrow.

    We remind them that wisdom begins with wonder and encouraged them to decide what is okay, what is best, and what may be preferable at the time. Personally, I tried to avoid voicing my opinion outright. I’ll do it with adults, not with kids. First I like to listen, once I know what’s going on, I think a bit or count to then, and then I might give pointers here or there, but I try to let them figure it out on their own. They make their own algorhythms, their own recipes. Sometimes it is hard, but we know it’s a mental skill worth having. Certainty is never guaranteed, just striving for an answer is guaranteed.

    We know the journey is more fun and rewarding, and therefore more educational, than the teaching of cold facts, as important as they are.

    It’s the only thing we know that really works, no matter how many times we fail. Thinking critically is the goal. Granted, being logically critical and skeptical about everything can drive a parent crazy. Oh yeah. But we love them enough to be patient beyond belief. No pun.

    We’ll see how we score as parents when they turn 18, but are already confident. By the time they reach 25, it may be either too late if I was right, or too early if your are right and are still observing Tim.

  212. Observing Tim,

    I quoted legal drinking age for Italy, France, and Spain at 17, when in fact it is 16 in Italy and 18 in Spain and France.

  213. @ angelo Referring to what I posted you use the word AT in place of my post saying “ABOUT”, in reference to when the brain fully matures. So anything after that insinuates an exact statement where it is clear the statement I actually made is in general, Of course neuroscience is incomplete if for no other reason than evolution just based on how we live and eat is in consent change. But the science of brain maturation is pretty rock solid, to be in general, at about 25. What you describe is intelligence and the ability or inability to make mature or immature decisions, which is different from maturation, A 15 yr old may make better decisions then their 45 yr old parents, but in that they have not reach maturation just because of a better decisions. Maturation is literally measurable, it is not an opinion based on decision making of the person being measured. As far as what you meant about your kids, I see clearer now. Thanks for the clarification.

  214. Hi Deborah – I also found out about your site via the CNN article. We have two kids (6 and 22 months) and have been looking for some guidance in raising them to in a world where they will be surrounded by religion… freedom of religion, but not freedom from it. So, thanks for your courage. In TX no doubt!

    I apologize for posting this here, but couldn’t find an email address for you. My wife and I own http://space2burn.com would love to discuss helping you take this site to another level if you’re ever interested. Best of luck!

  215. Much appreciated. Cheers!

  216. Hi Deborah,

    I wanted to say thank you starting this public conversation. My husband and I also are raising our kids without religion, in Oklahoma (almost at bad as Texas). Your openness has helped me realize we are not alone or crazy for not believing what many do in our area. It has been hard on us as the kids get older and kids at school start to tease them. We are working very hard to teach our kids that everyone can believe different but just because it is different from us, doesn’t make it wrong. I wish others would give us the same courtesy.

    Just today, my oldest was made fun of because someone asked her if she believed in God. Do you have any advice on what I should do or say?

    • @Sam I’m really glad we could all connect!

      It sucks when our kids don’t get the same courtesy as they give. Very frustrating, even as adults. When my oldest was in middle school, he was pretty open about his religious views (and he had his own views, as I’m sure yours do). But a few of the kids would call him names and say he’s a devil-worshipper. He lost friends that way. So he learned not to say anything or just tell people, “I don’t discuss religion.” This came up a couple of weeks ago at a party. The kids were asking everyone what religion they were. He’s in the 12th grade now, so he’s not afraid to speak his mind.

      I’ll tell you what has worked for us. Honesty is important to me, so I tell my kids to always be honest. On the other hand, they don’t always have to give full disclosure if it’s 1. nobody’s business or 2. it’s going to harm someone. The country is still very polarized, and I don’t want our kids (yours and mine) to have the nation’s religious fight on their shoulders. For younger kids (like my younger son), we’ve told him to say, “My grandmother is Catholic.” That stops people from evangelizing, it’s the truth and it helps him fit in. I also told him he could always blame me, “My mom told me not to talk about religion.” Then change the subject. (My kid prefers to tell his friends that his grandmom is Catholic or he says he just changes the subject.) This might seem like a cop-out, but if you have kids in middle and high school, you know there’s a lot of pressure to fit in.

      I hope that helps.

  217. @dam & sam…I hate to hear that your children have to be in those situations. It is something that never happened to my 16 year old. Earlier this week, I did my bi-weekly glance at his facebook page and he has updated his religious belief to agnosticism. (I don’t even have my religious belief on my FB page.) It put a smile on my face, that he feels confident enough to be able to state his views. He goes to a very liberal school. His high school has two clubs for gays and lesbians. But, still, it’s high school and crazy stuff does happen. My daughter on the other hand will not be going to that school system, so she may encounter this and I will have to heed DAM’s advice in the future. As my wife and I have been discussing these topics from the blog we always discuss kids being alienated.

    It is such a reflection on the parents, when their children alienate other kids about religion (or sexual orientation, etc.). I know that kids will be kids and there are some normal things that kids are going to do amongst themselves, but when it is about topics I have to look back at the parents.

    I’ll tell you what disturbed me deeply. I visited the Westboro Baptist Church website, after seeing a post from them on this blog. I won’t even type the webpage name. If you want search that church name, you’ll find it. I feel very bad for the children of these parents. It’s horrible. I would imagine that these children will get picked on because of their parents religious views. This is the other side of the spectrum.

    Thanks for the advice DAM.

    • @erykf @sam Thank goodness there are kind, sensitive parents out there like you guys. I know, ErykF, that Westboro Site is disturbing. I had seen it, too, but didn’t want to give him press. Such a shame. You made a good point–those kids are a reflection of parenting. Ironic, because a lot of folks told me I was abusing my kids by not raising them with religion.

      That is so awesome about your son. I don’t even know him and I’m proud of him. That’s hard as hell to do. He’s lucky that his school is so open. Wish my sons’ school were! Wouldn’t it be great if your daughter–and future generations–could be welcomed into a more tolerant world?

  218. Yes, it would be great to see a more tolerant world. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  219. @dam and @erykf, Thank you so much for you perspectives and advice, they were very helpful and inspiring. I hope that someday more people like you guys will speak up and accept nothing less then a tolerant world. I believe there are so many that share our similar views but are afraid to be public. dam, you made a great point, I don’t what that pressure on my young daughter’s shoulders either, at least not yet. Thank you.

  220. @dam I replied earlier to a post from March 2012, I can’t seem to find it anymore, there was a lady who “replied to my reply” that I wanted to respond to, she had problems finding like minded people regarding home school. I think my sister in law is believing in the same “branch” of religion as her husband, and I might be able to help her find some people to connect with. Even though I myself is an atheist/agnostic I fully respect her need for support and I would have loved to be able to help her…

  221. @ Cathy Stieve

    I really -loved- reading your comment, it could have been me! And my children! Down to the “jesus christ” comment… plus probably a few more explicit albeit not dirty ones… Actually, all of it, explaining to my children about who loves who, skin color and other differences. They do not even know the meaning of the word teasing or bullying yet, and I hope they never will have to know.

  222. Ok, third reply here in a short amount of time, but I have been reading through the responses and it has me thinking along the way.

    Someone mentioned the “Golden rule”, and that is what I have been given as an answer to anyone who “questions” my beliefs all along. That I do not need a bible, a scripture or a book to live and teach morals, compassion and tolerance. I do not need thousands of pages of stories. All I need is one sentence.

    Treat others as you want to be treated.

    This -is- the core of all major religions, no matter if you are christian, jewish, muslim or catholic. You do not need ten commandments, all you need is that one sentence. All religions subscribe to this belief. All of them. So why would that not apply to agnostics/atheists? If muslims, christians and jews can all agree on this simple notion, why could it not be applicable to us who do not have a set belief system? Why would we be any different? Does it -really- matter what happens to us after we die as long as we treat all humans alike as long as we live?

    Also, a thing that really had me going a while back, were a discussion about a few states having “additions” to the US constitution, in short, that you were not allowed to swear in to any official position in the state unless you believed in “a religion and god” of “any kind” (Very short and very simplified) I assume formulated to appease catholic, islamist and christian followers.
    What really got me going was, what if you are a buddhist? They subscribe to one of the worlds biggest “religions”. But.. they do NOT believe in god, or A god whatsoever. Nor do they believe in a creator. So here in the good ol’ US of A, if your a buddhist, and you live in certain states, forget about public service. Although, buddhism is the absolute most peaceful of all world religions.

    • @Eva I agree w/you. A Catholic friend of mine get into this discussion all the time–that basically, morality hinges on, and what the Catholic church teaches is ‘live by the golden rule.’ As fro the statue to swear in only w/a god…that’s crazy! I’m going to see if I can Google that. When I used to work in a courtroom, I always used to think, what does that swearing in matter?

  223. THANK YOU for this site and your posts. It is great knowing that there are many out there that feel the way I do. Living in the South, it’s almost impossible to say anything other than supporting the mainstream (Christianity). So I just stay quiet and read your posts, knowing that I am doing the right thing for myself and my children.

  224. @ dam, thank you, thats the one, I posted a reply 🙂
    As for the state constitutions, its easy to find while googleing on atheism states public office. I did not check -all- of these but I did check enough to see they are probably all valid. http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/StateConstitutions.htm

    Some people in this debate argue that those laws are not enforced anymore than outdated sexual behavior laws or such, however, they ARE there, and they DO mean that at any given moment, they can be applied.

    Just having those state laws in effect, also violates the US Constitution, but no one objects to that…

  225. I am a religion teacher in a public high school in Minnesota. What I do is very rare. In addition to teaching kids about the religions of the world I put religion under the lens of critical examination. Conservatives strongly oppose what I am doing. I recently started a blog about my experiences, and I invite anyone interested in learning about how a public school can “scientifically dissect” and teach religion to check it out. The link is below.
    http://teachnotpreach.com/

    James Morrison

    • @James Morrison Thanks so much for sharing this information. This is what I had in mind when I advocated for religion in the classroom in Texas. I’m going to put your link in my side bar.

  226. Thank you so much for your dedication to not just this topic but this way of life. I’m not sure if you have touched on the following topic before, but I would love to get your input about the following article. Being a native Coloradoan this has become a hot topic here. Your thoughts?? They are greatly appreciated, thanks!

    “Colorado evangelicals cite Bible as they embrace immigration reform -The Denver Post”
    http://bit.ly/VZ5BlU

    Carly M.

    • @cmiller0813 I’d like to say it’s an altruistic gesture, but I really think they look at immigrants as an untapped demographic. They say this in the article here:

      “They see these immigrants can actually be an asset and a resource for the majority Christian church,” said Carroll, who is serving as the Colorado spokesman for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Coalition, as well as representing a seminary with more than 1,000 students from a broad political spectrum of 40 evangelical denominations.

      It’s like mission trips. In exchange for goods and services, it’s a change to evangelize, to recruit new members. Does it negate doing good? I don’t think so, but it should be recognized for what it is: a purchase of immigrants’ voting power/financial support/etc.

  227. @dam – Glad I didn’t miss out on the “about” (since you mentioned you check it first when you visit a site). You have a wonderfully refreshingly take on life, the universe, and everything.

    You are one ‘hoopy frood.’

  228. Hello,

    I always find it hilarious that many religious people can’t seem to understand that morality/ethics and religion are two separate things. One may support the other, but each can and does stand on its own.

  229. I posed this question on the Focus On The Family blog before I was banned there. Look at some of the thoughful responses (no wonder I was banned!)

    from: http://community.focusonthefamily.com/b/jim-daly/archive/2011/03/07/a-startling-photo.aspx

    Comment by LanceThruster:

    I am a member of the Center for Inquiry (CFI-West) and am more than able and willing to answer all your questions. Why would “hope” be dependent on God(s) or an afterlife? I hope human beings quit mistreating each other and work to make every person feel part of the human family and loved and cared for as such. I hope we learn to live in harmony with the rest of nature. I hope we continue to learn and grow as a species and are able to pass this knowledge on in ways that alter the current equation of existence in that life is often “nasty, brutish, and short.” Finally, I do not look to an entity that I consider mythological to bring about any change, but rather…if it is to be, it is up to me. I absolutely LOVE this ad campaign. And for believers I pose this hypothetical question: – If you were to arrive at the conclusion that we live and exist in a godless universe (not PROVE it, not FORCED to accept that view, but determined for YOURSELF that there was no CREDIBLE evidence for the existence of any god or gods and therefore the default position was the same for your views on the existence of say, leprechauns) how would you live your life from that point on? Suicide? No limits? Rape, rob, murder, steal? Try to (de)convert everyone else? Go insane? Or would you continue on pretty much as you do now? Love your family, or kids, or spouse, or significant other? Continue to partake in the joys, sorrows, and challenges that our lives entail? Most believers I ask won’t even humor the question. It’s usually some version of, “God exists so the question is meaningless.” I ask “Which god?” They usually answer, “There is only one.” This then digresses into figuring out accurately this supposed gods message for humanity. I conclude that if god exists, and god wants humans to know of its existence and its blueprint for ours…then it has failed miserably because virtually NO ONE is on the same page.

    • Dear Lance, I will pray for you since you’ve fallen into the hands of the enemy. Just joking. Seriously, I thought what you wrote was nice-heartfelt. Nothing offensive IMO.

  230. @ dam – They would allow me to continue to post if I was a raving lunatic in order to confirm their prejudices. The initial reason I went there to comment because they would write derogatory pieces about atheists and felt it might help to have a real live one respond. It clearly made them uncomfortable that I spoke rationally and got positive responses on the whole. When their PR person wrote back and indicated they would no longer post my replies, I told him that it was that sort of blinkered mindset that made me pity and fear them. I added that if their “truth” could not hold up in the arena of ideas, did it rally have all that much merit.

    Unsurprisingly, I never heard back…and they continue to write hit pieces on atheists (sadly now unchallenged).

  231. @dam – Quite often, the way people say “I’ll pray for you” can be translated as “F-you” as they tend to say it after I’ve somehow ‘rejected their deeply held beliefs.’ Along those lines, when people try to discuss the efficacy of prayer, I say that there is no control group (those not having been prayed for) as when I was a believer (however tenuously), instead of a “God bless mommy & daddy” recitation, I wanted to cast the net as wide as possible so I prayed for ‘everyone, everywhere; past, present, and future’ (seriously).

    “Marge…I’m a handsome lazy man.” ~ Homer Simpson

    • @lancethruster….Oh….did you read my snail mail recently? I got one of those, “I’ll pray for you (read: F-*** you!!)” letters. Seriously.

      I like that–there’s no control group for those who are not prayed for. And there are no reviews for those who have been to heaven. It’s so damn good, no one wants to return! Hehe.

  232. Other great Homer quotes here – http://www.homersimpsonquotes.com/

    Oh, everything’s too damned expensive these days. Like this Bible: 15 bucks! And talk about a preachy book! According to this, everybody’s a sinner! Except for this guy.

  233. All time classic Homer quote –

    “I’m not normally a praying man, but if you’re up there, please save me, Superman!”

  234. Why do I want to raise my child with as little organized religion as possible in face of the societal onslaught?

    Simply because I care enough about my child to know that I don’t want to put a cap on her mind. Ultimately it will be up to her; but if I teach her the importance and fun of learning and questioning, she will eventually realize that religion is nothing more than a fantasy – a crutch that hinders growth and development because it provides canned answers for everything. So why learn?

    Religion prevents people from ever standing on their own two feet.

  235. If you really want something in this life you have to work for it. Now quiet, they’re about to announce the lottery numbers.

  236. why do we need to “reject” other peoples beliefs, or even question them? I get why some religions do, to get more members, but I do not need to recruit. I am not dependent on other people that do not know a God. I pray for people that believe in prayer. Why not, what the hell do any of us know for sure? Lance I get the feeling that you may have been banned because you some how “know you are right” and push it on people. Maybe we just need to live and let live. I wouldn’t have said anything about it but you brought it up. I do like your question, very interesting. For all I know they came to you and asked you to pose your thoughts, but if not, I can see why they said c’ya. dam “it’s so good no one wants to return”…I notice, everyone wants to go…..just not today.

  237. @dam – too many text errors snuck through – so if you want, you can delete the previous post cuz I’m correcting it here – thx

    @Trevor – xD

    @Observer Tim – Go to the link. See if I was pushing anything on anyone or declaring absolute knowledge of the ultimate nature of reality. My venture over there in the first place was to ‘show the colors’ so to speak. I WAS an “atheist chaplain” (a humorous designation given to me by one of the Protestant advisors) and when they wrote on it, it was flagged by a Google search.

    Religionists of the ‘sacred text’ stripe feel they have what is known as “revealed knowledge.” That’s a pretty substantial claim. And as a learned commenter elsewhere here noted (quoting Christopher Hitchens), claims without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

    I often say that I hope there is some cosmic justice after death for those who had none in life, but I am certainly not worried for myself. At a lecture panel I was part of, I said take the moment of creation – fast forward to any horrible event you chose (I used the torture, rape , and murder of a young girl name Samantha Runnion – who was sweet enough to be lured by the perp’s request to help find a lost puppy – as my example), and tell me that ANY human being with any sort or moral character would actually say, “Oh, *now* I see why you had to let that happen God.”

    That dear little child will never grow up, graduate, have her first kiss, marry, have children and grandchildren…and I am psychically scarred by even knowing her story, but supposedly in Heaven everyone will be OK with it and God will somehow soothe the intense trauma and suffering of the mother.

    The ONLY way I can see anyone doing that is a complete mind-wipe and there goes the precious xian freewill concept right down the toilet.

    “If there is a God, he is a malign thug.”~ Mark Twain

    I tell people that as an atheist, my purpose is to tell God where it went wrong (i.e. work to change the things that deserve to be changed myself and not pretend some invisible Sky Daddy is up to the job).

  238. I could be more humorous if I weren’t so serious!

    @dam – Don’t take life too seriously. No one gets out of here alive.

    xD

  239. without following your instructions,…. I stand by what I said. Your response makes my point. You are doing exactly what I mentioned and it causes me to loose interest in what you have to say. Take it or leave it, it is up to you, but I am not interested in a debate or for you to “prove” yourself and your points to me. To the point of, I read only the first part of your response to me. Just saying, maybe, you could just hear what others say, and not need to turn it into a debate, or try to prove yourself. I hope this is helpful. You have some great thoughts, just the delivery and pushiness turns me off. Not that that matters, just telling you why maybe they said c’ya. To be sure ….on this matter…. I am done. I really liked your question about how one would act if they knew for sure there was no god. Shared it with my wife last night. lol I just went back and read a little more….do you realize in the same paragraph you say you are not pushing anything and then say you were going there to “show the colors”, do you see the contradiction in that?
    You clearly push your point of view…to the point that people turn you off. Not trying to be mean just saying, some of what you say is great, don’t overshadow it with all the rest.

  240. dam….you say in few words what takes me babbling….well said.

  241. @dam – this was too good not to share. I love good snark. Make sure you go to the main page as well and check out their other offerings. Too G-D funny!

    http://theworstthingsforsale.com/post/30418676393/god-tells-new-things-to-doris-is-according-to-its

  242. @Observer Tim – I am not such a fragile flower that any of your observations will leave a mark. I have heard religious friends complain about “evangelical atheists” but I would respectfully disagree. It is whining xians/religionists that jam their irrationalist viewpoint down the throat of everyone else. There are countless examples of that but I’ll offer a simple but glaring one – IN GOD WE TRUST on our currency.

    Am I not part of the WE as an American citizen? I have no trust in any god or gods. It is therefore a LIE! Can you think of anything more personal than one’s godview? Why would believers and xians put up with such a lie (or make the GW Bush idiotic claim that atheists should not be considered citizens)? Why would anyone be comfortable in our government weighing on our individual (or even institutional) relationship with any deity?

    — IT IS NOT THEIR PLACE TO DO SO! —

    You may feel you are the rational example for adherents of irrational belief, but MLK is unfortunately in the same category as Fred Phelps as far as a godview goes with regard to belief/unbelief/nonbelief. I was one time president of the local chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State so I have no problem joining with believers and non/un alike to protect the rights of all.

    Whether we’re talking about institutional belief/religion, or the more nebulous ‘spiritual’ views; what they seem to share is a rampant insecurity about what others think of their own particular invisible buddy and therefore chafe at anyone rejecting such. That’s why the incessant push to have government a central part in promoting “God.” (Whose god? Doesn’t matter, “God” is enough – though can you imagine the outcry in the $$$ was changed to IN ALLAH WE TRUST? People’s heads would explode).

    Nothing offends a person more than to reject their deeply held belief. ~ LanceThruster

    I do not suffer fools gladly (no, I am not referring to you) but I am tired of how the religionist mindset has poisoned everything, particularly political discourse. It sounds to my ears like debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. To continue to countenance such foolishness is like giving former Ronald Reagan admin member James Watt (Sec of Interior for gawd’s sake!) credence when he made these remarks –

    Watt periodically mentioned his Dispensationalist Christian faith when discussing his method of environmental management. Speaking before Congress, he once said, “I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns, whatever it is we have to manage with a skill to leave the resources needed for future generations.”

    from – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_G._Watt#Secretary_of_Interior

    A head of a government agency only needed to preserve enough of our ecosystem (please ignore this link too since you have such an inquiring mind – http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/1816628-pale-blue-dot-a-vision-of-the-human-future-in-space) until the Rapture.

    Jebus, protect me from your followers! ~ The Atheist’s Prayer

    There is such a designation as weak/strong atheism. A ‘weak’ atheist is with a belief in god(s). A ‘strong’ declares there is no god or gods. The ‘strong’ is not a provable position as it would require god-like power to know.

    There is such a thing as an atheist-agnostic (which I am). I am without a belief in any god or gods, and I do not see any proof either way. I am open to new data should it present itself. That is the extent of my ‘militancy.’

    I am not out to win converts, but rather share my views openly and honestly. If that rubs some the wrong way, so be it. The burden of proof is on the one making the positive assertion (i.e. that god exists, has a plan for humanity, has communicated with humanity, wants individuals to act in a certain manner, has set up a system of rewards and punishments meted out after death, etc., etc., etc.). You have your beliefs, and I would wager there is no credible support of any sort for your assertions…but I’m somehow the bad guy for hurting the fee-fees of irrationalists.

    I look at believers in their own particular invisible buddy the same way I would someone telling me leprechauns are real. I certainly could be wrong..but I’ll take my chances.

    One final note showing how “moderate” irrationalists support the nonsense of extreme irrationalists. Through the ‘miracle’ of the internet, I struck up a friendship with an officer and survivor of Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty (*their* G_d doles out real estate to His chosen people, doncha know?). He said that when he renewed his security clearance in the mid 70’s, it required he swear his allegiance to God (and specifically Jesus) in order to maintain his top secret clearance. I mean really…WTF!?! He had to lie to keep his job status current.

    It’s apologists like yourself that foster such superstitious twaddle (What’s it hurt? Why be so mean to believers?..and on and on).

    I hope I haven’t bruised you with my tirade.

    Bring out your champions!

    Compete in the arena of ideas on a level playing field…or go home.

    Seems reasonable enough to me.

    YMMV.

  243. @Observer Tim – shorter LT version – you aren’t much on reading, but others might be, so my previous reply is to them.

    TTFN.

  244. @Observer Tim –

    You said – do you realize in the same paragraph you say you are not pushing anything and then say you were going there to “show the colors”, do you see the contradiction in that?

    No. Next question?

  245. 3 words…. oh my God. lol

  246. I have a question for anyone willing to answer. If there was a god, and you got to choose what that god was like, what would you want for qualities of that god?

  247. God would look a lot like nature, minus the humans to eff it all up.

  248. @kidnike… in he words of Whoopie Goldberg “Well first of all, she is black”. Wanna hear a long deep intellectual answer? In a nut shell, god is as individual as the person that believes, The long answer requires some framing, but the conclusion is; individual to each mind.

  249. @kidnike… a more direct answer. “to me” a god would be a neuron connection, a thought, a knowing, a feeling, an emotion, a force, rather than a physical, tangible, describable thing….. maybe, or maybe not. lol

  250. @kidnike – Philosopher Alan Watts once posed a hypothtical. If you were god, what sort of universe would you create (if any), and secondly, how would your god explain the universe that exists. All religion/godview is the 2nd one as a result of being unable to do the 1st one.

    The god I might envision is one who would hold a mirror up to people’s action in the ‘afterlife’ (based on my view that god is not interacting with humanity, but rather that coincidences happen).

    God would have people reconcile their newfound immortality with the reality of their selfish and short-sided actions in their life. Even the value of that would be limited when dealing with the examples of people with broken brains whose thought processes were their own, but still hampered by undesirable patholgies. As for those impacted by the unfairness of life, I guess god would have to give them some sort og Mulligan. My pal Bernie the Attorney posited that if god existed, it might have no more concerned for us and our existence than we do for othe rlife ‘beneath’ us such as when we clean and disinfect a refridgerator.

  251. @OT – the resason ‘showing the colors’ is not ‘pushing’ anything, is because thgat sites author made statements about what atheist’s believe. As an actualk atheist, I countered their misrepresentation. The number one way for people to lose their prejudices is to actual know better some of those individuals they have a prejudicial view towards. I don’t expect you to understand, but others here might.

  252. @dam I just wanted to say thank you. I truly appreciate your point of view and it comforts me as a mother who is raising her kids to decide for themselves, that I’m not alone. I’ve come to realize lately that my Christian friends love me “just as I am” but feel that I’m missing out on sharing Jesus’s love. However, during our conversations, if I mention the fact that believing in God is NOT an idea that makes me feel safe or secure or loved, they all gasp. I am called the “questioner” because they cannot believe that I actually may be an atheist. My response to them is always the same: “You can believe in the great bearded guy in the sky, a hippie carpenter was born to a virgin and persecuted to save the souls of mankind, and that all sins are equal (a rapist, a child molester and an adulterer walk into a bar…) but you CAN’T believe I might be a non-believer. Hmmmmm.”

    sorry if this post repeats. I’m experiencing some technical difficulties…

    • @oatmellow Thanks for sharing your experiences. Seems like being known as the “questioner,” is a good thing! 🙂

      You bring up a good point about what people are willing to believe and what they are not. That has always interested me–what makes some folks accept wildly irrational stories and yet reject other tales. Maybe your friends have such strong belief that they cannot imagine anyone else would think differently. Who knows, right?

  253. @oatmellow – your comment – “persecuted to save the souls of mankind” reminds me of the irreverant quote —

    Jesus had a bad weekend for your sins.

    xD

  254. I found this blog from Lisa Morguess. I am not a mother but I am currently a nanny and love kids! I like to read all points of view, as long as it is not attacking.

  255. Hey I was wondering if you’d give some feedback/criticism on this post: http://intentionallyoutside.blogspot.com/2013/02/why-i-criticize-religion.html

    I’d love to hear your take on it. Thanks.

  256. @ TB Bikeman… are you asking everyone for feed back or just dam?

  257. A couple of recs for comics who are atheists. It was on cable the other night so you can probably catch it on OnDemand. The comic is Jim Jefferies and the show is called “I Swear to God.” The other one that’s quite funny is Doug Stanhope doing “Before Turning the Gun on Himself.”

  258. A trivia question of sorts came up re: atheist comics. Who would you say was the first one to make fun of God based on their own open non-belief? Is it mostly a recent thing?

  259. I was thinking of an out and out self-professed atheist comic. Who were the earliest? Carlin? There’s certainly some observations that fit the mold. Will Rogers? – “It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.”

    Anyone can playfully chide religion or God, but I like the brash certainty of some wags. Jim Jefferies early in his show says, “I know a lot of you believe in God and religion…but you’re WRONG!”

    xD

  260. @dam – That’s a typical stat that I’ve heard many reference. There’s female comics that I feel equal any of the guys. Margaret Smith is a little like Steven Wright (deadpan delivery). My favorite line of hers is [delivered like sedated], “Some days I wake up and just want to start killing people…but then there’d be so many people I’d have to kill. I just don’t have that kind of energy.”

  261. The humor in that, btw, is that she gets incredibly exasperated with the human race…and that she’s lazy.

  262. @LanceThruster….Sorrry it took me so long to respond….That kind of humor is funny to me, too. (I know it’s hard to write humor.) I need to watch some of these comics you suggested, especially Margaret Smith!

  263. Comedic actress is a separate category, but you should check out Amy Poehler in the sketch comedy series “Upright Citizens Brigade.” The premise is thas that they secretly micromanage the insanity that regularly occurs in the world.

  264. Maria Bamford does funny stand up. She’s a little bit like a female Bobcat Goldthwait.

  265. Paula Poundstone is a wonderful combination of ‘ditzy’ while being enlightened.

  266. I tried watching that women in comedy special on recently but had to tune out. Maybe I’ll try again later. Taste in comedy is like taste in food; it’s all personal preference. There’s comics who are very funny in that they have a loyal following, but aren’t quite my cup of tea. Plus, comedy is harder than drama. In drama you’ll wait for the build up. In comedy, when the set-up drags, or the actually funny punchlines are few are far between, it can be amazingly tiresome. One of the comics I was reminded about in the special is Jeanine Garofalo (sp?). She’s quite bright and I love most of her politics, but her material isn’t just about the highbrow stuff. I’ve been watching reruns of the Paula Pounstone Show on cable and am reminded how quick witted she is.

    • Thanks for sharing. Yeah. I saw it on Sunday morning on CNN. Thought it was a really interesting story and it’s a worthy cause.

      Funny how many atheists are ex-Catholics.

  267. Ricky Gervais riffs on Glob pretty well in both his stand-up specials.

  268. LanceThruster

    For the record, I feel a little less befuddled as the quote I was referencing was used by Judi Dench in the end voiceover as she was quoting/paraphrasing Sonny.

    “Knowing that you’re crazy doesn’t make the crazy things stop happening.”
    ― Mark Vonnegut, The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity

  269. You’ve got to be digging it while it’s happening ’cause it just might be a one shot deal.
    — Frank Zappa, Waka/Jawaka

  270. Michael Philip Kashgarian

    I’ve read your blog several times. I first read it after seeing your story on CNN a couple months back. Raising a child to think for himself in terms of belief and non-belief and none of the above is a difficult task. It’s been many years since I was a child and I still struggle with it. I’ve written an ebook novel that addresses those issues (not that a child faces but a questioning person in general); it’s a topic I wanted to write for about forty years. Following almost twenty years as a newspaper journalist, I wrote it (my first shot at fiction). I’m not trying to sell you the book, and this is not intended as spam. The book is sold through major ebook retailers but if you’d like a free copy or any of your readers would like a free copy, you can download a copy in a variety of formats for e-readers, computers, etc., at Smashwords.com using the coupon code JP45H. The code expires May 5, 2013. The name of the book is “John Doe Versus Death,” and my name is Michael Philip Kashgarian. If, despite my intentions, you consider this spam or something equally negative, I apologize.

  271. LanceThruster

    @MPK looks interesting. Thanks for the link.

  272. Religion has nothing to do with the damnation or salvation of your soul.

  273. However in 1947, America received a mortal blow by the hands of five Despots and Puppets of the Global Bankers masquerading as Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, thus opening the doors of Education, Religion, Government, Law Enforcement, and the Communication Media to Thieves, Idolaters, Adulterers, Slanderers, Murderers, Atheists, Witches, Warlocks, Homosexuals, Pedophiles, Zoophiles, and all that Love and Practice Falsehoods.

  274. awesome. HONESTY. we need a revolution of honesty.

  275. The problem would be greatly reduced if right from the off kids were taught to think. For themselves. Properly. Critically.

    I often quote three tools of thought which should be given to all children and reinforced at intervals. I apologise for pushing them here:

    1. Everything must either ‘be’ or ‘not be’, and

    2. Nothing can both ‘be’ and ‘not be’, and

    3. Contradictions do not (can not) exist.
    (Wherever one finds an apparent contradiction its premises should be examined—one of them at least is false).

    How about an omniscient God and Man’s “free will”?
    How about a loving omnipotent God and rape, murder, the stake, crusades, holy wars, wars of any kind, torture … ad infinitum?

  276. I use a Mac. I tried three times to ‘like’ this post, failed in Opera, failed if Firefox, finally succeeded in Safari — you may be missing a few likes (if important to you). Good luck!

  277. submissivecharacter

    Hi, dam. As a newbie (whose not even published yet) to- wordpress and a non-believer I first am finding like minded bloggers to see their views. So far I do like your site. So, if you visit my site, please understand my newness here (smiling).
    I believe people MUST retain an open mind to each others wants, needs and philosophies of life. I also believe persons of atheist, agnostic or yet undecided shouldn’t deprive one of religious persuasion our help, our patience, our time or understanding. I further feel that if god does exist then it was brought about through evolution of women. For who else is more nurturing, loving, patient kind and the provider of life? Were I to seek a god to worship – it would be in the form of women.
    Thank you for listening.

  278. I keep reading this blog, althought I don’t contribute. The more I read, the more I appreciate living where I do, which is The Netherlands. Ofcourse, we also have our issues (Utopia doesn’t exist), but religion is almost a non-issue in daily life here. It kind of amazes me how radical many US citizens are in terms of religion. How God is thanked for actions of other people. (Instead of thanking the people’s free will and decision to help). I am raised Catohlic, but not “doctrined”. I felt detached from (the institue of) religion more and more over the years, but my final decision came when the preacher spoke about herding the cattle, and sometimes the staff had to be used to herd the cattle the right direction. Sure, a herd (of people) needs to be managed, as people do stupid stuff they would normall not do when in big groups, but I think it all starts with selfreflection. To not rely in a higher power. If there is a higher power, then why did he (she) give us brains to think? So we can avoid the difficult questions in life, so we can avoid judging ourselves and leave it up to someone else? I am an atheist, but I don’t reject God. He is simply an artifact, something that IS but doesn’t have to interfere with me or I with him. Difficult to explain. Just like there are numerous trees in the forest, so God is one of them. And Allah, and Zeus, and whoever. Mythological figures that for some people are real. I did get certain insights from text from Soefi’s, (via http://www.beshara.org/) but I somehow do not link it to believing in God as a being, a judgmental superpower. God to me is the name for an assembly of ..things, emotions. Hope, guidance, selfimprovement. God is abstract, non existant as a living being, but he (or it?) is here as a word, a compass or mirror. That is how I see it. More about Beshara: I cannot explain what Beshara is in a few words. I love how it focuses on you, the person being the One, and how you are responsible for improving yourself. It does come ancient eastern mystics so there is a mention of Allah sometimes, but it’s much less religious then “regular/big” religions, but it’s not completely a philoshopy. It’s like somewhere in between. It feels like it could be translated in self-management courses, without any notion of religion, only then usually the steps are spelled out for you, instead of you understanding the core of the steps and realizing which steps YOU need to take. Just like I like the poems of Khalil Gibran, words of wisdom without referring to religion. (I don’t know all poems, but many have this feeling of universal morailty/wisdom in them without constantly mentioning Allah or God).
    My apologies for this long reply, but it’s difficult to express my views on this, as I feel I am alone in this view :P.
    I’ll have a try to catch it in a few words:

    I believe, but not in God, or institutes. I believe in the Unity of Existence, in love. I believe in The One, which is me.

    • Hi Debbie/Daqa Thanks for your comment and for the link and information about Beshara. It reminds me of Buddhism in some ways.

      You’re right. It is odd how god is thanked for the success or actions of individuals….But never blamed when something goes wrong.

      Hopefully, religion will one day be a non-issue here, too.

  279. I can’t wait to read more of your blog. I found you through the piece you wrote on CNN. I was raised Jewish and my husband is a devout Catholic. I consider myself and Atheist now, and my husband still attends church every Sunday. It scares me to think that there are so many people out there who believe in all of this nonsense (including my husband). I love him, but it is difficult for me to understand. Luckily he is okay with me raising the girls with my beliefs. I am raising my girls with a Buddhist perspective. There is no magic man in the sky. You are responsible for your own happiness. The road to happiness is through mindfulness, being kind to others, and numerous other things that just make sense, and truly work for me. Westernized buddhism is very progressive. There are many people who attend the talks at the center I go to of all faiths (including Atheists). I thank you for being so brave and expressing your thoughts so honestly. I truly hope there are more people out there like you.

    • Hi Amy! So nice to meet you. There are a lot of us here on this site, and it’s a great group. There’s even another Amy who was raised Jewish and is now atheist!

      What a great way to raise your girls. I have another friend who has taken a similar approach as you.

      What state do you live in?

  280. Hey there! I’ve been following your site for a while now and finally got the bravery
    to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Texas!
    Just wanted to say keep up the good work!

  281. Hi! I wanted you to know I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award, hope you don’t mind. Check it out here: http://wp.me/p3Iwib-8Y. Your posts are so relevant to me, thanks and keep up the good work!

  282. I just started reading your book and I want to say thank you! There are very few resources for secular parenting and you and Dale McGowen have opened the gates. My family and I live in Austin, originally from California. Texas is a very religious state and we feel lucky to be in Austin as we have found some like minded families who share our belief in doing good without God. Check out our group ATXAHH for how we are heaping our community. Thank you again!!

  283. Melissa Tilson

    I had the pleasure of listening to you talk today at our monthly Fellowship of Free Thought meeting. We briefly spoke as I purchased two books from you. I wanted to thank you again for your presence today and your book. I have not set it down since I came home. It feels so good to hear about how someone else has dealt with these issues. Thank you!

  284. My wife and I decided not to teach any religious believe to our daughter. We both come from catholic families. Any comment you have for how (not) to have to forbid grandparents teaching their dogmatic believes to our baby would be highly appreciated.
    Thanks.

    • Hi adelgado116, Nice to meet another secular parent.

      I did not forbid people from talking to my kids about religion. When they were old enough to start understanding the difference between fiction and nonfiction, I just asked them a lot of questions. I really wanted them to think critically about the things people told them. For example, if Grandmom talked about a story in the bible, I’d ask them later, “Does that story make sense?” I talked to them about why people might believe in things that aren’t true. I found that, when my kids were away at school or sports practice, friends, teachers, coaches, were talking to them about god and religion, so I couldn’t keep religion out of their lives. The best way I thought to deal with it was to give them the appropriate tools to synthesize the information they received. It seems to have worked for us. At 17 and 20, they are very strong in their nonbelief, and they don’t feel the need to argue others out of their beliefs.

  285. I was raised Catholic and became an atheist at 13 years old. My idea of what God was like was mean and scary, so I welcomed the thought of there being no God. Then when I about 24 years old my husband went to a prophecy seminar by the Seventh Day Adventist church. I went along just to see what he was getting into. I had no desire to be a Christian. I listened to the many productions made in the Bible and saw how hundreds, even thousands years later they were fulfilled in detailed. It made a believer out of me that there was a God. My search was on to see what God was like. Was He loving and kind? I discovered much of the theology I had heard said He was not, but the Bible revealed something different. The hell doctrine where sinners are tormented for trillions and trillions and trillions and endless more trillions of years did not exist in the Bible. I saw a God of love and I experience a God of love everyday of my life. There’s is much in the Bible I don’t understand, but that does not shake what I do understand. I own and operate a country Daycare. Most of the parents who bring their children here do not believe in God at all. Except for a prayer of thankfulness with a little song that follows, I don’t teach them about God in the conventional way…. that is, saying things like, “God wants you to do this” or “God doesn’t want you to do that” No. I just love them and cherish them and guide them to be kind to their friends at Daycare, to respect nature, to be responsible about their health and choose the best foods, and to appreciate their parents, etc. without mentioning God. They know I love God and I just hope that the way I treat them will speak louder than anything I could just say about God. Thank you for listening to me.

  286. Sorry, not “productions” but i meant to write, predictions.

  287. Informative, well-written, and engaging! I grew up in a reformed baptist household with a very controlling alcoholic step-father which forever skewed my views on Christianity and religion, in general. Very thankful to come across your blog, as now I have kids of my own and want to teach them critical thinking and awareness, but also to teach them it’s OKAY to love and accept others and it’s OKAY to love and accept yourself without an insurmountable stack of guilt following you around. I look forward to reading more! 🙂

  288. I just came across your blog and see that I am far behind. I will never get the time to read all the back posts, but I hope to keep track of it now. I come from a home in which being a Christian was just assumed. We didn’t talk about it, but were expected to attend church and participate in activities. My aunts, uncles and cousins were extremely religious and I just tagged along. I was made to feel concern for any of my “heathen” friends and relatives who I wouldn’t see in heaven unless we saved them.

    I struggle with the fact that I have highly intelligent family members who believe with all their hearts. I ask myself how they can. I feel so uncomfortable not to be able to say that I can’t believe it. I either go along with it when I visit (I live in another country) or do everything I can to avoid awkward situations, and just smile and nod when I get into them.

    Now our family is going through a major crisis with my cousin and uncle broken to bits in intensive care and the prognosis is not great. All that is talked about is God’s love and him being the ultimate “Physician” (with a capital P) and how he has a plan. I just want to gag. I don’t want my now 3-yr-old son to grow up with the guilt that I feel for not going the way of the rest of my family. I am under such incredible pressure and I struggle with it a lot. At age 44, it just seems so ridiculous. I love my family. I just don’t love their religion.

    • Welcome KarenW – There are many of us who were raised Christian and are in similar “boats.” We love our family and don’t want to criticize, argue with or hurt them. But standing up for yourself and your son against irrational belief is not doing them harm, it’s only advocating for your own rights. If your son had to be raised as you were, forced to make assumptions and to believe in the supernatural, it would harm his development. I hope that you can hold your ground.

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