I’d like to thank everyone for praying for me after my post about why I will never take my kids to church.
I get that church is important to many of you. There was a time when it was for me. I was valedictorian from my Catholic high school and wrote a faith filled speech about the importance of the church in my upbringing.
That was nearly 30 years ago. I know better now.
While I’m fully supportive of the charity and community that churches foster, there’s an entire underbelly that just doesn’t do it for me – the part that has white churches not marrying black couples, or the part where kids with down syndrome can’t get communion, or the part where pregnancy by rape is a “gift from god” – well, that and the fact that god doesn’t exist.
So I’m going to expand on my previous post and give you some reasons how not believing in god can make you a better parent.
1. Inspiration From Everywhere
Spirituality is a good thing, so let your kids to be free to seek inner peace from all global doctrines, heck – even let them do yoga! An atheist’s spirituality is a buffet of influences.
2. Define Their Own Morality
If my son is going to be in a sexually charged situation when he’s older, I want him to be smart enough to use a condom without fear of eternal damnation. He’ll have a wealth of influences to help him choose right from wrong, and it will be because he wants to do right, not because he’s afraid to do wrong.
3. Equality of Marriage
The greatest gift in life is to be loved. Why would you put some arbitrary line in the sand that says your kids can’t find love in the arms of someone of the same gender? I mean, some people like pancakes, some people like eggs – it’s still breakfast.
4. Science Over Scripture
Teach your kids facts instead of mythology. Science is the foundation of what happens in the world around us, and kids need to learn it. As Bill Nye says “we need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future.” Teaching kids creationism blocks that need. Check out his video.
5. God Is A Cop Out
The world is a deeply confusing place. There is so much to understand, as the Bill Nye video points out. Those who don’t want to spend time trying to unravel the story simply sum things up as, “god did it.” Boom, easy answer, next question. But saying, “god did it,” is the easy way out. I want my kids to be curious. To be creative. To question. To seek. To find.
6. An End To Us vs Them
There are so many lines in the religious sand that make you just say “Gah!” A father in Hamilton is upset the public school system infringes upon his beliefs with some classes and wants advance notice. There’s the group that wants to have the ability to bully be protected as a religious right. Not believing in god removes some of the uptighted-ness. (Unless of course, the school insists on bringing religion to the classroom.)
7. No Extremism
Many of the world’s wars happen when religion gets in the way. Perhaps with an absence of religion, we could steer ourselves better towards world peace?
Think about it while you check out this cartoon from The Oatmeal.
8. Interpreting Religion As Culture
There will be no silly reasoning to stop your kids from celebrating festivals from around the world. This week Diwali is being celebrated in India, and we will celebrate too. If you look at religion as part of a culture, instead of an all-consuming belief in one god, then you are free to celebrate Hannukah, Chinese New Year, Nowrooz, and other cultural celebrations without worrying they’ll be offending one church’s definition of god.
9. Guilt-Free Sundays
Sunday is a fabulous day. Football, hiking, soccer, camping, adventure all makes up our family Sunday. Weekends are for family, and we choose to spend that time together instead of being lectured – we get enough of that at school and work during the week.
The idea of raising children without religion is called Parenting Beyond Belief. It’s about raising kids who are free-thinkers, and can critically evaluate a debate without an inherent bias because of religious doctrine. Atheists still want to raise caring, ethical, and moral kids – we just don’t believe in god.
A colleague of mine, Derek K Miller, wrote a post about free-thinking kids for my DadCAMP blog before he passed away:
“Of course my daughters are different from me, and they might develop or adopt spiritual beliefs as they grow up,” Derek wrote. “I want them to make decisions about how they view themselves in the universe, rather than having a viewpoint imposed on them. I hope they do so as free-thinking individuals, with as much knowledge as they can accumulate.”
Instead of imposing one doctrine to my kids, I will expose them to a world of cultures, and let them make the determination of what is important and valuable as they make their own journeys through life. My children will start life with a clean slate without influence. I want my children to learn to believe in people and to believe in themselves before they put their hope in mythology.