Fellow Atheists/Agnostic Atheists - Let's Chat: Do you feel it is risky being "out" these days?

realityhack wrote:
bnpederson wrote:

The problem isn't Christian politicians, the problem is bad politicians. And I'm not convinced removing or restricting the Christian part is a real solution.

+1

I wouldn't mind if all Christian politicians were like Mr. Rogers. Unfortunately, a significant portion of them bear a much closer resemblance to Tomas de Torquemada.

Paleocon wrote:
realityhack wrote:
bnpederson wrote:

The problem isn't Christian politicians, the problem is bad politicians. And I'm not convinced removing or restricting the Christian part is a real solution.

+1

I wouldn't mind if all Christian politicians were like Mr. Rogers. Unfortunately, a significant portion of them bear a much closer resemblance to Tomas de Torquemada.

And, sorry to burst the bubble, but American Christian Politics are the worst. If we listened to them schools would be single race still, women could not vote, none of us could get a drink, racially based slavery would still be in the constitution, and we would all be flying the Union Flag in our cities.

If American Christians were followers of Christ, by and large, there would not be an issue. But alas, much like our lamentations over what the NRA has come to represent, the Christian lobby in the US is not based on the values of Christ. Even former adviser to GW Bush, the late David Kuo agreed with that and he called for an end to Christian Lobbying and a return to charitable works and service.

KingGorilla wrote:

And, sorry to burst the bubble, but American Christian Politics are the worst. If we listened to them schools would be single race still, women could not vote, none of us could get a drink, racially based slavery would still be in the constitution, and we would all be flying the Union Flag in our cities.

If American Christians were followers of Christ, by and large, there would not be an issue. But alas, much like our lamentations over what the NRA has come to represent, the Christian lobby in the US is not based on the values of Christ. Even former adviser to GW Bush, the late David Kuo agreed with that and he called for an end to Christian Lobbying and a return to charitable works and service.

I cannot possibly give this post enough +1's to do it service.

I have an interesting quandary I'd like to put forward to my fellow atheists/agnostics/secular humanists/nones:

The other week my mom asked me how I (and my wife) would feel if she gave our (ATM 11-month-old) daughter religious children's books for presents.

Some brief background: I'm Canadian (whose mosaic culture's generally inclusive pluralism, in sharp contrast to the US, is described by others much earlier in this thread), I was raised Lutheran, mainly by my mom (dad is religious but more philosophically), but also encouraged by them to be questioning and critical. I had recently "come out" as strong agnostic/de facto atheist, which was no biggie (to me). Well I mean it bothered my mom, but I hadn't been to a church in 20 years so it wasn't surprising. We also have a pretty strong and respectful adult relationship: I had no reservations mentioning it matter-of-factly, confident in her respect for me and my decisions, and I know on the whole that she does trust me (my dad is real hands-off).

My wife was raised Catholic, but is definitely not Catholic now. She still holds a personal though non-practicing non-denominational belief, but it hasn't extended beyond herself—for instance, she has as much inclination to have our daughter baptised as I do (i.e. none). Short of a William James-ian mystical experience on either of our parts, our daughter will be raised in a non-religious, pro-rationalist/science (not to set those up as opposites) family.

Our decision was that we would be less than comfortable with religious children's books (Garden of Eden, Noah's Ark, the genocide of the Midians, etc). For myself, it's not from a fear of indoctrination—I wouldn't expect that from my mom. I think her feeling is that she would want that material available, so our daughter can be aware of it in that "let her make her own decision" vein. My feeling, on the other hand, is that it would ultimately be unfair to my mom and her beliefs to leave that material to us. I know all the background to the stories, but when my daughter wants to know more, I would be the "wrong" person to explain them—"wrong" because my explanations would not be in the spirit that my mom would have given the books. I can and should only frame them as myths.

Like I said, it's an interesting quandary, and far from a deciding factor in a spiritual/intellectual journey that will last years and millions of words beyond some picture books. If I also seem like I'm being really charitable to my mom, I guess it's because if this is the start of how belief and non-belief is going to intersect in the person of my baby daughter, I'd rather steer it as often as possible to a conversation than a conflict.

The books are designed to indoctrinate. That's why someone paid to write, illustrate, and print them.

Either accept the books and hide them from your children to save your mother from embarrassment or simply tell your mom that your not accepting any religiously tainted materials. She can have her chance to convert your child in 2030 when they're an adult and can make decisions by themselves.

Genocide of the Midians is a children's book?

NathanialG wrote:

Genocide of the Midians is a children's book?

You can get it in a set with the "My First Last Stand" Masada playset.

Let your kid grow up a secular Lutheran, and learn about the culture through the food.

Wait, she asked? Oh, Canadian, got it.

Anyhow, do what you think is best, and ask her to respect that. I do not see this as all that different from asking that your mom not take your kid shopping for a bunch of toys or letting then eat a bunch of sweets.

Secondly, be very happy that your mom is not American.

My advice is this:

If you are truly afraid of hurting your mother, don't be. For one, she asked, which is great. It definitely means she respects your wishes (which already seems clear to you anyway). If she asked, she is probably prepared to be told no. So, if that's how you feel, you shouldn't be afraid to assert yourself.

As far as OG's opinion, I, of course, haven't seen the books, but I think it unlikely that they're actually designed to indoctrinate. It's probably likely the books are meant to tell the stories in simpler, illustrated ways. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the authors assumed the parents would do the rest of the indoctrination.

My approach would be this:

I would have her tell me what she's buying so I can look at it for myself before approving it. If it's just a story, there's actually no need to present it any other way than that. You don't need to say it's a myth, or the truth, or anything. After all, people don't bother with those kinds of qualifiers for books like Captain Underpants, for example. If she does ask (which she may, sometimes kids can't tell the difference), simply tell her it's a story.

Now, given the culture, it's practically guaranteed she will meet someone who believes it. When she does, she'll ask you about it. This is where the question should ultimately be answered. Do you want to shield her from religion, or let her see it and make her own conclusions (with your guidance, of course)? As strongly atheist as I am myself, if I intended to raise children, the latter would be my choice.

A few more notes:

Do you have any siblings with children of their own? Do they get religious childrens' books? If not, ask why you're being treated differently.

The best way to avoid the question entirely? Buy a few kids' books of your own that you like and simply read them to her. Most likely, she'll latch on to a favorite character on her own, and she won't WANT anything else.

There's a lot of Christian mythology buried in pretty much every thing. You won't be depriving her of exposure by not letting her have books that are meant specifically for indoctrination.

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

Let your kid grow up a secular Lutheran, and learn about the culture through the food.

Lutefisk and tater tot hotdish?

Has anyone read Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America ? If so please share your thoughts.

My wife and I, both agnostics/atheists, brought our daughter up to have a respect for the religions people follow in the world. She went to church with friends and family. We let her grandma tell her all about Jesus or whatever.

Our neighbor told me one that Jordan was explaining the mass to her own daughters, and that we might have a Catholic on our hands. I told her that is the worst thing our daughter did was become catholic, we'd be okay.

Today, she's agnostic like us. She did ask me to take her to a Buddhist temple because she is interested in Buddhism. The rule was always that we woud take her or let her go to any church or religious gathering she wanted.

I'm a lot happier that she is choosing her path instead of indoctrinating her with atheism. The reality, we are raising her to live in a world where she will meets lots of people with all kinds of ideas about politics and religion. If reading some books was going to ruin her, it would be more of an indictment on our parenting skills than whoever gave her the book.

Just to clarify, I've already told her I don't think it'd be a good idea, for all the reasons I mentioned above. I said I'd talk to my wife and get back to her with our decision, and we're on the same page. I'm not afraid about hurting feelings, because like NSMike says, my mom asked openly and respectfully, and she deserves an answer in kind. It wouldn't be fair to duck the question, or accept any books and then hide them.

Mainly, I'm not too worried about the content of the books, more that we would be the wrong family to keep them in the spirit they were intended. If Grandma wants to fill her own house with them when she babysits, I suppose that's her prerogative, within bounds. "We'll be back in four hours—remember: no TV, no sugar, and no proselytization."

KingGorilla wrote:

Anyhow, do what you think is best, and ask her to respect that. I do not see this as all that different from asking that your mom not take your kid shopping for a bunch of toys or letting then eat a bunch of sweets.

Secondly, be very happy that your mom is not American.

That's probably the best way to frame it, thanks for putting it that way KG. As for the second point, if my mom has successfully inculcated anything lasting in me, it's her rampant anti-Americanism

NSMike wrote:

As far as OG's opinion, I, of course, haven't seen the books, but I think it unlikely that they're actually designed to indoctrinate. It's probably likely the books are meant to tell the stories in simpler, illustrated ways. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the authors assumed the parents would do the rest of the indoctrination.

This is my feeling too. A picture book, without the supporting social structure, can't do any harm. I grew up with all sorts of mythology books with kids versions of stories like Beowulf, and I never grew up to be a Viking (UNFORTUNATELY).

Oh, speaking of Vikings—

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

Let your kid grow up a secular Lutheran, and learn about the culture through the food.

Alas it's a part-German, not Norwegian, background on my mom's side whose practices petered out well before I was born—it'll be perogies and adobo for our daughter.

Where was I?

iaintgotnopants wrote:

There's a lot of Christian mythology buried in pretty much every thing. You won't be depriving her of exposure by not letting her have books that are meant specifically for indoctrination.

Yeah, again, I doubt the indoctrination potential of children's books, but you're very right that the Bible is the basis of about 99% of Western literature. And for sure we're going to have a copy of The Chronicles of Narnia for her—that's just good reading. To touch back on something NSMike said, I don't intend to—can't—shield her from religion or Christianity in North America. She'll be raised non-religious simply because that's our values—well I guess that's not really a value per se so much as humanism, empiricism, open-mindedness, critical thinking, etc are the values she'll be raised in.

Which leads me to:

Jayhawker wrote:

My wife and I, both agnostics/atheists, brought our daughter up to have a respect for the religions people follow in the world. She went to church with friends and family. We let her grandma tell her all about Jesus or whatever.

[snip]

I'm a lot happier that she is choosing her path instead of indoctrinating her with atheism. The reality, we are raising her to live in a world where she will meets lots of people with all kinds of ideas about politics and religion.

That sounds like the best I could hope to do. Obviously we won't be raising her in the church and then "letting her decide"—that might not leave much of a choice, hypothetically. But by the same token, I'm not interested in drilling in atheism and raising a little militant Dawkins. Above all I would hope to stress critical thinking and making informed decisions. Any partisan books, I suppose, should be left at Grandma's.

A book I read a couple of years ago: If the Church Were Christian

Chapter headings:

1) Jesus would be a model for living rather than an object of worship
2) Affirming our potential would be more important than condemning our brokenness
3) Reconciliation would be valued over judgment
4) Gracious behavior would be more important than right belief
5) Inviting questions would be valued more than supplying answers
6) Encouraging personal exploration would be more important than communal uniformity
7) Meeting needs would be more important than maintaining institutions
8) Peace would be more important than power
9) It would care more about love and less about sex
10) This life would be more important than the afterlife

MacBrave wrote:

A book I read a couple of years ago: If the Church Were Christian

I think this is more the sort of approach we can call "Jesusian." I was in my 30s before I realized that the whole Resurrection thing meant not just that Jesus ascended to heaven, but took over the family business, effectively becoming God. (It explained a line in a John Pryne song that'd confused me.)

This is where Protestantism in America has gone off the rails. They're treating Jesus' time on earth as a filthy hippie who fed the poor as just part of his origins story; what's important now is that he's SuperChrist, hater of abortions and f*cker-up of brown people.

MacBrave wrote:

A book I read a couple of years ago: If the Church Were Christian

Chapter headings:

1) Jesus would be a model for living rather than an object of worship
2) Affirming our potential would be more important than condemning our brokenness
3) Reconciliation would be valued over judgment
4) Gracious behavior would be more important than right belief
5) Inviting questions would be valued more than supplying answers
6) Encouraging personal exploration would be more important than communal uniformity
7) Meeting needs would be more important than maintaining institutions
8) Peace would be more important than power
9) It would care more about love and less about sex
10) This life would be more important than the afterlife

This is basically my whole thinking on what is wrong with Christianity - "worship of Christ" instead of "living as Christ". Always gets me twisted up when we see something like the Applebee's receipt, done "in the name of Christ" :/

McIrishJihad wrote:
MacBrave wrote:

A book I read a couple of years ago: If the Church Were Christian

Chapter headings:

1) Jesus would be a model for living rather than an object of worship
2) Affirming our potential would be more important than condemning our brokenness
3) Reconciliation would be valued over judgment
4) Gracious behavior would be more important than right belief
5) Inviting questions would be valued more than supplying answers
6) Encouraging personal exploration would be more important than communal uniformity
7) Meeting needs would be more important than maintaining institutions
8) Peace would be more important than power
9) It would care more about love and less about sex
10) This life would be more important than the afterlife

This is basically my whole thinking on what is wrong with Christianity - "worship of Christ" instead of "living as Christ". Always gets me twisted up when we see something like the Applebee's receipt, done "in the name of Christ" :/

Yup, when I saw, that, my first thought was "Jesus wants you to be a jerk to someone else you barely know? Maybe I misread something, but you lack reading comprehension skills or have never bothered to read the bible are much more likely explanations."

Well, the thing about Christianity is that Christ is the figurehead on the ship, but the captain is "Paul."

Curse you Jeebus!

Wow, just wow.
As far as the title question of this thread goes, I think the answer is a pretty clear "yes".

Side note...I was assuming what sort of person her congressman (who apparently helped get this escalated at USCIS for review) would be. He's a Tea Party Republican from Texas, which is not quite what I was assuming.

The first monument to atheism ever to be erected on government property in the U.S. will be dedicated today in Bradford County, FL. American Atheists sponsored the display after losing a lawsuit to get a Ten Commandments monument removed.

Read here: http://wlrn.org/post/atheists-dedica...

Edwin wrote:

The first monument to atheism ever to be erected on government property in the U.S. will be dedicated today in Bradford County, FL. American Atheists sponsored the display after losing a lawsuit to get a Ten Commandments monument removed.

Read here: http://wlrn.org/post/atheists-dedica...

Awesome.

Snarky Pastor wrote:

Kevin Baker, pastor of Victory Chapel Christian Fellowship Ministries in Starke says at least it will be useful.

“Last week when they were putting the concrete down," he says, "I pulled over and told them I really appreciated them putting a bench there so I could study my Ten Commandments and sit down while I do it.”

Ugh.

Yellek wrote:
Snarky Pastor wrote:

Kevin Baker, pastor of Victory Chapel Christian Fellowship Ministries in Starke says at least it will be useful.

“Last week when they were putting the concrete down," he says, "I pulled over and told them I really appreciated them putting a bench there so I could study my Ten Commandments and sit down while I do it.”

Ugh.

He's a pastor, and he's still studying the Ten Commandments? Hell, even I know most of them, and I go out of my way to avoid reading the Bible. You'd think they'd have been on the Pastor final exam or something.

Guess he got held back a grade or two in Sunday school.

gore wrote:
Yellek wrote:
Snarky Pastor wrote:

Kevin Baker, pastor of Victory Chapel Christian Fellowship Ministries in Starke says at least it will be useful.

“Last week when they were putting the concrete down," he says, "I pulled over and told them I really appreciated them putting a bench there so I could study my Ten Commandments and sit down while I do it.”

Ugh.

He's a pastor, and he's still studying the Ten Commandments? Hell, even I know most of them, and I go out of my way to avoid reading the Bible. You'd think they'd have been on the Pastor final exam or something.

Guess he got held back a grade or two in Sunday school.

I might direct him to the section involving pride.

Doesn't matter *what* he does on the seat, as long as he doesn't deface it or block access to the monument. However, the attitude needs to go. T'ain't hardly Christian.

Robear wrote:

Doesn't matter *what* he does on the seat, as long as he doesn't deface it or block access to the monument. However, the attitude needs to go. T'ain't hardly Christian.

IMAGE(http://l3.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/ZPVWY4HjF1_jR5XXJv_j9w--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Zmk9ZmlsbDtoPTYzOTtweW9mZj0wO3E9ODU7dz05NjA-/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/ap_webfeeds/6dff0bcabe142b15360f6a706700a130.jpg)

Eric Hovind, the president of Creation Today, showing his respect for the monument by standing on it to "defend" the literal interpretation of Genesis from the big, bad theory of evolution.

OG_slinger wrote:

Eric Hovind, the president of Creation Today, showing his respect for the monument by standing on it to "defend" the literal interpretation of Genesis from the big, bad theory of evolution.

Standing on a monument to atheism in order to spread the word of Christ and get 3 feet closer to heaven?

Mmm, delicious irony!

Jonman wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:

Eric Hovind, the president of Creation Today, showing his respect for the monument by standing on it to "defend" the literal interpretation of Genesis from the big, bad theory of evolution.

Standing on a monument to atheism in order to spread the word of Christ and get 3 feet closer to heaven?

Mmm, delicious irony!

Is it wrong that I wanted him to slip and accidentally rip his own nuts off with the pointy part of the statue?