Friday, February 26, 2010

Raising Atheist Children in a Christian Nation - There are no Sunday Schools for Atheists

One of my biggest worries with my children is how I can raise them to be properly skeptical (and hopefully atheist) in a Christian Nation. [1] It is funny, now that I think about it - typically you see the Christian parents being the ones so worried their children will be corrupted by a non-Christian education in public schools. I'm not worried about secular schools. I am not worried about the culture at large as much either. I do worry about day care, which is a Christian day care. That I feel stuck with given the limited options (and limited funds). As I've discussed before, I have no interest in having a nanny again.

What has concerned me about day care is what my daughter comes home with. I see little coloring book pages with religious themes. I hear her talk about religious things, though rarely. I guess I'm hoping that when she starts school in six months, this will all become a dim memory. I take some small comfort in the fact that I went to a religious day care as well when I was a child and it didn't stick - perhaps because my parents are not at all religious and we never went to church. Still, I wonder how to deal with the whole religion issue with my children.

I don't want to be dogmatic. I want them ultimately to learn to think for themselves. You can't simply teach the "right" things - you need to give a toolkit to kids so they can figure things out for themselves. At the same time, though, kids need to obey and do what they are told, at least when they are very young - for their own safety. Kids also rebel - and go and do the opposite of what their parents want, at least, that's what I've read or heard about. I never really did that, but I understand the concept. So the difficulty is - how do you really go about doing this?

One idea I have is social - if my kids hang out with other kids who are also raised to be skeptical, then there's the good peer pressure -or maybe lack of bad peer pressure. Except I don't know anyone else here who is atheist and has kids. Maybe I should try and find a local community of atheists.

I've heard of atheist summer camps and such - really skepticism summer camps. I really want to send my kids somewhere like that someday, but that is only a short bit of the year.

I worry about what religion could do to my kids. I worry about one or both of them coming home one day and declaring he or she is now a Christian. I'd still love them, but I would feel like I failed somehow. I'd feel like a part of them is dead - or brainwashed. I don't want my kids to grow up to be another of the superstitious idiots that populate our nation and our planet. I want them to question. I want them to be skeptical of what they are told. I want them to be thinkers.

It is funny that Christianists call our schools horrible and godless, but they really aren't - most people in public schools are Chrsitans, and much of that seeps into everything. They aren't taught real skepticism. They will probably never hear the word "atheist" spoken. It is a secular education, but not a godless one. I should be the one who is concerned, not the Christian parents. They really are only upset because the schools are not more fully Christian-dominated than they already are.

If only there were truly "godless" schools - where real skepticism was taught. Where kids were taught that religion - all of it - is superstition. Where kids are taught that "god" is a purely human creation. Where kids learn to think. Regular schools will never do this. Hell, there isn't even a "sunday school for atheists." There ought to be. Hell, that is a good line to add to the title of this post. (And now I have...)

I have resolved to do something about that. I don't have a lot of time, but I'm going to at least get a start on this. I will see if I can find others in my community who feel as I do, and who aren't infected by religion. I'm going to then see if I can get some interest in putting together something like a Sunday School for Atheists. Maybe it is something I can just do for my own kids. They'll probably think I'm nuts. Maybe the better way to do it is more subtle - not any set time or place, but just a planting of the seeds of skepticism wherever I can find it. Maybe the Sunday School for Atheists needs to be more for parents - to teach them to do the same with their own kids. I do this already where I can. With the few times I've heard some talk of Jesus out of my daughter, I've asked her, "how do you know that's true?" I want her to think about that, rather than challenge things directly. Make her defend it with logic and reason - with the idea of showing her that it can't be defended. Thankfully, she really hasn't said much along those lines, and will soon be done with day care, so maybe I should not be so worried.

Maybe a first step can be coming up with a curriculum - and posting it online. In fact, I bet someone has already done something along those lines somewhere. I am going to search for it and build on what I find.

Now if only every parent would do this, maybe we'd have a better world - where politicians can't so easily prey on the ignorance and superstitions of the public. Ok, now I'm dreaming.

[1] Of course, I would dispute the title of "Christian Nation" for the United States. We have a secular Constitution that explicitly separates church and state. So I vehemently contest any attempt to call this nation an officially Chrsitian one. But culturally, there are a lot of Christians to deal with, and they tend to control every elective office at every level. This is the community that my children will be growing up in. So this is what I have to deal with.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Carnival of the Godless on February 28

Larry has graciously asked me to offer an article for the Carnival of the Godless on February 28, and I'd be happy to do so. This gives me two weeks to think of something... but I have a few ideas in mind. In the meanwhile, anyone who would like to participate - spread the "good word!"

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Head In the Sand

I've tried to have a discussion with some right-wing folks about the health care bill, but as with most things, it has proven to be totally pointless to even try. These people have their head in the sand and refuse to see there is a problem. They deny that anyone is denied healthcare for being poor. They cite laws that require EMREGENCY care and then equate that with saying that everyone gets health care, apparently oblivious to the fact that most health care is not emergency care. They also ignore the fact that even emergency care will saddle you with a huge bill that can bankrupt you and put your family on the street, which is a reason for the poor to avoid going to get even emergency care.

I mean really, how can you even have a discussion with someone whose head is six inches under the ground? What can you say to people like that? Health care is doomed. Everything is doomed. People are morons.