Excerpt: “So how does the raising of upstanding, moral children work without prayers at mealtimes and morality lessons at Sunday school? Quite well, it seems.
Far from being dysfunctional, nihilistic and rudderless without the security and rectitude of religion, secular households provide a sound and solid foundation for children, according to Vern Bengston, a USC professor of gerontology and sociology.”
Bengston has supervised a 40-year study of religion and family life across generations—the largest ever coordinated—called the Longitudinal Study of Generations. He recently added atheist or agnostic families to the mix alongside the rise in their self-reported numbers. And rather than discovering families unbound by the glue of God, performing nightly Satanic rituals in lieu of a nutritious dinner, he found… functional families with actual ethics and values and shit.
“Many nonreligious parents were more coherent and passionate about their ethical principles than some of the ‘religious’ parents in our study,” Bengston told me. “The vast majority appeared to live goal-filled lives characterized by moral direction and sense of life having a purpose.”
I didn’t raise/rear my kids to be non-believers… not in actuality with intent. Whenever the topic of god or religion was expressed, I would tell them my agnostic view (I was still not sure about the label Atheist)…
AGNOSTIC: a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.
In essence, I would say, that we human beings do not know why we are here or what the physical nature of all things is about and probably we will never know. However, I would emphasize the importance of having empathy for others because we are all in the same boat and that evolution was real. I also expressed that religion was OK for some and if they wanted to take that route that would be equally OK.
Wow, I’ve come a long way from those ideas, I now believe religion can hurt more than it can comfort. But, that’s me.
Anyway, I’m glad that none of my kids took to religion because now I can have freethinking discussions with them instead of feeling the need to walk on eggshells whenever conversation turned to gods, guns, gays and religions. thinkingblue
EXCERPT 2: The reason of course, is obvious. Morality comes not from a book, or a guy up in the sky, but from the idea that how you treat people matters, because how people feel matters. The Golden Rule. Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, is, Zuckerman writes, “an ancient, universal ethical imperative. And it requires no supernatural beliefs.”
I would like to take this time to say directly to the small town I grew up in and its endless youth groups and Bible studies and Baptist churches and even grosser fundamentalist Church of Christ churches, and all the prayers before games, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the fear-mongering attitudes and pervy youth group leaders and gross, self-righteous, hypocritical, sexist, homophobic, racist, shallow, anti-intellectual, anti-questioning, anti-books, anti-music, anti-art, utter crass consumerism in place of actual Christian-ness: FACE. Big, stupid FACE in your FACE.
But that petty jab aside, seriously: I’m not one of those people who think anyone who is religious is dumb, or narrow-minded, or any such thing. Mad props. Even kinda jealz. I’d love for God to be something I could catch. It’d be like how I am with football: If only I could like it, I’m sure I would if nothing else have way more friends.
I’m not even someone who even had that bad an experience with religion, all considered, mainly because I was never forced into it. I just grew up in the over-saturated South, and for every truly genuine, kind, accepting person who drew on strength from God to do good in this world (I almost exclusively grew up with Baptists and Church of Christ nutjobs) that I ever met, there were easily a hundred who used it as a shield to judge and shun everything that didn’t look like them, which was usually a white guy in a button-down oxford, Dockers, and a piece of UT football insignia somewhere. Who got shitfaced on the weekends. And was a racist. But who was somehow, inexplicably, considered a “good person” from a “good family.” (I came from a broken home, and didn’t go to church, and this was all you needed to know.)
Small-town Southern religiousness can take so many hideous forms, but the worst is this Upstanding Good Citizen who attends church and gets a free pass to be a terrible terrible bigot. Belief was assumed of everyone, too, and not believing was something you kept to yourself, and the accusation of witchcraft and Satanism were real things that happened to people I actually knew, and involved visits from law enforcement. (There was also a rash of suicides one summer that fueled the suspicions of Satanism even more.)
Once, in eighth grade, I researched and read about religions and went to different churches to find out more about this God thing. I told a youth group leader at one denomination known for being more laid back that I was genuinely unsure what I believed, but was interested in learning more. “Well, now, if you don’t believe, there’s only one thing that can mean,” he said. “You’re going to hell.”