Usually when someone says something I disagree with, I do not hesitate to berate them. Maybe this will be a good exercise in restraint, though I hope there’s no mistaking the fact that I think this idea is wrong.
Over at feeno’s blog, If I became an atheist, tinkbell13 (an atheist) voiced her opinion that she would not allow her child to go to someone’s “Sunday School” unless the child was 18 or if she went along. Tristan Vick, another atheist blogger, voiced his agreement.
I’ll start with my weaker, more snarky responses first, because I have so many problems with this mindset.
First of all, I have no interest in going to any church service, Sunday School, or any other sort of religious thing of any kind. For me to hold this stance would essentially mean I was barring my child from any religious exposure. I doubt this was the intention, but for all practical purposes, even in a best case scenario, it does limit your child’s religiosity to your own personal schedule and level of tolerance.
Second, what is the big deal with turning 18? Are you worried an orgy is going to break out? Seriously, why enforce age-biased stereotypes imposed by Christian society for the purpose of limiting exposure to things? I said it in the comments of the thread and I’ll say it again: there comes a point (around 15 or 16) that you just cannot control what a child does, and if you try, you’re a jackass and a horrible parent.
Those last few years are wasted if you force them to hold your apron strings the whole time. They should be out doing stupid things, making mistakes, testing their limits, and not under your guidance. It isn’t easy, but being the parent of a “child” who is essentially an adult means stepping back and letting them fall down so they learn to stand on their own. Yes, you can help them get back up, but you’re doing a great disservice if you force (or even let) them lean on you.
Third, and perhaps most important: how dumb do you think your kid will be, and how horrible of a parent do you anticipate becoming that everything can be overturned in one day of religion? You shouldn’t raise your child to be atheist, you should raise your child to be an adult, because that cannot be undone.
Even if having a child who is an atheist is important to you, even if you think religion is the ultimate evil in the world, do you really give yourself and your children so little credit that you believe drinking some Juicy Juice while having a Bible story read aloud will screw up your kids?
“But Ginx, Juicy Juice isn’t organic and the Bible is evil!” Chill out, my uptight atheist friends.
If that weren’t enough, tink blew my mind when she suggested infant baptism should be illegal. I think she has been taking the ramblings of “New Atheists” and their claims that religion is child abuse a little too far.
I don’t get it. I’m pretty confident that tink realizes baptism does nothing to the baby. It doesn’t make the baby Christian or even more likely to be Christian. In fact, some of the best atheists were baptized (the Catholic Church alone is responsible for some of the most outspoken atheists, like Bill Maher and George Carlin). Baptism is not a danger to atheism, and to be honest… an infant baptism is like a funeral. It’s not really a ritual for the benefit of the central personage, it’s more for those who are close to the person involved.
Beyond silly opposition to an equally silly cranial bathing, this kind of mindset is actually quite a dangerous precedent. Telling people how they can or cannot raise their children is nothing to be taken lightly.
I’m assuming tink agrees that it’s harmless for same-sex couples to kiss in front of a baby without any worry of the baby catching the gay, but try telling that to some of the people who baptize their babies. Would you like to see same-sex kissing outlawed? You do realize we are grossly outnumbered, so opening this door cannot lead to anything good for us...
What about teaching evolution? Or discussion on abortion or sex? Do you want other people telling you that you cannot expose your child to your own thoughts and opinions?
One final note: it’s a known fact that teenagers rebel against their parents. If you really want your kids to grow up atheist, maybe you ought to force them to get baptized at 15. Nothing galvanized my atheism like my mother’s demand that I go through Catholic Confirmation.
I decided to reject all parts of religion, including the part about being intolerant of other beliefs. Anything less would be rejecting Peter to pay attention to Paul. Besides, having a kid who becomes a Christian instead of an atheist might be a great thing. At least then they can become President.