My little girl has a best friend…

…and her mom is very religious. We’re attending the new friend’s birthday party this weekend and I must admit, I’m a little nervous. I spoke with her mom today and we had a nice conversation and got to know each other, but it became evident very quickly that religion is important in their family. The sad thing about this is that it doesn’t matter one bit to me, but I know if they find out we are a freethinking family, my daughter’s new friendship will be in jeopardy. The woman asked how I was raised while we were on the phone, and I told her honestly about my religious upbringing, but left it at that. I didn’t mention that I’ve left that behind, and now I feel as if I’m betraying her and myself.

I’ve promised myself that I will not lie to her, and if she asks, I will be honest. It’s the best I can do. If she is willing to forbid her daughter to be friends with mine because of my beliefs, then perhaps they aren’t a family we need to be associated with anyway. Right? Right?

Sigh. I’m so nervous…

Guest Post on Parents Beyond Belief

I am honored to be a guest blogger on Parents Beyond Belief! Check out my post, Death and Secular Parenting: Overcoming the Fears. Enjoy!

Bang Goes the Theory: Evolution Made Simple

Found this video via Parenting Beyond Belief. Absolutely awesome, but still a little above my 4-year-old’s head. 😉

Hate Mail from Christians, Richard Dawkins Video

I’d never seen this video until I came across it today on Rock Beyond Belief’s post about the threats to atheists on the Fox News Facebook page. Yeah, wow.

Anyway, I love this video. It’s awesome to know that even the great Richard Dawkins, who is one of my all time heroes, receives hate mail from Christians. I love the way he reads the statements.

The way to see by faith – Some Thoughts on Our Nation’s History

“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”
-Benjamin Franklin

One of my favorite quotes… Oh, and would you look at that!? It’s a quote from Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America! Even though Ben Franklin wasn’t an atheist, he rejected the Christian dogma of his time and found his god in nature and rationalism, typical of Enlightenment deists. I find this interesting because so many claim that America is a Christian nation and, by God, we’re a-prayin’ folk!

Well, America was and is home to many Christians, like founding father, John Jay. However, not all of our fearless fathers were Christian. John Adams was a Unitarian. Thomas Jefferson, like Franklin, believed in a deity, but he rejected Christianity as a whole and spoke out against the Catholic church. Jefferson once said, “to talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings,” regarding his view of god. James Madison, the “father of the Constitution,” was almost solely responsible for the First Amendment and the laws governing the separation of church and state. And George Washington, though deist, publicly called for people of all faiths (and no faith) to adopt a tolerant mindset that would help Americans feel safe that they could believe or not believe whatever they chose.

So to those who say we are a “Christian” country, perhaps a course or two in history and the humanities will show you the truth about our origins. Americans are everything – Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, Atheist, Wiccan, and Pastafarian. And every single person in this country should be allowed to believe and practice as he or she pleases as long as it does not a) hurt anyone or encroach upon someone else’s right to practice as they please and b) involve government agencies. Involving government agencies, meetings, and the like, only breaks down that which James Madison worked so hard to ensure – freedom of religion. Freedom.

Why is this so difficult for people to understand? Why must those who believe differently than you be the target of such hatred? Can’t we all just friggin’ get along?

Public School Time!

My oldest daughter is now officially enrolled in pre-k in the public school system. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. She’s been in a Christian preschool since she was 8 months old, so I’ve had to be very careful about encouraging her  free thought. I was always afraid that she’d run to school and tell her teacher, “Mommy says some people don’t believe in god!” Heh. That would be a fun conference.

But now that she’ll be out of that environment, I feel much more comfortable helping her find answers to her tough questions. She asks about death often, so we observe dead bugs and talk about roadkill and what happens when people die. She’s fascinated with the fact that life can end, and I think it’s fostering a love for living inside her. She is full of life and seems to enjoy ever second. She loves people wholeheartedly and loves to be kind to those who are unkind to her. I feel more confident that we can discuss the different religions with more freedom now that she isn’t required to go to chapel or read Bible stories.

I know it seems odd that an atheist or agnostic person would put their children in a Christian school, but I have reasons. First, the hours worked well for our family. Secondly, she really got a fantastic education. They offered yoga, music, reading and handwriting skill building, and more art than I have room to store. Thirdly, as a person who will grow up in a conservative and largely Christian area, it’s important for her to have knowledge of the Bible, it’s stories, and Christianity in general. Otherwise, she might feel ostracized or embarrassed as an older child. All in all, it’s been good for both of my girls.

She’s growing up and I know life is about to get super-fun. Her intelligent and curious mind is growing every day, and I’m so proud of the little freethinker she is becoming. I’m jealous that she gets this opportunity in life. I feel like I missed out on so much in my childhood because of my restrictive upbringing. I’m very much looking forward to watching her bloom!

Even my car knows this is ridiculous!

Yes, I made this. Yes, you can share. Just link back to my site, please. 🙂

City of Sand Springs Praying to Jesus Before Meetings

What do people not understand about the separation of church and state? It protects not only the non-religious, but also the faithful. It keeps that faith sacred and meaningful. It keeps the various faiths from being overrun by another. It prevents the government from telling a Christian that they must worship Allah, and vice versa. Why must people continue to bring their god into the government? It’s so simple to leave it out, yet people continue to invoke the Christian god before meetings and as a way of solving the difficult problems.

Check out this post by Beau McElhattan on the City of Sand Springs council meetings. Beau wrote an email to the mayor. I think I will do the same. Here’s a video of the prayer “in Jesus’ name.”

Come on, Sand Springs, get god out of the government. Not everyone believes the way you do.

No Vacation Bible School for my Kids

My grandmother, the sweet woman, is a devout Christian and probably one of the most genuine people I know. She loves god with all her heart and truly lives the life a Christian should live. She believes some things are wrong (homosexuality and alcohol consumption, for example) but she treats all people equally. She never turns her back on someone because of their sexual orientation, choice of lifestyle, or even belief in god. She did not turn her back on me when I became pregnant before I was married. However, she has no idea that I’m an atheist. I cannot bring myself to tell her because I know it will break her heart. She’s the person in my life I can relate to the most, and she’s been their for me when my own parents were busy squabbling over whose weekend it was to take my brother and myself.

My grandmother asked if she could take my 4-year-old to VBS at the church where I grew up, and where she still attends nearly every available service. I thought one day wouldn’t hurt, but over the course of the last month, so many ridiculous things have happened in the name of Christianity that I can’t bear the thought of my child being exposed to religious dogma. She already attends a Christian school, and that’s all I can take. So, I didn’t send her and I feel terrible that my grandmother didn’t get to show her off to her friends, which was probably her main motivation for asking me to bring her anyway.

I made up excuses for why I didn’t bring her to VBS, and I feel terrible about it. I wish I could tell her the truth. But I know the though of me burning in hell will haunt her until the day she dies, and I just can’t do that to her. She’s chosen to live this life in blind faith, and so she will be blind to my fate. Which, in reality, is most likely just a cease of existence, but this is not how she would see it.

My heart hurts, but I feel like I’m doing the right thing in keeping it from her. At least, I hope I am.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin Wants Us to Pray for Rain

That’s right, our lovely right-wing governor is requesting that Oklahomans of “all faiths” stand together in prayer with her to end the drought.

One lovely Tulsa resident was quoted to say, “It’s the bible belt that’s what we do, we pray.” Right, because everyone in Oklahoma is a Christian. Geez, people, have you no sense of what’s around you? Beyond this being a blatant intermingling of church and state, and beyond the fact that rain is controlled by weather patterns and many physically measurable scientific factors, the thing that truly gets me is how oblivious these people are to the fact that not everyone believes the same way they do. As an atheist in Oklahoma, I find this disturbing and frustrating. We cannot control the rain. There are more important things to be concerned about that we can control.