Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

News & Politics News & Politics

Godless mom strikes a chord with parents

Posted by on Jan. 20, 2013 at 9:04 PM
  • 39 Replies

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/18/godless-mom-strikes-a-chord-with-parents/?hpt=hp_c4

By Daphne Sashin, CNN

Deborah Mitchell remembers the time, when her boys were younger, and another mom asked her about her religious beliefs.

Mitchell was raised Catholic but moved away from religion in her early 20s. She told the other mother that she didn’t go to church and didn’t even really believe in God.

Then, she says, the recruiting started.

“She used to call my house and tell me she was praying for me. She’d leave me messages and leave cards in my mailbox with scripture,” Mitchell says. “I do realize that she meant well, but at the same time, I know my views were seen as wrong. I needed to be ‘saved.’”

Mitchell, a mother of two teenagers in Texas who feels “immersed in Christianity,” started a blog about raising her children without religion because she felt frustrated and marginalized. She didn’t want to feel so alone, she says.

This week, she gained a whole new audience and the reassurance that she's not alone. Her essay on CNN iReport, “Why I Raise My Children Without God,” drew 650,000 page views, the second highest for an iReport, and the most comments of any submission on the citizen journalism platform.

It starts:

When my son was around 3 years old, he used to ask me a lot of questions about heaven. Where is it? How do people walk without a body? How will I find you? You know the questions that kids ask.

For over a year, I lied to him and made up stories that I didn’t believe about heaven. Like most parents, I love my child so much that I didn’t want him to be scared. I wanted him to feel safe and loved and full of hope. But the trade-off was that I would have to make stuff up, and I would have to brainwash him into believing stories that didn’t make sense, stories that I didn’t believe either.

Mitchell posted the essay detailing her seven reasons for raising her children without God on CNN iReport because she felt there wasn’t anyone else speaking for women or moms like her. As she sees it, children should learn to do the right things because they will feel better about themselves, not because God is watching. She asks questions like: If there was a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God, why would he allow murders, child abuse and torture?

Lots of people disagreed with her. Tons. They flagged her iReport as inappropriate and criticized CNN for linking to her essay on the CNN.com homepage. But there were plenty of others who wrote thoughtful rebuttals, respectfully disagreeing with Mitchell while not foisting their own beliefs on her. Take, for instance, a Methodist dad, who said faith can be hard to nail down, but “not to avail ourselves of the power of something we don't completely understand is silly.”

Others said Mitchell presented a simplistic view of religion.

“Presentations such as these seem to ignore a substantial percentage of believers - well-educated, compassionate, liberal folk, Christian and non-Christian alike - who, I feel, are able to worship without being blind to the realities of the world, or without lying to their children about their understanding of these complexities,” wrote commenter RMooradian. “I'll be raising my children with God, but I understand those who cannot!”

But Mitchell’s essay also struck a chord with hundreds of like-minded parents raising children in a world where lack of belief puts them in the minority, often even in their own family.

“Thank you for writing this. I agree with everything you say, but I’m not brave enough to tell everyone I know this is how I feel,” a woman who called herself an “agnostic mommy of two in Alabama” posted in the comments. “Thank you for your bravery and letting me know I’m not alone.”

It’s a growing group. One in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion, and that number has grown by 25% in the past five years, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Of that group, 88% said they were not looking for religion, although 68% of the unaffiliated said they believe in God.

Brittany Branyon, an American graduate student and substitute teacher living in Germany, was also compelled to express her thanks to Mitchell. Branyon was raised Southern Baptist in Georgia and Alabama. In high school, when she began to question the theory of creation and befriended gay and lesbian students, she says her mother tried to perform an exorcism.

“She opened all the windows and doors in the house, brought me to the door, held my shoulders and shook me while screaming, ‘Satan, get out of this child!’, ‘Satan, leave this child alone!’.”

After moving away from the South, she and her husband “became more comfortable in our secular ways,” but still take criticism from family members. They are now expecting their first child.

“Though we are elated to welcome our child into the world, we can’t help but dread the religious uproar that is to come from our families,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Such an uproar is familiar to Carol Phillips, a stay-at-home mother in northern Virginia. When she gave birth to her first child, she said her family was shocked that the baby wasn’t baptized. She said her mother-in-law cried and told her the little girl’s soul would not go to heaven.

Then there are the comments from strangers. Last year, Phillips said she and her daughter were at a birthday party when a tornado warning sounded.

“We were all in the basement keeping safe. A little girl was saying baby Jesus will keep us safe. My daughter asked who Jesus was. The rest of the time was spent hearing ‘I'll pray for you sweetie, we can take you to church with us if you want,’” Phillips told CNN.

Commenting on Mitchell’s iReport, Phillips said, “To live out loud and to speak freely about my beliefs brings many clucking tongues. I would think it’s easier to come out as gay than atheist.”

Mitchell said she spent years studying the history of religion and does believe it has “an important place in our community.” She has told her children that she’ll be fine if they decide to join a church when they are older.

She ended her essay:

I understand why people need God. I understand why people need heaven. It is terrifying to think that we are all alone in this universe, that one day we—along with the children we love so much—will cease to exist. The idea of God and an afterlife gives many of us structure, community and hope.

I do not want religion to go away. I only want religion to be kept at home or in church where it belongs. It’s a personal effect, like a toothbrush or a pair of shoes. It’s not something to be used or worn by strangers. I want my children to be free not to believe and to know that our schools and our government will make decisions based on what is logical, just and fair—not on what they believe an imaginary God wants.

After her post ran on CNN, Mitchell said she was encouraged by the number of people who agreed with her, or who disagreed but wanted to have a respectful discussion.

“I’m not saying that everybody should think how I do. I’m saying the people that do should have a place in our society and have acceptance and respect,” she said. “I just want to have children grow up and be able to not be afraid to say ‘I don’t believe that,’ or ‘I’m not part of that.’”

by on Jan. 20, 2013 at 9:04 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
imamomzilla
by on Jan. 20, 2013 at 9:13 PM
3 moms liked this

 There are countless other groups that cater to secular thinking.

Perhaps you'd be more comfortable with your peers. You folks are trying waaaaaaaaaaaaay too hard to push your agenda down our throats.

This is a NEWS & POLITICS group.

Thank you and have a nice day.

 

TCgirlatheart
by TC on Jan. 20, 2013 at 9:16 PM
4 moms liked this
"Commenting on Mitchell’s iReport, Phillips said, “To live out loud and to speak freely about my beliefs brings many clucking tongues. I would think it’s easier to come out as gay than atheist.”

I feel that way some days.
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
rccmom
by Gold Member on Jan. 20, 2013 at 9:21 PM
4 moms liked this
I think the direction religion is taking in this country is newsworthy. I respect her opinion, but I do not agree with her understanding of Christianity, or religion in general. Faith is a very important concept, but it does not require making stories up for your children.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Raintree
by Gold Member on Jan. 20, 2013 at 9:24 PM
4 moms liked this

I read her essay and found it to be thoughtful and truthful of the way that 'secular' parents are treated by their own families, neighbors and friends.

We've had similar experiences, and it isn't easy. The crazy thing is, we also haven't experienced the problems with our children that some of our more 'militant Christian' friends and neighbors have with theirs. I don't know why this is. Last summer, two of the neighbor boys stole another neighbors bike and hid it- for two months. No one knew about it until one of the younger sisters accidently told- and did the parents punish those boys or apologize to the child whose bike they'd taken? No. They defended their kids and ignored the issue. These are children who loudly mock children who don't go to their church, or who they don't see as Christian enough. It's a very militant world of religion out there.

Zilla did a pretty good job of trying to shut up the OP above- this is the typical response. Atheists! Shut up and we'll let you stay 'free'.

romalove
by SenseandSensibility on Jan. 20, 2013 at 9:40 PM


Quoting rccmom:

I think the direction religion is taking in this country is newsworthy. I respect her opinion, but I do not agree with her understanding of Christianity, or religion in general. Faith is a very important concept, but it does not require making stories up for your children.

If you don't believe that God exists but you felt compelled to tell children about God, do you see how someone would feel they were having to make up stories or tell someone else's made up stories?

It is very hard to be a minority of any kind, but in this case, a minority that people feel very strongly about.  

Just out of my own curiosity, what direction do you think religion is taking in this country?

I respect her opinion and yours as well.  :-)

weezer_cookie
by Member on Jan. 20, 2013 at 9:45 PM
Interesting!!
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
Friday
by Platinum Member on Jan. 20, 2013 at 10:02 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting Raintree:

I read her essay and found it to be thoughtful and truthful of the way that 'secular' parents are treated by their own families, neighbors and friends.

We've had similar experiences, and it isn't easy. The crazy thing is, we also haven't experienced the problems with our children that some of our more 'militant Christian' friends and neighbors have with theirs. I don't know why this is. Last summer, two of the neighbor boys stole another neighbors bike and hid it- for two months. No one knew about it until one of the younger sisters accidently told- and did the parents punish those boys or apologize to the child whose bike they'd taken? No. They defended their kids and ignored the issue. These are children who loudly mock children who don't go to their church, or who they don't see as Christian enough. It's a very militant world of religion out there.

Zilla did a pretty good job of trying to shut up the OP above- this is the typical response. Atheists! Shut up and we'll let you stay 'free'.

Exactly, get back in the closet and STFU and we'll let you live among us.

My oldest went thru hell in 6th grade because we aren't Christian and I've had budding friendships stop cold when my lack of beliefs comes up.

For people who claim their god gives us free will, some of them are just nasty when you don't make the choice they approve of.

 


Thank God......it's Friday!!!

rccmom
by Gold Member on Jan. 20, 2013 at 11:52 PM
1 mom liked this



Quoting romalove:


Quoting rccmom:

I think the direction religion is taking in this country is newsworthy. I respect her opinion, but I do not agree with her understanding of Christianity, or religion in general. Faith is a very important concept, but it does not require making stories up for your children.

If you don't believe that God exists but you felt compelled to tell children about God, do you see how someone would feel they were having to make up stories or tell someone else's made up stories?

It is very hard to be a minority of any kind, but in this case, a minority that people feel very strongly about.  

Just out of my own curiosity, what direction do you think religion is taking in this country?

I respect her opinion and yours as well.  :-)

No, I can understand that, and I would not want her to tell her children something she believed to be untrue, but I get the feeling that she thinks Christians are not as truthful with their children. It may be that I am reading it in a biased manner. I did not like it that she called it brainwashing, but in her experience it seemed that way to her.

I think that people are rejecting religion because in a lot of ways, religion has lost its way. Too many churches make it out to be about rules and regulations, and who is in, and who is out. It seems to be increasingly used as a political tool also. However, people are identifying as Spiritual. I think that people in the future are going to be more individualized in their beliefs, but be more tolerant of others. I am hoping that the conservative hold on Christianity in particular is going to be broken. People, not bound to a set of rigid laws enforced by a church will be free to discover Christ's message on their own terms. The Internet gives us the ability to learn more, and to connect with more people. It can allow us to look at info that the church has tried to control in the past. 


143myboys9496
by Gold Member on Jan. 21, 2013 at 12:02 AM

 

Quoting Friday:


Quoting Raintree:

I read her essay and found it to be thoughtful and truthful of the way that 'secular' parents are treated by their own families, neighbors and friends.

We've had similar experiences, and it isn't easy. The crazy thing is, we also haven't experienced the problems with our children that some of our more 'militant Christian' friends and neighbors have with theirs. I don't know why this is. Last summer, two of the neighbor boys stole another neighbors bike and hid it- for two months. No one knew about it until one of the younger sisters accidently told- and did the parents punish those boys or apologize to the child whose bike they'd taken? No. They defended their kids and ignored the issue. These are children who loudly mock children who don't go to their church, or who they don't see as Christian enough. It's a very militant world of religion out there.

Zilla did a pretty good job of trying to shut up the OP above- this is the typical response. Atheists! Shut up and we'll let you stay 'free'.

Exactly, get back in the closet and STFU and we'll let you live among us.

My oldest went thru hell in 6th grade because we aren't Christian and I've had budding friendships stop cold when my lack of beliefs comes up.

For people who claim their god gives us free will, some of them are just nasty when you don't make the choice they approve of.

 It's too bad what happend to your oldest. I never understood, "God fearing" people that felt the responsibility to save the soul of a non-believer or a non-church goer.

Unfortunately, usually they're the same people throwing pregnant teens or gay men and women out of their church. 

Quite sad, really.

jessilin0113
by on Jan. 21, 2013 at 12:50 AM

I can see how "brainwashing" can have a negative connotation, but to me it's simply the difference between telling your kids "I personally believe in x, y, z; why don't you tell me what you think" and telling your kids "x, y, z is The Truth". 

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

close Join now to connect to
other members!
Connect with Facebook or Sign Up Using Email

Already Joined? LOG IN