Parental alienation and Religious indoctrination are both very harmful to children. They are both lying to your children, even if you think you are right when it comes to the other parent.
Parental alienation is common after bitter divorces with minor children. The parent who has custody badmouths and attacks the other parent, with the purpose of creating fear and resentment in the child. It’s a petty revenge tool. Parental alienation can also be family alienation, when parents badmouth other relatives which they have a beef with to their child. Whether it’s grandparents, uncles or aunts, the child grows up with a terrible view of that person, poisoning their relationship.
Religious indoctrination, as Richard Dawkins points out, is a form of child abuse. Teaching myths to children as if they are real is basically lying to your child. Instilling fear (which many religions do) and guilt and undermining the child’s questioning.
Unfortunately, children belong to their parents and the indoctrination will continue. The good news is that when it comes to religious indoctrination, more and more parents are becoming secular and raising their kids with morals but no religion (like I did).
Below are some strong, smart and beautiful atheist women. There are others out there, but I am listing these first:
1. Susan Jacoby: Susan is member of the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America, a national lobbying organization representing the interests of secular Americans and is program director of the New York branch of the Center for Inquiry. She is currently a panelist for “On Faith,” a Washington Post-Newsweek blog on religion. She is the author of ten books, such as “The Age of American Unreason” and “Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism” and a frequent contributor to national magazines and newspapers, and the recipient of numerous awards.
2. Margaret Downey: Margaret founded the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia (FSGP) and the Anti-Discrimination Support Network (ADSN) in 1993. In 1994 Margaret founded the Thomas Paine Memorial Committee.She is active in issues such as maintaining the Jeffersonian wall of church/state separation, freedom from religious intrusion, freedom of choice, and death with dignity. ADSN is concerned with discrimination against the Atheist community. ADSN monitors public office positions and public schools. In December of 1991 Margaret filed a discrimination case against the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) through the Human Relations Commission of Pennsylvania. After nearly eight years she lost her case against BSA. In the U.S. Supreme court case James Dale v. Boy Scouts of America, BSA declared itself “private” to avoid the question of open membership thus ending her appeal and many other court cases against BSA’s discriminatory membership policy. ADSN efforts are responsible for convincing movie producer Steven Spielberg to disassociate himself from BSA. In the year 2002, Margaret became the first Secular Humanist Celebrant in Pennsylvania. Taking advantage of Pennsylvania’s “Self-Uniting” marriage licenses; Margaret performs godless weddings and funeral ceremonies.
3. Ellen Johnson: Ellen is an activist for atheist rights and the separation of church and state in the United States. She was president of American Atheists from 1995–2008. 2005 she appeared on an ABC special, “Heaven – Where Is It? How Do We Get There?”, for which she was interviewed by Barbara Walters. She appeared on Larry King Live in April 2005, Good Morning America in December 2005, MSNBC’s Scarborough Country on December 14, 2004, and appeared on Fox News three times in November and December 2003, and MSNBC’s Phil Donahue.
4. Julia Sweeney: Julia is an actress and comedian who worked in productions such as the big screen in Pulp Fiction, Clockstoppers, Whatever It Takes, and Stuart Little. She was also partr of the SNL cast from 1990-1994. Sweeney has created and performed three autobiographical monologues, God Said Ha!, In the Family Way, and Letting Go of God.
5. Annie Laurie Gaylor: Co-founder and Co-president (along with Dan Barker) of the Freedom from Religion Foundation (http://www.ffrf.org). Executive editor of Freethought Today and author of “Woe to the Women: the Bible tells Me So”, “Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children”, & “Women Without Superstition: No Gods – No Masters”
6. Melody Hensley: Melody is the Executive Director for Center for Inquiry DC. The Center for Inquiry is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that promotes defends reason, science, and freedom of inquiry in all areas of human endeavor.
7. Lori Lipman Brown: Lori has served as a state senator, lobbyist, lawyer, educator, and social worker supporter. She served as the founding director of the Secular Coalition for America from 2005 to 2009. In this position, she was the first Congressional lobbyist explicitly representing nontheistic Americans. During her directorship, the organization grew from a coalition of 5 national organizations with one staff, to a coalition of 10 national organizations with six staff.
8. Shelley Mountjoy: Shelley Mountjoy is a graduate student at George Mason University (GMU) in Fairfax, Virginia where she is President of the Secular Student Alliance (GMU) and Vice President of the Graduate and Student Professional Association. Off campus, Shelley serves as a leader of several local groups and has organized over 300 educational, activist, community service, and social events. In July of 2009, Shelley co-founded District of Columbia Atheists, Inc. (DCA); she is currently President. DCA is organized as a representative democracy and is the first and only formal organization for atheists in the Nation’s Capital. She’s currently writing a book with Christopher Arntzen (former head of GAYLAH) called “godless DC” which will be released in late 2010. Shelley is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Secular Student Alliance.
9. Lorena Rios: Lorena is the president of Aelis Realty Group, LLC, a green company specializing in Earth Friendly homes and sustainable real estate. She is also an member of the Capital Beltway Atheists, a large group of atheists in the Virginia, Maryland and DC area.
10. Andrea Griffith: Andrea, The Social I.Q. Lady™, is an expert in Social Intelligence. She uses that expertise to help atheists combat the everyday problems associated with superstition, religion, and ignorance. Know exactly what to say and do when someone says, “God bless you” after you sneeze or wants to pray before a meal. Learn how to counter the arguments of the religious right using facts and logic at http://blog.socialiqlady.com.
11. EllenBeth Wachs: EllenBeth is President of the Humanists of Florida Association as well as Vice President and Legal Affairs Coordinator for the Atheists of Florida, Inc. She is an outspoken activist demanding equal rights for atheists and absolute separation of church and state. She has taken on her local City Commission, School Board and a fundamental Christian Sheriff over constitutional violations and has paid for it with her freedom. The sheriff initiated investigations and trumped up charges to silence this vocal activist. She is also an outspoken advocate for the secular sobriety movement and founded a local chapter of SOS, Secular Organizations for Sobriety, a rational alternative to the 12 step faith-based model.
Once you study the theory of evolution and understand that we are evolved beings, and that we are related to all animals and therefore we still demonstrate many animalistic instincts, we can actually become more tolerant of human defects. You can feel more sympathetic for those who are not so bright, for those who are born with mental illnesses, for those who are born gay and for those who are not so “nice”. Due to our survival instinct, sometimes human beings are not nice. When being nice means losing something, those with a stronger sense of survival sometimes show a very mean and aggressive side. Sometimes our survival instinct does not affect our fellow human beings (such as in the movie “127 Hours”), but many times it does.
What are the examples of human survival instinct at play?
-At work, when people steal ideas or betray coworkers;
-In catastrophic situations, such a fire in a closed space, when humans trample each other to get out;
-In life, when women protect their men from other women (exes and other relatives included), so their man spends their money with them and not with others);
-In business, when people lie and try to portray a false impression of their product or financial situation;
-When siblings become enemies fighting for their parents’ inheritance;
-Corruption, in politics or business;
-When children lie to their parents to avoid their wrath;
-When married people lie to each other to avoid losing them, and facing consequences;
-In social climbing people, who will do anything to meet and “hang out” with important people?
-In war, where killing your enemy means your survival;
-In traffic, where aggressive people want to get ahead of others;
-When you don’t speak up about some kind of injustice, afraid of either losing your job or suffering backlash;
-When charity and giving is done to make one feel good-about themselves.
Fortunately for humans, we know we cannot go too far in protecting ourselves. We know we need other people. We cannot alienate them, or we pay a huge price. We need to live in society, so there are limits to our selfishness and individualism.
We are living in a very diverse world. Almost every continent has had its share of immigrant waves. Western Europe has received immigrants from Northern Africa and the Middle East for decades. The United States has had recent waves of Hispanic, Asian, Indian and African immigrants. One of the consequences of this multiculturalism is that there are more and more mixed marriages, not only in terms of ethnicity but also in terms of religion.
Jewish-Christian marriages have been common in the United States since the early 1900’s, when the first Jewish immigrants arrived. The number of Judeo-Christian marriages intensified after 1939 with Hitler’s hostility to Jews in Germany. Many Jewish-Christian couples in America now celebrate both traditions, with very little conflict.
More rare are marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims, but I believe they are also growing in numbers. Children tend to follow the mother’s religion, since men have been traditionally less involved with the raising of children. But what happens after there is a divorce? What happens when the father is a non-believer, and agrees to raise his children in the mother’s religion as a way to keep domestic peace but no longer is married?
Like in many divorces, differences sometimes become a point of contention. As an atheist myself who raised two great children without any religion, I know very well how religion can be a complicated issue. Take the story of this divorced father of two: a Hispanic immigrant who has abandoned Catholicism to become an Agnostic, or “almost atheist” in his words. His ex-wife is very Catholic and takes their son and daughter to Church every Sunday, as well as following in all the Catholic Church rites. Their teenage daughter recently was “confirmed” with a church ceremony. The father objected to what he called “indoctrination” of his daughter, with no success. He felt helpless and obligated to attend the service, where he was appalled at the “discrimination between middle class whites and poor Hispanic immigrants who ignored each other during the whole ceremony”. Furthermore, it pained him to see his daughter going through rituals that he understands as “based in lies and myths”.
The most famous case of divorced couples with opposed religious views is the Michael Newdow case. Michael Newdow is an atheist who opposed his daughter reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in school. In 2002, he filed a suit in behalf of his daughter against the words “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Even though the case was taken all the way to the Supreme Court, it was overruled because Newdow did not have custody of his daughter. For secular parents, the difficulty is that there is an added stigma to being non-believer in a country where religion is associated to “being good and moral”. Atheist parents are usually powerless against a religious parent who has a stamp of approval from society, school and other family members.
So what can a parent who is opposed to the religion their ex belongs to do? I think the best solution is to talk to your child as she or he grows up. Offer an alternative point of view. Teach your child about your religion or lack thereof. Tell them that you will let them decide what’s best for them when they grow up, and hope for the best. Engaging in battles with your ex over what religion or non-belief you will raise your children just adds to the tension of divorce and may alienate the child. Letting your child know what your position is and that they have a choice seems to be the most civil way to deal with a sensitive issue such as religious belief.
Ever since I realized I was an atheist and came out of the religious cloud I had been brainwashed into since childbirth, I find myself constantly shaking my head when I see adults talking about God as if they were 5 year olds waiting anxiously for a glimpse of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
It is acceptable to believe in God when you are a child. You are surrounded by authority figures: your mother and father, your teacher, your nanny, your grandparents. God is just one more. As a child, you also lack the reasoning skills to examine what does and does not make sense behind the idea of fantastic beings, tales, monsters, fairies and Santa Claus. Many of these beings inspire fear, idolatry or respect in you. When adults, books or TV shows talk about them, you believe them. After all, they are authority figures who know better.
Once someone reaches their teenage years and has access to more information, it is normal to discredit these beings one by one. Santa Claus and monsters are the first to go. You might still believe in aliens and the Loch Ness monster, because maybe there could be a scientific explanation for them after all. And you sometimes carry on believing in ghosts because you still think there might be life after death-and because there are so many ghost movies around.
Why is that this discovery process does not apply to the notion of a God? Why is it that only a few people reach the conclusion by themselves that God is just one more mythological figure? I would say some people are just more skeptical by nature. They have an inquisitive mind and they like Science. They read about and investigate Evolution, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Or they came across an atheist blog, website or book and have a AHA moment. Or they were fortunate enough to grow up in a secular household.
I grew up with Catholic parents. I used to hear this sentence with frequency: “Let’s leave it in the hands of God”. How can someone with a normal intelligence level and intellect believe that this is a sensible way to conduct your life? Leave it to the hands of God? If you are having a surgery, who will be responsible for the success of the operation, God or your surgeon and anesthesiologist? If you have a job interview, should you be ready and prepared or leave it to the hands of God?
The idea that a power/man/woman/old man with a white beard is responsible for everyone in the planet is daunting. Why would one being have that much power? Who wants to be watched every single second? Why would we want to die and go to heaven for ever and ever floating around? Why would this power (some more open minded people, in the process of becoming agnostics, say they don’t believe in God but in a “higher power”: what is the difference anyway?) make so many mistakes and punish so many innocent people?
We all know that the belief in God is comforting for so many people who need a father figure to feel safe. We also know that many people erroneously associate belief in God with being good and moral. We know that in the early centuries the belief in God was a way to explain natural phenomenon which Science was not yet able to explain. Still, the notion of a God Almighty is a lot more absurd than the need to have that father figure. However, we see many educated people believing and defending their belief with passion. There are those who also believe they have a guardian angel watching their back. My first thought is: “crazy much”?
Pen Jillette described in one sentence the disappointment I feel that so many people in this country hang on to the notion of God. He said, when explaining to Joy Behar why he is a hardcore atheist: “I don’t believe that there are people who believe in God”
Obama’s comment on religion
Many might think this lawsuit is frivolous. I say not. It is a question of principle. This is a diverse country. There are people from every religion as well as many people with no religion. By swearing in on the bible, invocating the name of god and inviting a minister to the inauguration, the separation of Church and State is being violated. The constitution is secular and does not include terms like “In god we trust” or “and help me god”. If an official wants to use those terms because he is a Christian, so be it, but it must be his individual choice. I prefer not to hear though, in an official ceremony, any mention to god. There is nothing more ludicrous to me than seeing the god word tossed around constantly in politics. Why can’t this country keep the god talk inside churches? Don’t pray in my school or office and I won’t think in your church!! (actuallly this is a button I have).
Like Rosa Parks sitting in the front of the bus to make a strong statement, so should atheists with this lawsuit. We need to be respected. We are not telling believers to shut down their churches (although they should pay taxes and should also be investigated on how their funds that come from working class folks are used) or to stop praying their homes. We are not telling parents to stop lying to their children about Jesus and the Tooth Fairy and Santa. Believe in what you want, but keep religion out of governance.
By the way..why is that whenever you see right wing or ultra conservative religious people attacking atheists and any secular thought in message boards (especially AOL’s), they invariably do not know how to write or write in caps (screaming). Just asking….
Read more about it here:
I am an atheist AND a secular humanist. I am an atheist in the sense that I do not believe in god or anything supernatural (spirits, ghosts, etc). And I am a humanist in the sense that I have and admire all the values that emphasize morality, ethics, human rights, justice and family. Not every atheist is a humanist (although most share those values) and not every humanist is an atheist (but most are, since secular humanisn rejects the idea of a god and is for Scientific development).
The Washington Post just published an article about Humanist families which shows us in a good light:
By the way, in our 2008 Beltway Atheists Festivus celebration, we amassed a sizable amount of donations which are being distributed to the homeless in the DC/MD/VA area. Atheists do charity too, for those who don’t know that 🙂
More on Humanism:
Humanism is “a modern, nontheistic, rationalist movement that holds that man is capable of self-fulfillment, ethical conduct, etc., without recourse to supernaturalism” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). By the term secular this stream distinguishes itself from theistic (Christian) humanism. Secular humanism evolved out of 18th-century rejection of revealed Christianity and the emergence of modern science and free thought. Modern secular humanists condemn and refute all assertions of divine or paranormal phenomena.
SECULAR HUMANIST BELIEFS
- I believe in nontheism, as there is no rational proof for the existence of God, and do not delude myself with thoughts of a Supreme Being.
- I believe that traditional religions and faiths preach false doctrines, are oppressive and lead their followers toward ignorance, bigotry and dogmatism, and that it is my duty to be actively skeptical of and challenge the illusions of orthodox religions and all attempts to explain the world in supernatural terms.
- I believe in the preservation and enhancement of the human species as my ultimate concern, and in the global human family, which must preserve the Earth for future generations through developing a secular, planetary morality and system of law.
- I believe that living a good, moral life is the best means for individual and collective happiness and that morality has a rational, secular basis.
- I believe in expanding human rights and intellectual and moral freedom, and in secular democracy, with strict separation of church and state, as the means of eliminating discrimination and attaining equality and justice for all.
- I believe in the development of the creative human potential through education in the arts and sciences and in the paramount importance of free inquiry in an open, pluralistic, universalist society.
- I believe in the application and development of reason and modern science as the highest means to understanding the universe, solving human problems and enabling each individual to realize his greatest potential.
- I believe in striving for fulfillment and happiness in this life and reject all notions of reincarnation and afterlife as false and baseless, seeking my fullest capacity as a human being here and now, serving others and creating a better, more just world.
- I believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution as scientific fact, and in naturalism, holding that the known world is all that exists, and that it has no supernatural or spiritual creation, control or significance.
This link from YouTube was posted on the Beltway Atheists meetup site. Take a look:
In this video you can see that Obama is very respectful of other people’s beliefs, and is for separation of Church and State (as it should be), but I have a feeling that it goes beyond that: I think Obama has doubts. I think Obama is a closeted agnostic. I think his “God bless you” and other (few) references to god are a political move. I also think Bill Clinton is not very religious either. It is gut feeling. If I am right, I am even more pleased Obama will be our president. Having someone so open minded and with a questioning mind in office, promoting Scientific advances, will be good for all. Obama is not the kind of person who will persecute this or that religious group, or any segment of society for that matter. I also think he really IS for gay marriage. Obama is a modern man. He was raised in a non-typical household. He learned tolerance. But he could not come out and say he is for gay marriage because many close minded folks would simply not vote for him.
So there you go.
I loved this post on the www.friendlyatheist.com website. It is one of my favorite atheist websites, along with www.flamewarrior.com
How serious do you take your atheism?
Let’s find out.
Copy and paste the list below on your own site, boldfacing the things you’ve done. (Feel free to add your own elaboration and commentary to each item!)
- Participated in the Blasphemy Challenge.
- Met at least one of the “Four Horsemen” (Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris) in person.
- Created an atheist blog.
- Used the Flying Spaghetti Monster in a religious debate with someone.
- Gotten offended when someone called you an agnostic.
- Been unable to watch Growing Pains reruns because of Kirk Cameron.
- Own more Bibles than most Christians you know. I do not want to read fairy tales anymore. I did when I was young.
- Have at least one Bible with your personal annotations regarding contradictions, disturbing parts, etc.
- Have come out as an atheist to your family.
- Attended a campus or off-campus atheist gathering.
- Are a member of an organized atheist/Humanist/etc. organization.
- Had a Humanist wedding ceremony.
- Donated money to an atheist organization.
- Have a bookshelf dedicated solely to Richard Dawkins.
- Lost the friendship of someone you know because of your non-theism. Maybe, who knows, and I sincerely don’t care. The person is probably not worth being friends with anyway.
- Tried to argue or have a discussion with someone who stopped you on the street to proselytize.
- Hid your atheist beliefs on a first date because you didn’t want to scare him/her away.
- Own a stockpile of atheist paraphernalia (bumper stickers, buttons, shirts, etc).
- Attended a protest that involved religion.
- Attended an atheist conference.
- Subscribe to Pat Condell’s YouTube channel.
- Started an atheist group in your area or school.
- Successfully “de-converted” someone to atheism.
- Have already made plans to donate your body to science after you die.
- Told someone you’re an atheist only because you wanted to see the person’s reaction.
- Had to think twice before screaming “Oh God!” during sex. Or you said something else in its place. I still say “Oh my god!” a lot, it is just a bad and difficult habit to shake.
- Lost a job because of your atheism.
- Formed a bond with someone specifically because of your mutual atheism (meeting this person at a local gathering or conference doesn’t count).
- Have crossed “In God We Trust” off of — or put a pro-church-state-separation stamp on — dollar bills. Need to get a stamp….
- Refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. (Not yet, but will if needed)
- Said “Gesundheit!” (or nothing at all) after someone sneezed because you didn’t want to say “Bless you!” I say “Health!”, like in Portuguese.
- Have ever chosen not to clasp your hands together out of fear someone might think you’re praying.
- Have turned on Christian TV because you need something entertaining to watch. They are all mad….
- Are a 2nd or 3rd (or more) generation atheist.
Maybe. Grandfathers did not care for religion and one grandmother did not like priests. Maybe they were smart for their times. Wish I had had that discussion with them before they died.
35.Have “atheism” listed on your Facebook or dating profile — and not a euphemistic variant.
36. Attended an atheist’s funeral (i.e. a non-religious service).
38. Have been interviewed by a reporter because of your atheism. Would love to.
39. Written a letter-to-the-editor about an issue related to your non-belief in God.
40. Gave a friend or acquaintance a New Atheist book as a gift. To my brother.
41. Wear pro-atheist clothing in public.
42. Have invited Mormons/Jehovah’s Witnesses into your house specifically because you wanted to argue with them.
43. Have been physically threatened (or beaten up) because you didn’t believe in God.
44. Receive Google Alerts on “atheism” (or variants).
45. Received fewer Christmas presents than expected because people assumed you didn’t celebrate it.
46. Visited The Creation Museum or saw Ben Stein’s Expelled just so you could keep tabs on the “enemy.”
47. Refuse to tell anyone what your “sign” is… because it doesn’t matter at all.
48. Are on a mailing list for a Christian organization just so you can see what they’re up to…
49. Have kept your eyes open while you watched others around you pray.
50. Avoid even Unitarian churches because they’re too close to religion for you.
- Being a mother
- Being a woman
- Dating world
- Difference between cultures
- Social Media
- World Events/News