Embracing Religion ‘For the Sake of the Kids’

By Wendy Thomas Russell | October 7, 2013

I was at a birthday party last weekend when a fellow mom, who knows about my work, pulled me aside and told me her daughters will soon be starting CCD — AKA Catechism. Her husband was raised Catholic, she explained, but neither of them are religious now at all. She said she’d let me know it goes. This business of giving children a religious education — or a religious “base,” as many people call it — is so fascinating to me. And, whenever it comes up, it reminds me of what a powerful structure religion […] Read more – ‘Embracing Religion ‘For the Sake of the Kids’’.

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Measuring the Space Between Indoctrination, Brainwashing

By Wendy Thomas Russell | September 30, 2013

“I don’t want to brainwash my kids with my own views. I want them to decide for themselves what they believe.”                                                                            — Pennsylvania mother of three In secular circles, indoctrination and brainwashing are used almost interchangeably. It’s not all that hard to understand why. Instructing young, vulnerable children to pledge their blind allegiance to certain authority figures can, […] Read more – ‘Measuring the Space Between Indoctrination, Brainwashing’.

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Don’t Freak Out; It’s Temporary

By Wendy Thomas Russell | September 26, 2013

First the good news: Did you guys know this month marks the second anniversary of my blog? Yep, it’s true. Twice a week for the last two years I have been writing for and about nonreligious parents. It’s been wonderful, and still is, and if you’ll have me, I’d like to stay a bit longer. That said, this fall is shaping up to be a very busy time for me, so — AND DON’T FREAK OUT ON ME HERE — for a while I’m going to scale back and post just once a week — […] Read more – ‘Don’t Freak Out; It’s Temporary’.

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Survey: Nearly Half of All Parents Uncomfortable Talking to Kids About Religion

By Wendy Thomas Russell | September 23, 2013

In my two years of blogging, I’ve never before seen a study measuring the comfort level parents feel when talking to their kids about religion. I guess it’s too specific of a question to be addressed directly in mainstream religious surveys. But, the other day, buried in a report about life insurance, of all things, I found an answer. In a report called (yawn) “Public Affairs Life Strategy Survey” and funded by State Farm, surveyers found that 62 percent of parents in America are uncomfortable talking to their kids about life insurance. Harris Interactive revealed […] Read more – ‘Survey: Nearly Half of All Parents Uncomfortable Talking to Kids About Religion’.

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Inspiration for the Day: Walt Whitman’s Eulogy

By Wendy Thomas Russell | September 19, 2013

Before he died in 1892, the great American poet Walt Whitman asked his friend and fellow secularist Robert Green Ingersoll to deliver a eulogy at his funeral. Ingersoll was a political leader and orator known as “The Great Agnostic,” and the pair had been friends for a long time. Whitman once said of Ingersoll: “It should not be surprising that I am drawn to Ingersoll, for he is Leaves of Grass… He lives, embodies, the individuality, I preach. I see in Bob the noblest specimen — American-flavored — pure out of the soil, spreading, giving, demanding light.” […] Read more – ‘Inspiration for the Day: Walt Whitman’s Eulogy’.

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Addressing ‘God’ in Secular Families: When is the Right Time?

By Wendy Thomas Russell | September 16, 2013

When my daughter was 2, and barely out of diapers, she had her first Potty Emergency. We’d been having lunch when suddenly she rose and sprinted to the bathroom with the speed and determination of a hunted deer. I’d been hopeful she made it in time, but when I arrived several seconds later, she was standing in front of the toilet, fully clothed, staring down at a puddle on the floor. Her little shoulders had fallen. Without looking up at me, she shook her little head and said exactly what I would have said in […] Read more – ‘Addressing ‘God’ in Secular Families: When is the Right Time?’.

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Quick! What the Hell is Yom Kippur?

By Wendy Thomas Russell | September 12, 2013

I read a fascinating article in the Los Angeles Times this morning about local protests against the sacrificial slaughter of chickens being conducted this week in Jewish enclaves throughout Los Angeles — and, indeed, throughout the world. The ritual, as kaparot, kapparot or kaparos, is supposed to help “cleanse” people of their sins. It’s an orthodox Jewish thing. More progressive Jews are calling the ritual archaic and meaningless, and point to the treatment of the chickens before their deaths as further reason to stop the killings. Faith leaders have joined with animal-rights activists in the protest. So, here’s the […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Yom Kippur?’.

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6 Things about Seventh-Day Adventists

By Wendy Thomas Russell | September 9, 2013

Welcome to my new series! At least once a week for the next couple of months, I’ll be bringing you brisk overviews of popular, but widely misunderstood, religious groups operating within the United States. As always, the point here is to give parents just enough information that you can — at some point, when the time is right — pass on a little religious literacy to your kids. Because, seriously guys, your kids won’t get it elsewhere else, and knowledge is our best weapon against so many bad things — including discrimination, intolerance, ignorance and […] Read more – ‘6 Things about Seventh-Day Adventists’.

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Quick! What the Hell is Rosh Hashanah?

By Wendy Thomas Russell | September 5, 2013

This post originally appeared in September 2011. I’m one of those people who forgets stuff, especially stuff that’s the least bit complicated or unusual. I’m just challenged that way. To retain much of anything, I have to write it down — and, even then, there’s a shelf-life to my knowledge. I think that’s why I take such copious notes and then keep those notes for pretty much my entire life. I still have my diary from when I was 12. And even though nothing remotely complicated or unusual is written there, I can report to you […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Rosh Hashanah?’.

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Can the Bible Help Kids Think Critically?

By Wendy Thomas Russell | August 26, 2013

Once upon a time, I would have choked on my own vomit at the idea of buying a children’s Bible for my daughter. The way I saw it, the Bible was an indoctrination tool. I no more wanted to crack that book open than I wanted to get her baptized or plan her Bat Mitzvah or teach her to pray toward Mecca five times a day. It was all the same to me. In my mind, only religious people read the Bible. But, times have changed. Today, I don’t equate the Bible to religion; I equate […] Read more – ‘Can the Bible Help Kids Think Critically?’.

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Relax, It’s Just God

A Blog for Secular Parents
For parents who aren’t religious, the task of talking to children about religion can be daunting. So daunting, in fact, that the entire subject often gets glossed over or ignored completely. Relax, It’s Just God is a blog (and soon a book) intended to help parents break their silence without breaking a sweat.
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