‘Very Religious Parents’ Trying to Indoctrinate Their Grandkid

By Wendy Thomas Russell | October 21, 2013

I got a letter from a reader today. Raise your hand if you can relate. Looking for some advice on how to deal with my very Christian parents and my daughter. She’ll be 2 in January and is already saying “Amen” and “Yay God.” I am not Christian and feel disrespected by this. They know that I have COMPLETELY different beliefs. Any advice on how to “respectfully” get them to stop? Pretty typical, right? I started to write this mom a private response but, with her permission, decided to make it public. I’d be curious […] Read more – ‘‘Very Religious Parents’ Trying to Indoctrinate Their Grandkid’.

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Quick! What the Hell is Eid al-Adha?

By Wendy Thomas Russell | October 16, 2013

There are certain religions that seem to wear their differences on their sleeves. Stand a Hasidic Jew next to a Sunni Muslim, for example, and I know immediately which is which. The headgear, the clothing. One is praying to God, the other invoking the name Allah. It’s kind of a no-brainer. But if you remove the clothing and the terminology, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are so darn similar. Allah is just the Arabic word for God, after all. Both the Qur’an and Torah have their roots in the Old Testament of the Bible. And, in all three religions, […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Eid al-Adha?’.

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‘My Dearest Daughter’: Letter from an Atheist Mom

By Wendy Thomas Russell | October 14, 2013

Atheist scientist Richard Dawkins once wrote a letter to his 10-year-old daughter about the importance of scientific evidence in weighing the legitimacy of religious claims. “To my dearest daughter,” his now-famous letter began. “Now that you are ten, I want to write to you about something that is important to me… Evidence.” His mission: to explain the vast chasm between faith and science, and make clear that science will always hold the trump card. I’ve written before (rather poorly) about Dawkins’ letter and my own issues with it, but — as a non-believer, a parent and […] Read more – ‘‘My Dearest Daughter’: Letter from an Atheist Mom’.

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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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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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