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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Kooky Religions 101

By Wendy Thomas Russell | August 29, 2013

I remember putting my kid in Kindergarten for the first time and wondering when religion would come up for the first time among her newfound peers. It was possible that she’d be the only child in her class being raised in a decidedly secular household. I wondered if that would make her feel alone or left out. Then I met Courtney. Courtney, a girl in Maxine’s classroom whose name is not really Courtney, was being raised in a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She didn’t come to school on Halloween. She didn’t celebrate her birthday. She […] Read more – ‘Kooky Religions 101’.

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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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When ‘Religious Jokes’ Cross a Line

By Wendy Thomas Russell | August 22, 2013

On Facebook, you see a lot of religious memes. They are posted (and reposted and reposted) by religious people with genuine reverence. On the Facebook group for secular mothers that I belong to, you see a lot of religious memes, too. Only they’re posted ironically, and for the express purpose of being skewered. The contrast can be refreshing. Now, to be fair, the group is much more about connecting with a like-minded community of women. Most posts seek parental advice or share the latest on someone’s health scare or fertility problems or battle with cancer. But […] Read more – ‘When ‘Religious Jokes’ Cross a Line’.

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Two Items of Business for Secular Parents

By Wendy Thomas Russell | August 19, 2013

Okay, people, a couple of items of business on this fine Monday morning. 1. Mixed Marriages: If you happen to be in an “interfaithless” marriage — one partner is religious, the other isn’t — you’ll want to keep an eye out for Dale McGowan’s newest project, a book called “In Faith and In Doubt.” McGowan, who announced the book title on his blog last week, promises to show “how religious believers and nonbelievers can create strong marriages and happy families.” The book is slated for release around July 2014, but McGowan (author of Parenting Beyond Belief: Raising Ethical, […] Read more – ‘Two Items of Business for Secular Parents’.

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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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