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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Crucifixion Story, As Told By a Freethinking 7-Year-Old

By Wendy Thomas Russell | August 15, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, while walking along a gravel road in the French countryside (!!!), my 7-year-old daughter, Maxine, decided to tell her 4-year-old cousin the story of Jesus’ death. It hadn’t been a recent topic of conversation in our house or anything, but we’d just passed by a very old, very Christian cemetery, so that must have been what prompted the storytelling. The narrative was classic Maxine — relatively accurate, deliberately paced, full of distractions and incredibly amusing, with an editorial comment or two thrown in along the way. After the story was […] Read more – ‘Crucifixion Story, As Told By a Freethinking 7-Year-Old’.

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Back In (Non)Action

By Wendy Thomas Russell | August 12, 2013

I’m back! And, wow, what a trip. A part of me wishes I could regale you with stories and pictures, but I’m aware that I set off to write a blog about religion and kids — not a travelogue — so I’ll spare you the irrelevant. Begrudgingly. I’m happy to report, though, that there was one relevant story from the trip to share with you. (A really good one, actually!) But that will need to wait until Thursday, when I’m not quite so overwhelmed by the backlog of emails and texts and bills and to-do lists […] Read more – ‘Back In (Non)Action’.

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Turning 40 in ‘The City of Love’

By Wendy Thomas Russell | July 25, 2013

“My sister is turning 40, and she feels that that’s going to be easier to do in Paris.” That’s how my sister, Jen, explains why a bunch of my family is spending my birthday in Europe this year. We’re leaving today, as luck would have it, flying first to London, then Paris and then down to France’s Burgundy region for a week’s worth of R&R. Here’s the back story: About three years ago, in a cafe, I noticed a middle-aged woman at the table over. She had just returned from Paris and was giving out […] Read more – ‘Turning 40 in ‘The City of Love’’.

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It’s a Fine Line Between Truth and Propaganda

By Wendy Thomas Russell | July 22, 2013

Recently, on Hemant Mehta’s FriendlyAthiest blog, I came across a video done by a guy who runs a Facebook page called Religion Hurts Humanity. The video, titled What Religions Have Contributed to the World This Month, is nine minutes full of news clips and headlines detailing all the terrible things done in the name of religion during the last 30 days. The amount of material alone makes the video pretty compelling. Here are some of the featured headlines: Islamic militants kill 30 in Nigeria School attack  Islamic states reject UN’s attempt to protect women: It violates Sharia […] Read more – ‘It’s a Fine Line Between Truth and Propaganda’.

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Quick! What the Hell is Ramadan?

By Wendy Thomas Russell | July 18, 2013

As a kid growing up, whenever I heard about Cat Stevens, it was accompanied by such, I don’t know, disappointment. Cat Stevens used to be this wonderful singer, I was led to believe, until he “got weird” and left music. “Got weird,” as it turns out, meant he converted to Islam. I mention this because, for years, I pictured Stevens living in a cave somewhere — when actually he’s been raising a family in England. And the thing I’ve enjoyed most about researching Ramadan has been revisiting some of Stevens’ Islamic music. Stevens goes by Yusuf Islam now, […] Read more – ‘Quick! What the Hell is Ramadan?’.

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‘Golden Rule’ — Beautiful, Universal and Very, Very Old

By Wendy Thomas Russell | July 15, 2013

It is a common misconception that the Golden Rule began with Jesus. In fact, it’s part of the reason some Christians think of their religion as synonymous with morality. After all, to treat others the way you want to be treated is the essence of moral conduct. And it was Luke 6:31 in the New Testament that quotes Jesus as saying: “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” (Matthew 7:1-5 also addresses the topic.) But Jesus didn’t invent the ethic of reciprocity anymore than did Muhammad, who said: […] Read more – ‘‘Golden Rule’ — Beautiful, Universal and Very, Very Old’.

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Help Inoculate Kids Against Meanness

By Wendy Thomas Russell | July 8, 2013

I’m working on a chapter about addressing scary religious concepts  with kids — Satan, hell, the 10 plagues, that weird thing Abraham almost did to his son that one time. Basically all the rather menacing stories aimed at making people “be good.” Luckily, more and more religious families are viewing these stories as myths and metaphor — which removes their power considerably — but there are still many, many families (and places of worship) who teach these things as history and truth. Unfortunately, when these concepts come up on the playground, they can lead to awkwardness, […] Read more – ‘Help Inoculate Kids Against Meanness’.

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4 Reasons I Love Being ‘Out’ as Nonreligious

By Wendy Thomas Russell | July 1, 2013

I have no firm opinion, really, on whether people ought to “come out” as nonreligious. To me, religion doesn’t matter very much — aside from, you know, it being a constant focus of my life right now — so whether people choose to talk about it openly or not isn’t a concern of mine. Sure, there are reasons to do it. There are reasons not to, as well. Everyone has a million different factors — not the least of which is their geographic location — to consider before making that call for themselves. Not believing in […] Read more – ‘4 Reasons I Love Being ‘Out’ as Nonreligious’.

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Relax, It’s Just God

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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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