Children

When the ‘Best’ School is a Religious School

By Wendy Thomas Russell | May 29, 2014

This is an issue that comes up a lot in secular families. (So much so that I’m not sure why I’ve not written about it sooner.) In so many areas of our country, religious organizations have cornered the preschool market. (I remember when I was school-shopping for my daughter, religious preschools outnumbered Montessori-based programs 5-to-1.) Which brings me to a letter I received recently from a reader who lives in the Chattanooga area — not exactly the country’s secular epicenter. Not surprisingly, the most convenient, affordable and trustworthy preschool in her area is at a Baptist […] Read more – ‘When the ‘Best’ School is a Religious School’.
Everything You Need to Know About Islam to Get Your Kids Up to Speed (Okay, Maybe Not EVERYTHING)

By Wendy Thomas Russell | January 13, 2014

You know what my life is missing? A Muslim kid. There’s no doubt that if I had Muslim friends with a Muslim child, I would be telling my 8-year-old a lot more about Islam than I do — not just because I would want her understand her friends’ beliefs, but because it would naturally just “come up” more often. Having a living, breathing religious person in our midst really is the perfect invitation for religious literacy I’ve ever found. And vice versa! That’s part of the reason I’m glad some of my friend’s children know about […] Read more – ‘Everything You Need to Know About Islam to Get Your Kids Up to Speed (Okay, Maybe Not EVERYTHING)’.
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’.
‘Jesus Gosh!': Explaining Religious Sensitivity to a 4-Year-Old

By Wendy Thomas Russell | June 24, 2013

When exactly is the right time to broach the subject of religion with children? It’s a common question not easily answered. Kids are so different. The brain develops at different speeds and in different ways. What interests children at any given age runs the gamut of possibilities and is constantly in flux. So parents like me, we look for openings. We keep our ears open for conversation starters, and signs that our little ones might be ready to think a bit deeper about life and people and beliefs. We want them to be old enough […] Read more – ‘‘Jesus Gosh!': Explaining Religious Sensitivity to a 4-Year-Old’.
12 Simple Differences Between Catholics and Protestants

By Wendy Thomas Russell | June 10, 2013

The rapid rise of the “Nones” — those unaffiliated with religious groups — was back in the news this week, when the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released its most recent study on American religiosity. Here’s what Pew had to say: The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling… Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described […] Read more – ‘12 Simple Differences Between Catholics and Protestants’.
Should Kids Be Told All Religious Stories are ‘Myths’?

By Wendy Thomas Russell | May 20, 2013

I’m facing some deadlines over the next few weeks that are going to make it very tough to generate new blogs of any merit. But I’m hoping — PRAYING! (but not really) — that you guys will stick around anyway. Subscribers, I’m talking to you here. BEAR WITH ME. PLEASE DO NOT UNSUBSCRIBE. IT’S ONLY THREE WEEKS. Starting today, I’m going to run six of my most well-read and/or controversial blogs of the last two years. I’ve chosen them based on number of page views, number of comments, or the level of contentiousness within the […] Read more – ‘Should Kids Be Told All Religious Stories are ‘Myths’?’.
Daddy, Daughter Discuss God (Again); More Cuteness Ensues

By Wendy Thomas Russell | May 13, 2013

My husband and 7-year-old daughter had another totally awesome conversation about God a few days ago. They used to do that from time to time, but it’s been a while since the subject has come up in much detail. I sure love it when it does. The talks are always fun, insightful, thought-provoking and, frankly, cute as hell. They also present Charlie with golden opportunities to teach Maxine about honesty, diversity  and the importance of kindness. Anyway, this one’s particularly good, so I wanted to share: Maxine: Where do you think God is? Like, which house or school… […] Read more – ‘Daddy, Daughter Discuss God (Again); More Cuteness Ensues’.
Memory Candles a Secular Way for Kids to Honor Their Dead

By Wendy Thomas Russell | May 2, 2013

This is how my good friend Katie describes herself: “A confused Catholic married to a cultural Jew, raising a moral, but interfaithless family.” You love her too now, right? So anyway, the other day Katie and I were talking about a recent blog I’d written about the importance of talking with our kids about our dead loved ones in “happy terms.” She said she’d really struggled with this herself, having lost her mom nine years ago to cancer. She still experiences lingering pain, and sometimes the loss makes her profoundly sad. (I expect she’s not […] Read more – ‘Memory Candles a Secular Way for Kids to Honor Their Dead’.
Kids Leaving Parents’ Religion Certainly Gets People Talking

By Wendy Thomas Russell | March 7, 2013

I’m hella busy today, but wanted to link to a few recent news posts about children leaving the faiths into which they were born. The first is informative, the second is instructive, and the third — well, the third is just trash. But watch it for the comedic value. Study: Religious Parents’ Divorce May Cause Children to Leave the Church The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion released a study Tuesday finding that children who have two religious parents are twice as likely to lose that religion if the parents divorce. The journal does […] Read more – ‘Kids Leaving Parents’ Religion Certainly Gets People Talking’.
Taking the ‘Myth’ out of the Bible

By Wendy Thomas Russell | November 15, 2012

Oh, Bible. You do confound us so. You are so very dense, complicated and repetitive, not to mention confusing, contradictory, outrageous and far too long-winded to actually read. And yet you are so wise, textured and powerful. You are surprising and exciting and flush with cultural references. In fact, you make it almost impossible for any of us to understand who we are as a civilization without at least getting your Cliffs Notes. As author E.D. Hirsch Jr. tells children in The First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: The Bible is by far the best-known book […] Read more – ‘Taking the ‘Myth’ out of the Bible’.

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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