Hnn | HNN Articles

Being a Humanist Mom

 

By Alex Butler

The subject of religion was not given much consideration in my childhood. Neither of my parents were religious. Even my great grandfather, who’d emigrated here from Italy as an adult, was said to have proclaimed, "I don’t need religion to teach me right from wrong; I can figure that out for myself." 
He was way ahead of his time as an Ellis Island Italian immigrant living in New York. I wonder if he'd felt a certain lack of camaraderie with other Italians because of it.

After college a friend and I produced some documentaries about a variety of subjects including religion. I remember coming to the conclusion that asking religious people about religion was like talking to a looped recording. There was no reason behind it. And although I knew I wasn't a believer, I had yet to define exactly where I stood on religion but didn't feel compelled to explore that until many years later, when I became a mom.

After being an agnostic for a while, I became an atheist, and then finally came to the conclusion that I was a freethinking humanist. So when my son eventually asked me if there was a god I remember turning to him and saying, "I don't believe there is, but nobody really knows if there is or not." He responded, "But the other kids say there is a god." So I said, "Only because that's what they were told." I explained to him that there are people in the world who want you to believe in a god so you'll offer them your loyalty and money. And, just for fun, I told him to "watch out for theologians, otherwise you could become the victim of diabolical mind control."  

I said that religion is the most lucrative institution on this planet, and I asked him to imagine what would happen if people took the billions of dollars they put into religious organizations and spent it on education instead. "Then your school would be able to pay for the music program they had to cut." My son agreed, "That would be a good thing."

When he asked "How did we get here?" my explanation was: "Most scientists have come to the conclusion that life on this planet began with the Big Bang. A huge explosion. Material from stars, the earth and water mixed together and eventually humans evolved from lower life forms." And when he asked about heaven and hell? "It just doesn't make sense," I told him. "We create our own heaven and hell right here on earth. And remember, you should never do what's right because someone said you'll go to hell. You should do what's right because it's right."

When my son was in 3rd grade I befriended the mom of one of his friends who turned out to be religious, and I remember mentioning to her that I didn’t want my child "infected" with any religion. Of course that relationship didn’t last, which is too bad. I liked her. Maybe the term "infected" was kind of harsh. 

Recently we met a Christian family in the neighborhood. My son and their boy got along so well I didn’t want to sabotage the relationship in any way, so I told my son to stay away from the subject of religion, but if it came up he should say he was a freethinker, an inoffensive term to most people. After all, this is America. Who could argue with someone who wishes to think for themselves? Though, I don’t like the idea of us nonbelievers keeping our mouths shut. We should be shouting from the most populated mountain top: “Wake up people! We need to take responsibility for our world because there is no god watching out for us!”

So now, whenever my son sees a religious symbol he scoffs at it, saying it's stupid and I turn to him and say, "Yes, but don't be too harsh; most people just haven't questioned it. Look to the scientists, who every day, explore, experiment, observe, ask questions and are the only ones who have given us an outline to that age old question, ‘What is life?’”

Alex Butler grew up in New York and has been living in Los Angeles for eleven years with her husband and 9 year old son. She received her BA in sociology and has made short films, designed clothing, and is now an artist who volunteers for the Center for Inquiry.

blog comments powered by Disqus

American Humanist Association

What would you say if your child wanted to believe in God but you don't? Ethical...

1 hours ago

American Humanist Association

The 2014 year is coming to an end and theHumanist.com has compiled a list of the...

4 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Tis the season to be a heathen! Check out great freethought merchandise at Evolv...

6 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Five stars for Fighting Back the Right, the new book from AHA's David Niose, fro...

19 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Many humanists celebrate Human Light or the Winter Solstice around this time of...

23 hours ago

American Humanist Association

A South Carolina school district has agreed to stop sponsoring religious fundrai...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week on the Humanist Hour Podcast, James Croft discusses the complex issues...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

We're happy to welcome a new chapter, Freethought Fort Wayne, to the American Hu...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

"It’s not just about the freedom to enjoy marijuana anymore...This is about the...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

There's only a few holiday shopping days left: Buy your favorite freethinker a g...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Bill Nye, our favorite science guy, explains evolution by using emoji..."emojica...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Out today! Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Reason...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Congratulations to the Las Vegas Coalition of Reason on the occasion of their of...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Humanist Service Corps has volunteer positions open beginning in summer 2015...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

In a response to a letter sent by the AHA, today we are pleased to report that t...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Most Americans say they accept Christian displays on public property, regardless...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

UBER car service has been getting in to some trouble lately, but will that stop...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

A date for history, as today marks the anniversary of the ratification of the U....

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

One more day! Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Rea...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

It's almost here! Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday everyone! Enjoy some comics!

7 days ago