Parents Kick Out 13-Year Old Atheist in Arkansas

JT’s dad John forwarded him an email from someone at the Arkansas freethinkers group about a 13-year old girl who was kicked out of her home by her mother after she told her parents that she didn’t believe in God. Here’a a portion of what that email said:

“Today, my daughter’s teacher called my daughter into a conference room to help her talk to an 8th grade girl who just came out to her conservative Christian mom as an atheist yesterday. The girl’s mom had been badgering her for weeks asking her what religion she believes in. The girl finally just blurted out “I’m an atheist, mom!” The parents both freaked out and told her she can’t live in their house anymore if she doesn’t believe in their god. They told her she is no longer their daughter. My daughter read the text messages between the girl and her mom, and was shocked that someone could treat their own child that way. The girl just kept apologizing to her mom over text, and was crying hysterically at school. My daughter couldn’t offer any advice because she “lives in a coexisting home” as she put it. She didn’t know the girl before, but she will be there for her now.

I don’t know much about the Arkansas group other than it includes great people like John and Carol Eberhard, JT’s parents. I really hope someone local to this girl will step up and give her a place to live, at least temporarily. And I’m sure the atheist community would be happy to help out financially or in some other way to help make things better. I am always just gobsmacked when this kind of thing happens. It’s inconceivable to me that my family would ever disown me for any reason.

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  • macallan

    See, christianity is all about love, isn’t it?

    What the fuck is wrong with these people?!

  • barry21

    Bad parents love the formula “If you don’t X, you might as well not exist”, where X=just about anything.

    An abundance of love makes no one suffer.

  • colnago80

    This just reinforces Christopher Hitchens’ comment that religion spoils everything.

  • Ellie

    If a thirteen year old child is forced out of her home, why on earth would the school call in another child who doesn’t know her, instead of calling the proper authorities immediately? Is there something here I’m missing? AFAIK, abandoning a child is against the law in every State.

  • Childermass

    Abandoning a 13-year old child should be an automatic prison sentence. Each time. Every time. Those parents are monsters.

    I don’t give a a **** what religion, philosophy, politics, sexual orientation, sexual identity, or anything else they have. And if the child is a handful, their responsibilities remain.

    Now I think help should be provided for parents who are having a hard time. But in the end, they signed up for a commitment to love that child unconditionally. And they signed up to take care of that child’s needs until adulthood.

    I suspect that we could get agreement with quite a few fundamentalists on this one.

  • coragyps

    Slightly different referent, but someone has said:

    “You haven’t failed as a parent if you raise a gay child.

    You have failed as a parent if you disown your gay child.”

  • jasonfailes

    The parents didn’t kick her out, she had free will and chose to be separated from the house by denying god. -Christian apologetics IRL

    Never choose an imaginary person over a real one.

  • Pteryxx

    Ellie #4:

    Is there something here I’m missing? AFAIK, abandoning a child is against the law in every State.

    From the comments at JT’s site, it’s not child abandonment because she’s over 10. (In some states it doesn’t count as abandonment if the child is over 4.) Also, no court would ever convict them.

    List of state statutes: PDF link

    Link to Patheos comment

  • Al Dente

    I’m with Ellie @4. Why is the school asking another student to intervene with the girl? That’s what social workers and DYCS (or whatever it’s called in Arkansas) are for.

  • Ellie

    @8 Thanks. I had already gone there and saw that, but I haven’t read anything in the news lately about hordes of homeless children wandering through the State of Arkansas because it’s somehow legal to throw them out of the house if they are over 10. Therefore, I’m assuming there is some consequence to child abandonment, even in Arkansas. And it still doesn’t answer my question as to why the school would call in another child that doesn’t even know the girl. I’m sure there’s more to the story.

  • Randomfactor

    instead of calling the proper authorities immediately?

    Given that it’s Arkansas she may feel that a caseworker will side, at least emotionally, with the parents…

  • raven

    I am always just gobsmacked when this kind of thing happens. It’s inconceivable to me that my family would ever disown me for any reason.

    1. Happens all the time. Common. You need to get out more.

    When you leave an abusive mind control cult, you usually leave all your friends and family behind forever. That is one of the definitions of an abusive cult. How easy is it to leave?

    Examples include Mormons, Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovahs Wtlesses, Moonies, AofG (sometimes), and sporadically for most other fundie death cults. Sporadically meaning it might happen, might not.

    2. This is far from the worst the fundie cults do. They have human child sacrifice rituals by witholding medical care or torture murder. It’s at least 100 children a year.

    There really is no bottom to what they can do with their sockpuppet gods on their side. Witch burnings, heretic hunts, terrorism, assassination, genocide, any atrocity you can think of, the xian churches have done.

  • Larry

    This story just doesn’t read right. It sounds more like an urban myth to me. While I could believe there are such callous parents out there who’d abandon their child over religious differences (even that is a stretch but there are really shitty parents out there), I find it very difficult to accept the story about the teacher asking a random student to assist. This would go straight to the school’s administrator followed up with a call to the child protection services. No way would this be handled by the school. I need some corroborating evidence before I believe this.

  • raven

    A Brigham Young University Professor’s Escape from Mormonism

    www. thedailybeast. com/…/2013/…/ a-brigham-young-university-professo…‎

    October 20th 20135:45 am … Her family no longer believed in Mormonism, but she still had tenure at the church’s … He knew that if we bucked the Mormon church, I’d never work again. … I heard from former students, colleagues. ….. It’s such a shame when kids get harassed just because of who their parents are before …

    Quote: “We were paranoid, worried that if someone from Brigham Young University saw me at a non-denominational Christian church, I would lose my ecclesiastical clearance and my job as a professor.

    And I would have. Only at BYU would someone lose their academic position for finding salvation outside the Mormon church.”

    You don’t leave abusive cults. You escape. It can be very difficult.

    If you escape from the Mormon church, you frequently leave all your friends and family behind forever. You can also lose your job and have a hard time finding another. There are a lot of ex-Mormons in Utah keeping a low profile and hoping no one finds out.

  • magistramarla

    Re all the questions about the administration calling in another student: I taught in a high school, and this sort of thing was not at all unusual. If a student was highly upset and gave permission for a friend to be called in to be supportive, it was done. I don’t know how legal it is, but it is certainly done.

    This is one of those times that I wish that I could adopt a young teen who needs some understanding parents!

  • Ellie

    @15 I know that happens, and I know some schools have peer counselors that could be called. However, the way this was presented, it sounded like the teacher called in a random student with no connection to the girl at all. “She didn’t know the girl before…”

  • magistramarla


    What I get from this is that the administration knew that this young lady and her parents are freethinkers from previous experience. They might have asked the upset young lady this: “We know of another student who has some experience with what is upsetting you. Would you like for her to be called in?”

    Of course, I may be giving more credit to the adults than they deserve – it is Arkansas, after all.

  • mrianabrinson

    And the parents call themselves Xian. Nothing like forced conversion to Xianity. That’s appalling and I do hope this young girl doesn’t become a Xian just to have a place to live. It’s nothing more than abuse and no parent should ever do that to their children. IMO, Children and Family Services should be called on these people, but even then, if she were returned to the home, would not stop the abuse she would suffer, because it seems society condones even abusive religious indoctrination.

  • Ellie


    I hadn’t thought that way, but now as I read it again, that may be it. Thanks.

  • Raymond Barrett

    I’m in the forum where this originated.

    The last I heard, the girl was fine, and staying with a family member.

    She was very upset by this being discussed in online forums, and does not want anyone to do anything. Please respect her privacy.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    All of which reminds me – anybody know how Damon Fowler is doing these days?

  • papabear

    I’m new here. I just joined to ask if anyone has any follow up information. This child obviously needs the help of compassionate, empathetic adults. Perhaps the secular humanist community is uniquely gifted to help this child find temporary stability while longer term issues are carefully sorted out. Even financial help could mean a lot for her.

    As I said, I’m new here and apologize if the info is already here and I’ve missed it. Is there anyone here that can point me in the right direction?

    Thanks in advance