An Atheist Celebration

Matt and Shannon Cherry held a “naming ceremony” for their daughters at the recent Atheist Alliance International convention.

Most of these types of ceremonies are religious in nature, but this was a chance to hold a secular celebration for the family.

Matt Cherry wrote about the event for the On Faith website:

… there is nothing intrinsically religious about celebrating rites of passage. Atheists like me also have values and aspirations, family and friends. So after my twin daughters Lyra and Sophia were born, my wife Shannon and I decided to create a humanist “Welcome to the World” ceremony for them.

The ceremony focused on our commitment to raise our daughters to be creative, compassionate, critical thinkers. There was no commitment to encourage them to be atheists or humanists: while they will be raised in an openly humanist family, we want them to work out their beliefs and values for themselves. A central purpose of the ceremony was to appoint Mentors. These supporting adults, from outside the family circle, promised to take a special interest in our daughters’ welfare and happiness.

Even Richard Dawkins participated in the event :)

… the ceremony touched something very deep inside all of us. It celebrated our humanity, as expressed through our love for our children and our desire for community. While expressing these values in our different ways, we should remember that they are shared by both the religious and the nonreligious alike, as members of the same family –the human family.



[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Kate

    The ceremony focused on our commitment to raise our daughters to be creative, compassionate, critical thinkers. There was no commitment to encourage them to be atheists or humanists: while they will be raised in an openly humanist family, we want them to work out their beliefs and values for themselves.

    YES. THANK YOU. YES.

    It really bothers me when religious people cram their beliefs down children’s throats, but it also bothers me on some level with atheists/etc. do the same. The goal should be to raise critical thinkers. My parents did that, and the proof is in the children – one, an atheist…the other, a Christian (sorta, Quaker). Everyone’s happy.

  • Mriana

    Welcome to the world Sophia and Lyra. :)

    I’m always glad to hear about these ceremonies and I’m glad they are raising them to develop their own beliefs and values. That’s the way it should be.

  • Aj

    The ceremony focused on our commitment to raise our daughters to be creative, compassionate, critical thinkers. There was no commitment to encourage them to be atheists or humanists: while they will be raised in an openly humanist family, we want them to work out their beliefs and values for themselves.

    If they raise them to be critical thinkers, that’s only going to lead to atheism and many of the “tenets” of secular humanism. We certainly don’t want people to be “atheists” through authority, brainwashing, or idenity (if they were to be labelled so because their parents are).

    I agree with Sam Harris about the label atheist hopefully not being necessary in the future. The question of whether god exists, shouldn’t come into people’s minds without the concept of god being put there, with the coercion, bribes, and fallacious connection to morality. Nonbelief in god isn’t important, not believing in things without evidence is important.

    The goal should be to raise critical thinkers. My parents did that, and the proof is in the children – one, an atheist…the other, a Christian (sorta, Quaker).

    A 50% success rate isn’t bad.

  • monkeymind

    So Aj, it’s important not to indoctrinate children, but OK to label them failures if they turn out to be faithheads? Oh, the shame of having a Quaker in the family!

  • Kate

    A 50% success rate isn’t bad.

    That’s my brother, you jack @ss. I think it’s an excellent success as it shows my parents raised two children who learned to think for themselves and weren’t spoon-fed beliefs.

    Not all theists are sheep. Not that you’d know that, since you’re the arrogant, ignorant atheist-type that is the reason we’re the most mistrusted minority in the country. Thanks! It’s people like you that make me embarrassed (at times) to say that I’m an atheist.

  • Mriana

    Not all people of faith are bad, Aj and if you had read closely you would have known it was Kate’s sibling. I don’t blame her for calling you a jack @ss. Siblings may fight among themselves, but one doesn’t dare say one bad word about the brother or sister without getting decked for it.

    Besides, if you do some research you might find that some Quakers in 1933 adopted at least the first Humanist Manifesto, if not the second one also in 1973. Not to mention, some have a belief similar to Bishop Spong’s and others in the Sea of Faith. In essence, some are Religious Humanists, so you really can’t judge a Christian, esp IF you see the word Quaker in parantheses. You never know for sure. Would you have made the same comment if she put Unitarian in parantheses? Remember Starks attends the UU, but he’s a non-theist. So, think about it before you answer. Then there is Robert Price, who attends the Episcopal Church. He’s an atheist and a Humanist, but if you didn’t know, would you be so quick to jump to conclusions? Esp after what you know now?

  • Kate

    Yeah Mriana!!!! ;) And my BABY brother, no less…

  • Mriana

    OUCH! You are lucky she didn’t double deck you, Aj. :lol:

  • Aj

    -Mriana

    Not all people of faith are bad, Aj and if you had read closely you would have known it was Kate’s sibling. I don’t blame her for calling you a jack @ss. Siblings may fight among themselves, but one doesn’t dare say one bad word about the brother or sister without getting decked for it.

    I didn’t say anyone was bad. It was a response to the suggestion that a Christian is a critical thinker in terms of their beliefs, because they were free to develop their own. Critical thinking does not follow from developing your beliefs independently. It seems obvious to me, from the specific part I quoted and my response, that I was refering to this.

    I understand the concept of kinship, you’ll find people have siblings almost everywhere (accept in China). Although, this level of protectiveness is not universal. I didn’t know who was the Atheist, Kate or her sibling.

    Remember Starks attends the UU, but he’s a non-theist. So, think about it before you answer. Then there is Robert Price, who attends the Episcopal Church. He’s an atheist and a Humanist, but if you didn’t know, would you be so quick to jump to conclusions? Esp after what you know now?

    If they’re called a Christian, and cultural isn’t in the sentence, I don’t think it’s unwarranted to assume that they don’t do any critical thinking on certain concepts. Unitarian Universalism and attending a church don’t require any beliefs, they also don’t make anyone a Christian.

    I don’t know much about Quakers, I know historically they tried to keep as few possessions as possible, and some in America do not adopt technology. Also, there’s a fare few in the anti-war protest movement, so I assume many are pacifists.

  • Mriana

    I understand the concept of kinship, you’ll find people have siblings almost everywhere (accept in China).

    I don’t have a sibling and I don’t live in China. Rod Roddenberry is also an only child and there are many who aren’t famous or from famous parents in the U.S. who are only children too. Guess I’m the “almost”, as well as others, you are referring too.

  • monkeymind

    Aj, you said that Kate’s parents had a 50% success rate. That means you assume Kate’s brother is a failure, based on the scant information Kate provided. That is the remark of an insensitive jack @ss in any culture.

    It is also seems to me to be an extremely hypocritical remark for someone who claims to be against the indoctrination of children. It implies that you would withhold approval from a child who did not adopt your preferred worldview. That is a very manipulative way to parent.

  • Maria

    It is also seems to me to be an extremely hypocritical remark for someone who claims to be against the indoctrination of children. It implies that you would withhold approval from a child who did not adopt your preferred worldview. That is a very manipulative way to parent.

    I agree

  • Aj

    -Mriana

    I don’t have a sibling and I don’t live in China. Rod Roddenberry is also an only child and there are many who aren’t famous or from famous parents in the U.S. who are only children too. Guess I’m the “almost”, as well as others, you are referring too.

    The sentence you quoted does not imply everyone has a sibling, just that nearly everywhere has people with siblings. I didn’t think I would be explaining that.

    I agree

    It does not follow from my one sentence, and clearly doesn’t when taken in full context with the specific part I quoted.

  • monkeymind

    OK, I see that you thought you were *only* saying that the Quaker sib was just a complete failure as far as the goal of raising a child to be a critical thinker. Sorry, that doesn’t reassure me as to your understanding of the kind of unconditional love needed to parent well. Or even that you understand what being a critical thinker means, if you give an automatic 0% in criitical thinking to someone with a label you don’t like, and an automatic 100% to the atheist. Even though you admit you have no idea what Quakerism is.


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