What are you more likely to hear:
A six-year-old saying, “You’re going to Hell because you don’t believe in Jesus!” or a six-year-old saying, “There is no such thing as Hell!”?
If you were an atheist at a young age, you probably heard the first statement from a classmate. Did you ever use the same tone and try to convince others that they were wrong?
Many of us have encountered rude young Christians in our lives. I assume that attitude comes from the parents forcing their beliefs on the kids. (Not all Christians do this, of course. I’m just saying it happens.)
Do we also hear of young kids raised under atheist parents spouting off disrespectful words in the same way?
I don’t think so. (Feel free to tell me I’m wrong.)
Be-Asia McKerracher writes in the Kansas City Star about how she is raising her children without religion — and she wants to make sure they respect anyone who does believe:
My children know that while some people do not believe in the power of prayer — myself included — anyone has a right to pray to their god without being mocked or disrespected. We then told them what would be coming on Thanksgiving and offered them two options: Either join the prayer or stand quietly and respectfully while others prayed.
… As an atheist, however, I try to cultivate a culture of respect in our home. We shun none of our family members for their religious beliefs, and we also teach our children to stand up for what they believe, which, right now, is that God most likely is not real.
That last phrase is one I rarely hear from Christian parents. Specifically, the words “right now” (it may change later) and “most likely” (there’s a chance we could be wrong).
That lack of certainty, and openness to the idea that the child may disagree with you about religion later on in life, makes up a huge difference in the way Christians and atheists raise their children.
I wonder if that’s also the reason you may hear more evangelizing from kids with religious parents instead of kids with atheist parents.