The 700 Club: Once Atheists Have Kids, They’ll Start Believing in God

On the most recent edition of The 700 Club, after a decent segment on the religious demographics/trends in America, hosts Gordon Robertson (Pat’s son) and Kristi Watts discussed how all those Millennial “Nones” will start believing in God after they have children (comments begin at the 17:57 mark)

Robertson: All it’ll take is to have children…

Watts: C’mon, brother.

Robertson: … it’s the easiest way to get somebody on their knees, crying out, and… yeah, if age 23 is the age that you’re most likely to be atheist, well, start having children and you’ll start wondering, “Ok, how do I raise them? I need help in this equation, and I need God.” Kristi?

Watts: Do you see me noddin’ my head? I’m just about noddin’ my head off. That is so true! I was thinking about that as well. Gordon, I got saved when I was 5 years old, but when I hit that 23 mark, I don’t know, I think because you think you’re arrogant…

Robertson: It’s when I went to college and you think you know everything…

Watts: You think you know everything. And you think you know everything; the world is your oyster; you don’t need anybody. Shoot, live one more year. Then you’ll be crying out to Jesus Christ.

Robertson: In my teen years, my parents didn’t know a thing. And by the time I hit my 30s, they were wise

Um, Gordon, I hate to break it to you, but you were right when you were a teenager.

I don’t have kids yet, and I know having them puts an incredible amount of stress on you, but it’s not like you throw your brain out the window when the babies arrive. (It only feels that way, I’m told.)

Here’s where the hosts get close to hitting the mark: For a long time, non-religious parents thought that they had to go to church to teach their kids about morality and to set a good example. These parents may not have believed in God, but they believed in church.

But we’re starting to get to a point where you no longer need to do that. Atheist communities are forming in order to provide the benefits of church without the bullshit that comes standard with it. Even without that, you’d be better off skipping church and spending that time reading books with your kids and teaching them right from wrong on your own. Keep the garbage out of their heads. If you need help raising kids without religion, read the excellent Parenting Beyond Belief.

Not every young atheist is an idiot and not every older religious person is wise.

Of course, all of you watching The 700 Club already knew that.

(Thanks to @NothingBloomed for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • mandocommando23

    I didn’t become an atheist until AFTER I had a child. At 23 I was still a very strong believer, so up yours Gordon!

    • Blacksheep

      I’m curious why someone with a differing opinion gets the “up yours” comment?

      • mandocommando23

        Umm…it’s a joke. Chill.

      • Reginald Selkirk

        Up yours for asking, Blacksheep.

      • Blasphemous_Kansan

        Because the differing opinion happens to be:

        a) incorrect

        b) condescending in the insinuation that parents without good won’t be good parents, or even ‘real’ parents at all. That parents who do not accept god do so out of youthful arrogance and not careful thought.

        I agree. Up his.

        • blasphemous_Kansan

          “without good” should be “without god”.

        • Gus Snarp

          Also, because it not only assumes, but outright states, that young people are only atheists because they’re arrogant, implying that all atheists are just arrogant, and that we’re not serious about the positions our reason has led us to because we’ll just drop it at the first sign of stress and difficulty. It’s a variant of “no atheists in foxholes”, and just as wrong and insulting. It should be returned with an insult.

          • Ida Know

            I think it’s probably mostly that, but it could also be a bit of:

            “Just wait until they have a baby of their own and look in that precious little face and count its itty-bitty toes. Then the clouds will open and angel choirs will sing and all doubt will be melted out of their once cold, cold hearts, because they’ll instantly Know In Their Hearts that such a wondrous miracle could only be a gift from (my) god.”

      • Entertaining Doubts

        Settle down, Blacksheep. This is the internet, where we sometimes get a little hyperbolic in our reactions. Not everybody can be as cool and level-headed as you always are.

      • Steve Scott

        He probably gets the “up yours” for marginalizing all atheists (without any evidence) as going through a faze.

      • RobertoTheChi

        Because it is condescending.

      • coyotenose

        You can’t imagine why someone pretending to be psychic and know what “actually” goes on in the hearts of atheists because his magic book tells him would be insulting?

        Really?

  • http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

    I was an atheist before my daughter was born, and still am. I’ve had a lot of help raising her, but never once thought that I needed to turn to a God I don’t think exists.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    Does having more children effect this? Is it like turning left or right. One child = Christian. Two children = Back to atheism, but now facing in the other direction.?

  • John L.

    It wasn’t until I was about to send my first child to school that I finally felt enough pressure to out myself as an atheist and start standing up for myself and other nonbelievers. Having children didn’t make me suddenly believe, it made me into an activist for secularism.

    • rlrose328

      Pretty much same here… I didn’t really say it outloud until his kindergarten teacher turned to me (as the classroom volunteer) and said, “Don’t you wish we could pray with them when they get here, before they eat their snack, before they go out for recess and all day long?” I answered, “No.” She looked at me like I’d licked her granola bar. I calmly explained why using the “A-word” and she never treated me differently. She had done some classwork at a seminary so it was no surprise she felt this way. I just hadn’t planned on outing myself that early. In the 8 years we were at that school, no one ever treated me differently that I could tell. But I never gave in to their yearning for anything religious in the school.

    • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

      Likewise. Once my kids decided that they were non-believers, it was the preaching at that they got from their classmates that was one motivator for me to become more active. I didn’t care if a godbot told me I was going to hell, but when kids started telling my daughters that, I’m bothered.

  • http://profiles.google.com/goblinbabies Sara Waldecker

    I wasn’t out about being an atheist until I had my daughter! My husband and I felt that it was important to speak out against religious abuses of women and children to our daughter.

    • mints11

      Me too! After my son spent almost two weeks at the NICU I became more open about my atheism (nurses telling me to pray for his recovery? thank you for the nice wishes but how about you just do the best you can?)
      My biggest problem right now is that I haven’t found a single playgroup where religion isn’t important. Where are all the atheist moms in Akron?!

      • John L.

        Try meetup.com for a quick search for atheist/humanist/freethought groups in your area. They are there. There may even be specific ones for families.

      • http://twitter.com/rubbsdecvik Patrick M. Regan

        I’m male, and not a parent (yet) but there is a vibrant Akron Atheist community! I’m a very active member of the CFI-NEO chapter. We meet in Stow a lot, but have meetings all over the place.

        http://www.meetup.com/CFI-NEO/

        There’s also a few others in the area

        http://www.meetup.com/Akron-Atheist/

        Please please please sign up and introduce yourself, there are parents in the group and we’re working on getting more family friendly programming!

        I’ll work on getting you some actually people to contact too!

        • http://www.wellactually.org/ Rubbs

          If you want, you can click on my username and contact me via twitter, facebook, or google+ I’d be happy to personally put you in touch with people.

    • http://exconvert.blogspot.com/ Kacy

      <—–Became an atheist AFTER having kids, in part because I realized
      that I wanted to raise them without the hangups I had due to my
      religion. As you say, I had a concern about the abuses of women and children. I didn't want my daughter to feel bound to the church's gender expectations that I found so oppressive. I also don't want my son taking on the patriarchal attitudes common in Catholicism. I'm 28 years old, and I don't see myself going back to church, any church, ever.

      • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

        Same here!

    • Barbara

      That’s how my atheistic views started, too. I was Catholic at the time and couldn’t imagine raising my daughter to believe that her gender pigeonholed her into some role the RCC deemed appropriate. I actually started reading the Bible more carefully, thinking it just the RCC I had a beef with and that the Bible would have some great wisdom to put my mind at ease and bring me back to God’s teachings. Oh boy, was that a can of worms! I wish every Christian (including my husband!) would read the Bible critically and see it for the nonsense it really is.

  • http://agmmusings.blogspot.com/ Alessia Lane

    Two kids and still godless. Not that it means we don’t teach our children about the religions of the world (their stories and histories are pretty interesting), but certainly not teaching them they are true.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregm766 Gregory Marshall

    Damn, look at me bucking the trend again. I was, I guess a deist when my sons were born, now I am a full blown atheist.

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    I managed to raise two kids. It never occurred to me, that I should involve them in a Church, though they were not kept ignorant of religion.

  • TiltedHorizon

    I was an atheist for 14 years prior to my son’s birth, 6 years have past since then and I’m still an atheist. Maybe I need to have more children?

    • Hypnerotomachia

      Well, you do know that’s the Christian answer to absolutely everything, especially for women.

      • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

        Well, for the “right” kind of women. Single mothers, lesbian mothers, etc. need not apply.

  • Gus Snarp

    Having kids did not make me turn to religion, if anything it made me more anti-religious. My wife, on the other hand, went from being sort of spiritual to being a pretty hard anti-religious atheist. I never heard her call herself an atheist until after the kids.

    Anecdotal, I know, but I think we do indicate that having kids doesn’t make people magically turn toward God. And what a weak, pathetic sort of “belief” it must be when people just use religion as a crutch to help them parent.

  • Banrion

    I was an atheist as a teenager, I was an atheist at 23 and now at 30 with two kids (a 2 year old & a two month old) I’m still an atheist. So much for that theory!

  • newavocation

    I remember an old friend mention when she had kids she began looking for a church that would do the least harm to her kids. She settled on a UU church

    • Reginald Selkirk

      You’ve probably heard the joke that UUs are “atheists with children.”

      • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

        I always find that puzzling because I was raised without church, and I can’t imagine when my family would even have had time to attend one. Why do these people think their children will lack community? As an atheist kid, I had plenty of community: school, friends from school, friends from extracurricular activities, friends from the neighborhood, friends of my parents, extended family, etc.

      • newavocation

        Actually, at least in the south, atheists seem to become more unofficially unwelcome in UU Churches. But I must say their Our Whole Lives (OWL) sex education program for children and adults is outstanding.

        • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

          I took one of my daughters to our local UU for their OWL class, and also the “Neighboring Faiths” class, which is a year of studying world religions and taking field trips to as many different types of religious services as possible. Great programs, both.

        • Dave in CO

          I’m a UU atheist, in Boulder, CO. I see a little of what you’re saying in the “faith development” classes. Of course, being UU, they don’t say faith in *what* (that’s individual), but faith is what I move AWAY from as an atheist, so those classes just don’t appeal to me. I feel a little

  • houndies

    I hate the 700 Club! my mom has been watching it since it first came on, and she sends them almost all of her nearly non-existent SSI to those f**ckers every month. She thinks Pat Robertson is god. They’ve all gotten filthy rich off people like her. It makes me sick!

    • Barbara

      My husband used to give $1,000 a year to those quacks. I think Pat and his cronies use some bullshit speech about how God gives tenfold back to those who donate to the 700 Club. Pat, being the blood-sucking filth he is, knows how to rope Christians in because what Christian doesn’t want to believe that their tithing will cause God to favor them? And with the Bible as Christianity’s Word of God, with contradicting passages galore, it’s easy to say whatever comes out of your ass and claim it’s what God wants. Shame on people like Pat who prey on the gullible and shame on religious people for setting themselves up to be gullible in the first place. /rant

      • houndies

        Try $10,000 a yr! and that was in the 70′s and 80′s when my poor dad was working his ass off to support the 5 kids they probably shouldn’t have had to begin with. They got a little pendant in the mail from 700 Club. It was suppose to be a ruby (if i remember right) probably fake. It signified that they had given that much money to those f**kers! I’m sure my dad probably wanted to puke, and that wasn’t the only organization they gave to, and dont forget the local church. No wonder we were so damn poor. And you know what my dad got for his troubles?? And early grave, and left my mom with almost nothing.

  • sam

    The “no atheists in foxholes” line is similar to this “Once the responsibilities of child rearing overwhelm you…” claim. They are both implicit admissions that when people are the most fearful, least rational & most desperate, they will cling to anything that seems to provide emotional comfort (within the right social context).
    Thanks, 700 club, for acknowledging that you base your decisions on fear.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Robertson: It’s when I went to college and you think you know everything…

    Too bad he didn’t learn more in college, such as how to maintain consistent person throughout an entire sentence.

    • http://twitter.com/Alexthethinker Alex Abbott

      Consistent person usage is going the way of ending a sentence with a preposition as a rule of English grammar. In my opinion, that sentence would make less sense if you used the same person throughout — of course, Pat Robertson’s son is the speaker, so I’m assuming it wouldn’t make much sense either way.

  • Octoberfurst

    I don’t have kids but I wonder why Gordon thinks that once someone has kids they suddenly start believing in God? That makes no sense.
    On a side note a friend of mine who lives in Portland Oregon has two kids–ages 5 and 2–and they have never been to church. (The parents are secular.) But she told me that she is considering joining a church so the kids will get a moral foundation and have a community to belong to. That puzzled me since she and her husband are excellent role models & are teaching their kids good morals. I asked why she thought she needed a church to do what they are already doing. She thought about it for a second and then realized what she said was silly. But she said that she would still want her kids to be a part of a community. So I suggested that if she wanted to go that route she should try a Unitarian Universalist Church.

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      This is where, I think, atheist organizations need to step up and spread the message that people do not need to attend church to have community or to learn morals and values. Everyone is socialized to think of faith and church as good, perhaps even essential. Things like Sunday School are seen not only as benign, but beneficial to children’s moral and social development.

      I think we need to push back against that. Tell people that indoctrination isn’t cool. That it’s much better to educate your children in an objective way and let them make their own decisions. Instead of aping church communities, maybe we should tell people that “church culture” isn’t something to be emulated, that it would be much better to get rid of the whole thing entirely. Make it more acceptable for people not be associated with churches.

      • Octoberfurst

        That’s why I think it would be a good idea to organize Humanist communities so that people can have an alternative to church. Non-theists could meet, socialize and share joys and sorrows with each other.

        • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

          Actually, I think the opposite. To me, “church culture” is part of the problem, not the solution. I’m not in favor of creating atheist communities that mimic churches, but rather working towards making the entire society more secular, and ensuring that local groups (playgroups, parents’ groups, etc.) are secular as well, so atheist parents don’t have to worry about joining them. For example, I don’t want to see an atheist Sunday School. I want the entire concept of Sunday School to be discarded.

          • Octoberfurst

            I agree with your point and I wouldn’t want an atheist Sunday school either. I have no desire to have a pseudo-church setting. What I meant was Humanists getting together at a restaurant or a meeting room and just talking about our lives and struggles as non-theists in an overwhelming religious culture. That is the type of community I was talking about.

            • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

              Oh, I agree those sorts of groups are helpful, especially for atheists who are struggling to get along in places like the Bible Belt. It’s kind of like sticking a band-aid on an open wound, though. I’d rather we try to get that wound sewn up.

    • pagansister

      I married a “born UU” and we raised our 2 now adult children, in the UU tradition. They both have made their own decisions, one being an atheist and the other close. If your friend wants to “have a foundation” in some faith, she might try a UU church—but they too differ in their “religious views”. Some can be almost Protestant—fortunately not the 2 we attended.

    • PDXSciencemom

      Your friend should know that Portland has a thriving Secular Sunday School program/community for kids ages 5-preteen. Check out CFI-Portland for links. Also active UU communities. I disagree with the comments below (Anna/Octoberfurst). I have a 6 and 2 year old, and as the older one is increasingly confronted with ideas of (mostly Christian) faith from peers, including “your mom is going to hell” and “Jesus created the world”, etc, it is important for her to feel part of a community where she is NOT an outsider, and where the ability and desire to ask questions and look for answers is encouraged, and she learns about world religions in a non-dogmatic way. We’ve tried both SSS and the UU, and the one advantage that I think the UU has is the multi-generational aspect- kids grow up in an age-diverse community where people who aren’t related to them care about them, the small people they see running around every week. We have a great community of friends who love our kids to death and whom our kids love back, but they’re mostly our age, similar interests, etc. SSS is similar. I think it’s a good thing for kids to grow up feeling loved by lots of people who don’t look or think like us- perhaps not “necessary”, but probably a bonus. It’s not about a place to learn morals (we’ve got that covered, thanks), it’s about a place to belong and feel cared for.

  • Darren

    Sadly, they are not far off.

    I have known more than a few Atheists-Until-Graduation (coopted from Lesbian Until Graduation), then out pops the first baby and it is baptism, confirmation, and Mass on Easter and Christmas.

    Pop over to the Conversion Diary and check out Jennifer Fulwiler. This appears to be the Catholic version of ‘Street Cred’, like how evangelicals used to be “high priests of Satan”, I suppose.

  • baal

    Nope, my son is 11 and I never once felt that I need to fall to my knees and cry out. I was tired from time to time and didn’t like to keep cleaning the floor / where he could reach once he started walking but despair wasn’t anywhere to be seen. FWIW, I can’t currently imagine he’ll take up belief in the supernatural when he’s older.

    Also, I didn’t zip ahead immediately and saw the hostess knocking on wood. That struck me as odd since the point of that action is to wake the wood spirits to prevent a bad mentioned event or at the very least, it’s a magical invocation.

    • rlrose328

      The only way I could see my son taking up faith is in 3-4 years as a teen to act out against us. LOL! Most kids would turn to drugs and drinking. My son will come home one night with a bible and youth group materials.

      “Is that BELIEF I smell on your breath, boy!?” my husband will yell with righteous outrage.

      “Yeah, it is… what are you going do about it!?” my son will yell back.

      “That’s it… no more Solstice gifts for you!” I’ll scream before running upstairs with a headache.

  • rich_bown

    As atheist parents, we’re teaching our children not to blindly follow my or others beliefs but to think critically then make up their own minds. If they turn out atheists or religious it will be because they choose to do so, and whatever they choose I’ll love and support them.

  • SeekerLancer

    Considering all the stuff I hear about atheist parents these days I’m going to go ahead and say no.

  • http://twitter.com/RinnosukeETQW Jeff Simons

    I not only have kids, but I’ve had to see one die and live a painful life and die at 6 months. In that time I had an experience that if I was to convert, that would have sent me on my way. I saw his beating heart through a membrane, yes the actual heart, no echo, no nothing, it was the actual heart beating in his chest right before my eyes. I saw no god there, I only saw how amazing medical science has brought us, how amazing the surgeon was, and how compassionate the nurses and other parents were.

    • Darren

      Wow, that just plain sucks. I am so very sorry.

      One thing being a parent has taught me: I never really knew fear until I had children.

    • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

      My condolences for your loss. It must have been hard. I can’t think of anything that would be more difficult to go through. I lost a father way before his time but likewise never felt the need to turn towards the supernatural for support. One just has to feel and accept the loss and eventually move on, keep living, and cherish those still around you. I was an atheist before kids, had two kids (one in high school now and another one much younger) and haven’t changed my atheistic outlook.

    • pagansister

      Jeff S., I can’t imagine losing a baby/child—am so sorry to hear that.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      Ditto to what Darren wrote. You have my heartfelt sympathies. I wish so much you could have see your little guy grow up and thrive. I’m a parent too, and the thought of losing one of my kids…I can’t even.

    • ecolt

      I can’t imagine the pain you’ve felt, Jeff. My sympathies.
      It’s almost refreshing, though, to see you give credit to the doctors and nurses who treated your son. Too often religious people give god all the credit for anything good and only recognize the hard work of people when something goes wrong. I felt the same way toward the doctors and especially hospice nurses when my grandfather died. If any bright spot can be found in losing someone you love it’s a greater appreciation for the people around you, whether an appreciation for the help they give or the understanding that we have to make the most of the time we have with those we love.

      • http://twitter.com/RinnosukeETQW Jeff Simons

        Well I wasn’t going to say it but I’m rather proud of myself that in the moments after he actually died I had the presence of mind to say 2 things, the first was telling the doctor on duty he did all he could and that’s all I could ask of him, the second was asking if there was anything from him that could be donated to help another child, unfortunally the answer to the question was no.

  • Bad_homonym

    When my kids were very young, sleep deprivation and clean-up fatigue left me pretty irrational sometimes! Is this when he expects conversions? It makes sense I guess! I spent allmost half if my life as a born-again and only after having our first child did I fully accept that I was an atheist. My kids don’t attend church, but have gone when invited a few times. They have asked questions about the bible and I have always shown them what it says. I have also taught them to examine things with a critical and open mind and make the choices that make sense to them. So far they have also disregarded religion as nonsense, but should they change their views as they get older I will respect that as well!

    • GinaV_32109

      I must admit, even though I was basically agnostic, that when I had my son and was suffering the worst of my post natal depression, that I deluded myself into thinking that the fundamental Christian types were right! Just after reading some rubbish cartoon tracts on the net. I remember even feeling glad when the JWs would come to my door every Wednesday morning.
      Once I was treated appropriately and feeling much more myself again I realised that it was all rubbish. Now I am definitely an atheist.
      It really made me think about how they could take advantage and prey on people that are the most vulnerable like I was then.

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    For genuine atheists, who have made an intelligent decision regarding this question of god’s existence, this won’t be true. But for a lot of those nones, who causally ignore the religion of their parents, it will be. Many of the people I knew my youth, who wouldn’t have been caught dead inside a church, turned batshit religious crazy as soon as they had kids.

    • NewDawn2006

      This is very true. So many of my friends who had nothing to do with church before have recently had kids and all of a sudden it’s all over Facebook “little Joe is sick, praying for him to get better soon!” But this is what is expected of them. It is still proper to raise your kids in church. I know my mom is hoping that I will jump back to religion when we have our first kid… Not gonna happen.

  • Whee

    As soon as I found out I was pregnant with my first kid, I bought “Parenting Beyond Belief.” So I’d say the opposite of what Robertson said happened to me.

  • Atheist Diva

    I became an atheist at age 10. Recently, one of my son’s friends was talking about how cool it would be to have an atheist for a mom. I explained that the most important thing to me is for my kids to make up their own minds. “Joe, did I tell you not to go to church?” “No,” he replied. “You even took me to church.” We talked about all the exposure each of my kids had to religion. I never preached religion to them, but the time came when I was glad to stop taking them to the paternalistic church I was raised in, where my sons would learn that they were better than women. All three are atheists, but what if one had chosen to be religious? So be it. I’m a vegetarian, but they can eat meat if they want to. The main thing is to let people be who they are, not who you, as a parent feel they should be.

  • smrnda

    I think some people are actually smarter, or perhaps know more about life while they’re in college; after all, don’t people go to college to learn and to be exposed to new ideas? After than the working life grinds that intellectual spark out of people, or else they become successful, complacent and entitled and lose any capacity for reflection or any concern for issues beyond their own personal gain. As I get older, I also don’t look back and think ‘wow, I thought I knew it all but those adults were so wise!” No, they were just unable to get outside of their outmoded prejudices and cultural assumptions they weren’t aware they even had. When I meet younger people than me these days, I think THEY sometimes know things I don’t, but I rarely feel the same thing with older people…

    The other thing is if I wanted information on how to raise children, I’d be getting that advice from anybody but a bunch of conservative Christians whose answer is to beat your kids and lie to them about sex.

    Perhaps in the past the reason people ‘left church’ during some years was just that they didn’t cater to that demographic as churches are often built around parents with children, not young adults who aren’t yet parents, but churches have become desperate for teens, youth and young adults and have pulled out all the stops to get them and tried to be more hip, and it’s still failing.

  • http://twitter.com/morgantj FookedonHonix

    I have four children ages 5-12. I am 35 years old and an atheist. Having children didn’t change my absense of belief in a god at all. Belief in a god isn’t going to help my raise my children. A good foundation in reality however, is of tremendous benefit.

  • dcl3500

    Hate to tell him but I have 4, was an atheist before, still am and recently my wife, of 24 years, confided in me that after years of being an agnostic, she has recently come to the conclusion that she is an atheist as well.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    At least they managed to get beyond arrogance and thinking they know everything.

    I’m fortunate to have a strong aversion to children. My atheism is safe.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    Their mistake is assuming that everyone was raised like they were:

    Robertson: … it’s the easiest way to get somebody on their knees, crying out

    Watts: You think you know everything. And you think you know everything; the world is your oyster; you don’t need anybody. Shoot, live one more year. Then you’ll be crying out to Jesus Christ.

    This whole notion of “crying out” to Jesus is strictly an evangelical thing. People who were raised with no exposure to Christianity are never going to find themselves in that position because they weren’t taught these assumptions to begin with.

  • Unimpressed

    One question for all religious believers: you say there must be a god to explain where the universe came….doesn’t that leave you with an infinitely more difficult question? Who needs it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Using-Reason/100002489435714 Using Reason

    So this is where all the old Atheists hang out. I was a bit depressed with the low numbers of my age group in the Atheist Census. Now I’ve found you all.

    I was an Atheist before my kids were born and the only thing that helped our young family was our extended family, and overtime. Lots and lots of overtime.

    • Noelle

      There are young’uns round these parts, but if they get obnoxious you just tell them kids to get off yer lawn.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.see.7 Jeff See

    The one thing I can state from taking a cross section look of my high school classmates on facebook: these guys have a basis for their statements. Lots of the people I would never have guessed to EVER be religious, had kids, and are uber religious now. I’m guessing the social structure around church, related daycare, and the ever powerful Christmas (what kid doesn’t want to ‘do’ Christmas) all play a part in bringing people into the fold. It’s scary, thinking of your child going to hell, as opposed to someone else going ‘meh, I ain’t scared of no hell’. I think they are right, people pop out a kid, fear for the kid, then turn religious.

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      Scary. How were all these people raised? Were they raised evangelical? Or in a highly evangelical part of the country? I find it difficult to imagine that normal adults raised in non-religious or slightly religious homes would suddenly be frightened of their children burning in hell or worry that they can’t do Christmas without church.

      You have a point with the social structure, though. Especially in communities where church attendance is expected and routine, these groups target young parents and try to lure them with free or inexpensive events. Add to that the fact that, in some areas, secular daycare or nursery school is difficult to find, and you have a recipe for indoctrination of young children.

    • rlrose328

      Yup… I had a few friends do that, too, including my best friend. While I went to church with my mother every Sunday (though never really believed), she hung out at home. Her parents started going to the Methodist church literally across the street from their house when she was a senior in high school but she told me she never felt anything. Fast forward 10 years and 2 kids and a divorce later and she is as religious as they come. Any letter I get has a few paragraphs about her devotion and her church activities. She hasn’t yet preached to me but her correspondence has dropped off in the last few years since I “came out” to her.
      Another women with whom I worked in the late 80s/early 90s was a very nonreligious person but she then got married and after 2 kids, started going to church so the kids would have a basis of faith in their lives. She was a very good person, not too much partying and other single-gal mischief, so I think she would have been a great parent without religion. Now, we never talk. She’s so busy with church life.
      Why does this happen?

  • icecreamassassin

    “Ok, how do I raise them? I need help in this equation, and I need God.”

    Well, Gordon, come Christmas time, I suspect many parents go “I have kids and need to get them gifts. Santa would really, really, really help right now.” What the crap does that have to do with the existence of Santa Claus?

    Have these people really *never* heard of the phrase ‘wishful thinking’?

    • http://www.facebook.com/dez.crawford1 Dez Crawford

      Little kids enjoy a fantasy. Little harm in Santa — the modern Santa is not “Saint NIcholas;” he is just a storybook figure who brings toys once a year. Most of my atheist friends do “secular Santa” when their kids are little, explaining that he is a storybook character just like Snow White. Later they talk about how the Santa figure evolved from superstitious religious roots. Kids are exposed to Santa in mainstream consumer culture, might as well guide them through the exposure both with facts and fun.

  • Quintin van Zuijlen

    Plenty “life long” atheists have “life long” atheist parents, so I doubt it, Gordon.

  • rlrose328

    This is easily the most ludicrous opinion I’ve ever heard. I was an atheist long before I had my son and his existence just further reinforces my nonbelief, if anything. I was told at age 19 I couldn’t conceive so imagine my surprise at 35 when I was pregnant. Of course, everyone I know insists that’s a miracle of God that we then had him, but I know the science of WHY I was told I couldn’t conceive. All this proves is that my hubby had 1 little supersperm in him that made it a point to complete its objective. Nothing supernatural about it.
    All of their “it’s a miracle if you just look” is wishful thinking at best and delusion at worst. It’s the desire to make the natural world fit their beliefs.
    Beyond the “miracle” that is childbirth, I had no problem deciding how to raise my child. We have raised him to be good to others, think about others when possible (preferably before self, but that’s not always possible), and live a life of no regret or remorse (because you have nothing to regret or be remorseful about). Don’t hurt others and if you do get hurt, don’t hurt back. It’s not so much “turn the other cheek” so much as “walk away so you don’t become part of the problem, too.” There is a time to abandon pacificism, but for the most part, do no harm.
    So far, so good. But it had nothing to do with god and everything to do with preserving the community at large.

  • http://twitter.com/DeepEddy Chris Garrigues

    My dad was an atheist. My grand dad was an atheist. Not sure about my great grand dad.

    It seems that some atheists pass their capacity for rational thought on.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

    Had kids. Not only did I remain an atheist, but my ex-wife became an atheist afterwards as well. Next idiotic claim, please?

  • http://twitter.com/SteveInMI Steve In MI

    This 40-year-old father of three begs to differ. 15 years ago I tried to take my kids to church, like my parents had done for me. It took a few weeks for me to realize that I didn’t believe a word of it. I came out as an atheist to my family – few of whom were shocked or surprised. And I couldn’t be prouder of my smart, successful atheistic kids! :)

  • JenProhaska

    I think Veggie Tales pushed me from being an agnostic who didn’t care if there was a god or not to being an atheist. They have a song, “God is Bigger Than the Boogey Man,” that made me want to vomit. Because now that I do have children, my boogey men are child molesters and kidnappers. God isn’t bigger than them. Those monsters prey on children every day. No amount of prayer can stop them. That song made that concept click in my head. Thanks, Junior Asparagus, for showing me exactly what I don’t believe!

    • rlrose328

      Aw… we LOVE VeggieTales! We watched them with The Kid and fast forwarded through the bible lesson at the end. We did eventually watch a few of them after we had read the bible with him so he could see our “atheist” morals are the same as theirs but without an ancient book to tell us how.
      As an aside, we still watch our DVD of the top 10 Silly Songs. For the most part, they are all secular and very amusing.

    • J-Rex

      I always loved Veggie Tales, but like many other things I learned when I was a kid, I look back on it and think, “Wow, I really believed that…”
      It is really strange to think back on that song. If God is bigger than all the things we fear, why does he let them attack us sometimes?

    • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

      My Fundie brother-in-law gave us a bunch of those videos, and we’ve used them to start some good discussions with the kids about whether the main lesson of each one is actually a good idea. The one that really got our attention was “Josh and the Big Wall” whose central theme was “do it gods way, even if it doesn’t make any sense”. My kids decided that was a horrible idea, which I’m sure is not what my brother-in-law was intending they get out of the videos.
      But we do love the Silly Songs, especially the “Pirates who Don’t do Anything”.

  • Phil Cleaver

    As others have mentioned – there is always UU. When I had my first child, we joined a Unitarian Church. This give us all the benefits of any church, temple, or mosque such as community and fellowship – but none of the supernatural nonsense or dogmatic crap.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rrlane Ricardo Lane

    I’m forty eight years old. I’ve been about an atheist for about ten years. My youngest child is twenty one.

    The math doesn’t add up the way they want, does it?

  • http://exconvert.blogspot.com/ Kacy

    I wish you could somehow send all these comments to the 700 club. It’s just anecdotal evidence, but there seem to be a lot of us who became atheists after having kids. Personally, I realized that my religion called for me to love God above my children, and I knew that when it came down to it, I simply couldn’t love anyone or anything more than my own kids. This started the questioning, and a bit of depression because I thought my love for my kids above God was somehow sinful (twisted, right?). I finally realized, that I wasn’t twisted, my Catholic faith was twisted and life-negating. I used to miss the extra programs for my children and the community that church provides, but I never missed the absurd doctrines they would have learned in such programs.

    • Barbara

      The “putting God before family” sentiment reminds me of a dictatorship demanding complete loyalty from its citizens even at the expense of the family bond. When reading In Matthew about Jesus saying anyone who loves their family more than they love him is unworthy I have to wonder, do Christians reading this passage reflect at all on the absurdity of its message?

    • TiltedHorizon

      “It’s just anecdotal evidence”

      Compared with Pat’s unsubstantiated claim, this anecdotal evidence may as well be conclusively definitive. :)

  • J-Rex

    Gotta love how Youth = Arrogance as long as you have reached different conclusions, but if you’re young and you love God, or you’re young and you voted for Romney, you’re wise beyond your years and we couldn’t be prouder!

  • deepak shetty

    Children suffering is pretty much why I am not religious. Either that or God’s an asshole.

  • pagansister

    If they believe that, I can sell then a bridge in NY!

  • JWH

    Actually.

    He might be right. Some atheists might become religious after having children.

    ..

    Then again, some atheists might not.

    I suspect that the experience of having children can affect people in multifarious ways.

  • king_damond01

    Was an atheist before my first child, just found out that number two is on the way. Guess what, I am still an atheist…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arthur-Bryne/100002441143047 Arthur Bryne

    Historical data (such as the GSS) suggests that yes, there may be some of that; but the historical data from the 1970s doesn’t support expecting more than a third of the “nones” to reaffiliate, and most of those who do shift are likely to end only “not very” religious rather than strongly.

    Contrariwise, there’s some reason to suspect that the tendency may be less for the echo-boomers having kids than the boomers having kids.

  • Artor

    If anything, I became more solidly atheist after having a kid. I didn’t want to teach him bullshit, so I had to re-examine my beliefs before passing them on. Traces of theistic belief I’d held since my childhood didn’t make the cut, and they are now GONE.

  • RobertoTheChi

    Becoming a mother made me an even stronger atheist, same thing happened with my SO. The last thing I was doing was crying out for any god.

    • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

      I know I was crying out for the anesthesiologist! And he actually showed up!

      • RobertoTheChi

        I hear ya. I was crying out for the anesthesiologist to hurry up with the damn epidural.

  • Guest

    I love how they assume everyone will have children, or even that everyone wants children. So not the case.

  • ecolt

    I’ll have to talk to my partner about the fact that my three step-kids means he can’t be a real atheist.
    It is true that when his oldest (twins) were born, he got much more into religion for a period. He was raised Catholic and, despite his nagging doubts, went along with the idea that once you have kids and a family going to church and following religion is the “right” thing to do. But a big part of his deconversion was actually the realization that the teachings of the Catholic church are so incredibly terrifying and guilt-inducing that keeping his kids away from the religion seemed like the more responsible thing to do as a parent.
    And even though their mother is super Catholic, they have the benefit of a dad and stepmom who are teaching them to question what they’re told and form their own opinions.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Nope. having my son and watching my hardcore Christian grandparents do every slimy, assholic thing they could to eventually take him from me and remove me from his life because I didn’t stay married to his hardcore Christian physically abusive father was the last push out of Christianity for me.

    Unfortunately, I likely won’t be able to give his theory a second test, because losing my first child the way I did damaged me so badly I refuse to have anymore. I’m afraid I won’t be able to bond with them, and if I can’t bond with them how the hell am I gonna be a decent mother? So he has to take his loss based off my first go.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

    So, we have lived with, since poor old Charles Darwin onwards, the phenomenon known as fake Death Bed Conversions….

    Will we now see a slew of fake Delivery Room Conversions hitting the airwaves?

    Kerplunk….mwaaaa mwaaaa…. Lordy Lordy I Have Seen The Light!

  • Sue Blue

    These guys don’t get out much, I guess. I didn’t become an atheist until several years after my first child was born. If anything, I’ve gotten more “militant” and “strident” an atheist as I get older and worry about the fundamentalists ruining the world for my grandchildren…and I don’t think I’m bucking any kind of trend. My atheist friends are all adults with kids.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Projectile-Vomit/100000736984839 Projectile Vomit

    I went from somewhat religious (baptized and confirmed- Methodist) as a child/teen, to spiritual (no clue but searching for something) as a young adult, to agnostic (as nothing was adding up) as I got older, to atheist (as I began reading books by Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Barker, etc). Almost five years ago, my wife and I had a son. His amazing presence has solidified my atheism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jc.craig1 Jim Craig

    I was an atheist at 21. I’m an atheist at 53. Nothing has changed there at all. Now my own kids are in their 20s and they’re both atheists and attend meetings of our group in Charlotte, NC.

    Having kids didn’t change my mind on my atheism. Having a child who was three months premature and spent 9+ weeks in the NICU didn’t change my mind on this. I never prayed for his recovery. I hoped for the best, prepared for the worst and dealt with issues as they arose.

    These people have the audacity to call us arrogant yet they constantly seem to have knowledge of what’s in our minds and hearts without actually talking with us. They claim to have all the answers. Who’s being arrogant?

    I’d love to sit with these people for an hour to let them know exactly what goes on in my mind.

  • Tamara

    I was raised as an atheist. My mother was also raised an atheist, while my father lost his luke-warm religion in college. My mother’s parents were atheists. I was always taught to keep it on the down-low, and I did, for the most part. I was very live-and-let-live about it, even living in the south. Then I moved had kids, and they were bullied in school and prayed over by teachers. I’m now an angry atheist planning to move back to New England.

  • Sandra W.

    It’s completely true about needing help in the equation on raising children. But it is not true that being godly makes it better. I am an atheist parent, and I can say without doubt, training up a child in a rational way is more difficult than beating them into submission, or brow-beating them and making them feel guilty about things they have done. But in the end, the rational way is much more rewarding, because you know that your children have strong minds.

  • Antinomian

    I adopted and raised the anti-christ. But I’m still an atheist..

    Though I did get a T-shirt..

  • http://www.facebook.com/UnderINK Ava Germaine

    I have a three year old daughter and a god has never entered the equation in my parenting.

  • Bdole

    I suspect a few will change their minds – the nones who simply haven’t thought about religion before and just took the default position.
    For the rest of us, though, there’s no amount of stress that will make us turn to an imaginary friend for comfort.

  • Tom Hail

    Hmm… my parents didn’t raise me with religion. They are still atheist. I have daughters and I didn’t raise them with religion. I am still atheist. They are adults and atheist. We’ll see what their children do but it doesn’t look promising.

  • lisa

    Having children certainly didn’t make me a believer, but it did mean that I had to go to school a few times to stop harassment of my kids by xtian kids who LOVED to tell my kids that they were going to hell and other nonsense. It also meant that I had to teach my kids how to respond rationally to the irrationality of others. My kids are 29 and 27 now, and none of us shows any sign of converting, I’m happy to report!

  • Alexander McCarthy

    When you become a parent, and hopefully begin to realise that the future of the species is, at least partially, in your hands, outing the truth becomes something of a priority. Once again, and for obvious reasons, the theists have got it arse backwards, but that seems to be their thing, doesn’t it?

  • BQ

    Having kids brought me to the realization that religion is completely bogus, and I was never going to subject them to such insanity.


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