My Atheist Husband and I Have Seven Kids, Four of Whom Were Adopted, and We’re Raising Them As Happy Freethinkers

This is a guest post by Veronica Chenik Gilmore.

“You are so blessed”

“You’re an angel”

“Are you Catholic?”

“Are they all yours?”

“God Bless you”

These statements are just a sampling of what people say to my husband and me when they find out we have seven children.

We have a blended family — three biological children and four who came to us from Tennessee through an interstate adoption program. Strangers and casual acquaintances step into our circle to celebrate our “good deed” as if we’re doing something to please God. These well-intentioned people have no clue that we are hiding something very important from them: our identity as atheists.

Most people assume it was our faith that led us to adopt. But after hearing all sorts of mischaracterizations and faulty conclusions about who we are, it’s time for me to speak up. We’re not religious and we’re adoptive parents.

In fact, because I’m a happy Secular Humanist parent, I have chosen to advocate for adopting older children and working through the complexities of interstate adoption. My hope is that we can encourage other secular families to find and take in children of their own. For too long, adoption has been linked with religious groups — not always, but often. That needs to change.

I don’t mind discussing adoption or atheism. The two have a lot in common and, in fact, both subjects can learn a lot from each other. Neither needs to be a secret and I don’t want my kids to be ashamed of either label. However, those labels also don’t define our lives entirely; we are constantly evolving and growing and learning new ways to describe ourselves. (When you have seven kids, the definitions change frequently!) People celebrate adoption and many celebrate their own atheism, but the two worlds rarely intertwine. Both worlds are filled with rejection, intolerance, and misunderstanding. There are angry atheists and there are angry adoptees. We are, however, on the happy end of both spectrums.

When I first discussed adoption with my husband, he assumed I wanted to travel to China to bring home a newly-born baby. It was hard for him to grasp that I wanted to adopt a child and not an infant. I wanted to provide a home for a child who had grown up without one, not mold a child from birth. There’s a stigma against adopting older children (above the age of eight) and, before I even met my children, I had many people tell me why it wouldn’t work.

Each of our kids has struggled with one issue or another regardless of whether they were adopted or not. All kids can be reckless, hurtful, and rebellious, but that’s especially true if the adults in their lives have let them down. It’s upsetting that our adopted children’s biological parents couldn’t have raised these four amazing kids and we’re sad that, in order for our kids to be loved and cared for by us, they had to be separated from their biological parents. Our gain doesn’t make up for their loss. (In a unique twist we have re-established a connection between our kids and their biological parents. Having an open adoption after no contact for a few years is scary for some people, but it has been beneficial for all sides in our case.)

So why did we choose to adopt?

I should start by telling you that my husband never wanted to do it, though he has since become adoption’s biggest advocate. The process took years and, though our biological children were excited at first, the time lapse began to wear on them after a while (Will we ever meet our new brother or sister…?). The romantic idea of adoption is that it happens quickly; the truth is that the length of time from start to finish can vary quite a bit. The average time foster children spend in care is 3.5 years.

My motivation to adopt is complex, though it might help to explain my own background. I was the product of an affair my mother had while she was married. She met my biological father in college and I learned very few details about him when I was younger. I was told he was Russian and Jewish, though he was actually Polish. I was told he was studying to be a physician, when he was actually a psychiatrist. I was told his name, which my mother remembered somewhat incorrectly. So the true story of my own conception was a mystery to both my legal father and biological father until I was an adult, when my mother finally revealed the truth to both of them. I suppose that story could have crippled me, but instead, I feel like I became more compassionate.

The search for my “real” self led me to read many books about adoption. To my surprise, I strongly identified with many of the experiences of adoptees. I, too, had a strong appetite for an “adoption story,” to be reunited with my biological father and seek out cultural, ancestral, and medical information. Though most of the books spoke from a religious perspective, I was able to read around these spiritual findings since I had given up my faith by this time.

During our adoption search, we were approved by three different agencies: our local Department of Social Services (DSS), Lutheran Family Services, and a private therapeutic foster care agency. Each agency served an important purpose during the many years we worked with each of them. For starters, we worked with our local Department of Social Services as respite foster care parents, meaning we gave regular foster parents support or a short break by taking care of their kids for an afternoon or a weekend or longer. During our time as respite parents, we were able to help children and families during times of crisis, without becoming official long-term foster parents. It was like we had adoption training wheels.

During our home-study process, when adoption agencies can assess whether we would make good adoptive parents, we were asked about our religious upbringing, the church we currently attended, and how we would respect the foster child’s culture and potential decision to attend a church different from our own. We never volunteered our atheism, nor were we asked; the social worker did, however, assume that we attended church. I suppose she had no reason to think otherwise — parents always adopt because of their faith, right? At least, both private and state agencies always wanted to know that information. I understand the need for thoroughly vetting a prospective family, but it’s not like they ever asked us about our political affiliations…

We eventually decided the best option would be to avoid mentioning our lack of religious beliefs if at all possible. As a “waiting-to-adopt” family, our atheism was setting us up for a wide range of discrimination and intolerance. While many adoption agencies target all kinds of different parents these days — single, older, interfaith, gay, lesbian, transgender, interracial, etc. — they still tend to ignore secular families. We’re just not on their radar. Since most agencies are funded and run by churches and religious foundations, it is assumed by many staffers, case workers, and social workers that the religious faith of the adoptive family alone means they are worthy of parenting children. Most social workers who came to speak with us (as part of a background check) assumed we attended church. We were firm in telling them that we didn’t, but that we respected the children’s right to make that decision for themselves when the time was right. I worried that our atheism would raise some sort of red flag in these agencies, forever marking us as Unfit to Adopt.

The Gilmores meet Richard Dawkins

Even during the mandatory monthly foster parent meetings, I quickly learned that there was a degree of favoritism and intolerance depending on one’s experience. As a new foster parent, I was eager to share what I was thinking, but I discovered the more religious you said you were, the more popular you became within the group and the more placements you received. I never felt I was able to declare my lack of religious belief to the foster care group because I feared I wouldn’t find any support. Meanwhile, other foster parents freely discussed their religious beliefs and even their disgust with a political party with no hesitation. I have seen the same attitudes in other foster care groups, too. I once declared that I didn’t attend church and that I wasn’t very religious, only to be subsequently invited to the foster parent’s church where her husband was pastor. I declined. After that, I was coldly rejected from the group and other future events. Declaring my difference made me an outcast and never benefitted my family. So I decided it would be better to accentuate my family’s values instead of a particular religious label so that we could steer clear from the religiosity that continues to support those who are believers.

That’s when we began inquiring about kids via AdoptUsKids.com. This website became my go-to resource for adopting children in the United States, specifically older children as opposed to infant adoption, and explained the whole process as well as the more complicated proceedings of an interstate adoption. It taught me that waiting families don’t have to adhere to someone else’s idea of “perfect” in order to adopt.

Because our DSS office didn’t participate in interstate adoptions at the time, we switched to an adoption agency that would provide us with a home study that was recognizable by other state agencies: Lutheran Family Services of Virginia.

By this time, we knew better and didn’t express our lack of religiosity to them, but we stated honestly that we did not attend church. We were approved as adoptive parents with LFS on the basis of our experience and recommendations from the state agency.

That’s when we stumbled upon a potential roadblock.

On February 10th, 2012, the Virginia Senate passed SB 349. Known as the “conscience clause” bill, it was described as targeting LGBT populations in Virginia, but it also declared differences in religion as a factor for adoption. That meant that agencies receiving millions of dollars in state funding could discriminate against families they believed did not fit into their doctrine. I felt our opportunity to adopt disappearing. Words could not express my frustration. I promised my family I would never surrender.

Thankfully, those worries never came to fruition. We soon received a call that we would become parents — to a group of four siblings from Tennessee. We became adoptive parents because we were qualified and we had the qualities that these children needed. We did it without any help from god and without the support from Lutheran Family Services of Virginia. And while we weren’t expecting that many children, we can no longer imagine our lives without each one of them.

Having gone through the process, I would now offer some advice to prospective atheist parents:

  1. Clarify your desire to adopt as a family and seek council with a trusted therapist specializing in adoption.
  2. Read everything you can about adoption, attachment issues, and legal barriers in your state.
  3. Do not let your lack of religious faith detour your goal.
  4. Join an online atheist & Humanist parenting group for (anonymous) support.
  5. Try respite care within a foster care agency first. By offering your services as a caretaker, you can learn what it’s like to help a child cope from a traumatic life event first hand. It’s not easy, but it’s rewarding. It’s also a way to dip your toes into the water of adoption.
  6. Be prepared to be rejected over and over (and over!). Don’t take the process personally.

My husband and I differ about whether or not to disclose one’s atheism to an agency. He believes it’s too soon in our society to be open about it entirely. But I think it’s our duty to be the change. If we don’t speak out, who will?

Before our adoption, we were concerned that, because of our lack of faith, our children might reject us. But our kids accepted our lack of religiousness without a second thought. In fact, they felt very relieved that they wouldn’t have to attend religious studies and meetings or be told what to believe in. Raised in the Bible Belt, these kids now have the freedom to choose about their own paths without judgment. We allow them to challenge our perspectives and debate their own ideas freely in our home, something they were unable to do in the past.

The best part about having a large blended family is that our support for one another helps us explore our own meaning of family; the diversity of everyone’s tragedies and personal challenges have made us stronger and more united. It is this deep resiliency that contributes to our universal happiness. The beauty in creating a family by sharing ourselves has been extremely rewarding. I want this world to be a better place for them and for our many generations of “Happy Gilmores” to come.

You might be wondering if our kids are atheists. Most of them are. But our oldest son spent many years attending friends’ churches just for the sake of debate. We focus on being freethinkers rather than giving them any declarative labels. Our kids all attended religious pre-school (it was the only local option) and/or other religious-based camps in the past and understand a variety of religious beliefs. Most of our kids have also attended Camp Quest, the secular summer camp. Some of them have now gone two years in a row! Both times, they came back from camp energized by their experiences, eager to share ideas and debate with their peers. We also attended the Reason Rally last year.

Two of the Gilmore kids stand next to ‘Jesus on a dinosaur’

Children waiting to be adopted need secure, happy, and creative parents who will let them explore their own identities, deal with losses, and grieve. While adoption has traditionally been the purview of religious families, non-believers need to jump into the mix. All children deserve a home, especially older children, and secular families can do their part in providing homes for them. I encourage you to consider it as a way to really live out your Humanism.

The “Happy Gilmores” are devoted to helping children and families. Veronica is writing a book and a film script about her blended family. You can find them on Twitter and Facebook.

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.

  • onamission5

    I know. Isn’t it just terrible when four siblings get adopted together by a loving family who encourages them to think for themselves and helps facilitate a continued relationship with their birth parents, instead of getting split up or having to grow up in an institution, lonely and rejected because of their ages?
    Oh wait, that doesn’t sound terrible at all, actually.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Rather than voting down this comment, look at it a bit differently.

    The Starship Maxima appears to be stating that this is the kind of behavior Christians should aspire to.

    I would make the same statement about atheists. I think Hemant Mehta is making the same statement about atheists.

    We should not criticize positives in a religion, but encourage them.

    If we do not, can we really be surprised when they ignore the positives in atheism?

    Shouldn’t we treat others as we would want to be treated in the same situation?

    .

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Imagine being good without being threatened by an imaginary being.

    The horror of true morality.

    .

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    a bev,

    Literacy is not a sin, but it does make it less likely that you will be superstitious.

    .

  • squinney

    Troll much?

  • Gehennah

    I know, he didn’t read past the description of the parents. And yes, he completely fails in the comprehension. On his first post, I even reread the article when he said “how sad” just to make sure I didn’t miss something in it.

  • Lark62

    This family is “closed-minded”? I think, just maybe, you need to double check a definition or two.

    As for moral truth, have you actually read the Bible? Can you honestly call it moral truth?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

    Fixed!

  • Shane M. Stylianos

    Kudos to this family. My wife and I (atheists) have one child and are currently fostering 3 girls (our long time intent is to adopt…). We were open about our lack of religion, however never used the word atheist. We also live in a much more secular area where the stigma is lessened. it also helps that DCYF in our area has far less foster parents than they really need.

    I try not to address the issue of religion with the kids (since they’re not truly mine), but we are always working to encourage critical thinking and our focus is always education. They know we’re not religious despite coming from a very Catholic home and they don’t really seem to care either way. Kids are little sponges like that. HOpefully, they’ll be with us long enough to get a much better perspective on the world than the one they came to us with.

  • evodevo

    They did it “for the children”. Too bad in our society that’s not enough ! You have to be a religion pusher, too.

  • Rationalist1

    It really bothers you when people adopt views that challenge yours, doesn’t it. A word of advice if you want to engage in civil discourse, don’t disparage those who happen to be different from you, talk with them, you might learn something.

  • Kathy

    Right on, Veronica! I am an atheist, adoptive parent and adoption program manager. When I first adopted many years ago, I had to hide my atheism as the agency required a statement of faith. I just wrote the values I believed in and didn’t say what I didn’t believe in and fortunately it passed. My job was recently “eliminated” however, interestingly, it’s been since I stopped hiding that I’m an atheist (I work at a catholic agency). I have worked 30 years in adoption and I can tell anyone who’s interested that there are more secular social workers than you may think, as most social workers are quite liberal. I would be happy to help anyone who is looking into adopting or fostering to find the right, most accepting workers.

  • Jon Gilmore

    The bible says A LOT of things, many of them horrible, few based on empirical evidence. Looking to the bible for moral truth is a surrender of your reason and potentially a very dangerous path. “Treat others the way you wish to be treated” covers most moral questions. The grey areas are the purview of philosophers, not theologian’s. That said, thank you for your complement, however you choose to say it.

  • Wildcard

    I agree. But I don’t think it is “their” best definition of what good is. Very few people whether Atheist, agnostic, Pagan, Christian or any other religious or non-religious would think of them as bad people.

    @Ship: May we have a conversation over e-mail?

  • Matt D

    Oh, I think being sad is the least of your problems. You’ve got quite a bit more to worry about than that.

  • Matt D

    I’m glad it makes you uncomfortable. Your acknowledgement will always be preferable to ignorance and cowardice, which you already have an abundance of.

  • baal

    Is that ‘evacuate’ as in poops?

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    You should be thanking Veronica for NOT acting in a Christian or biblical manner. Instead, she placed value upon the lives of children.

    And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain:
    Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which we took.
    From Aroer, which is by the brink of the river of Arnon, and from the city that is by the river, even unto Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us: the LORD our God delivered all unto us

    And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city.

    And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:
    Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

    But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them

    moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;
    And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel:
    Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.

    Yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb

    Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up

    Because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die

    Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    If it wasn’t just another self-righteous asinine ‘see all good things really are Christian’ exercise in the no true scotsman fallacy, I might.

    But intent isn’t magic. Christians don’t get to take credit for everything good in the world while simultaneously denying all the harm they do to children, even when repeated slaughter of children is written in their holy book as ordered by their ‘loving’ god.

    It’s not the ‘best of Christianity’. It’s being a basic decent human fucking being.

  • newenglandsun

    Yeah, because abusing people like Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot did in the name of…err…um…oh wait, they were atheists!

    So much better. Atheism has killed more people in the span of a century than religious “nuts” combined!

    Source:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/maos-great-leap-forward-killed-45-million-in-four-years-2081630.html

    http://www.ibtimes.com/how-many-people-did-joseph-stalin-kill-1111789

    http://www.nytimes.com/1998/04/17/world/death-pol-pot-pol-pot-brutal-dictator-who-forced-cambodians-killing-fields-dies.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

    I know of no reputable scholar that would argue that these dudes were not atheists and I also know of no reputable scholar that would contend that any religion combined has taken more lives than this.

    Proud to be a rationalist religionist and hoping this receives numerous dislikes! :)

  • Jon Gilmore
  • Paul Zimmerle

    This may be the most adorable thing.

  • newenglandsun

    I was responding to wmdkitty’s argument of the same weight. You should be responding to her, not me. ;p

  • HappyGilmores

    Thank you for your kind words Rationalist1 – Our story speaks for itself. Every child deserves a home!

  • http://batman-news.com Anton

    I’ve long believed that the problem with totalitarian hellholes is that there’s just way too much freethought and humanistic sentiment.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I cannot be held responsible because most people, including the people this comment was meant for, were able to read it for what it was, but you, with your virulent anti-theism, made it about a bunch of things it wasn’t.

    That, to be blunt, is your problem. Not mine.

  • David M. Smith

    We only drink Dr. Pepper in this house!

  • HappyGilmores

    I appreciate the compliment! Thank you!

  • HappyGilmores

    So true, it’s refreshing to hear someone in the field speak of other families that are secular. Thank you for adding your experience to the mix!

  • HappyGilmores

    Thank you so much! Please keep the door open and consider adoption. Hopefully by the time you decide that adoption is an option for you and your family, it won’t be such an obstacle. Please feel free to keep me posted!

  • drno07

    So are you saying that these dictators killed people in the name of atheism? Because I know of no reputable scholar who would make that argument.

  • HappyGilmores

    Yes Towan, there are a lot of similarities to gay adoption, these two seemed to get compared — though the act of discriminating to each type of parent is different. In regards to the SB 349 bill in Virginia — The (very conservative religious) laws in our state have made the two homogeneous.For me it’s a civil rights issue, one that I will happily stand side by side with the gay community to change.

    In addition, we can’t forget about the youth that are identified as LGBT, and in foster care or waiting to be adopted. These kids need humanistic parents who will have a safe place for them to land. The public sector needs to educate the case workers and foster parents about this rising issue, universally — not just in California (as well as the non religious in foster care, I’m sure these kids exist too).

  • HappyGilmores

    Thank you!!

  • HappyGilmores

    Thank you so much rdnaskela, It’s going to be a good one!!

  • HappyGilmores

    Yes, Daniel –Thank you for acknowledging my husband — he has stood beside me and my maddness for years and years — I am so glad we are able to share this amazing life together.

  • drno07

    First of all, the article was clear that the Gilmores are teaching them HOW to think, not WHAT to think. If they want to be theists that is up to them. Second of all, atheism does not equal nihilism. And there is quite a bit written on morality from an atheistic perspective. Why don’t you look it up? I would say that god does some pretty immoral things in the Bible (genocide, infanticide, condoning slavery, rape, etc.), but if your definition of morality is “it’s good because god said so” then you’re beyond hope.

  • http://backroomcatholic.com/ Daniel McGiffin

    Love is a madness, isn’t it? Beautiful, really. I was having a bad day too, and this lit me up.

  • http://backroomcatholic.com/ Daniel McGiffin

    Rationalist! Haven’t seen you for a while.

  • HappyGilmores

    Yay! I love your story! Yes, fostering is different. Foster Care parents are designed to help keep families intact and build bridges. Most children are resilient and need their needs to be met, and to know their parents are okay. That’s wonderful that you are able to be open somewhat with your agency…agreed…using the word atheism — is stingy. I wonder why…I will admit the label was something I had to work up to over many years — another story : ) Please keep me updated!

  • HappyGilmores

    Thanks Ubi Duibium — That’s Awesome, my kids have made a lot of connections at Camp Quest Chesapeake. Like a second family to my kids! My husband did go to the tent at the Rally, I was in the other tent — What an event! Please keep in touch, as we would like to start an annual meet up with all Camp Quest Families – on Darwin Day in DC.

  • HappyGilmores

    Thank you wmdkitty – I’m good without god!

  • HappyGilmores

    Mary!!! Thank you for your kindness and support — this article has been a long time coming. I felt it was time to come out and talk. We look forward to seeing you and the whole crew!! We would like to get the Camp Quest family together for Darwin Day in DC!

  • HappyGilmores

    Yay! Good without god!

  • HappyGilmores

    Love, Love, Love! Thanks Kathy for sharing your story! Prospective foster and adoptive parents need to hear your message– our state is not as progressive at recognizing these new identities in the foster care and adoption sector, my hope is that there is more people like you helping to guide us there! Do you suggest new parents disclose their atheism? What are your thoughts, and if you don’t mind saying, do you live in a city, and is your state out west, mid west, south..etc?

  • Neko

    It’s an allegory, you see, for “God is love.”

  • HappyGilmores

    I will accept your “praise” ; ) — My message is to include parents like ours, into the adoption pool. Instead, the evangelical Christians raise bills like the…SB 349 bill, which has continued the stigma, that we are not equal or fir enough to adopt. The foster care and Adoption policies need to reflect the change within society, as the children are a reflection of what is to come..

  • HappyGilmores

    However Maxima sees it — is up to her/him. The truth is out and and we all know that this was not the case for us…and hopefully we can all agree on that.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Hana Williams, and thousands of others would like to disagree with you.

    Oh. Wait… they’re fucking DEAD because they were handed over to “good Christian” families and fucking MURDERED!

  • HappyGilmores

    Your right nothing magical happening here…just decent humans : )

  • HappyGilmores

    I’m still — Good without god.

  • HappyGilmores

    Thank You Marcus! I appreciate your encouragement!

  • HappyGilmores

    Sarah! Thank you for adding to the post — I am so thankful for you!! Our kids are very thankful for your confidence and poise — you are truly an inspiration to all the campers. Thanks for sharing and donating your time to Camp Quest — we love our Camp Quest family : ) Darwin Day in DC!!

  • HappyGilmores

    Thank you Rogue Medic – for your kind words! It takes a lot of patience!

  • HappyGilmores

    You are so welcome Allison! If and when you are ready — Check out AdoptUskids.com — Peace!

  • HappyGilmores

    Hopefully we can change that! Do you have any suggestions…should atheists disclose their atheism to their agency? How do you identify your self?

  • HappyGilmores

    Thanks Jay — yes humanists can do good!

  • HappyGilmores

    Thanks Jael !

  • HappyGilmores

    Yes mallorea541 — We hope our work can be the chink (for change) and the link to bring families together!

  • HappyGilmores

    Thank you onamission5 for bringing up a very good point — many older youths to not find homes and many age out of the system with no support. The barriers in adoption need to address all the issues that are rising.

  • HappyGilmores

    Please read the article – thanks ; )

  • HappyGilmores

    Thank you Feminerd!!! I thank you for reading my post!

  • HappyGilmores

    nice one

  • HappyGilmores

    Yes, yes, yes…drno07 — We own the bumper sticker “teach kids how to think not what to think” — I think we need the T-shirts!

  • HappyGilmores

    : ) Have a happy day — compliments of the Happy Gilmores!

  • Ami

    Loved this!

  • The Starship Maxima

    I could not agree more, and I think your story will cause Christians to realize that denying homes to foster children because not enough families buy our beliefs is an absolute disgrace before God.

    As Christians, our goal should more children in loving homes, getting fed, and not being thrown to the streets to become another lost generation. Not more nice little kiddies that can quote Scripture.

  • Little_Magpie

    What a heartwarming story. Kudos to this family for taking in 4 (4!!!) older adoptees. That’s good stuff!
    Is there any worry that the parents could get in trouble for “misreprenting” their lack of religion? I mean, understandable in the situation, and I’m not being judgy, just wondering if that is a potential legal wrinkle.

  • newenglandsun

    Millions of people under communist Russia’s rule would agree with me.

  • newenglandsun

    They were atheists and was very hostile to the religious regime. No reputable scholar would disagree with that.

  • newenglandsun

    By the way, I’ve never seen any atheists doing any good in the name of atheism. I’ve seen plenty of Christian groups doing good in the name of Christianity.

  • drno07

    That does not mean they were killing in the name of atheism. They were doing it in the name of communism. Atheism is not a defined set of beliefs. It is the rejection of a proposed belief. See the difference?

  • newenglandsun

    “That does not mean they were killing in the name of atheism. They were doing it in the name of communism.”

    Whoa there boy genius, never said they WERE killing in the name of atheism. This is something I say to everyone, “REPEAT WHAT I SAID.”

    “people like Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot did in the name of…err…um…oh wait, they were atheists!”

    Translation, I denied right off the bat explicitly that they weren’t killing in the name of anything whatsoever. However, bringing them up when an atheist brings up “violence caused in the name of religion” is 100% valid because the atheist’s argument in bringing up “violence caused in the name of religion” is summed up as “And we atheists are better because we’ve never done that!”

    By the way, it’s very rare that you actually see violence *done* in the name of religion. Even the 9/11 terrorists were politically motivated but they wouldn’t have been politically motivated in the first place if it *wasn’t* for their religious views.

  • drno07

    Sorry, try again. No one said anything about violence in the name of god when you decided to chime in. They OP said “abuse” and was likely referring to how many freethinkers view the indoctrination of children as abuse.

    And are you really going to try to argue that violence rarely happens in the name of religion? Let’s just take a look in the Bible and we will see god commanding or causing genocide, infanticide, rape, slavery, and let’s not forget eternal torment in a lake of fire. But then again, maybe you’re right. It’s mostly fiction anyway. Then again, there is the Inquisition, the Crusades, the bombing of abortion clinics, conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, the Salem witch trials…

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    It is a wonderful post! I don’t have any children at all yet, but would like to soon-ish (though we’ll probably try the biological route first). Just reading about how you parent your children is really interesting.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Learn 2 History, kiddo.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    You’re right, we don’t do good in the name of atheism. We do good for the sake of doing good, not to get brownie points from our invisible overlord. Isn’t that more morally sound, to do good with no expectation of reward of any kind?

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Oh, no, I was referring to full-on physical abuse. There are numerous cases of children beaten to death because their “parents” were following a heinous child-abuse manual called “To Train Up A Child”. A fair number of those cases involve adopted children.

  • drno07

    Oh I forgot about that. But to be fair there are plenty of religious parents who don’t abuse their children. The majority of abuse cases probably come from religious homes, but that does not make the majority of religious homes physically abusive.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    But it does mean that adoption agencies should check religion (which they already do), and if the parents raise enough fundamentalist Christian red flags, should be much more thoroughly investigated before children are placed there. As it is, the fundagelicals almost get a free pass.

  • newenglandsun

    Wonderful, working on my B.A. right now. And you? Oh, wait, according to your blog, you just do gaming.

  • newenglandsun

    “who will abuse them in the name of “God”.” -wmdkitty

    LOL. You have a very poor understanding of history. You should read someone like Henry Kamen or Eamon Duffy or Alister McGrath.

    This book shows from numerous sources of various different *quality* sources and was introduced to me by an Eastern Orthodox friar showing your points to be fraud.

    http://www.amazon.com/Atheist-Delusions-Christian-Revolution-Fashionable/dp/0300164297/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t

  • newenglandsun

    “We do good for the sake of doing good, not to get brownie points from our invisible overlord.”

    You have a very poor understanding of Christian theology. Christian theology argues that God sacrificed himself on behalf of the human race. Our service to others is a response of love first given to us. Those who do it to score brownie points are hypocrites and are completely missing the mark.

    Done here though. I don’t want to throw pearls before swine any more.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    You really ought to shut up, as your apologetics are tiresome.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    mmm, right, you’re just sooooo superior.

    Fuck off, abuse apologist.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    “rationalist religionist” is a contradiction. You can either be rational, or you can be religious, but you cannot be both because religion is inherently unreasonable.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    I’m sorry that your world view is so narrow that you can’t acknowledge someone as a decent human being without trying to shoehorn them into your religion.

    I’m also sorry that you’ve dedicated your life to a holy tome you’ve apparently never bothered to read.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    I am a better person due to my atheism. There is no magical forgiveness. I must take responsibility for myself.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Do you mind pointing out where it says that? There’s a whole lot of Christians who are very firm on that whole belief thing being important, and in fact, far more important than mere deeds and acts.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Well, if you’re doing good in the name of Christianity, what are you doing but trying to score brownie points?

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    Who hath saved us,
    and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and
    grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

    Seems like the bible itself says that it’s about belief and predestination rather than works. I never ceases to amaze me how few Christians have actually read the bible.

  • Shane M. Stylianos

    You must be that kind, loving, Christian I’ve been hearing so much about…

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Well, I know the different sects have different parts they like to highlight. I’ve seen that one before from various Protestants, and I’m hoping Starship Maxima can find a bit in the bible to back up his view too, because I’ve certainly never seen anything supporting it, but I’m also not Christian and never was.

  • Shane M. Stylianos

    It’s definitely tougher in fostering. Having to act as if they’re yours, but never really being yours; wondering when they’ll be sent back to parent(s) that aren’t ready; having DCYF string you along, thinking you’ll get them to have them given back at the last second… Sometimes, I wish we were just adoptive. On the other hand, I look at what my wife, son, and I have been able to give these children in such a short amount of time; healthier relationships, better education (to include critical thinking), and opportunities to be normal kids. Even if/when we lose them, the things they’ll gain from us will change their lives for the better, and stay with them for life. Strangely, that seems to be worth the former issues. Though, it’s our hope that we still get to adopt…

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Stating that this is what Christians should be aspiring to is not the same as taking credit for it.

    Contrariwise, it may be saying to Christians to focus on the positives of their religion (helping others unselfishly), rather than the negatives (telling others what to do).

    I did not see any criticism of atheism.

    .

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    newenglandsun,

    Yeah, because abusing people like Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot did in the name of…err…um…oh wait, they were atheists!

    They killed in the name of what?

    Did they kill in the name of atheism?

    Or did they kill in the name of political power and through incompetence?

    Many more people have been killed in the name of religion.

    If you read the Bible, God kills hundreds of millions.

    .

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    newenglandsun,

    Atheists do not need to be told to be good.

    Religious people may need a Bible to tell them to be good sometimes and to kill other times.

    Atheists are human beings. We are both good and bad, just like everyone else.

    When we are good, it is not because of irreligious reward/punishment.

    When we are bad, it is not because of irreligious reward/punishment.

    Atheists are responsible for their own behavior without any religious excuse/bribe.

    .

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    newenglandsun,

    Those who do it to score brownie points are hypocrites and are completely missing the mark.

    That is what atheists have been telling you.

    Maybe you can be taught.

    .

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    newenglandsun,

    By the way, it’s very rare that you actually see violence *done* in the name of religion.

    The part about God’s chosen people does make it easier to justify killing people God doesn’t like.

    Religion is an excuse to dehumanize others.

    .

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Little_Magpie,

    I do not see any misrepresentation.

    If people are prejudiced, is it a misrepresentation to not correct every instance of their bias?

    I regularly deal with people who assume that I am Christian. I do not feel the need to correct them and create conflict – except for the preachy ones.

    .

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    newenglandsun,

    By the way, I’ve never seen any atheists doing any good in the name of atheism. I’ve seen plenty of Christian groups doing good in the name of Christianity.

    Search this site for “charity” and you will find plenty of stories about atheist charities.

    Just because you don’t know doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

    .

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    You … do realize that people today still burn and torture people accused of witchcraft to death, right? Because of their religious beliefs (oh hi, Christianity!), people die horrendous deaths.

    As for the 9/11 terrorists, that’s a toxic mixture of politics and religion right there. Islam is just as good at sacrificing its young as Christianity ever was (oh hi, Children’s Crusade) for politico-religious ends.

  • http://batman-news.com 3lemenope

    Proud to be a rationalist religionist and hoping this receives numerous dislikes!

    Protip: Verbal flagellation over the Internet simply does not have the same sanctifying power as actual lashes from an actual Roman scourge. (Passive-agression doesn’t bear much resemblance to the Passion narrative, either.)


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