I am an atheist. I don’t mind what other people believe as long as they don’t try and force it on me, each to their own I say. My husband is also an atheist and as such we had a none religious wedding and are not planning a baptism for Rose. This does not always go down well with the more traditional members of our family (when I say “our” I mean “his” but whatever). Indeed we received a Bible verse wall hanging for a wedding gift, various Religious cards with “God Bless You” in, and Rose has been given a religious themed pillow. These don’t in any way offend me, but it does tickle me that they’re attempting to convert us and our baby; who has no concept of what her nose is yet let alone an All Powerful Being that made and controls various things depending on how religious you are and which God or Gods you’ve decided to believe in.
That said, just because we don’t believe in any religions doesn’t mean we don’t understand that they all, to varying extents, play a big role in how our world currently functions. Just because I believe there should be a complete separation of Church and State doesn’t mean there is. Just because I believe nobody should attack those who believe in a different God to them doesn’t mean they don’t. Religions in various incarnations are alive and active around us, control vast amounts of the world’s economy, have influence in media and government, and are important aspects in many people’s lives. For this reason we are going to educate Miss Rose about religion, not in the “This is what’s real everything else is bullshit” kind of way that religion is taught in specific denominations, but in a “These are what some people believe and they should be understood” way.
I was educated in a Church of England primary school and a Catholic secondary school. My father is an atheist while my mother was educated by Nuns and has always had a connection to religion for that reason. However, any religious beliefs I had picked up from these places growing up were rapidly quashed by my Catholic education. I think initially because I couldn’t understand what made “that” God specifically any more or less real than others. The Catholic God wasn’t around for thousands of years, it was Thor and Odin and Mars and Zeus and various others. Where did they go? It just confused me. If you’re religious and are reading this I mean no offence, I’m sure for you your specific God is very real, I just kind of feel bad for the Gods of old. It’s a bit like falling out with your friends and suddenly finding your social life has been destroyed and you’re not invited to the party anymore.
So how will I teach Rose about them? I don’t believe in forcing any beliefs on a child, I have always said I want to teach her how to think not what to think, and for that reason, just as I don’t want her indoctrinated into any religions, I don’t want to force her to believe in none of it like me. I want her to be able to decide, to read and learn and understand what and why people believe certain things and then from an educated stand point decide for herself. I will get a copy of religious texts and keep them on the book shelves, I will let her talk to our friends who are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Pagan etc. Let her learn and ask questions, and should she decide she believes in whichever God she believes in, be it from current religion or older religion, then that is her choice and I will respect it just as I respect it from my religious friends.
I don’t know if any of my religious friends will offer their children the same freedom, but we each do for our children what we believe is best. I do believe it would be best if she decides for herself with reason and logic that none of the available religions are correct but I won’t force her, because I believe freedom is perhaps the biggest gift I can give her.
You can check out all my contact info an links on http://www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also http://www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and The Boy (Jonathan McKinney) and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to http://www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!