On the way to have Ben’s surgery today we were listening to an NPR session featuring TED2008 winner Karen Armstrong about the Golden Rule and how it applies across pretty much every religion. Particularly awesome to me was the point made about how every religion seems to think that they have it right when really, just the act of thinking that your religion might be The One is breaking that rule since you wouldn’t want somebody else to tell you that YOUR religion is wrong, you should in turn never think that about another.
Did that make any sense at all?
Anyway, a lady called in and pointed out that she is an atheist and she raised her children without religion but still taught them The Golden Rule. Karen Armstrong was quick to say that it’s a concept that really has no boundary. Religion or not, it’s universal rule that EVERYBODY can live by, and should.
And all of this was a very long winded way to bring me to what I wanted to post about today which is the question Ben and I inevitably get when he tells people he’s an atheist and I tell people that I’m agnostic: What do you teach Cassidy about religion and what will you do if she grows up to be *insert person’s religion here*?
We teach Cassidy that she should always ask questions. Question everything, even us! If you don’t encourage that then kids learn at a pretty young age to just accept what people say to them as fact and I don’t ever want that for her. I think it’s important to teach her about religion, ALL religions, and let her ask questions and make the best decision for HER about HER beliefs. One of her BFFs is Episcopalian and she’s been to church with her a handful of times. She also goes to church with her step-mom when she goes, and to Bible school when she’s there in the summer. If she wanted to go to mass with a Catholic friend I’d encourage it and if she wanted to go to worship with a Muslim friend I’d encourage it also.
Ben and I have discussed it and think that an important part of her being able to make her own decision about this is to actually experience different religions and since we obviously aren’t going to church, going with friends or other relatives is the best way for her to do that. Yes, we as an atheist and an agnostic, ENCOURAGE OUR DAUGHTER TO GO TO CHURCH. This has elicited the most interesting responses in people you could possibly imagine and I have to giggle to myself each time we explain WHY we do this and shatter the most common misconception people have about us; that we (non-believers) hate all religion/church.
If Cassidy grows up to be Christian, Buddhist, Catholic, Muslim, Wicca or any other religion, I will love her. As long as there is a mutual respect about our feelings and opinions, her religion will not matter to me and I think that is something every parent strives to teach their child regardless of what religion they are, or aren’t.