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The Atheist Parent

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Atheism has always been a pretty tough subject to write about. I had written a previous article on another website about it, but that website went down and my article is lost to the internet. But I digress. Recently, we put our little guy into public school after attempting to home school him, which just wasn't working for either of us. Luckily, in school now he is thriving, which I am glad to hear and am exceptionally proud of. But as an atheist parent, I have some reservations.

When I was pregnant, my husband and I discussed religion in length. I am an atheist. I do not believe in any deities. My husband is on the agnostic side, where he isn't sure. So the questions often popped up of what would we teach our child, will we take them to church, do we allow his family to tell him about "God?" It was hard. It still is hard. I mean, when Christmas time comes around, the Nativity story makes its rounds everywhere. We cannot get away from it.

Then, we found Unitarian Universalism. It's a liberal religion, where you can have varied belief, and are welcome in their congregation. They have Religious Education classes, where the children are taught about different religions. I like that, I like that my child can learn about all of the different beliefs and religions of the world. I remember the first time we went, this little old lady came up to us, said that this was the best place ever and leaned in and whispered "And I'm an atheist!" Unitarian Universalism also teaches and affirms the inherent worth and dignity of each person. I am a big proponent of that. That's my favorite tenet of the whole church.

I want my child to question the world, to want to learn more about religions and beliefs and to make his own decisions when he is old enough. But I've recently run into some conflicting feelings over his schooling. I've learned that they've been teaching him "God Bless America," and well, of course, the Pledge of Allegiance. But I don't want to make waves at his school, to call him out and end up embarrassing him in the end.

We live in a heavily religious part of New Jersey, where there are churches at every corner. I think what I am afraid of is that he is going to be force fed information that there is only "One True God." That is the last thing I want. I know kids will talk about church, and God, and such. But I want our son to be able to stand up and say he is a Unitarian Universalist, and he doesn't know what he believes yet, and that he is still choosing. I just hope that one day, he'll make the choice that is correct for him, and nobody else. To never change just for someone.

That's what happened to me. I always pretended I was Christian to appease my parents, my family and even boyfriends. It wasn't even until I met my husband that I began to realize that I wasn't thinking for myself, which is another tenet that UU believes in. Not taking things at face value. Just because I'm told there is a higher power, that doesn't mean I have to believe it.

But, all of this with our son remains to be seen, until he gets older at least, when he can make his own decisions. Until then, we'll continue to teach him about all the different religions and beliefs of the world.