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My Faith: Raising religious (but not too religious) children
Laurel Synder is raising her two sons Jewish, but not kosher.
April 13th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Faith: Raising religious (but not too religious) children

Editor's noteLaurel Snyder is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a poet and author of many books for children. Follow her on Twitter at @laurelsnyder.

By Laurel Snyder, Special to CNN

(CNN) – A few years ago I was invited to my local Jewish Community Center to do a reading of my picture book “Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher.” It was going to be a child-friendly event, so I took my kids along.

Now, “Baxter” isn’t really a book about being kosher. It’s about wanting to be accepted into a community. But I always like to make sure my listeners know what the word kosher means before I read it, since the joke at the center of the book depends on that. So as usual I asked the Jewish Community Center crowd if they could define the word.

Before anyone else could answer, my own son Mose, who was 5 at the time, jumped up and shouted out, “I know! I know! Kosher is us! We’re kosher!” Then he sat back down again, beaming proudly.

And I might have been proud too. Only, you see, we’re not kosher.

On the drive home I tried to figure out what to say to Mose about his mix-up. I wanted him to know what it means to be kosher, to live by a rigid religious dietary code, day in and day out. But I also needed him to understand that we’re not.

How could I show respect for this part of our Jewish tradition while also suggesting that it doesn’t seem relevant in our own household? Should I just blame it on my own parents, who didn’t raise me that way?

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

It’s not easy to explain something to a kid when you haven’t yet figured it out for yourself. One of the most helpful/terrible things about having children is that they require us to think things out explicitly. That often means they make us face the very things we’ve been avoiding.

Sometimes, as a result, kids challenge us to become more mindful or observant. I hadn’t been a member of a synagogue for years when I became a mom. I hadn’t hosted a Passover Seder or found the time to light Shabbat candles.

Even though I worked for a Jewish agency and wrote about religion professionally, when it came to my home life I was almost completely unobservant. Judaism was something I thought about more intellectually than personally. Religion was an interesting idea more than a belief system.

Now I light candles each week and say the blessings. I belong to a havurah – a cohort of local Jewish friends who get together for monthly potluck dinners – and also a synagogue.

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Because there’s something about having kids that makes me want to be a better version of my Jewish self. I want something special to pass on to them. Something more than “You’re Jewish because I’m Jewish.”

But sometimes the opposite is true. Sometimes my kids help me recognize the limits of my faith.

In truth, I do not keep kosher and I don’t really want to. My husband is not Jewish, though we’re raising our family to be. So, yeah, we eat tacos for Shabbat dinner most weeks and usually skip Friday night services.

This is the truth and I have to own it. I can only shift my life around so much without feeling inauthentic. Lying to my kids about my religious life is no way to model the value of faith.

So when, after the “Baxter”/kosher fiasco, I set out to write my new picture book, “Good night, laila tov” (laila tov means “good night” in Hebrew), I wanted to paint an honest portrait of my largely secular household.

I wanted my kids to recognize the family in my story as Jewish, but also as, well, like us. Which is to say, not exactly kosher.

On some level I was reacting to the fact that most of the Jewish picture books in my home feel like they’re about someone else. They’re usually set in a Polish village a century ago, or on the Lower East Side of New York City, where mothers cook and fathers pray.

I wanted “Good night, laila tov” to be a sort of lowest common denominator. Contemporary and universal. It’s not about Jewish history, and it doesn’t have a single rabbi in it. It won’t teach you new Hebrew words or show you how to say a certain prayer.

It’s just a story about a Jewish American family going camping, experiencing nature, love, work and rest. In writing it I hoped to capture something typical, something natural, something simple.

And it does present, to my mind, Jewish values: Nature is spiritual, and takes us beyond ourselves. Time spent with family is sacred.

The family in the book plants trees and picks up their campsite, because caring for the earth is part of Judaism, I think. Along with caring for each other.

But as I wrote, I found myself a little afraid that, in attempting to write a picture book for everyone, I was letting the Jewish particularity go. Aren’t family nature, and environmentalism tenets of faith beyond the Jewish world, in every religion?

What did it say about me, my choices, my household, that the Jewish life I was choosing to depict looked like it could be any household at all?

Then I come back around to that moment with Mose, that moment of realizing I’d somehow misled him. Because whatever I’m unsure of, whatever I don’t know about faith, I do know this: if it isn’t honest, it doesn’t count.

The purpose of faith, as I understand it, is to infuse life with greater meaning. To make it more real. Not to dress it up. Not to pretend.

My kids and I are on a journey together. We’re setting out for parts unknown.

And while we may find ourselves changing as we trek along, there is a sacred quality in simply being who we are today. Of stopping on the trail and taking a deep breath. It’s enough, I think, to be exactly who we are, kosher or not.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Laurel Snyder.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Judaism • My Faith

soundoff (3,114 Responses)
  1. momoya

    I know everything. Im so smart and cannot be questioned. Anyone who believes in God is automatically an ldiot because it makes me feel better about myself when belittling people. I assault all those who are religious because deep down I know my beliefs are weak and vulnerable. I love to be mean and belittle people, the ultimate sign of insecurity and self hatred.

    I am the typical atheist.

    April 14, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Troll, blow it out your ear. The reason you post dreck like this is because you ARE an idiot.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • momoya

      Hey tom,

      Thanks for proving my point. Carry on now, Im sure you have world problems to solve since you are soooooo smart.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Blow me, troll. Momoya could outmaneuver you in a debate using half her brain.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • momoya

      Tom,

      You keep proving my point over and over again, thanks!

      Thats surprising since you and all the other atheists are by far the most intelligent people around. Wait, what's that you say? Theyre actually full of shlt and are very insecure .......shocker

      Thanks again Tom!

      April 14, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Poor child. You must not have any friends.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • momoya

      I assume that whoever stole my handle is a christian lying for their god.. I guess you need to go ahead and finish up so you can go scurry off and ask your god for forgiveness for lying.. Just think, if you died suddenly, you'd wind up in hell for being a liar all because you wanted to make an atheist look bad.. What a pleasant thought to have buzzing around in your head for the trillions and trillions of billions and billions of years in your god's torture pit..

      April 14, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • momoya

      Wow Tom youre right!! howd you get so smart? You really are the smartest person alive, quick guess my location?

      April 14, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That farting dolt is already in hell, momoya. He calls it his mom's basement.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Just did, Einstein.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • momoya

      @momoya, the fake one

      Im lying? Please provide the doc.umentation that tpyou have the rights to this handle and its only yours. Ever heard of two people having the same name? Youre sooooo smart also!! Hope you dont know anyne with the name john, jason, margaret, bill, etc bc they most certainly are liars too! No way theyre the originals

      April 14, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Too bad you're incapable of actually writing, troll. Until you can, you're as easy to spot as Waldo.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • momoya

      Well, fake momoya, it's pretty stupid to address me as "the fake one," if you're arguing that you're a different person with the same name.. You must read the bible a little bit; you're able to contradict yourself within just 5 words or so, and usually a person can't get that ability without the practice that the bible provides.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • momoya

      Tom, youre right again!!! I take back everything i said bc u r most certainly the smartest man alive, u might even be a psychich! Yup you guessed it,theres no way i could actually have friends and be a risk mgmt consultant for a fortune 500 company, while living on my own!!! Youre the smartest!

      April 14, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • momoya

      Btw my typing sucks bc im on my ipad :)

      April 14, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Uh-huh. As if a risk management specialist for a Fortune 500 company would be unable to figure out apostrophes and would write drivel like "sooooooooo". The only person who's a risk management specialist is your daddy. Too bad he grounded you for the weekend.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Dead giveaway: "living on my own."

      Bwahahhahhhaha.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Your writing would suck if you were on a Kotex pad.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Other dead giveaway: You imagine I'm male. The real momoya knows better.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • momoya

      Tom,

      Seriously howd u get so smart? Are you spying on my? Typical atheist to think he knows my personal life when he couldnt be further from the truth. Thanks for proving my original post ten fold!!

      April 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nah. You're about 16.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • wrong side of the bed

      Maybe you two should take this out to the playground.C'mon!A little off point but,what is so appealing about heaven?Sounds like a scary place to me.

      April 15, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  2. Call a Spade a Spade

    Atheism is the easy, cheap, and lazy way to live. Truth!

    April 14, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Truth

      100% agree. Look at the typical atheist comment, see how hateful, hypocritical, amd biased it is, then realize how lost they really are. You feel sorry for them at first and want to help but as they continue to be angry, mean, hateful, etc you realize how sad and pathetic they really are and its hard to show empathy for someone time after time.

      April 14, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      More idiocy and all from the same sick well. Atheists are no more lazy, hateful, or selfish than are boobs like you.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • AGuest9

      Ahhh. Look at that. Just lyin made up new names. Isn't that CUTE?

      April 14, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      About as cute as a troll can be. How desperate is the chucklehead that she/he/it has to answer its own posts?

      April 14, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Aguest9......im the coolest and all knowing!

      To all atheists,

      You are sad and pathetic. 'nuff said.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      To the brain-dead troll: you're pathetic.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • bhigh

      Yes, it's great

      April 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Trying to flatter me by claiming that I am all knowing? A pathetic attempt. Fail!

      April 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • wrong side of the bed

      And it's not lLAZY to allow someone else to form core your beliefs?Do you think it's EASY to look on in frustration when you have something you disagree with thrown in your face everywhere you look?Do you think we are CHEAP when we are asked to allow legal tax evasion for a thing we think is ridiculous and harmful?

      April 15, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • bspurloc

      the fight against thousands of years of religious oppression is called atheism....
      BEWARE the ATHEIST SPRING.....

      April 15, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  3. momoya

    Kids should be exposed to religion enough to learn the reality that it is boring and yet can become a dangerous addiction/compulsion..

    April 14, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @momoya

      Communists and National Socialists (Nazis) murdered at least as many people as the Arabs, which had become mad through Islam.

      Both communists and Nazis were actually atheists. Obviously, even human beings without religion can behave beastly.

      April 14, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • momoya

      What's your point?. That a belief in god has no bearing on how horrible you can be to other people?

      April 14, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Rainy Brainless

      Never mind that all the Nazi soldiers had "God Is With Us" on their belt buckles – that is an old atheist trick. Yeah, I know that the German census of May 1939 indicates that 54 percent of Germans considered themselves Protestant and 40 percent considered themselves Catholic, but they just did that to fool us. And yeah, they did their trickery with the 450th anniversary of Luther's birth, which took place only a few months after the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, there were celebrations conducted on a large scale both by the Protestant Churches and the Nazi Party.

      And of course all atheist and free-thinker organizations were banned in 1933, right when Hitler came into power, and secular schools were closed, with Hitler saying: "Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction . . . all character training and religion must be derived from faith." Oh how sneaky those atheist Nazis were!

      But Nazis were atheists because I just cannot admit that they were as Christian as me, so I decided that they must be atheist.

      April 14, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @momoya

      Let us regard historical evidences:

      Once the Arabs were not a united nation but merely consisted of gangs, which now and again raided Byzantine caravans. Sometimes, but seldom, they even made raids on byzantine territory (Palestine, Syria).

      However, then came Muhammad and most skillfully developed a demonic religion, called Islam, by which he united all Arabic gangs a big monster gang. This monster gang did not only raid caravans, but the whole Christian Eastern Roman Empire and many, many guiltless people lost their life.

      Islam is a bad example for religion, but only because it is the Anti-faith. In fact Islam is no religion, but the full-revelation of the human flesh as that, what it is in itself. Islam promotes everything, which is bad in us by nature. If you become a Muslim, your inherent beast gets fully revealed.

      However, yet without Islam or any other false religion, we are sinful:

      Romans: And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

      Before the Roman Empire became Christian, the people behaved like beasts (the passage from Romans refers to that).

      The Romans adored the Greek god's, which were sinful (murderers, fornicators).

      Strictly speaking, there is no absolute atheist. Yet if someone merely works, sleeps, eats, buys, saves, he adores Mammon, the god or idol of materialism.

      Pure materialism is yet idolatry. The idol of materialism and capitalism is the Mammon, a real demon. Idolatry causes that a man loses all protection of the eternal God and hence he becomes a mega-sinner.

      All false religions on earth merely prove the total sinfulness of man. Even the religions, invented by man, are sin and make him sin more instead of less.

      Dear Muslim, Jew, Catholic, Mormon, your previous religion proved your sinfulness. Come now to the Passover Lamb Jesus Christ, the only saviour and get forgiveness and deliverance by the Eternal God, who has made heaven and earth.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Rainy Brainless

      I am a German. I live in Munich/Bavaria.

      I confess: When I was young, I was a Catholic and was a churchgoer, but have never heard the gospel in the Roman Catholic Church.

      Now I am a believer in Jesus and sometimes I hear radio broadcasts of services of the German Evangelical Church, but they also don't preach the gospel, but any nonsense.

      Yet at the Third Reich, as Bonhoeffer confesses, both the Roman Church and the German Evangelical Church did not preach the genuine gospel, but a completely distorted gospel, a Nazi-gospel.

      You can not blame the true Christian Church (like Confessing Church of the Third Reich, which resisted Hitler) for the crimes of Churches, which have turned apostate.

      I belong to the true Christian Church according to the Bible, the Fathers of the Church, the Ecu-menical Councils, the Confessional Docu-ments of the Lutheran Churches.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • momoya

      Rainer,

      Yes, large groups of people need a common goal to act in unity.. The germans had the hatred of the jews.. The catholic church had their inquisition of heretics.. Americana had their communists..

      It's stupid to believe in really crazy sounding beings if nobody can offer any proof for their existence.. There's no sin, no soul, and no god.. We have the ability to imagine these philosophical ideals, so that same mechanism helps our dealings in morality..

      April 14, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • B(iraq) Hussein Osama

      Nazis and Communists were not atheists. They were Godless. Not exactly the same thing, more like cousins. Like muslims and christians sort of.

      These Godless (ex-christians) killed MILLIONS and MILLIONS less than 100 years ago. Godlessness and Atheism are INFINITELY more dangerous and deadly than religion.

      April 15, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • DrewNumberTwo

      If Christians can say that anyone who does something bad and claims to be a Christian isn't a true Christian, then atheists can say that anyone who does something bad and claims to be an atheist isn't a true atheist. Of course, neither of those is accurate. We can't ever know a person's beliefs or lack thereof, except for what they tell us.

      April 15, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  4. Donna

    lol religious but not too religious= catholic

    April 14, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • AGuest9

      No, they're still too religious.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  5. Rainer Braendlein

    Premise:

    As I am a German I first want to apologize for all the crimes we (the Germans) have committed against the Jews. I regret deeply.

    The blood of the people, which have committed these crimes flows in my veins. I only can continue to live, because God gave his precious Passover Lamb for me. Even the worst people on earth can get saved by God's Lamb.

    Actual comment:

    The Jewish prophet John the Baptist once said:

    29 The next day John seeth Jesus (a Jewish carpenter) coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

    Jesus and John the Baptist fullfilled Ezekiel 36: 24-28:

    24 For I will take you (Israel) from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them . 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

    Dear Jew, Catholic, Anabaptist, Muslim, Mormon, etc. join God's Passover Lamb Jesus Christ and he will purify you perfectly.

    The gospel: God, the Father, delivered God, the Son (God's Lamb), for our sins and raised him from the dead for our justification.

    Simply believe that and get baptized (or remember your infant baptism, if you are yet baptized). At baptism your dirty, impure old man of sin dies (you die for the sin) and you resurrect to a new life in Christ. Your heart gets circu-mcised and you receive Jahve's Spirit. It is not only that God forgives you, but he also makes you a new creature (rebirth by Water and Spirit), which is able to live a life of divine love. By the love of the Spirit of God you fullfill the law of the Torah. If The Divine Legislator lives in you, how shall you break the law anymore?

    Dear Jews, God gave you the law of the Torah, so that you might realize your sinfulness and that you need a redeemer. When at last will you accept the saviour, which the God of Israel has sent to you?

    Dear Jews, you actually don't have a problem with the lousy Germans or other Antisemits. You actually have a conflict with your own God. You should gradually start to understand your own scriptures. Yet by the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) it is possible to prove that every man needs a redeemer and that an Anointed One should come and get wiped out from the earth (Daniel).

    Addition:

    Through baptism we die for the sin and receive God's Spirit, which uses our actually sinful body as a tool for doing works of righteousness. Every day a Christian invites Christ or the Spirit, which has yet received at baptism, to rule his sinful body.

    In other words: The biological body of the Christian doesn't get delivered by baptism, it remains sinful (see Romans 7, where St. Paul describes his sinful past made of flesh and blood, his body). The Christian only appears holy, because the divine power, which he received at baptism, forces his sinful body to do works of righteousness and love.

    Gospel of Jesus Christ, Amen.

    April 14, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • bhigh

      You're joking, right? What a horrible, insensitive thing to say to a Jewish person. No wonder they feel persecuted with jerks like you running around.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  6. Rainer Braendlein

    Premise:

    As I am a German I first want to apologize for all the crimes we (the Germans) have committed against the Jews. I regret deeply.

    The blood of the people, which have committed these crimes flows in my veins. I only can continue to live, because God gave his precious Passover Lamb for me. Even the worst people on earth can get saved by God's Lamb.

    Actual comment:

    The Jewish prophet John the Baptist once said:

    29 The next day John seeth Jesus (a Jewish carpenter) coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

    Jesus and John the Baptist fullfilled Ezekiel 36: 24-28:

    24 For I will take you (Israel) from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them . 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

    Dear Jew, Catholic, Anabaptist, Muslim, Mormon, etc. join God's Passover Lamb Jesus Christ and he will purify you perfectly.

    The gospel: God, the Father, delivered God, the Son (God's Lamb), for our sins and raised him from the dead for our justification.

    Simply believe that and get baptized (or remember your infant baptism, if you are yet baptized). At baptism your dirty, impure old man of sin (the sinful human nature) dies and you resurrect to a new life in Christ. Your heart gets circu-mcised and you receive Jahve's Spirit. It is not only that God forgives you, but he also makes you a new creature, which is able to live a life of divine love. By the love of the Spirit of God you fullfill the law of the Torah. If The Divine Legislator lives in you, how shall you break the law anymore?

    Dear Jews, God gave you the law of the Torah, so that you might realize your sinfulness and that you need a redeemer. When at last will you accept the saviour, which the God of Israel has sent to you?

    Dear Jews, you actually don't have a problem with the lousy Germans or other Antisemits. You actually have a conflict with your own God. You should gradually start to understand your own scriptures. Yet by the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) it is possible to prove that every man needs a redeemer and that an Anointed One should come and get wiped out from the earth (Danie).

    April 14, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  7. Thomas

    A nice column about a grownup trying to figure out what she believes, how she should enact her beliefs and how that is reflected in her child children. I love the part where she talks about the faith-based children's in her home seem to be about a culture completely alien to the one in which she actually lives. That she wrestles with this through writing a book, “Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher,” is quite inventive. More power to her.

    April 14, 2012 at 7:57 am |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    April 14, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  9. Flamespeak

    I actually had a discussion about religion with my nieces (age 7 and 9) recently.

    They noticed I do not go to church and my house is bare of any religious trappings and they finally asked me, 'Are you a Christian?' I told them, 'No.'

    "Why not?"
    "Are you Christian?"
    "Yes" they said smiling.
    "Why?"
    They looked confused finally the youngest one said, 'Because...'
    "Find out why you follow the path of being a Christian, first. Then I will tell you why I follow my path."
    "What are then?" they asked.
    "I am a Taoist."
    "What's that?" the oldest asked
    "You should find out on your own, the same with any faith." Then I kissed them on top of their heads and played some mancala with them. It is from my personal experience that kids will actually do better when left to explore religion on their own when they feel the time is right for it. I will never force a religion on little ones, and will answer them without lying if possible. They are smarter than most people give them credit for the bulk of the time. I don't bemoan others for teaching religion to kids at a young age though because I have seen faith be a strong tool for bringing out the best character in people before, I have also seen it bring out the worst. It all depends on the application of the guidelines that the religion stresses on folks and how that translate to real world practices.

    April 14, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • AGuest9

      This is true. One problem with religion is that it's an indoctrination process that, for many, begins in infancy. One really doesn't realize what s/he truly believes until adulthood.

      April 14, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • momoya

      Your 9 year old is mature enough (probably) to understand how stupid much of the bible actually is.

      April 14, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • AGuest9

      But, momoya, continual brainwashing every weekday in school and on Sunday during mass usually does the trick. It isn't until the freedom of university life that we truly mature in light of all the various experiences we have and international students that we meet.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, look what brainwashing has done for justlyin', Truth, and herbie.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • B(iraq) Hussein Osama

      brainwashing = washing the brain of impure thoughts and ideas! like Godlessness and Selfishness.

      April 15, 2012 at 7:12 am |
  10. truth

    1 Timothy 4 >>
    Aramaic Bible in Plain English

    --------------------------–
    1But The Spirit speaks plainly that in the last time they shall depart one by one from the faith and they shall go after deceiving spirits and after the teachings of demons, 2These persons who deceive by false appearances and speak lies and sear their consciences; 3And they forbid to be married and they abstain from foods which God has created for use and thanksgiving for those who believe and know the truth. 4For every creation is beautiful to God, and there is nothing to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5For it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer.

    April 14, 2012 at 6:15 am |
  11. A known Filipino

    Again religion ok. Want to worship a God. Fine. Want to be an atheist fine. Want to worship nothing fine. But these blogs have battles between the online loser atheist community and the online loser religious community. Now I'm atheist but I cant believe the hatred in these blogs. Also this was supposed to go on a post where people were battling each other out so I'm sorry for any inconvience.

    April 14, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Drimble Wedge & The Vegetations

      Hilarious comment! You had me going until the last line . . . brilliantly funny!

      April 14, 2012 at 3:01 am |
  12. Iceman

    If someone wants to raise their kids up in a belief then cool. They just need to tell them what i will tell my kids , when you get old enough do your research and study these religions. If you want to stay with it fine, if you want to change then thats cool to. No religion , no thats what im talking about. Nobody is right it's only whats right and what fits you into being a better man or woman

    April 14, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  13. John

    My advice to Laurel: blank your mind of everything religious, and then do a deep dive into all religions that have any substance, with the purpose of determining which is right. You're not born Jewish, it's a choice, and it may be the wrong choice. I was atheist and got talked into a world religion course in college which got me thinking that perhaps my beliefs were based on mainstream culture and not knowledge. Reading about religions became a hobby and over time I concluded that there absolutely is a God, and that science falls apart when challenged objectively. It boils down to this... either there is or there isn't a God, if you conclude there isn't, then do whatever you want; but if you conclude there is, then you must go all in, there is no in between. Great religions have great philosophers, trust them, and don’t hear only the parts you want to hear. I cringe every time I hear someone says “I think God wants us to be happy” … where would anyone get that? It’s ridiculous, if God wanted us to be happy, then we’d all be in Heaven. God wants to be worshipped, so worship him without worry of what everyone will think… including your husband.

    April 14, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • truth

      God does not only want to be worshiped, He wants an relationship with us. Worship is a by product of this relationship when we realize how much God loves us and what he has done for us

      Romans 5 >>
      New Living Translation

      --------------------------–

      Faith Brings Joy

      1Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

      3We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

      6When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

      April 14, 2012 at 5:42 am |
  14. Varangian

    I don't understand people like this. I'm not Jewish but the notion that an individual can embrace Judaism yet throw away things that inconvenience them seems absurd to me. How can you expect your god to accept you when you openly spit at him?

    How can you consider yourself a religious Jew if you don't follow Judaism? I just don't understand.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for cats and other stuff

      in other words be fake like everyone else? this person is just being open about it or realistic.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  15. dilberth

    The truest thing about being Kosher is to only eat the best things and leave the fat, gristle, and bones to the goyem dogs.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
  16. Bootyfunk

    so she wants them to be pseudo-cult members...? you do children a disservice by teaching them religious dribble. if you want a better set of ethics, try Humanism, an atheistic ethical system far more compassionate than anything offered by the various christian cults.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Bootyfunk is right – humanism is the official religion of the atheists.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      b4, you're so stupid it sits on you like a second skin.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • AGuest9

      There is no "official religion" of people who don't have a religion.

      April 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  17. Intellectual Mud Wrestling

    Okay, so since this story is such a total loser that only three people bothered to comment, how about we really get this party started? Let's make it really nasty, okay?

    What religious group or non-religious group do you hate the most, and what is the weirdest, sickest thing about them?

    Feel free to lie, distort, invent, and otherwise totally slander your hatred of choice.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  18. William Faulkner needs another drink

    “Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher.”

    I think it would be very very safe to say that this woman is completely free of the risk of ever winning a Nobel or Pulitzer for Literature.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Tim Byrd

      "I think it would be very very safe to say that this woman is completely free of the risk of ever winning a Nobel or Pulitzer for Literature."

      Which is true of the great majority of us, whether we're writers as gifted as Laurel Snyder or not. But I'm sure you're on the short list. Oh, wait. I meant short bus.

      April 14, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  19. Pipe-Dreamer

    I was raised by parents who weren't one bit strict! My very early years are but blurs and I remember bits and peices, fragmented by time they were. I have no btterness towards my parents. They were very kind and I do so cherish the moments we had together. May God grant them both their heavens' reward for being the most gentle of parents toward brother and I!

    April 13, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
  20. Carol

    Any religion at all is too much.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.