Study: Some atheists with children attend religious services
December 7th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Study: Some atheists with children attend religious services

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Nearly one in five atheist scientists with children involve their families with religious institutions, even if they personally do not agree with the institutions teachings, a recent study says.

The study, conducted by Rice University and the University at Buffalo, found that these scientists affiliate with churches for both social and personal reasons. Additionally, the scientists indicated a strong desire to prepare their children to make educated decisions about their personal religious preference.

“This was so surprising to us just because of all of the public discussion about the ways in which scientists are very against religions people,” said Elaine Howard Ecklund, a sociologist at Rice. “When in fact, those we might most expect to be against religious people are sitting alongside them.”

Study participants also indicated they were involved in a religious institution because of the religious preferences of a spouse or partner.

One of the most interesting findings, according to Ecklund, was that some atheist scientists want to expose their children to religion due to scientific reasoning.

"We thought that these individuals might be less inclined to introduce their children to religious traditions, but we found the exact opposite to be true," Ecklund said. "They want their children to have choices, and it is more consistent with their science identity to expose their children to all sources of knowledge."

Ecklund said there were cases in which survey respondents identified that not only did they introduce their children to one church, but they also attended other religious services in the hope that the children would better understand each denomination.

"I think that understanding how nonreligious scientists utilize religion in family life demonstrates the important function they have in the U.S.," Ecklund said.

Sociologist Kristen Schultz Lee of University of Buffalo co-authored the study, which can be found in the December issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

The data was pulled from a survey of 2,198 tenured or tenure-track faculty at 21 U.S. research universities. Around half of survey respondents identified a form of religious identity, while the other half did not.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Church • Culture & Science

soundoff (2,129 Responses)
  1. Physics-lite

    Sorry, I was mad, ATHEIST.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And it doesn't say they are. They are talking about scientists who ARE atheist-out of that group, one in five, etc.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  2. steve

    My wife is a counselor at a catholic school and my two kids go there. I'm quite a bit older than she, and I attend with them. I was brought up with 12 years of catholic schooling, and have since decided that Jesus was quite possibly the greatest human being ever on this earth, and I encourage our kids to follow his example. But beyond that, I keep my religious feelings, as well as my political feelings private, since these two subjects are the cause of most of the misery humankind has endured.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • jason

      most of what you read about jesus has been mythology – made up stories. if such a person did exist (and the historical record is not clear on this), what did he do that was so great? walk on water (myth), heal sick (mostly myth or mind over matter...doctors today do that everyday and evangelist on try to), die on cross (lots of people die everyday for their belief...innocents on deathrow, torture in iran, etc). so what did he do? emperor constantine converted to the early cult and decide to use the military might of rome to spread it across all of europe...how does that make jesus great....shows the greatness of the roman military and the cruelty of emperor constantine in killing millions of europeans who were not interested. but jesus great....sounds like u have bought the mythology koolaid....read history instead.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """the historical record is not clear on this"""

      Outside of religious texts, there IS no historical record.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • moonster

      Jeff, where do you get your facts? Jesus was written up in other ancient texts besides the Bible. There is really no doubt a man by the name of Jesus lived 2000+ years ago, etc.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • Howard

      @ moonster ... WHAT other historical texts? Were they written by persons who had no vested interest is proselytizing the Christian message?

      December 7, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Jeff, where do you get your facts? Jesus was written up in other ancient texts besides the Bible. There is really no doubt a man by the name of Jesus lived 2000+ years ago, etc."""

      Do some independent research. Here's a place to start:


      December 7, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • Eric

      The evidence to support a historical Jesus is pretty slim at best. If you claim otherwise the burden is on you provide it. As for the biblical account we can critique it as it purports to be history – there was no census which would required Joseph and Mary to travel through Bethlehem, no slaughering of the innocence which could have remained a secret to the historians at the time, and no way in hell a Roman Governer would pardon a criminal who had killed a Roman citizen. It's all pretty weak.

      December 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  3. jewel

    My spouse attends church with his parents every single Sunday even though he is an atheist. I have always struggled with his reasoning, but I actually find it commendable. He says he does it to support his parents and to have the sense of community. The sad part is that he can't share his beliefs with his parents out of a fear of breaking their hearts. Again it is commendable as he never misses one Sunday, but I as a sort of believer don't even attempt to go to church. Ironic.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  4. Physics-lite

    Quote "Nearly one in five atheist scientists."
    What [NOT]– all Scientist are ATEIST.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:44 am |
  5. Mr. Myxlptlykx

    That's because deep down inside, when they talk to their pillow at night, they KNOW God's there, they just don't have the whatever to publicly believe. They are NOT, however willing to send their children to Hell, unknowingly for their beliefs. True Atheists don't care.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      Wrong. You don't have a clue, do you?

      December 7, 2011 at 7:48 am |
    • Ryan

      We don't talk to pillows, or other things that are either inanimate or don't actually exist.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:49 am |
    • Rhonda

      As an atheist who attends church with my children, I can tell you that you are completely wrong. I want my children to understand the myths that shape the society in which they live, if only so they aren't taken in by the first person to tell them that they have all the answers.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:51 am |
    • Paul

      Rhonda, you're a liar.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • rbirkin

      That's nonsense. I am not a scientist. My education was Catholic right through the Ph.D, and I am an atheist. However, I think there are many things to be profited from in a religious education, as with any community or social structure, especially in the rearing of children, but I also believe one has to know something about all of one's choices in life if one's ultimate choice is going to be intelligent. So I kept silent and took my children to Mass every Sunday, even accepting a CCD teaching post when asked–hey, I know more about Catholic theology than do most priests. After high school, both my children rejected religion, which is fine with me, but I don't consider their experience a waste, nor do I on my pillow at night ever think of a non-existent God.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • Dan

      Actually I KNOW there is no God, and the fake logic of attending church with children to "allow them to make an informed decision" is utter nonsense.
      Do they take them to all the various religions "services"?
      If not, they are frankly, stupid.
      You can't "educate" them to make informed decisions unless you expose them equally to all of it, which I seriously doubt is happening.
      How about teaching them what falsehood religion is without putting them in a situation where they might feel pressured to become part of it's idiocy?

      December 7, 2011 at 8:01 am |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      My wife and I were not raised in any Church, but we did make an attempt after we were married to attend Church. After going for a year, and seeing our son baptised, we stopped going regularly. After my daughter was born and baptised, we stopped going. Sunday is a day of rest, and I intend to keep it that way. My wife and I are responsible for teaching morals to our children, not a church and a pastor that changes every few years.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • Rhonda

      Paul, why would you call me a liar? You know nothing about me. What the hell is your problem?

      December 7, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Its ok Rhonda, hes judging and throwing the first stone, its what they do.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • Sampsonite

      Dan, what complete nonsensical drivel. Claiming that you KNOW something doesn't exist, when in reality there is no way to prove it one way or another – and then calling others stupid...what a hypocrit. That comment makes you a total moron, sir. Your arguments are flawed and frankly, the world would probably be better of without you, regardless of which side I stand on.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • Jesus

      Gawd is in my pillow? That's a new one! I never thought of Gawd as goose down feathers.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Ironicus

      Sampsonite, we have literally megatons of proof your god doesn't exist. Tons of proof. Tons of scientific evidence that does not support the existence of your god. Some of us are not easily convinced, like me.
      But after considerable evaluation and analysis, I am now convinced. The proof is solid. Your god does not exist and we can prove it.
      It is you who are on shaky ground. You have no proof...and that's because your god does not exist.
      That's one of the things every non-existent god has in common. There is no proof because they are fake.
      Feel free to do your own research. Don't take my word for it. I am confident that anyone can do this as long as they use the scientific method, follow the rules of evidence and discovery, and use logic, reason, and proper epistemology.
      There is no god. We have all the proof and can get more whenever we want. That's how bad you have lost this argument.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Paul

      ironicus you have absolutly NO proof that GOD does not exist. you have NO proof how the universe was created. science cannot explain it, only hypothesis and speculation. there is no scientific conclusion to the beginning of the universe, the creation of man, not even how the nucleuos of an atom is held together. If it were proven it would be the above the fold story on every newspaper and the top story of every news show for weeks. you have nothing to back up what you just stated. explain to me how a finite universe began. science may unlock new doors to discovery but those doors only open to more questions and speculation. the bible however explains it perfectly. "and God said let there be light". i find it amazing that a human with no real scientific training, enlightend by God could describe something so simplisticly and perfectly 5000 years ago when we just found out about the big bang in this century. try again my friend. actually I'll make it easy for you. Give me just one example of order and design not being the result of an intelligent mind. look at the incredible order and design not only to us humans but to the universe around us and tell me. i only ask for one. that coupled with the fact that our existence to you is a mere accident is a mathimatical impossibility! again, just one example

      December 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • MrKr

      Paul, what would you accept as proof of non-existence? What possible evidence can there be for something that does not exist. May I assume you don't believe in leprechauns? If not, prove it. Show us concrete proof that they DON'T exist. This is the fundamental problem with your line of thinking. You are correct in stating that there things for which we have no scientific explanation. That doesn't mean there isn't a scientific expalnation, it means we haven't discovered it yet. The burden of proof is on the person offering the explanation, so please provide proof that God exists. Provide proof that God said "Let there be light". The fact that there is no competing answer to a question does not mean we have to accept your answer. Otherwise, I say Leprechauns created the universe and you can't prove they didn't.

      December 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Ironicus

      To Paul the Dumbfuuck, what you think of as "order" and "design" are subjective illusions that your primitive and stupid mind are fooled into thinking are "order" and "design". There is no design because there is no designer and there is nothing you can do to change that no matter how hard you scrunch up your eyes and pretend that you "know" what you are clearly too ignorant to even examine beforehand.
      You come here and spout your dogmatic stink at us like a skunk and then pretend that the smell is really a perfume.
      Well, I've smelled that smelly smell before. If you want to play, you have to follow the rules. You have no idea what you're doing and everyone can see it. I've spent years on this stuff and I have no time for fools who don't give a damn about learning the simplest things about science but only listen to their brainwashing zombie masters on AM RADIO!!

      December 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • JB

      This is the best post ever!!

      "We don't talk to pillows, or other things that are either inanimate or don't actually exist." – Ryan

      "Gawd is in my pillow? That's a new one! I never thought of Gawd as goose down feathers." – Jesus

      Those zingers made my day!

      But in all seriousness, if there is a god it might actually be my pillow! It's warm and comforting. It never judges me. And when I'm in its embrace, I FEEL the love of my pillow.

      That's it! I now worship my pillow!

      Best part – Pillow never says, "Let me save you from what I'm going to do to you if you don't worship me!"

      December 7, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  6. bajadelmar

    “This was so surprising to us just because of all of the public discussion about the ways in which scientists are very against religions people,”

    This is completely false. Atheists and agnostics are not against any religious organization just because we choose to use logic and reason over some made-up fairy tale concocted to ease the fears of our own mortality. Xian zealots on the other hand are "very against" atheists and agnostics. Deep down they know they are harboring false beliefs.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • Jared

      I am quite strong in my beliefs, but I hold no ill will towards people who don't believe as I do.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • moonster

      Ditto to Jared's statement. Plus, I feel no desire to recruit them either. It's only when they start spewing and stepping on other people's belief systems is when my nails come out.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • One7777777

      "made up fairytale..."

      God is REAL. You'll find out soon enough. These types of articles are proof positve the end is right around the corner. Look around you. Open your EYES and SEE.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      The end had been just around the corner for about 2000 years now. I wont hold my breath, though you can if you want.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Mike

      Fundamentalists are naturally against all other religious groups because fundamentalists think THEY are the True (don't forget the capital T!) believers who just-so-happened to find the appropriate interpretation of God's Word!

      Who would you rather have as a neighbor: the guy who sees you only as a convert and secretly (or openly) believes you are not all eternally damned but deserving of it too. Or would you rather have the secular humanist who is more live and let live; who discusses morality instead of dictating it to you out of his magic book.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Mike

      *not just eternally damned but deserving of it too

      December 7, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Jesus

      I've moved from being an atheist – a nonbeliever in Christian terms...to a ANTI-THEIST, one who actively opposes the spreading of the God myth, especially the spreading of "His Word" (i.e. religious dogma) in legislative agendas.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  7. jason

    i take my kids to places of worship for free classes in values/character education, while making it clear to them that the stories and characters being used to teach the values is fictional. they get the values and do not believe the fiction stories. similar character education classes elsewhere could cost me $50/hr.

    another point: not all people who do not believe in the Abrahamic gods are atheist. Buddhist, Jains and millions of other spiritual people do not worship any sort of 'god', but are not atheist either.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:41 am |
    • Kevin

      Jason, isn't it your job to teach your kids values and character?

      December 7, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • Stayin' Alive

      Jason, anyone who chooses one god over another is a selective atheist, i.e., an atheist vis-a-vis the gods in which he or she DOESN'T believe. An atheist believes in just one fewer gods than a monotheist.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • Jesus

      If your child truly reads the Bible (and not the exerpts that get constantly restated over and over again in sermons that form the basis of a preacher's appeal for bucks), it will set a terrible example in morality and ethics. Just read Deut 21 and see what God's justice is all about.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  8. Tony

    Neither God nor Science likes it when journalists leave out the apostrophe. Would it kill you to hire a competent copyeditor?

    December 7, 2011 at 7:38 am |
    • Cor

      Yes, it would kill them. We need them alive for our experiments! Bwuahahaaha!

      December 7, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Where was an apostrophe omitted? I didn't spot it.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • rbirkin

      I am more concerned about the moronic rise in the last 10 years of people who add apostrophes to simple or mere plurals, as in: " I have 2 friend's." How fundamentally ignorant is that?! I realize the problem was caused by well-meaning teachers who, in an era of declining verbal skills, sought to teach weak writers when to use the contractional apostrophe and the possessive apostrophe–as in " We can't go" or "The dog's bone"–and that the kids resolved their puzzlement simply by putting random apostrophes in some words (plurals) with s's in them, where they don't belong, while leaving them out of others that did not have an "s," where they sometimes did belon, creating both Tony's complaint and mine, but hey, you'd think by adulthood they would've got all that straightened out, especially if they're holding down a desk job.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:12 am |
    • jerrygersbach

      Rbirkin, what are your feelings about run-on sentences?

      December 7, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Eric

      rbirkin – I must point out that when you write "with s's in them" you are commiting the same error about which you protest! Pluralizing "s" is not accomplished with an apostrophe. What you did is assing ownership of "in them" to s. Ironic that you would point this out as a peev of your own when you haven't even mastered the concept .

      December 7, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's "peeve".

      December 7, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  9. Jesus Is Lord

    The atheists attend because, in their heart, they know that God exists. Their souls are screaming for them to find the God that created them. God promised that if you seek Him, you will find Him. If you are an atheist, don't give up – God is real and He will reveal Himself to you. Peace.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:35 am |
    • Child of Christ

      You are 100% correct! God did instill that desire deep within everyone. Thank Him that He did!

      December 7, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • jason

      you are delusional. atheist attend mostly to avoid divorce by their religious spouses. when dating, there is not as many atheist partners as religious ones, so many end up choosing religious partner and decide to suck it in because the partner is compatible otherwise.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • wayne317

      "The atheists attend because, in their heart, they know that God exists. Their souls are screaming for them to find the God that created them. "

      Hearts don't know anything, hearts pump blood. There is not one shred of evidence for a soul. Most people are created by two other human beings.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:48 am |
    • No Faith

      In contrast, one could say that "believers" actually harbor a disbelief in a god, but only continue to pretend to believe because centuries of fairy tales have brainwashed them to believe that they will go to hell if they don't.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • Paul

      Jason, it's a shame that you feel atheists have to hide who they are to get what they want.those people you describe should be honest of who they are or open their minds to the possibility that maybe the one they love may be on to something.
      wayne, next time your at an open casket wake for someone you knew well in life. take a good look. I promise you they will look like something is missing and that my friend is the soul.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:01 am |
    • Jimby

      Deep in their hearts, christians believe that Zeus, Posidon, Mercury, Athena, ... exist. The made-up gods of old are just as real as the made-up gods of today.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • Dan

      Actually I KNOW there is no God, and the fake logic of attending church with children to "allow them to make an informed decision" is utter nonsense.
      Do they take them to all the various religions "services"?
      If not, they are frankly, stupid.
      You can't "educate" them to make informed decisions unless you expose them equally to all of it, which I seriously doubt is happening.
      How about teaching them what falsehood religion is at home without putting them in a situation where they might feel pressured to become part of it's idiocy?
      If it's about "socialization", there are numerous venues for that which don't include fairy tales and mythology.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • jerrygersbach

      Your personal belief that you have a connection with a deity does not necessarily extend to everyone else. It is arrogant to think that everyone else knows inherently that there is a god just because you have strong feelings about one.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:07 am |
    • Ironicus

      Paul, the chemical processes of life are not a "soul" and do not prove that a soul exists when the chemical processes have stopped.
      You are just seeing a dead person and any differences in looks are easily attributed to the lack of blood flow and lack of blood in the upper parts of any section of dead body parts. Most people don't see many dead bodies and have no interest in learning anything that does not support their delusions, like you. We have the primitive animal fear of things we do not understand. This leads to ascribing imaginary causes to whatever we see. That's how much of religion works.
      If it did not reinforce your imaginary beliefs, you wouldn't even bother with it.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Jason, it's a shame that you feel atheists have to hide who they are to get what they want.those people you describe should be honest of who they are or open their minds to the possibility that maybe the one they love may be on to something."

      It's just easier that way. You see, it's much easier for a rational person to act irrational, than the other way around.

      I'm sure that over time, the atheists do try to make their loved ones see the error of their ways. It's a slow process, but in the long run it will pay dividend. It may not be a complete success with the spouse, but the odds get better with the offspring.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • Jesus

      Actually, pick pockets, con artists, and wife swappers are more likely to attend Church services than atheists.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Ironicus

      They are also more likely to be running the show and standing behind the pulpit.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Paul

      Ironicus to reduce humans to mere energy and matter governed by complex chemical reactions is ridiculous. that is exactly what you are doing with the statement you made. what about concience? is concience a chemical reaction? because what suppose would mean that we cannot be held accountable for our actions because they are mearly chemical reactions we have no real control over. If I murder someone... how could i be to blame? No sir, we are beings greater than the flesh that covers our bones and our conceince deerives from a moral point of origin that is God.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Ironicus

      Paul, since you scoff at all of physics, why should I even reply to your imbecilic post?
      You show no knowledge of psychology, neurobiology or even criminology. You are a fuuuucking reeeetaaarrdd!

      December 7, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  10. Evarin

    It is like doing any other chore to satisfy your partner, kids or not. I don't think Atheists/Agnostics get nearly as wrapped around the handle as secular individuals in having their children follow in their exact intellectual footprints. Either they will find the flaws in the church's teaching, or they will choose to overlook them with healthy doses of faith. Either way, as long as they stay off the pole and/or out of prison i'd be happy.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:33 am |
  11. CarGuy350z

    Scientists are not against religious people. Why must it always be us vs. them. If anything, it's the religious who are against the atheists because we're not "one of you".

    December 7, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • Stayin' Alive

      Right on, CarGuy! As an atheist, I have no need to hate believers or the things in which they claim to believe. I just think they're WRONG. On the other hand, if some delusional ignoramus tries to mess with my wife or daughter down at the family planning clinic because of his or her unsubstantiated beliefs, that might earn him or her a little 'hate.'

      December 7, 2011 at 8:10 am |
  12. moonster

    I think it is noble for an atheist to participate with their family at a house of worship. Although they may not believe or support what is taught there it is good for their believing spouse and their children. I feel parents who do not expose their children to that concept of God do their children a great disservice. If anything they get the sense of community somewhere.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:29 am |
    • MarcTTF

      I’m of the opinion that children should only be exposed to concept of god once they reach the age where they can rationalize things on their own, and parents who expose them before that are doing them a great disservice.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • falconear

      Honestly, I wish there was a place where Atheists and Humanists could find the same kind of community that exists in a church. Maybe I should take my family to the Unitarians?

      December 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  13. Dan

    Perpetuating the myth

    December 7, 2011 at 7:28 am |
    • Dan

      As usual. But i think it's good that non-believing parents are letting their children attend religious services,
      and letting them make up their own minds about faith and belief.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  14. BradW

    How often does it have to be pointed out that the data of this study was biased from the get go? Even the primary researcher's interpretation of the data has many flaws. GIGO!

    December 7, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  15. Stayin' Alive

    My three children all attended church and Sunday School until they reached [Protestant] confirmation age, around 12 or 13. Today, all of them are gainfully employed professionals. Two are atheists and one an evolving agnostic. I think they are none the worse for wear and have a better appreciation of the uses and abuses of religious mythology, religious prejudice, etc. They probably wouldn't have attended so regularly had my spouse not come from a religious family/background, but, thanks to their 'exposure,' they've always had convenient examples at hand when we wanted to contrast religion with reason.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • Palin 2112

      There is no such thing as an atheist. There are this that love God and then there are those that don't.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:36 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """There is no such thing as an atheist."""

      Further proof of self-delusion by a religious person. This is apparently a subject which you don't understand, so why are you commenting?

      December 7, 2011 at 7:51 am |
  16. Hal

    Hmm, "Variables..." – nice criticism from an anonnymous source. To many people (myself included), religion just isn't that important. My wife is Christian and had our kids baptized; I go to church with them much the way a non-fan would attend a football game. It's enjoyable and I meet people. The overall message isn't that important.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:22 am |
    • Evarin

      I love the analogy. A bored spectator at a sporting event and a bored Atheist at a soul-saving contest.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:35 am |
    • Matt

      Amen, Hal.

      My exact same situation as well. So much hate from so many religions. If nothing else, I think we help show that atheists are not demons, and in fact our behavior is just as christ-like (if not more so) than many devout christians.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:39 am |
    • kevin

      Hi Hal,
      Right, the message is not important, Wouldn't want to teach you kids morals or anthing.. get away with anything they possibly can including stealing from you.. i am sure you will be fine when they steal your car, get some nice Meth and maybe knock of a bank or 2 to support the habit. Nope don't let that message influence them in any way....it is not important.

      Whether there is a God or not, I do not know. or some kind of after life, I am agnostic. I do know the Golden Rule the major religions subscribe to is an importnat message. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Golden_Rule
      and I attend church and listen to thos stories to see how I can live a better life

      December 7, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • MarcTTF


      The bible was written by man; ergo the morals in it are man-made. We don’t need the bible for morals any more than we need 18th century medical text books to perform a heart transplant.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:16 am |
    • claybigsby

      "Wouldn't want to teach you kids morals or anthing"

      Yeah i guess parents need some fictional book to teach their children morality. Give me a break.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  17. Brandon

    "We thought that these individuals might be less inclined to introduce their children to religious traditions, but we found the exact opposite to be true," Ecklund said.

    No, you didn't find that. You found that only 20% of atheist scientist allow them to introduce their children to religious traditions. Clearly, that does not mean that scientists are more inclined to introduce their children to religious traditions than religious people? That is one giant leap of mankind!

    December 7, 2011 at 7:19 am |
  18. Cor

    Some kids will drag their parents everywhere won't they?

    December 7, 2011 at 7:17 am |
  19. joe332211

    All are invited to my church. The church that worships the risen Savior Jesus Christ and those that seek His truth!

    If we banned sinners from attending church, the church would be empty.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:17 am |
    • Cor

      Hey joe, what about non-sinners? Do you allow people without sin to attend? Because I have never sinned. Seriously.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:19 am |
    • Felix The Navidad

      Other than the lie cor just told , that is.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:22 am |
    • Cor

      No, I have never sinned. There is no such thing as sin. Therefore I have never sinned. I am being completely honest here.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • LinCA


      You said, "If we banned sinners from attending church, the church would be empty."

      A sin is a violation of religious rules. Unless you are a member of that particular religion, those rules don't apply to you. If a rule doesn't apply to you, you can't violate it. Sinning is therefor, by definition, reserved for those that subscribe to religion.

      So, when you speak of "sin", it has to apply only to members of your own religion.

      I am incapable of sin.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:55 am |
    • Cor

      *high five* to LinCA
      Hey that's a good post. But I was using the position that no gods exist to start with, not relativistic ideology. caio

      December 7, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Pete the Ninja

      To the non-sinners, i suppose there is no sin if nothing is wrong, which is the exact position you take, or are you going to tell me its wrong because you or enough people say so...

      December 7, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Ironicus

      To sin requires a god and there is none. No god equals no sin. Why is this so hard for people to understand? There are no sinners anywhere in the universe, only those who are deluded into thinking they are guilty of something someone else said they did which is a far cry from actually having done something against some non-existent god in the first place!

      December 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Pete the Ninja

      You said, "To the non-sinners, i suppose there is no sin if nothing is wrong, which is the exact position you take, or are you going to tell me its wrong because you or enough people say so...

      No, that's not my position. My position is that I don't sin because the rules don't apply to me. It's simply a matter of jurisdiction.

      To give an example; if it is against the State Laws of California to operate a vehicle while there is an open bottle of beer on the front seat, someone in Texas may still be able to do that because the laws of California don't apply there and as long as Texas law doesn't prohibit the practice. The same applies to religious rules. No religious rules apply to me. Therefore I can not sin.

      In other words; if I steal or even murder, I don't sin. I am still committing a misdemeanor, a felony or a crime, under applicable law, but never a sin.

      December 7, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  20. Variables missing here and no control group either.

    I think it is rather the fact that they married a believer and agreed to go along to church while keeping in mind that knowledge destroys illusion given enough time and logical evaluation. Extroverts don't examine their own motivations much either.
    Lots of variables here. I suspect this "Journal" accepted such an incomplete and biased report for unethical reasons and are likely funded by some religious front organization.
    I'm calling BS and bias on this one. Too many holes not addressed.

    December 7, 2011 at 6:48 am |
    • Ted

      I was in this situation for two years because of my spouse. After years of not showing any interest in attending church, she decided that she wanted to go and take our kids. I was fine with that, since she was going to a Unitarian church, which tends to be dogma-free, and as religion and spirituality are aspects of life, I agreed that the kids should have some experience with it . However, she wanted me to go as well, since she didn't feel comfortable going somewhere new on her own. So for almost two years I went along and got involved to the extent of helping out with some events for the kids. They were a nice group of people, but I can't say that I got much of anything out of the services. When my wife decided she'd had enough two years later, we stopped going. She then started attending a more Christian non-denomenational church, but she knew there was no way that I'd be going with her there. I had my Sunday mornings back, and she lost interest in the new church a couple of months later and has been staying home as well.

      December 7, 2011 at 7:34 am |
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About this blog

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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.