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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. Rick

    I avoid church religiously

    December 7, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Steve

      lol. Good one.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Steve

      He is another one. I thank god I am an atheist.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • twiddly

      I need "I thank god I am an atheist" on a T-shirt. Hilarious!

      December 7, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Luis Wu

      How about: "I used to be an atheist until I found out I'm Jesus Christ."

      December 7, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      I have a T-shirt that says, "Follow ME" on the back, and on the front it says, "I'm with stupid"

      December 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      The worst is Creationism and Intelligent design. Holy Crap that stuff is dumb. Just make up a bunch of bull and say it's science. At least religions say they are based on faith and taking a leap etc.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  2. Steve

    That is because scientists are normally very intelligent people who do not push their beliefs and non beliefs on other people, but rather allow others to make up their own mind and come to their own conclusions. Sadly, most religious people can not do the same.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Horse -> Fish -> Fox

      Gee Steve. Seems you BELIEVE most religious people are like that. Thanks for pushing your belief on us.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  3. hmmm...

    I am an aethist at times...at others I am a devout as the most devout. Then I vacillate between the two. I have a strong fondness for spiritual growth and I have lingered between periods of passionate effort for such growth as well as the simplest and least demanding cravings of the flesh. I have climbed the ladder to the platform of the slide and now I am on my final slide down and I can tell you, I have found the energy I have placed in my spiritual has delivered periods of living more fulfilling and wortwhile than all the pleasures that are experienced and left for nothing more than a remeberance (maybe). I find it no surprise that when you love someone very much, you seek to give them something better than you have. For me, and perhaps these scientists, it is a deeper meaning in this flesh of life that can be so much more wonderful when there is a spiritual aspect to it.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Conner

      You aren't an atheist then.

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

      I don't think you qualify as a atheist. I would challenge how anyone can base their non-belief on the facts and then decide the next day that they don't value those facts, and then the next day value them again. You just sound like an indecisive person in search for something to fill a need yet aren't sure what that is.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  4. Mike B

    It's obvious in reading some of these comments that there are many atheists that really let themselves get bent out of shape about religion. Most of the atheists I know don't go out of their way to constantly bash people that are religious and they especially don't troll religious stories on the internet just to make a point that nobody really cares about. You're never going to convince anyone to give up their faith. Here's the thing. Religion or no religion, the world isn't a fair place. I think that a lot of you really need to just relax and learn to respect the majority.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • bill

      well said.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Steve

      Far be it for religious people to get bent out of shape. lol.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Conner

      It's tough to relax when there are so many issues, mainly social injustices, that are included in religious dialogue. Not only that but some of our supposed leaders adhere so strongly to their religious beliefs that they bring it into public policy decisions. That is where many atheists have a big problem and I think anybody who truly believes in the separation of church and state should have a problem as well.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • twiddly

      You are asking for respect for someone truly believing in leprechauns and unicorns.
      An iillogical belief does not deserve respect; it may not always deserve ridicule (though in some cases it does, like Ted Haggard), but it should not be "coddled" just because it is a majority belief.
      You would have asked for respect for "the earth is flat" and "the sun revolves around the earth", as those too were once majority beliefs.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • MarkinFL

      When the majority respects the minority, they will have earned the same.

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

      We are "bent out of shape" because a majority of this country said they would not vote for an atheist for president.
      We are "bent out of shape" because Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, George Bush (Sr. and Jr.) all said that we are not citizens of this 'nation under god'
      We are "bent out of shape" because we are the second most distrusted group in America behind rapists, and only by a slight margin.

      I would love to hear you tell other marginalized minorities like blacks, gays, or immigrants to shut up and "respect the majority".

      Sidenote: if you will never convince people to give up their faith, then why are they doing it in droves? and why are Christians constantly trying to get others to do the same?

      December 7, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Respect the majority? You mean Bhuddists? I think they're probably the majority religion in the world. Maybe not, I think I read there are more Muslims than Christians. The "majority" doesn't respect the minorities so why should they demand respect?

      December 7, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Ironicus

      Truth is not determined by consensus or by majority rule. Facts are facts regardless of who is hurt by them.
      To respect what is not deserving of respect is itself a position undeserving of respect.
      Mike B, you do not seem aware of the simplest ethical positions a person could take. Very typical for delusional people without morals like religious people tend to be.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • BR

      This story may be listed in the religion section but it is, by definition, an atheist study. We could just as easily say that it's a bunch of theists troll-ing an atheist story. Very big of you to ascert that the point atheists are making here is something 'nobody cares about.'

      And the majority deserves no respect for simply being a majority. Respect is earned, not granted ad populum, or are you unaware how the government of the US works?

      December 7, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Bill

      And you need to learn to respect the "minority" beliefs as well. I firmly believe that the "majority" are only have faith because they were conditioned to do so.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  5. J.W

    I bet some of the atheists in here are included in this number that are attending.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • SeanNJ

      Yeah, I attended two funerals this year. I have no doubt that I'll have the unhappy circ.umstance of attending more next year.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  6. felix_in_Mass

    I was "born again" at some point in my teenage years when I realized that I didn't have to force myself to try and believe the non-sense religion that my parents exposed me to. It's pure freedom to break away from the bonds of a religion which leads you to belief that if you don't submit, you will literally burn in hell.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  7. twiddly

    Introducing young children to religion is in effect brainwashing them. They are too immature (think of santa claus).
    This is why the major organized religions continue to prosper; without new, brainwashed recruits they would soon die out.
    Wait until the teenage years, then introduce to all the major religions plus agnosticsm and atheism, and let them make up their own minds.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Conner

      You must know some stupid kids. It doesn't say what age groups these parents are taking to church but even younger children around age 5 can start to put some things together. I am not saying they can understand the complexities of religion or science and how they all come together in society but many can grasp the basics. Also, if they are being raised by scientific parents then I am sure there is a lot of scientific method in the home or something modified to resemble that. My point is don't underestimate children, especially those with logical, reasonable parents.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  8. phil loubere

    There are serious problems with this Templeton-funded study, which Eric McDonald dissects quite ably here: http://choiceindying.com/2011/12/05/elaine-ecklunds-militant-campaign/
    The study, in fact reveals that "only 17% of atheist scientists—about one in six—took their children to church at least twice a year." This is hardly evidence of anything, much less some secret desire of atheists to belong to a church, which seems to be the point of the "research".

    December 7, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Infinite Horizons

      And of course.

      Templeton Stealth Creationism hard at work again.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  9. Infinite Horizons

    Study: 1 out of 5 rational scientists have some sort of schizophrenia.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  10. Sam A

    I wouldn't confuse them with that fairy tale nonsense. These people are probably just afraid to offend the grandparents.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  11. Michaeltantino

    RELIGION SHOULD NOT BE TABOO.

    I think one of the biggest problems in this world is that people think that their personal religious belief is "protected" in the sense that it is above being challenged... yet at the same time they feel it is their job to proselytize. NO IDEA should be above challenge.

    I see this on facebook all the time as one example. Many friends and family are religious, and they have no problems flooding their status updates with expressions of their faith or with spreading religious propoganda on issues from personal to poliical. The minute someone who does not believe does the same thing, they will vigorously challenge it. Which is fine. However if you were to challenge their views as they did yours it becomes quickly apparant how unacceptable this is. It's a double standard.

    For example, when I posted a status update applauding the repealing of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" I was acosted immediately by some of my religious friends and family. (I was supported by many others) However when my many friends and family would post their religiously influenced opinions on Gov't policies, such as gay marriage, if I were to counter their public status with a contrary argument, I am crossing a line with them. It gets heated real fast-and not from my end. I was yelled at for "infringing upon their beliefs" by acknowleding my own. Double standard. It's okay for them to do it, but not for me. Why? Because it's their religious belief... and it should be protected.

    I had a discussion with my father who I believe is closet religious. He avoids taking a stance officially, but he always defends the religious point of view shoudl a conversation arise. He told me that religion is too touchy a subject to be challenged with people. We can challenge others all day on politics on sports or whatever, but religion is a NO NO. It's taboo. But really it shouldn't be. For one, religious folk in general have no qualms with taking their beliefs out into the public and proseltyzing or supporting religiously based views on issues like gay marriage. If you take your view public you should EXPECT to be challenged. You don't get to say your piece publically and then claim religious immunity from retorts. That's BS. You take your beliefs public then they are open for debate. Secondly, peoples religious beliefs influence what they do, what they vote for, etc. These issues do need to be debated and challenged just like anything else, yet religious folk seem to have the most difficult time dealing with being challenged. I've been told I am going to Hell for my beliefs and the same person woudl get upset if I responded that I think they are intellectually lazy. Here I am being threatened with eternal hellfire and thats okay, but them having to hear me call them intellectually lazy.... well that's just offensive.

    This is one reason why I think so many religious people have difficulty with being challenged. They've too long been able to hide behind their views being religious in nature and above being challenged as everything else was. Whereas non-believers form their views THROUGH challenge. They are VERY conditioned to handle a debate like this, whereas the religious individual is less likely to be able to handle it. I didn't reach my non-belief through upbringing, through desire, or anythign else. I reached this position through rigorous research and discussion. Most arguments I will face I have already considered and riddled out. However most religious people I meet did not go through this process to the level I put myself through. Most-not all-were indoctrinated by their family and community and their beliefs are those they were raised in. Sure they've considered it to some depth, most have, but never truly held their beliefs to any hard scrutiny. This is part of the reason why they have such a difficult time when you challenge them.

    In conslusion I just want to say that religious beliefs should NOT receive special protection from being challenged. Like any other belief or idea, it should be put to the test in a debate, not tip toed around. Tip toeing around religious belief is what empowered them to feel their religious beliefs SHOULD be tip toed around.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Bill

      Very well said.

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

      I second that, Bill. Well written, Michaeltantino!

      December 7, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Peace

      Very well said. We all have our right to believe and choose various aspects of our lives–and should be open to challenge and debate.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Herman

      Ask a fundamentalist one simple question – is Anne Frank in hell with her murderers? – and the extreme reaction indicates that, not that they consider the question offensive, which most probably do, but that they have never even considered the most obvious implications of their dogmatic soteriological assertions.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Good post. Well said.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Conner

      Very nicely said... Some solid points.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Ironicus

      Dayyumm! That is one FINE post!
      I think I'll sit next to you when they start handing out tests!

      December 7, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      Agree....

      December 7, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • iminim

      Very well written. Still, I do not think it is possible to "challenge" a faith/nonfaith decision because such decisions are, by their very nature, based in nonproveable & nondisproveable information. There is nothing "rational" about either the acceptance or rejection of faith. However, you absolutely should challenge the behavior of those who are blatantly ugly, discriminatory, and abusive while using their belief to justify such action. In fact, when those from a Christian faith act in this manner, they are going against the teaching of Christ. There is nothing in the words of Christ that says Christians should be abusive to nonChristians. Quite the contrary, in fact.

      When religious adherants in our nation attempt to base public policy on their interpretation of religious teachings they should be challenged. Obviously, in the US today the biggest offenders are those who call themselves "Christians". If these people had read their scriptures they would know that Christ actively avoided the secular political structure of his time. He never condoned changing the government to comply with his teachings. He taught an individual faith that was separate from earthly power structures and focused on the individual's spiritual relationship with God. Humans being humans, that message has been warped into forcing a specific interpretation of selected Biblical passages into our legal system in efforts to gain power & control in an earthly realm. Most of the Biblical passages being used by this political movement are from the Old Testament, which was made moot by the coming of Christ anyway. I am a Christian based on Christ's teaching and DO NOT support the use of my religion for political gain. I do not support basing public policy on scriptures of any type. Please do not automatically assume that those politicians who call themselves "Christian" represent all of the millions of Christians in the US and please debate them any time you have the chance.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  12. BobH

    The report assumes that you can't be religious and also be an atheist or agnostic. But Unitarian Universalism encourages all members to follow their own path to truth, even if it leads to atheism. So there are lots of atheists/agnostics in the pews at UU churches.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • ASDF

      That's because UU is hardly a religion in the classic sense. It has no deity and no belief system.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Well then, it is nearing perfection.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Luis Wu

      I like the UU concept. Except, if you can believe anything you want, then why go to a church?

      December 7, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Toas

      I'd go for the coffee and the chance to meet chicks with brains.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Conner

      @Luis

      You are missing one of the biggest reasons why people go to church. Social interaction, plain and simple. Sure there are some diehards who sit there and read every verse and sing every hymn. But many in the pews just want to see and be seen.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  13. Bob

    Finally one conversation without religious people and atheists jumping down each others throat as a Christian i believe in God but i respect each individual's decision have a nice day everyone

    December 7, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Bob

      I'm an atheist. Have a nice day.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • J.W

      A Bob that is a Christian and a Bob that is an atheist? Now I have seen everything.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  14. Frank

    "...scientists are very against religious people." Aside from being grammatically incorrect, this statement is overly general and makes a claim that I don't think can be proven. Plenty of scientists are religious. Science and religion can, and do, coexist despite what those on the extreme fringe of this debate may have us believe.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Reynolds

      Good point!,not all scientists are atheists, there is a equal number of scientists who are religious.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Infinite Horizons

      All that proves is that educated people can live perfectly well with worldviews that are completely contradictory.

      There can be no reconciliation between religion and science.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Horse -> Fish -> Fox

      Infinite Horizons, can you prove that?

      December 7, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  15. upupaway

    Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism. I am an atheist but my kids go to church with my mom. I figure it is best to let them figure things out on their own. My youngest (11) does not believe but still goes to church. My oldest (14) believes but does not go to church anymore because they are "weird" there.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  16. A

    Since we are in the 21st century, religion should be practiced as part of a culture.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Nonimus

      Care to clarify? Are you saying it should be part of a cultural tradition as opposed to a supernatural faith? Or, are you saying religion should be a part of every culture?

      December 7, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • apostate

      you are way off on that one A

      December 7, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  17. Bill

    A good story:
    A group of 5 monkeys were put into a cage. Every day at random times a banana is put in the cage. When 1 monkey goes for a banana they are all sprayed with water. After a few days the monkeys never go for the banana. Over time an original monkey is removed from the cage and a new monkey is inserted. When the next banana comes out the new monkey goes for the banana and the monkeys are sprayed. A new monkey is inserted and another original removed. A banana is inserted again but this time the monkeys that have been in the cage prevent the new monkey from reaching the banana and none are sprayed. The sequence continues until no monkeys that have been sprayed are left are left in the cage. None of the monkeys go for the banana when it's placed in the cage. The interesting thing is none of the monkeys have any knowledge of being sprayed but still don't attempt to eat that banana. They just don't do it because they have been conditioned not to do so.

    I believe that taking your child to a christian church(or just your religion of choice) so she can make up her own mind in effect not giving her a choice at all. If you want to have her make an informed decision the child should be exposed to Atheism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity and the rest of them. However, I still don't think this will give her a choice. Young minds are impressionable and kids tend to assimilate with those around them. If you want to give them a real choice they should not be exposed to religion or atheism until late teenage years or later. Until then, they will likely be conditioned just like the monkeys. Kids know only what they are taught or gain from personal experience.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Dale

      Well said, I couldn't agree more.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Nonimus

      I think they will start asking questions long before that age.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Bill

      I'm sure they will have questions and that when they can start learning about all religions.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Andy O

      Couldn't the opposite be said? That is being brought up without belief will form a child in one direction too? Not to further point out how wrong you are, but I bet most of the people on here, who are non-religious, where brought up with religion.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Mike Smith

      Nonsense. If you wait until they are teenagers before you introduce them to religion, that gives atheistic and naturalistic belief systems (which are also religions) the chance to get a 10-year head-start. If you want to truly give them a choice, teach creation science in the public school system alongside naturalism. Neither can be proven and both require faith at some point. Creation science has nothing to do with separation of church and state. Teaching creation science isn't suggesting that you must worship God. It's simply educating our youth in another theory besides macro-evolution...which has never been observed....EVER. To suggest that what is being taught in the public school system is fact and truth while religion is blind-faith is utterly absurd.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Chuckles

      I'm sorry, but I see the point you're trying to make but it's impossible. You mean to tell me a kid shouldn't be exposed to any religion or atheism until they're older.... have you seen how this country basically vomits christmas for about 2 months? Do you expect your child to look at a christmas tree, a hanukia or some other religious symbol and ask what it is and you'll answer "not till you're older"? I like the idea that any kid should have a solid foundation in critical thinking and acceptance of anything before being presented with religion, but considering it's ingrained into just about everything, it's sort of hard to separate them from it until you deem it's time. Instead, do what apparently 20% of atheists are doing and expose them to religion with a caution sign.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Nonimus

      I disagree somewhat. Like some prominent Atheists have stated, Dawkins for one I think, teach religion in school as a cultural study or in social studies, but world religions, not just one. Religion is a part of our world, our cultures, and our literature, lack of knowledge about it is detrimental to higher education.
      Teach it like Greek and Roman mythology, otherwise they will miss many allusions and references in modern culture.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Mike,
      "If you want to truly give them a choice, teach creation science in the public school system alongside naturalism."

      There is no science called "creation science." Like Intelligent design it is a religious-based concept that has no backing by mainstream science.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Chuckles

      @Mike

      Well thank you for completely invalidating my point. After your dumb posting it now makes me reconsider what I just wrote and agree more with Bill. First of all, adding in an aside that atheism is a religion is stupid and self-defeating. Furthermore by demanding creation science to be taught in school is idiotic in the extreme. When I posted earlier about kids being exposed to religion, it should be in religious insti.tutions, NOT in schools where real learning should be taught. The absurdity here is that you believe a) that macro-evolution can be observed b) that creation science holds the same weight as evolution because they're both "theories" because you clearly don't understand what evolution theory means and lastly c) that by teaching creation science you believe that the christian brand should be taught but don't understand that if that were the case, then it should be equally fair to teach the enuma elish, hindu creation, chinese customary religion creation, and so on. Teaching creationist drivel in school will only, I repeat ONLY, hold our children back and stunt their growth in the brain department.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Mike Smith,
      Small problem with your proposal. While evidence for various parts of evolutionary theory are incomplete. Creation "theory" has 0 evidence. There is nothing scientific about it. I do agree that it should be taught in the sociology types of classes. Perhaps in a world religions class. Since there are many creation theories, several should be taught for comparison sake.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Mike Smith,
      "creation science [is] ... another theory"
      Wrong. A theory in science is a well supported and evidenced explanation of how some aspect of the natural world works. "Creation science" does not have the evidence to support its claims.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Derp

      "Teaching creation science isn't suggesting that you must worship God. It's simply educating our youth in another theory besides macro-evolution...which has never been observed....EVER. To suggest that what is being taught in the public school system is fact and truth while religion is blind-faith is utterly absurd."

      Whoa, let's cut through this BS. Creation "science" is NOT a scientific theory. Scientific theories that are taught in school, including evolution, are all based on extensive physical evidence and logical conjecture. Macro-evolution? What exactly are you looking for? Evolution is simply the idea that populations of organisms change over time and toward traits that are favorable to reproduction and survival. The timescale this occurs over is related the the lifespan of the organism and the limiting environmental factors. So, of course it will be difficult to observe evolutionary change in our own species, but easy to track changes in shorter-lived organisms like bacteria and fruit flies. The process of evolution is not invalidated simply because we don't observe "macro-evolution". Would you also suppose that a speck of space dust has no gravitational attraction simply because we can't observe it's miniscule gravitational field? No, of course not, because we would expect it to be difficult to observe, just like we expect major changes in human population to take a very long time (and hence, be difficult to observe). Sheesh!

      December 7, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Conner

      Right, because people spend their entire lives in church... It takes constant conditioning to change behavior. An hour in church is hardly the same a monkey living in a cage being sprayed with water. The rest of those kids lives are amongst their peers where religion isn't nearly as much of an issue because they don't really care about it over playing with their friends, or they are at home with their parents learning other behaviors from those that raise them.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """If you want to truly give them a choice, teach creation science in the public school system alongside naturalism."""

      One small problem – creation science is not science in any sense of the word.

      """Neither can be proven and both require faith at some point. """

      Umm, another small problem. Evolution has evidence and support in other sciences and disciplines, whereas creationism is TOTALLY based on faith and has no physical evidence AT ALL to support it.

      December 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Bill

      I know what I'm suggesting is nearly impossible but I was pointing out that real choice can't be attained until much later in life. Just like the rest many have gone on to attack my beliefs instead of accepting my point and opinion as just that. Mine.

      @andy. Yep I was brought up in religion and played the good little christian boy. It wasn't until college where I was exposed to various religion teachings that I was able to make my choice. A very difficult choice at that. Now my family doesn't understand why I don't believe in the same things as they do and they think I'm weird.

      December 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Bill,
      I agree that such decisions would be much better left for later. I would suggest exposure to many ideas early on, but if possible, no decisions be allowed until the age of majority (18 around here).

      December 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • sans diety

      amen!

      December 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  18. AmericanSam

    I would probably take my children to many different types of services. Anyone tried the Unitarian Church? Very open and accepting environment for anyone and everyone.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • twiddly

      Unitarian is better than most; it doesn't profess to be the "one true religion". However, it is still steeped in "christian" traditions.

      Why not spend your time [and money] with kids doing something "real"?
      Volunteer for some of the many great charities, help out at a soup kitchen, etc.
      Explain to kids why "doing" is so much better the "prayer" or "worship, which just waste time.
      (not to be confused with meditation, which has been shown to be beneficial).

      December 7, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Bill

      Why limit your choices to Christianity? By doing so you are imposing that inherent belief on your child and he/she will not be able to really make an informed choice.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  19. twiddly

    More atheists and agnostics need to come out of the closet, so to speak.
    It often feels like what I imagine closeted gays experience, in that to be open about this invites rejection if not outright hate.

    Who will be the first brave politician to be openly atheist or agnostic?

    December 7, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Derp

      While I agree with you, I think a big reason we don't "come out" en masse is because we are generally unassuming people who don't like getting sucked into endless and generally unproductive arguments with our theistic counterparts.

      December 7, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • wharfrat

      Pete Stark

      December 7, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Jesus

      A recent survey reported that the voting public would be less likely to vote for an atheist than a member of ANY religious cult. Our public is way behind Europe and light years behind Scandivaia where atheism is a major point of view. In reality, MANY members of our government are atheists, but fear or concern over reprisal causes them to keep their views private. ATHEISTS, THE TRUE SILENT MINORITY, COMPRISE ABOUT 16% OF OUR POPULATION!

      December 7, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  20. VandyGrad

    I'm an atheist with a PhD and I take my daughter to the synagogue because I want her to understand her roots. She can make her own mind up about believing in God. By the way, I'd like to thank the vast majority of fellow atheists posting on this comment board for making all of us look like sanctimonious dbags. You folks are JUST as intolerant as you claim the religious folks to be.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • MarkinFL

      "You folks are JUST as intolerant as you claim the religious folks to be."

      Really, atheists are trying to block the rights of believers? Trying to force them to live by arcane rules? I am intolerant only of certain behaviors not the belief. People believe all sorts of things and it is none of my business until they make it so. THEN my intolerance goes out the roof.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Infinite Horizons

      That's the point. The way you get rid of evil views is through intolerance of those holding those views.

      Maybe you should spend the time you waste in your weekly brainwashing to read some Sam Harris.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Jesus

      VandyGrad, have your daughter read Deut. 21. Educate her about what your Bronze Age God thinks about women. Frankly, her "roots" are embedded in ignorance and as a responsible and educated father, you should point her toward reality and truth and not immerse her in ignorant thinking.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:21 am |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.