January 15th, 2013
08:28 AM ET

iReport: Why I Raise My Children Without God

Editor's Note: Deborah Mitchell, a mother of two teenagers in Texas, blogs about raising her children without religion. An avid reader of the Belief Blog, she said she shared this essay on CNN iReport because 'I just felt there is not a voice out there for women/moms like me. I think people misunderstand or are fearful of people who don’t believe in God.'

By Deborah Mitchell, Special to CNN

(CNN)–When my son was around 3 years old, he used to ask me a lot of questions about heaven. Where is it? How do people walk without a body? How will I find you? You know the questions that kids ask.

For over a year, I lied to him and made up stories that I didn’t believe about heaven. Like most parents, I love my child so much that I didn’t want him to be scared. I wanted him to feel safe and loved and full of hope. But the trade-off was that I would have to make stuff up, and I would have to brainwash him into believing stories that didn’t make sense, stories that I didn’t believe either.

One day he would know this, and he would not trust my judgment. He would know that I built an elaborate tale—not unlike the one we tell children about Santa—to explain the inconsistent and illogical legend of God.

And so I thought it was only right to be honest with my children. I am a non-believer, and for years I’ve been on the fringe in my community. As a blogger, though, I’ve found that there are many other parents out there like me. We are creating the next generation of kids, and there is a wave of young agnostics, atheists, free thinkers and humanists rising up through the ranks who will, hopefully, lower our nation’s religious fever.

Read Mitchell's 7 reasons she's raising her children without God

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Opinion

soundoff (1,688 Responses)
  1. Joe Bernstein

    Wonderful post! I agree with you and am also raising a child sans god. Thank you for writing this piece and displaying it publicly.

    January 28, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
  2. Ire Maiden

    The fact that people can do whatever based on their beliefs make beliefs a dangerous force. A belief embraced by many doesnt necessarily become a right to. Beliefs need the unity of faith and numbers for the very reason that it craves power, attention and pride like good old Lucifer. Humans are pathetic creatures. They like to shed blood just to prove they are more right than others and this desire only lead one to the darkside of things.

    January 28, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
  3. Dyslexic doG

    I have traveled the world for many years and lived among all religions and have found the one immutable truth.

    There is no God, and there especially is no truth to the hodgepodge of stories copied from egyptian religion and other middle eastern religions that the western world now calls the bible and christianity. It's a laughable plagiarism.

    Well done Deborah! Your children are enlightened and have a better chance in life thanks to your efforts.

    January 28, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  4. proxy

    How about u prove me he doesnt exist. U said u dont believe what u cant see. Look round u things r made by things we dont see the air. The molecules our heart beats all r done with intelligent design, things r not done to b random, they were done with. Purpose. Now prove me im wrong n tell me we were created by aliens, prove me what u believe without. Shadow of A Doubt.

    January 28, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • Ire Maiden

      Intelligent design? God made two human beings who can't even make a right decision over an apple. They were stupid to begin with. If god made things. Birds dun need wings to fly. They fly becos god wants them to fly without wings. There is no logic to reason design for what they are anymore nor try to draw upon logical explanations which make your god a servant of science.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • Joe Bernstein

      One cannot prove, by rational means, the non-existance of something. Thus, your opening statement us flawed.

      January 29, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • kayamar

      1) Learn to type full words. 2) Learn proper grammar. 3) Air molecules can be measured, you can feel the wind, you can feel and measure your heartbeat, you cannot however measure, see, feel, or hear anything that proves god whatsoever. 4) It's impossible to prove a negative, yet we are constantly learning more facts about the universe that strongly suggest there is no god. 5)Abiogenesis has been proven in several different ways in labs since the 50's, the only problem scientists are having is pinpointing at what point in time the necessary conditions existed on this planet. and finally 6) Gene mapping combined with everything we know about biology, archeology, and palaeontology has proved that evolution is a fact.

      January 29, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • Science

      Check your god(S) at the cave enterance before entering.. No god(s) required for studying humans..

      updated 1 hour 55 minutes ago
      Jan. 29 2013

      Scientists have unearthed and dated some of the oldest stone hand axes on Earth. The ancient tools, unearthed in Ethiopia in the last two decades, date to 1.75 million years ago.


      Ancient DNA reveals humans living 40,000 years ago in Beijing area related to present-day Asians, Native Americans January 21, 2013

      Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-01-ancient-dna-reveals-humans-years.html#jCp

      January 30, 2013 at 8:29 am |
  5. deathking16132

    What is god?

    January 28, 2013 at 1:53 am |
    • deathking16132

      If anyone has evidence of this god thing please bring it to my attention right away.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:59 am |
  6. Mike al Muslim

    God is very real look at all the signs around us. It's the arrogant who deny god because they view themselves as self sufficient. They think there success is due to there own merit when everything you attain is from god almighty. Because if god didn't want you to have you never will attain that success. To my brothers and sisters in humanity I have never tried to compell anyone to faith. Faith is in the heart. Those who ridicule god he gives you respite to a day which has been promised. That day is when those that have been oppressed are allowed to speak and the oppressed will be requited with what they did

    January 27, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • Mike al Muslim

      I meant to say the oppressors will be requited with the evil they did

      January 27, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
  7. dieuner

    After careful reading of your post, I feel compelled to respond. I want to commend you for sharing your views about “why you raise your children without God.” Obviously, you have given this a lot of thoughts and feel that is necessary to share your views so as to encourage others who feel like you do, but are perhaps afraid to share their thoughts openly.

    I don’t think that you are an atheist at all. To the contrary, your writing indicates that you are a woman of profound convictions. You espouse faith in humanity’s ability to self-govern.

    It is evident that your rejection of God is a by-product of negative experiences and events that seem to negate the existence of a Sovereign God. This does not make you an unbeliever; it simply makes you a seeker. It seems that you are seeking for God to reveal His divine attributes to you by taken control of an evil world. You want God’s love and mercy to be evident in the way humanity deals with one another and the way the world is administrated.

    Your rejection of God is a rejection of the idealism and surrealism with which most Christians speak about God. You find the inconsistency between a good God and an evil world to be too vexing to warrant your trust. I sense that you reject the argument of blind faith in God, because the suffering you see is tangible.

    Your writing suggests that you are still open to the idea of a God. However, you have very specific criteria for validating the authenticity of that deity. If I may, I want to address each criterion that you highlighted in your article:

    follow this link for the full response http://www.disciplemakerministry.com/_blog/A_Pastor's_Refelection/post/Why_I_Raise_My_Children_With_God/

    January 25, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
  8. Mandy

    COMPLEX is right but you took the jumbled thoughts right from my mind, and helped me to understand how I feel. You nailed it! Excellent article.Glad to know I'm not alone in my thinking.

    January 25, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  9. MK

    I will not keep my religion in my home or in my church.

    January 24, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • End Religion

      Will you keep it with a mouse? Will you keep it in your house?
      Will you keep it in the rain? Will you keep it on a train?
      Will you keep it, Sam I Am?
      Will you keep your Flim-Flam Man?

      January 24, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  10. Ike Roselle

    I think that its completly wrong to not teach your children about god, because they need to know about the person who has created this place. But, its their chioce to choose who they want to follow, god, or the devil.

    January 24, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • Flint Fredstone

      Oh dear. We've got a simple one on our hands.

      All you have to do is prove that God exists and created everything. Then you can say what you just did.

      Your evidence?

      January 24, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • lol??

      Who elected you boss, FF? Not the elect.

      January 27, 2013 at 1:49 am |
  11. Eric

    I escaped the shackles of religious tyranny when i was an adolescent, I'll never let any dogma enslave me again, I am truly free. I understand how you feel Deborah, you are not alone.

    January 24, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • thomas

      he who sins is a slave of sin. If the son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.

      January 26, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Ire Maiden

      A slave to sin is nothing compared to those who sin in the name of religion and believed they can be forgiven and given eternal life. What a great marketing gimmick! I supposed if you know the death of a god would give you eternal life, would you watch on so that you get eternal life or save him from the evil hands. If bathing in some holy blood can rid you of sins, you are no different from blood cultist who believe the blood of young children, animals, virgins, woman....can give them eternal youth or life or appease some gods.

      January 29, 2013 at 2:03 am |
  12. Please Define God

    I always discussions of this sort perplexing, the brouhaha that ensues every time someone brings into question another persons beliefs, specially their religious beliefs. I used to think that people who were religious were only that way because it had been drilled into them growing up but recent research has suggested that humans have a psychological predisposition to these beliefs and that being capable of these beliefs are in fact part of what separates humans from other animals. So then what separates those who hold these beliefs from those who do not? Are the ones who do not hold these beliefs sub-human as some believers claim, super-human as Nietzsche purported?

    My question to anyone is to please define God. God is a word. Even the bible starts that in the beginning there was the word. Words have definitions attributed by a group of people who commonly agree on the general meaning in that culture, during that time period, in that language. Furthermore, when asking people who refer frequently to and pretend that they know secrets that no one else is privy pertaining to God to define God it seems that the thought never before crossed their minds. That somehow this word God escapes the same subjective interpretation as every other. Yet how can some one profess belief in something if the thing cannot be defined?

    Simply, words are symbols. When someone says chair each and every person will have something come to mind but I would venture to guess that none of them would think of the exact same thing. Some would be somewhat similar and the others would be extremely far apart. God is but a word, a word that stands for and symbolizes the ultimate human idea of a mystery beyond space and time that could never be known. God neither is or is not because these words are symbols in human thought also and the ultimate mystery cannot be described in these terms.

    Now I understand that this is too much for many to attempt to comprehend and it is certainly easier to profess belief and personal knowledge of the real truth than to grapple with these concepts but I like to think that deep down even those that are the most fervently religious but not at all spiritual must come to this realization if not in life then at least in death.

    January 23, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Define God, not possible. We have some descriptions or attributes of God, but there isn’t a definition. He told one of the old saints, Moses maybe, when he said who shall I tell them sent me. God said, I am that I am. We know that he is.

      January 23, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • Please Define God

      But then from that statement you must define is and not in the Bill Clinton court of law definition but what does it mean exactly to say God is? Humans will always be caught in the catch 22 chicken and the egg merry go round in this regard.

      January 24, 2013 at 2:11 am |
    • Alex

      RR you are stupid God didn't say that, his pet unicorn did... Oh wait that's right... They are both made up prices of crap.

      January 27, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  13. rmw7

    The most sensible, logical, open minded paragraphs on religion I have read. None of the comments against it seem as open minded. Reason number 8 could include all the wars fought, killing people for the 'one' true religion (theirs).

    January 23, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  14. Katy

    My hat's off to you!!! I had a woman that told my son, when he was around 9, that if he didn't go to church that it left an opening for demons to come into him and he would burn in hell for eternity. My son was terrified to go to school for a few weeks because this woman was always there and he was afraid she would confront him again. Everyone needs to believe in something, but NO ONE should push their beliefs on another. Freedom of choice!

    January 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Ire Maiden

      I think or rather the woman who tries to push religion is the real demon. The reason why religion incite wars is because they are run by demons. That explain the thirst for blood and the need to be right. Doesnt this remind you how Lucifer thinks he is right all the time? The greatest mistake man ever made is to be carried along by their beliefs and expecting others to follow suit as well. The question is what is your belief is wrong....imperfect or slanted?

      January 28, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
  15. Marty

    If God does exist, he's got a lot of explaining to do. (Woody Allen)

    January 23, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Ike Roselle

      what do you mean?

      January 24, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
  16. Jennifer

    This was very well stated. Thanks for writing!!!

    January 23, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  17. DeAna

    Kudos to you for articulating your ideas on why you're choosing to raise your children without God. I too have moved away from religion and have received muted, but certainly critical responses from friends and family; one cousin saying quetly to another "Satan's got her". The hardest part about being a parent outside of religion is gearing your child up for the ostricism they are sure to experience at one time or another because of it. I teach my child that she is responsible for herself, her actions toward others and will suffer the natural consequences and rewards from said actions. She has no hell to burn in, no heaven to glory in.. just the here and now..you get one shot. make it count!

    January 23, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  18. roman2819

    This book, "Understanding prayer, Faith and God's WIl" is dedicated to All who believe, and to All who haven't.
    Chapters m:
    1. Inner Doubts
    2. What does the Bible mean?
    3. Prayer: What did Jesus Intend to tell us?
    4. "Why doesn't God answer more prayers?"
    5. To Pray Again
    6. Does Sin impede prayer?
    7. Faith in God
    8. How does God call people?
    9. Understanding God's Will
    10 Being in God's will
    11 Journey of the Bible
    12 Reading the Scripture Fruitfully

    January 23, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Here is a better waay to understand it.
      The bible is a book of myths and stories. It should never be confused with reality.

      January 23, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  19. roman2819

    This book, "Understanding prayer, Faith and God's WIl" is dedicated to All who believe, and to All who haven't.


    1. Inner Doubts
    2. What does the Bible mean?
    3. Prayer: What did Jesus Intend to tell us?
    4. "Why doesn't God answer more prayers?"
    5. To Pray Again
    6. Does Sin impede prayer?
    7. Faith in God
    8. How does God call people?
    9. Understanding God's Will
    10 Being in God's will
    11 Journey of the Bible
    12 Reading the Scripture Fruitfully

    January 23, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Satan

      Maybe a better read would be God Delusion

      January 23, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
  20. Mike H

    You are not alone. And you're not alone in feeling alone. I am atheist. I define that as lacking a belief in a god or gods. I'm not saying that there can't possibly be a god by calling myself an atheist. I'm also not disparaging the majority of people (in the US, unlike in Western Europe) who do hold those beliefs.I'm open with my family and closer friends about this and answer honestly when people ask me. But I do find that whenever topics come up pertaining to it, esp in groups, i am reluctant to state my positions as firmly as I feel them because contrary to my definition above, lots of people take the word atheist to mean that I am looking down on them for believing. It seems to trigger defensiveness. So it is isolating. All I can say is that I'm certainly glad to be living in the Internet age where we can connect as we are now, find lots of resources oriented toward reason, science and critical thinking. I applaud your courage. Discrimination against people who are atheists in this country is a reality. Keep in mind also that a number of people who claim to believe in God do not. Lots of people believe in belief (much like you were acting when telling your child about heaven), thinking that even though they cannot make any sense of the concept of god that they believe that good comes from people holding that belief even though they see it as mistaken one. There are many pastors who have found themselves in a position where faith (believing things without evidence) no longer makes sense to them, but they aren't equipped to find other sorts of work. And there are vast numbers of politicians who feign belief because no one gets elected to any position above dog catcher if they are open with their lack of belief. You are certainly not alone. Your courage will serve you well and ultimately you stand a better chance of getting more out of this life because you're not telling yourself that this is temporary and that you have eternity after death, so this life doesn't matter quite so much. You have my admiration. I wish you all the best.

    January 23, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • donnylone

      The bible calls people like u foolish.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:57 am |
    • Ire Maiden

      Ths bible is a foolish book. Other than calling people foolish...swines. What other wisdom does it have that could solve the issue of faith. God is the greatest idol in the history of man and that make theists the longest serving idol worshippers. Well done! Keep up the idol worship.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:36 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.