Your Kid Can't Play With Mine: The Problem of Parenting with Religious Discrimination

This post was originally posted on my Facebook page and it is geared to Christians and Atheists alike. I posted it here for feedback.


My family and I are atheists. We live in a very religous town, Cleveland Tennessee. To be honest, I can't recall any other anti-religous messages or stickers on anyone's car here in "Jesusland" other than mine.


See, I refuse to keep silent. Countless Christians here have a Jesus fish on their car or some sort of religious bumper sticker (or two, or three). That's what makes America great: We have freedom of speech and we have freedom of religion.


My family and I also live in an apartment complex. Now, everyone around here knows by now that I am an atheist. From time to time one of my neighbors tries to win me back to Jesus....but it ain't happening. But more about that a different time.


My eight year son has some friends here that he hangs out with. These boys know that we are atheists. And they are always questioning him as to why he don't believe in God....or why his daddy puts anti-religious messages on the car.


Well, yesterday hit a climatic moment. The parent of two of the boys my son plays with came knocking on our door. My wife is the one who answered the door.


Now, I don't know about you, but I seem to be a bit territiorial of my home. If you are gonna come to my home, you better come in a friendly manner and do not come accusing me of crap.


This parent doesn't start off with something like "Hi, how are you". Rather the first words out of her mouth were, "I don't know what you are giving your kid to read to my kids". I am a sitting on the couch so I was able to hear what she was saying. Needless to say, this already got me upset.


This lady goes on about how our son isn't gonna have any friends and how people are going to hate him. So, I boldy jumped into this little debackle and didn't really give my wife a chance to say very much to the woman but she was able to tell her that we did not give our son anything to take out to read to her kids. I also told her that the kids were harassing my son about being an atheist.


Perhaps this lady needs to stop worrying so much about what others believe and teach her kids how to treat others. Her kids not only are constantly questioning and harassing him but one of her children has even spit on him. They laugh at him when he gets hurt and say thigns like" Ha ha. Thats what you get for being an atheist!


This parent's accusation was uncalled for. Our son willingly on his own accord took out a Bible to show these kids some bible verses that show how God kills people. I can't help it if the Holy Book you read and believe offends you. But why are you so offended? Your God supposedly wrote it? And why would you come and tell me that my kid can't play with yours for something silly like that anyways?


A while back, another neighbor told me that this same lady did not want her kids playing with my son because...here it comes....I am an atheist.

That really pissed me off. I couldn't believe this lady would want to take away her kids friend just because I do not subscribe to the same religious beliefs that she does. How ridiculous!


By the way, I guess this lady doesn't want to be like the Jesus she believes in. The scriptures indicate that he sat with sinners and tax collectors. Jesus also spent time with other people that had demons and who were sexually promiscuous. Not that I believe all this, but for the most part Christians do. So it it puzzling as to why she would get her panties in such a wad over me being an atheist in the first place. What she could have done, if she believes she has anything good, is show herself friendly rather than act the way she has towards me and my family!


This other neighbor lady is actually nice to me and she is a devout Christian. She always finds a way to talk about God and the Bible, and thats OK, I am very well versed with the Bible and I hold on own against Christians. I can have a good calm civil discussion with Christians. It is when people start getting upset that the conversation needs to be over.


Anyways, back to what I was saying. I find it incredibly insulting that someone would refuse to let their kids play with mine because I am an atheist. No one should be shuning other people for their difference of religious beliefs...unless those beliefs are also coupled with causing harm to others.


This lady had some nerve coming to my home, jumping on my wife and I, accusing us of things, and refusing to allow here children to play with my son. How childish and rude!


I must admit, I had a few choice words for the lady. As she was leaving, I yelled at her, "This is why I am no longer a Christian. It is because of people like you". I then called her a "bitch".


Should I have called her a bitch? Maybe not. Probably not. But I was caught off guard and I was highly insulted by her demeanor, rude comments, accusations, and by her discrimination against my son simply because we are atheists!


Christians, it is time to stop picking and choosing your friends or your children's friends based on religious issues. Why can't you just like a person for that person? I do not choose my friends based on religious issues and I will never teach my children to do that as well. I have a number of Christian friends and my mom, dad, sister and other family members are believers. They know where I stand and I know where they stand. On occasion they try to proselytize but mostly they do not.


One problem with shunning your kids friends based on religion is that you are teaching that behavior to your kids! We do not need our kids growing up hating or discriminating against others based on religion. Parents, be a good role model!


Another problem with this is that you are hurting your kids. Don't take away your kids friends for something so insignificant!


A note to all of the unbelievers: If one of your friends stops being your friend because they find out you are an atheist, then they are not really your friend. A true friend will accept you for you!

Views: 5

Tags: discrimination, kids, parenting, religious

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Comment by Matthew Bishop on August 22, 2010 at 9:06am
For lack of a better word, amen!
Comment by Godless Glen on August 19, 2010 at 5:05pm
Hi Bill. The thing is, my son is sad about losing friends and I feel sorry for him. But, I also know that he will make friends with other kids who don't care, and whose parents don't care what he believes.
Interesting comment you made about being more Christian than they are. I like that!
Comment by Godless Glen on August 19, 2010 at 4:32pm
Gotcha! I agree!
Comment by Gin Sparrow on August 19, 2010 at 4:15pm
Yes, that's why I wrote 'hostile' instead of just hostile- I don't think you were hostile but I bet she does. I would probably need to steer clear of such a person as this for a while before I'd be able to be calm enough to approach them- because people like that are just too emotional and I really can't have successful conversations with people like that, and they get my anger flowing which always clouds my judgment. I really don't think that you did ANYthing wrong, but IME it's always easier to negotiate with folks if I pacify them first, KWIM?
Comment by Godless Glen on August 19, 2010 at 4:07pm
To Gina: I do understand why she was troubled. But it was her children questioning my son and went he tried to show them why he believes the way he does. He was simply trying to justify his position (which he shouldn't have to he is just a kid). I was on the defensive. She came to my home yelling and accusing us but I wouldn't call that "hostile". Pissed, yes! But yeah, I actually would have a sit down calm conversation but I doubt she would be willing. But for now I will just keep to myself and not approach her about that.
Comment by Gin Sparrow on August 19, 2010 at 3:13pm
Hi Glen. My advice is to try to see things from her perspective- your child pointed out some things in their bible that obviously caused her kids to ask the mom some uncomfortable questions or say something to the mom that made her uncomfortable. She believes that if her kids don't believe in jesus, that they will be tormented for eternity and here your child comes in and causes them to have doubts. She wants to protect her children from such doubts, because most good christians know that doubts are BAD- they aren't supposed to entertain such thoughts as 'where did god come from?' and 'why did god do that?' and 'why does god let bad things happen?'. She's being a mama bear, and she's scared. I'd like to think that if I were in the same situation, I'd be able to go apologize to her for being 'hostile' when she came knocking and ask if we could discuss the issue calmly. If she agreed, then I'd ask her what was wrong with my child reading a few bible verses to her children- I'd maybe even point out the verses he read to them and ask if you could look at her bible to see if they say the same thing.
I'd want to point out that her shunning your child just makes christianity look worse.
Fear is very powerful, and mothers will always protect their children. She feels just as strongly about keeping doubt away from her kids, as you feel about her ostracizing your child.

I just joined Atheist Nexus yesterday, and I created a group for my area. You could try creating a group here for your area too. I messaged the members who live in my area to invite them to join my group and add me as a friend, to get the word out. We do need community, it sucks to be on the defensive all the time living in The South. I'm thinking about posting signs on bulletin boards here (outside grocery stores and such) like someone else on the site mentioned, that say 'there's an atheist in your neighborhood' with a contact email or something.
Peace,
Gin
Comment by G. Silva on August 19, 2010 at 1:57pm
It's hard to walk the high road when people are blatantly mistreating us and our families. Especially our kids! If anyone started confronting me about how my son's race or lack of religion (or reading material) was harming their kids, I'd go on attack mode too.

It is obviously not the best thing to do. Staying calm and polite will prove to them that you are a good person even under duress. And then you can use your reputation as a mature and reasonable person later, if an even worse situation comes up.

But it's so hard. I don't know if I could do it. You can't help being protective of your kids. It's a normal and necessary instinct.
Comment by Godless Glen on August 19, 2010 at 1:42pm
I know of a couple of atheists here but only because I met them at a Freethought meeting in Chattanooga. I wish someone would setup up a Freethought Association here. I need to mingle with more like minded people.

Telling the lady to go F herself would have felt great. But are we crossing the line when we resort to name calling and cussing? I have mixed feelings about that.

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