Growing Up Atheist
First and foremost, I am apologizing for the length of my post. I have a lot to say.
I’ve lurked for awhile on this forum with the best intentions of posting, but, until now, not doing so. My girlfriend is considerably more active here, frequently reading out the posts to me as I sprawl on the sofa reading, watching television, or tinkering with a writing project. She has been after me for sometime to get off of my apathetic butt and post. She can be pretty convincing.
There has been some discussion concerning raising children as atheists. I have a fair amount to say on this subject since, not only am I an atheist, but I was raised an atheist. I am a third generation atheist on my mother’s side. My great grandmother was Irish (admittedly a guess, since she was an orphan, and family legend has it that she was found in a lifeboat adrift in the Irish Sea). She was an atheist. Her son, my grandfather, born in Wales, raised in Canada, now living in New Zealand, is an atheist. My grandmother, raised in the Christian environment of central Alberta, is an agnostic. And my mom is, of course, an atheist. Though I don’t remember much about my great great grandmother, (I’m 35 and she died when I was 13), her atheism was not a knee-jerk reaction, but the reasoned decision of a highly intelligent and strong willed woman. My grandfather and mother are very pragmatic about their atheism. Oh yes, I have two uncles, both of whom are atheists, Canadian born, currently living in New Zealand. My father’s story is a little different. While my mother is Canadian, my father is American (he naturalized only two years ago). My grandmother has belonged to numerous Christian cults, cults with what I like to call ‘prayer police’ who routinely go from one parishioners home to the next, ensuring that all is well and that they are practicing their faith properly. Her and my grandfather were brought together in an arranged marriage. My grandfather was a Baptist who abused his wife and two sons. He beat them with boards. Fortunately, he died from a heart attack before I was born, so I never had a chance to meet the bastard. His father, also Baptist, also cruel, committed suicide. Now, my uncle, a good Christian boy, beat my father (who is ten years younger) and enjoyed torturing and killing my fathers pets (of which he had many). My wonderful uncle abused his wife, murdered POWs in the Viet Nam war (he was stationed on American soil) and embezzled a considerable amount of money from the bank he worked at, and is currently wanted by the FBI. I have never met my uncle. Never want to. Now, my mother is an atheist brought up in a relatively stable environment where choice and freedom of thought was encouraged. My father is more of a reactionary atheist, experiencing first hand the hypocrisy, intolerance, and cruelty of true believers.