Monday, January 21st, 2013
Deborah Mitchell, a Texas mom who is raising her two teenagers without religious faith, has sparked a national online conversation in which parents are vehemently defending their views that children should be raised with religion, without it, or with whatever works best for any individual family. Mitchell’s blog, and a recent online article, elevated the debate at a time when one in five Americans is unaffiliated with a religious tradition. More from CNN:
This week, she gained a whole new audience and the reassurance that she’s not alone. Her essay on CNN iReport, “Why I Raise My Children Without God,” drew 650,000 page views, the second highest for an iReport, and the most comments of any submission on the citizen journalism platform.
“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.”
Mitchell posted the essay detailing her seven reasons for raising her children without God on CNN iReport because she felt there wasn’t anyone else speaking for women or moms like her. As she sees it, children should learn to do the right things because they will feel better about themselves, not because God is watching. She asks questions like: If there was a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God, why would he allow murders, child abuse and torture?
Lots of people disagreed with her. Tons. They flagged her iReport as inappropriate and criticized CNN for linking to her essay on the CNN.com homepage. But there were plenty of others who wrote thoughtful rebuttals, respectfully disagreeing with Mitchell while not foisting their own beliefs on her. Take, for instance, a Methodist dad, who said faith can be hard to nail down, but “not to avail ourselves of the power of something we don’t completely understand is silly.”
Others said Mitchell presented a simplistic view of religion.
“Presentations such as these seem to ignore a substantial percentage of believers – well-educated, compassionate, liberal folk, Christian and non-Christian alike – who, I feel, are able to worship without being blind to the realities of the world, or without lying to their children about their understanding of these complexities,” wrote commenter RMooradian. “I’ll be raising my children with God, but I understand those who cannot!”
But Mitchell’s essay also struck a chord with hundreds of like-minded parents raising children in a world where lack of belief puts them in the minority, often even in their own family.
“Thank you for writing this. I agree with everything you say, but I’m not brave enough to tell everyone I know this is how I feel,” a woman who called herself an “agnostic mommy of two in Alabama” posted in the comments. “Thank you for your bravery and letting me know I’m not alone.”
Image: Woman typing, via Shutterstock
Thursday, May 17th, 2012
Nine-year-old Josef Miles has inspired his family–and caught the media’s attention–by taking on a group of controversial protesters from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, who demonstrate at military funerals displaying signs that use an expletive for homosexuals with the words “God Hates ___.” NPR.org reports:
“Josef was determined to make his own statement so we went to the car and with pencil and his sketch pad, he made up his own little sign that reads ‘GOD HATES NO ONE,’ ” his mom wrote. “Those people are scary but he stood strong, was respectful and stood by his convictions. He will be a good man, I have no doubt. I got my Mothers Day present early.”
Image via NPR.org
Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, the Arkansas couple whose life with their 19 children and 2 grandchildren is chronicled on the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting, have announced that they are expecting number 20.
The family appeared on The Today Show to announce that she is just over three months along. MSNBC reports:
“We are so excited,” Michelle Duggar told TODAY Moms before the broadcast. Now three and a half months pregnant, the mom of 19 says she was actually surprised to discover that she’s expecting again at 45. “I was not thinking that God would give us another one, and we are just so grateful.”
Michelle had suffered from gall bladder problems the blood pressure condition called preeclampsia with her 19th child, Josie. That baby had to be delivered three and a half months prematurely in order to save Michelle’s life–now Josie is a healthy almost 2-year-old. So far, Michelle has been in good health with this new pregnancy.
The Duggars do not use birth control, because of their belief that their family planning decisions are ultimately up to God.
Their 19 children’s names are Joshua, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace, and Josie.
(image via: http://starcasm.net/)
Thursday, August 18th, 2011
A Haro Pro Race bike, similar to the one stolen from Culley Larson
A 10-year-old Minnesota boy is appealing to his community to help him recover a treasured bicycle that was stolen from his garage this week. The letter has piqued the interest of far-reaching Internet sites including Yahoo Shine, sparking a Web-wide search for the bike, and asking people to think about bicycle theft in their own areas.
Tim Engstrom, the managing editor of the Albert Lea Tribune newspaper, which printed the letter, told Yahoo the letter is a powerful plea from a small child: “At first you think it’s an ordinary bike being stolen and then you realize this is the kid’s passion— his parents take him every Wednesday about an hour from home to ride this bike in a certain area.”
Here is the letter, reprinted from the Albert Lea Tribune:
Hello, my name is Culley Larson, and I am 10 years old and live in Albert Lea. This past Saturday someone stole my BMX bike out of my parents’ garage. I love this town, and I am sad that people steal other kids’ bikes. This is something I do not understand.
I am writing this letter to ask for your help. If you have kids, look to see if you have a bike at your house that does not belong to you. Parents, please ask your kids if any of their friends have a new bike lately? If you do not have kids, be on a lookout for anyone who has gotten a new bike the past couple of days. If you see the bike, call the police. If you have the bike, please bring it back.
I am willing to use some of my own money that I have saved as a reward to get my bike back. I know other kids get their bikes stolen. I have read it myself in the newspaper. I am hoping my letter will not only help me, but maybe help other kids also get their bikes back. I hope 10 other kids also get their bikes back. If they do we can have a celebration and call it “get your bike back day.” It would be the best day ever!
A kid getting their bike stolen is like a grown up getting their car stolen. My bike is a Haro Pro Race bike with a black frame and white seat and white handle bars. My parents take me to Mankato every Wednesday to race on a dirt trail. This bike is very specific to the sport and has special tires. This is my summer sport, and I cannot race the track on my legs. I need my bike.
I have said a little prayer for my bike. I hope God is listening. I also asked God to help someone to make the right decision. I love my God, I love my family, I love my bike.
(image via: http://www.mk-bikeshop.de/)