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Sep 07 2011

Won’t Anyone Think of the Children?

You already know that Ed Brayton‘s brother DuWayne has his own blog, I hope. You might be forgiven, however, if you were unaware that he’s back at blogging after a school-and-life-and-aaagh! hiatus. He’s been on a bit of a roll lately, with a post on Americans treating Islam as the dangerous religion and another on using appropriate sexual-identity language while engaging in sexual-identity outreach activism. It was DuWayne’s most recent post about an unpleasant encounter over religion that really got to me though.

Earlier today I managed to get into an argument with someone who overheard me talking to an acquaintance at school, who I happen to know is also an atheist. We were talking about Center For Inquiry’s “living without religion” billboard campaign, specifically about the billboard CFI MI put up in Grand Rapids that essentially asserts that you don’t need God to be a decent person. All of a sudden I felt like the internet had come alive, when this woman starts berating me about how she thinks it’s just sick how us atheists feel the need to advertise our godlessness. Her biggest concern – a concern she angrily shared rather loudly – is that she doesn’t want her children to see that, doesn’t want to be forced to explain the idea that there are people who support Satan’s plan by pretending they don’t believe in God.

Pointing out that he had to explain religious belief to his children as well only made her froth even more.

She got very angry at this – even though I didn’t even swear at her. She was enraged by my comparison, because there is no comparison. She (thankfully rather more quietly – though red faced) shrieked that she was speaking God’s truth, while “you’re speaking Satan’s lies and damned well know you are!!!” She was also enraged that I was forcing Satan’s lies on my children, trying to doom them to eternal damnation. She then breathlessly asked me how I could hate my own children so much.

Apparently letting my children attend church and make their own choices isn’t enough. That I am working to ensure my children make educated choices is damning by itself. It is absolutely unacceptable to foster any doubts in children. Through the whole tirade there were several shots taken at my character – comments that coming from anyone who wasn’t a Christian would be considered quite hateful.

It isn’t just because DuWayne sees religious privilege so clearly that keeps me reading whenever he writes. It’s that he also cuts straight to the heart of what is wrong with these arguments.

Here is what I really hate having to explain to my children, what I find awkward and uncomfortable; Hate. I cannot begin to express how difficult it was to explain bigotry to Caleb, when he was three – and again several times since. It is easy enough and I think important to explain to children that people are different – that they are many different things and that when you combine all those things in a given person, they are an individual. But trying to explain bigotry feels like you’re stripping away some of their innocence. It actually hurts a bit, every time I have reason to explain hatred and bigotry to my kids – though as of yet, I haven’t had cause to do so with Dave.

Yeah. If you’re not reading DuWayne already, you should fix that.

3 comments

1 ping

  1. 1
    4theist4narchist

    I will get to fixing that right away! DuWayne’s words are compelling, and it’s tragic to have to explain these things to kids and cut away a little bit of their innocence.

  2. 2
    George W.

    I was entirely unaware that Dwayne was related to Ed. Other than that, I am a big fan of just about everything that Dwayne has to say.
    He is an infrequent blogger, but when he has something to say, it is worth 40 of my humble posts.

    My own children are lucky in that they have access to information on just about any religion. I find, though, when you tear down the walls of privilege- when you treat religion with all the reverence of any hypothesis- children tend to see through the parts that are obviously false and make pretty good judgements.

  3. 3
    Dizzlski

    Riding the light rail back from a Twins game a preacher man came aboard. He blah’d and blah’d until I mentioned “god created satan so who’s really the bad guy here?”. The passengers around me were pretty upset.

  1. 4
    Billboards And Billboards | The Digital Cuttlefish

    [...] Zvan, over at Almost Diamonds, has a nice bit up on privilege, billboards, and thinking of the children. Oh, and an introduction to yet another person you should be reading. Given how busy today is about [...]

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