March 14, 2007

Parenting Beyond Belief

Living as an atheist in one of the most religious Western democracies is no picnic, but I suspect that is is nothing in comparison to trying to raise children in such an environment. I imagine that most godless parents want their children to be capable of making informed choices about their participation (or lack thereof) in religious customs, thinking critically, and applying a healthy dose of skepticism in examining all things (including religion). At the same time, I bet that most atheist parents are fully aware of the ridicule, hatred, and cruelty their children may experience at the hands of Christian children (and teachers) if they should choose not to believe. What does an atheist parent teach his or her children about religion and about the legions of believers surrounding them? How can a rational parent instill morality and compassion without religion?

A new book, Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion, is due for release in April.According to the editor, Dale McGowan, the book has a similar tone to some of my posts here (e.g., this one). Mr. McGowan provided the following excerpt from the book flap:
"Parenting Beyond Belief is a book for loving and thoughtful parents who wish to raise their children without religion. There are scores of books available for religious parents. Now there's one for the rest of us. Includes essays by Richard Dawkins, Julia Sweeney, Penn Jillette, Mark Twain, Dr. Jean Mercer, Dr. Donald B. Ardell, Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons, and over twenty-five other doctors, educators, psychologists, and secular parents."
To learn more about the book and participate in a discussion forum, visit the website at

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