Religion, on a whole, is quite a sore subject for me. You see, my husband and I are atheists. But, we have raised our four boys to be freethinkers and to come to their own decisions when it comes to religious beliefs. When my oldest boys, now ages 11 and 9, were younger, the topic of religion was somewhat difficult to discuss. After all, we weren’t simply spoon-feeding our children certain beliefs for them to blindly follow. Rather, we were discussing all of the different beliefs, presenting them with the basis for those beliefs, and encouraging them to come to their own conclusions – a heavy topic when you are talking to a five year old.
But, as my boys have started to grow into their own, they have begun to explore religious beliefs a bit more in-depth. And they, particularly my oldest, are becoming enraged by the lack of religious tolerance in our society. In fact, my oldest becomes angry when the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are discussed at school. “Freedom of religion, yeah right!” he says.
When I hear these words come from his mouth, I feel a tinge of pride for his sense of social justice and the fact that he keeps his eyes wide open at all times. Yet, I feel sadness at the same time for a boy who is already aware of the ills of our society.
Why is an 11-year-old boy already be so jaded when it comes to our society and the topic of religion? I will tell you why. Already, he has experienced the prejudice of Christianity. Don’t get me wrong, I know all Christians are not the same, but there have been many who have passed judgment on my son for his lack of religious belief. In fact, he cannot go over to a good friend’s house anymore because that friend’s parents don’t want an atheist boy coming over to visit.
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