A coalition of eight atheist organizations have purchased a month-long ad campaign that will feature posters in subway stations throughout Manhattan. The posters ask: “A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?” The stated purpose of the campaign is “to raise awareness about people who don’t believe in God.” (See THIS article, for more about the subway ads.)
The atheist coalition cites the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS 2008), as reporting that those who checked “none” for religion increased from 8% to 15% between 1990 and 2008. This made “no religion” the fastest growing religious category in the U.S.
A few posts back, I suggested that parenting is more challenging today because middle-class American society no longer reflects, exhibits value for, or expects certain moral behaviors. So, for instance, getting kids to respect parents—and adults in general—needs to be more pro-actively done than in past generations. In a similar vein, I’m suggesting that as anti-religion messages increase, we need to step-up our dinner table (or whenever) conversations to combat the false ideas that our children are being exposed to. Okay, most of our children don’t frequent NYC subways, but I don’t suppose the campaign will end there. Our kids can’t sing Christmas carols in school anymore and our country’s president has gone on record as saying we’re no longer a Christian nation, so I’d say there’s a trend here. (FYI-though decreasing, the number of U.S. adults who identify themselves as Christian is still 76%. See ARIS report.)
My point is that we need to have an ongoing dialogue with our children about these kinds of things. As our children are old enough to begin to understand these kinds of issues—and sometimes that’s younger than we might think—we can begin to inoculate them against bad ideas, or at least debrief and detox them from the messages they are more often getting from media and even in the classroom.
I remember when our oldest, Adam, had a charismatic, and very popular, 7th grade Social Studies teacher. This was shortly before the end of the Cold War and the teacher regularly bashed America while glorifying the USSR. No kidding. He told the kids there were no homeless in the USSR (I imagine they shipped them off to Siberia), no Civil Rights problems, and that socialism really did have the answers, etc., etc., etc. So almost every day, I would ask Adam what had been discussed and detox. I didn’t try to deny that the U.S. has serious problems, but I liked quoting former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett’s “Gates Test:” “When you raise the gates which way do people run?,” Bennet asked. “Do they run in or do they run out? A lot of countries you raise the gates and people run out. With us in the United States, you raise the gates and people run in as fast as they can.”
I’m sure you’re aware that the anti-U.S. campaign is alive and well in many parts of our public school system. And we’ve all become aware that atheism has also made inroads in our schools with the elimination of prayer, etc. Now, my daughter in California is gearing up to talk more with her children about homosexuality and related issues now that Gov. Schwarzenegger has signed “Harvey Milk Day” into law and the schools will be honoring a sexual predator, a polygamous relationship advocate, and a public liar. I think it’s clear we can’t stop the onslaught of evil ideas that are increasingly promoted by both media and the basic institutions of our society. So—more than ever, let’s talk to our kids.
What are your children or grandchildren hearing and seeing that worries you? How are you responding?