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Vicki Murphy


Why I Tell My Son About a Religion I Don't Believe In

Posted: 04/02/2013 11:38 am

We are of that new order of families whose Sunday routine consists of lazing around in our jammies, eating cereal, and watching movies about space travel. "Church" is just a picture in Max's Little People book.

Yesterday morning (Easter Sunday), while we were visiting my mom at the ol' homestead in rural Newfoundland, Max came downstairs exclaiming "Jesus was back alive!" After fighting the urge to tell him that Jesus was a zombie who slowly morphed into a bunny, my straight-up bedtime story had stuck. "Jesus died," he recollected. "But when it became Easter day, he came alive again." My good Christian mother was tickled pink.

My atom-splitting science teacher of a husband, however, just glared at me, his thick eyebrows twisting into tornadoes. What have you been teaching our son? "Don't worry, honey," I assured him. "I'm not getting all Jesus-y on ya."

I went to church on Easter Sunday with my mom and Max. One time too many, I suppose, for an outspoken skeptic or atheist or agnostic or whatever the hell I am. People were moving away from me in church to avoid the projectile splinters that would surely result from a pew-splitting bolt of lightning. (They've been reading my blog.)

I was raised in the church. My father was an Anglican lay minister for 50 years. I sang in the choir for ten years. I know all the words to several hymns. I even have a favourite -- The King of Love, My Shepherd Is. But do I think it's all a bunch of biblical bunk? Yeah, mostly. I just can't bring myself to go to church anymore; it's all so silly. But I'm not one of those hypocrites who expects to get married and buried in the church but never steps foot inside inbetween. Let it be known: When I go tits-up, you can throw my ashes into the cavity of an old, broken typewriter.

But I haven't completely forsaken church. Because I guess I'm still open to the possibilities. Refusing to go -- never ever ever -- would be like declaring I know something for certain, and that is neither true nor possible. The burden of proof is with you though, Jesus lovers. So forgive me for skipping church and watching E.T. with my family instead. I may not be wrapped in the arms of Jesus, but I'm wrapped in somebody's arms and somebody's wrapped in mine. This is what's real to me. This is my heaven. Send me a Jesus memo when you find something.

But even though I'm not all Jesus-y, it doesn't mean Max can't be. So I took him to church on Easter morning. As his mother, it's on me to teach him how to be polite and share and wipe his arse, but it's not my job to tell him what to believe. Especially when I don't have the slightest clue myself. It's my job to guide him, and show him some of the options -- like the story of Jesus and Easter and Christmas -- and then he can decide for himself.

Besides, I reckon there are worse things to be than Jesus-y. As far as I know, Jesus was a kind, gentle, compassionate man who lived humbly and judged no one. If more so-called Christians acted more like that, maybe I wouldn't have such a distaste for the whole thing.

Anyway, even though I'm not much of a believer myself, I tell my son about Jesus. So that one day, when Max realizes it's all a bunch of horse shit, it won't be "because Mom told me so." It'll be "because that is what I think."

On the other hand, if he decides it's all true, I am open to be enlightened.

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  • In this Sept. 9, 2010 photo, a billboard erected by atheists in Oklahoma City reads " Don't believe in God? Join the club". Nick Singer, the coordinator of a local atheists' group called "Coalition of Reason," recently received $5,250 from its national counterpart to erect the billboard along Interstate 44 near the Oklahoma State Fair. Oklahoma ranks eighth in the nation for percentage of residents who self-identify as Christians (85 percent), according to an analysis of the 2008 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey conducted by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life. (Sue Ogrocki, AP)

  • Atheist billboard on Capital Blvd. in Raleigh, North Carolina, can be seen March 29, 2011. (Chris Seward, Raleigh News & Observer / MCT)

  • A billboard sponsored by an atheist group is displayed near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel in North Bergen, N.J., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010. Now, the Catholic League has countered by putting up its own billboard near one of the tunnel's New York City entrances. (Seth Wenig, AP)

  • An atheistic billboard in Chicago. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericingrum/4038228725/" target="_hplink">Eric Ingrum</a>, Flickr)

  • A billboard sponsored by a Catholic group is displayed near an exit of the Lincoln Tunnel in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010. Similarly, a billboard sponsored by an atheist group is displayed near the tunnel's New Jersey entrance. (Seth Wenig, AP)

  • <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/13/atheist-slavery-billboard-pennsylvania-raises-tempers_n_1342268.html">From RNS' Diana Fishlock</a>: A billboard erected in one of the Harrisburg, Pa.'s most racially diverse neighborhoods featured an African slave with the biblical quote, "Slaves, obey your masters." It lasted less than a day before someone tore it down.

  • An atheist group <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/07/american-atheists-myth-billboard-brooklyn-jewish-rejected_n_1327527.html">was blocked</a> from erecting a billboard in a heavily Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York.


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