“Religion only serves the family when the family serves religion.”

—Tracie Harris

A friend sent me a video link to a talk by Tracie Harris posted on YouTube.  I  wrote down a few of the things she said that I resonated with.

“One of the good things about Recovering From Religion, is they’re going to start amassing statistics. We’re going to start seeing more and more actual figures. I’m tired of people saying, ‘Well how many people are atheists in the population?’ …and the answer is ‘I don’t know.’ We have people that self-label atheist, they’re very few. I don’t think anyone here thinks that this is the only set of atheists. We know there are people that label many other things, that they don’t believe a god exists. Some of those people that honestly don’t know they are atheist. And so we have more numbers I’m sure than the people who identify as an atheist. But we don’t get those numbers; they don’t count toward our demographic. Because we have right now a dialogue now that is controlled by a majority theistic community that makes it difficult for people to come out and say they’re an atheist. They’re also misrepresenting what atheism actually is. They’re making people not understand that they’re atheist. They’re doing everything they can to make sure our numbers ambiguous and low, because it benefits them as a majority to keep us ambiguous and low. I want to see more people coming out and being able to identify as atheist. So that when we get those numbers we can start saying, this is the percentage of the population that are actually atheist. Because right now I have no confidence in that figure. ”

“There are many people that go to their church, and all they’re looking for really is a social connection. They’re not really concerned with changing laws, controlling your life, or worrying about whether or not you’re having sex. They really just want to go, and go to the bake sale, help with the food pantry, sing some songs, their kids go to Sunday school, and everyone gets a lollipop. It’s fun, and they go home. Those are not the people that worry me.”

Tami illustrates how a family with a few kids might have one child (we’ll call him Ryan) is enrolled in soccer. The whole family goes to Ryan’s soccer game to show support, even if say, his sister Deb can’t stand soccer. Deb is entitled to say, “I hate soccer”. The parents don’t respond to this with, “Well if you hate soccer, you’re no daughter of mine” That’s is not a rational response. The family doesn’t exist to serve the soccer team. Soccer exists as a tool to form family bonds, and teach kids what it means to support each other. Religion on the other hand, makes disowning your own child a perfectly rational thing to do. “Religion only serves the family when the family serves religion.”

Research for later. Tami states, “There no explanation for why going to a church is automatically considered an admirable act.”

One of her slides had “Christian Values” for kids on it:

The Fruit of Values Tree:

  1. Faith in God
  2. Respect
  3. Responsibility
  4. Self-Control & Moderation
  5. Honesty & Integrity
  6. Kindness & Compassion
  7. Contentment & Thankfulness
  8. Patience & Perseverence
  9. Peace & Humility
  10. Loyalty & Commitment

How to Help Children Learn Values

  1. The Values Tree
  2. Values begin with God
  3. Live the Values
  4. Teach the Values
  5. Protect your Child’s Mind
  6. Make Right and Wrong Very Clear
  7. Develop Self-Respect & Confidence
  8. Give Lots of Practice in Making Decisions
  9. Show your Child How to Deal With Peer Pressure

Actually, Christians have it mostly right. With the exception of the two things in red, I agree with every part of this list. But that’s just it isn’t it? Tracie explains, “If you want to poison a dog, you don’t just make the dog eat the poison. You wrap the poison in bacon first.” To a kid, most of these values make sense, and since their parents are also including “faith in god” into the list of values, well of course that makes perfect sense too! They cannot differentiate that particular value from the others.

Atheism “is not something I bring up very often outside of my social circles. If they don’t bring up religion, or they don’t bring up my atheism, I don’t notice. If they don’t mention it, then I don’t mention it. They’re not pushing it on me, I’m not pushing it on them. Sometimes they bring it up to me, and they have questions about it. I will tell them off the bat, ‘If you’re a believer, sometimes my answers to these questions can seem offensive, even if I’m not trying to offend. So bear in mind that at any point, if I start to say things that make you uncomfortable, or you don’t want to hear this, or you don’t want to have this conversation anymore, just tell me and we can stop the conversation. My goal is not to offend you, but sometimes honest answers to questions can seem offensive.'”

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