Interesting story. I think it's sad that they need to 'fake it' so that their kids can have friends (or rather, the other parents will allow their kids to play with them). Personally, I don't think faking religion is necessary. I don't fake religion at work, but I don't bring the subject matter up either. Perhaps it's success rate would vary by area, but I would think simply keeping your thoughts private, but simply not partaking in religious activities would be just as effective. Just look at how many Atheist's are still in the Godless closet, yet those close to them may not even suspect. Places where church is a major community activity would obviously make it harder with my previous approach. However, I don't think I'd resort to faking faith. I'd tell those I think can 'handle it' the truth, and simply leave it unsaid with those I'm unsure of.
I moved back to Washington State from Texas when I was pregnant because I was worried about my kid growing up in a place where it was very likely he might be treated badly because of who I am. I had no problem dealing with the judgment and ridicule I faced because of my 'outspoken' atheism, but I didn't want to put my kid through that same treatment and I didn't want to fake it so I moved somewhere I didn't have to. I'm lucky that I was able to move - for people who can't, I can totally understand faking it for the sake of your kids.
I loved the part of Texas where I lived - Corpus Christi - but I didn't feel like it was a good place for someone like me to raise a kid. I was too worried that my beliefs would cause my kid's life to be more difficult than life already is.
The way I see it is this - If someone allows their kid to suffer through an illness because they believe god will heal their kid instead of giving them readily available medical care which will certainly heal the kid and end their suffering, I see that person as putting their belief before the the interests of their child. If I were to have stayed in Texas even though I had the means to get out and spare my kid the inevitable (and I do mean inevitable) mistreatment that comes from being an atheist in the part of Texas where I lived, I would have been putting my own convictions before the best interest of my child. Kids complicate the issue quite a bit.
Other atheists have argued with me in the past that 'running' from intolerance was a cowardly thing for me to do, but I don't mind being thought of as a coward if it means my kid has less hardship in his life. If I have the ability to make life easier for my kid I will, because no matter how much I would love to be the openly atheist family that thumbs it's nose at the religious community it exists within, I don't think it's right for me to choose that hardship for my kid when I had an option available to me that meant he might not have to deal with that hardship at all.
I've thought about moving to Norway(number one atheist country), back to Washington, or down south to Oregon. Can't decide which. I'm actually not here by choice. I'm bumming off my sister's apartment and only just now got a job. I'm waiting to get back into truck driving and it seems most of the companies have runs going through Texas.
Ooh Norway. :D I grew up in western Washington and living in southern Texas gave me great perspective regarding how different yet similar society can be in different areas of the US. Cuz Seattle and Corpus Christi is like oil and water, man.