I'm a 6th grade Social Studies teacher.  The topic of religion as a part of culture comes up all the time.  Today during a discussion of Greek myths, a student (a 12 year-old girl with a sweet smile) asked me if I believed in god.  I paused and said, "Well, sure."

I felt that I was having a discussion with a child about Santa or the Easter Bunny.  I didn't want to be the one to tell the child that all the adults in her life have been lying to her.

This has been bothering me all day.  When this comes up again - I'm sure it will - should I lie as I did today, or should I tell the truth?

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The paragraph where you talk about prisoners/religions is a myth. It's kinda cool that atheists have become popular and united enough to have our own urban legends, but nonetheless. That myth is based upon a single purported personal correspondence from an ex prison employee. The fact is, USA/Canadian prisons do not census the beliefs of their inmates. I don't care to go through the entire 'demonstration' yet again, so I suggest you do some investigative research for yourself into the origins of this claim. It's fun to actually research such things, and you'll integrate it better anyway since it will come from your own hard work.

Most of what is said is pointless because most humans are hardwired for some kind of belief that can account for how or why we got here. Instead of contemplating the uncontemplatable (how this life we know can be)--it is much more palatable to believe that something created it.

And to put it straight--something did create all this -- I just do not know how something could come from nothing --or what could have existed forever. 

The biggest problem is that so many blindly pursue the notion that God is something that should not be questioned because there are things that we have to accept that are beyond explanation. People also seem to be hard wired for thinking that if you do not think like them, there is something wrong with you. And if you do not believe in a mystical God, you have something  exceptionally wrong with you.  

Given that Communism was an Atheistic government, I am also not very impressed with the godless as well as the God-fearing. 

In fact, I am not very impressed with the human race. It appears to be a grand experiment that is failing and is a painful result of a unique consequence of a large explosion that happened to create a couple of gases that got things to happen that is as mind boggling as an almighty God that created an enormous amount of pain and suffering along with a stupendous capability for love and beautiful things. 

Driving a car is a "godless" activity, too, and the activity is responsible for millions of deaths and injuries worldwide over the last century. I don't suppose you own/operate a car, then.

Perhaps avoid the subject and tell the student it doesn't matter what you believe.  Then summarize the reality of this issue - "there are many people who believe in a god(s), and there are many people who don't.  That is for you to learn about and make a decision about on your own."

I would really like it if the school systems actually worked that way but often in certain areas of the country they do not. Living in the midwest and growing up in a 99% white christian community I can attest to this.

If you tell her that you do not believe in god; she could take you at your word and believe it because you told her so and she trusts you. If you lie to her then you do her a disservice also. The best way to go is to think of something that would make her question her own beliefs and give her tools to come up with an answer for herself. IMO Teach them to think not blind belief systems. 

One must consider who and what is it you are teaching to-- An open minded community, a bigoted community, a close minded community, a very simple community,  a very complex community. One can teach in Hanover, NH and be mindfully creative, while a few miles away, they root for Rick Santorum.  

You need not lie, but 6th grade social studies class isn't the place to discuss your personal beliefs - or lack of them.  If your curriculum touches on religion or whatever, follow your curriculum - but does curriculum require you to discuss your personal opinions and beliefs?  I am raising my child atheist. That's my business.  Unless or until class curricula includes personal discussions about a teacher's politics, religion (or lack of it), or sexual preferences, it should not be discussed.  It doesn't matter whether I agree with you or not.  And it doesn't matter the child's age.  It's a matter of what you are there to do - and not do.  I'd suggest that if asked, dignify the question and let her know you have a policy to not discuss your personal views in the class.

Good choice.

I think you should tell the truth. If you don't, you are only contributing to society's distrust of teachers in general. Sometime in the future, a child will realise that you'd lied, and their positive perception of you (and all teachers) will be permanently destroyed. As a teacher myself, I wouldn't want to be distrusted because my colleagues are habitual liars.

So now that a few months have gone by, have you been asked this ? again and if so what was your decision?

just for the record...I agree with Eric. Give it to em straight from the heart, It never fails

By the time a child is old enough to  ask the question "Is there really a Santa Claus?', they are old enough to know the truth.

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