The only atheists I know of whose children believe in god are in situations where the other parent is a believer. And to be honest, I would be okay with my children being theists as long as they were kind, compassionate, and valued education and critical thinking/inquiry. My hope is that the value on critical thinking and inquiry will protect them from religion and delusional belief of all types.
Reggie, I agree. The only addendum I'd add is that they weren't taught to blindly discard any evidence that contradicts their beliefs. When you're young, the GodDidIt answer is useful in that there's a lot of foundational learning necessary to really understand some things (why the sky is blue leads to atmospheric scattering of wave lengths, leads to understanding of light as waves, etc). I just hope that my sons develop critical thought through time as they grow & mature.
That being said, me & the husband are both "devout" atheists, and both sets of grandparents are very respectful of that (even if they disagree). I don't see the boys getting indoctrinated without actively asking to be. We've agreed that they can go to church w/ the grandparents if they want, but we'll be totally open about why WE don't go.
I see this as a loaded question. Belief in god is not equitable to informing children about different beliefs and letting them draw their own conclusion. A lot of literature, history and current events have religious context so being educated about religion and beliefs is beneficial to children without neccessarily promoting a view.
The only way I would do it is if my husband firmly believed in God and wanted our son to know about religion. Luckily we don't have this dilemma, as he is agnostic and coming to terms with that. This is going to be an uphill battle between me and my (strongly) Christian in-laws...I don't want it to be a hill to die on, but they will be informed that they are not to discuss their religion with my son if I am not present.
From a previous reply I saw that you may have meant non practicing religious folks as opposed to open atheists like most on this site. I'd call them agnostic at best, with a hope that the God they were raised to believe in does exist, even if they don't actively worship, and so they raise their children to be believers because 1. that's how they were raised and 2. they want their children to go to heaven. Each of us wants our children to be a mini version of ourselves in a way....of course I'd prefer my son to be an atheist rather than a believer. I'd love him either way, but instinct wants him to be like me.
I actually told my husband awhile back that if children were not introduced to religion until they were old enough to reason, atheists would no longer be a taboo minority in our country (the U.S.).
I wouldn't and won't ever lie to my future children. You can tell them stories about Santa, the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy, that won't do any damage because when they've grown up they'll sooner or later realize it's just a fairy tale. If you tell them about religion however, they might believe it as long as they live.
I would not cripple my child like that. Me and my girlfriend already talked this out. Someday in the future we will have our own children, and I will do my best to educate my children about religion. I will show what each religion is about, where it came from, how it evolved and how all of it is just a big fat lie they should know about. My children will have morals, not because they'll fear punishment in hell, but rather because they will actually know what moral is and that they should always think about their actions. And I won't allow any school to manipulate my child. You may think I'm biased about this. Yeah maybe. But just as all parents tell their children to watch out for a heated oven plate, I will tell my children to watch out for religion, and teach them how to see right through their bullshit.