Local Raleigh, NC Non-Religious Group Featured in N&O

It is good to see a well-balanced article in the News & Observer about a local Raleigh parenting group which meets in a non-religious context.

On Sunday mornings, when many of their contemporaries are taking their seats in church pews, a group of young parents mingle in the living room of a suburban home while their children run around playing games. This congregation of Triangle residents has no creed or ceremony, just a desire to get together and offer each other support for rearing children without religion. Taking their cue from a primer of the same name, they call themselves Parenting Beyond Belief, and they meet nearly every Sunday, in a city park, an indoor playground or in people's homes.

One of the biggest misconceptions (often deliberately spread by those with an agenda) is that atheists and the non-religious are incapable of teaching their children ethics and morals, but as anyone who has done so can attest, this is simply an ignorant and biased belief. You don't need God to be good, and you don't need Christian churches to offer your children positive messages and opportunities.

Several parents said they preferred the company of the nonreligious parent group. Whereas atheists are defined by what they don't believe, members of this group want to be known for their desire to raise caring, responsible, ethical children. "People think if you don't believe in God you have no morals," said Niki Ashmont, a social worker from Zebulon who attended Sunday. "That's just not the case."

More and more people are coming out as atheists, despite the fact that this is often very inconvenient and may put jobs, friendships, and even family relationships in serious jeopardy.

It's not always easy being an atheist. A 2008 Gallup poll found that only Scientologists fared worse than atheists in the public's views. Both groups ranked at the bottom of the favorability list. Those attitudes are more hardened in the South, where polls show more people identify as religious than in any other part of the country. "Where I work, I'm not really out as an atheist," Bruce Harris, 36, a graphic designer who lives in Cary, said during the gathering Sunday. "My boss assumes that everyone around him has some religion. It doesn't occur to him that there are atheists."

The group, Harris said, provides him an opportunity to be himself. "You don't have to walk on eggshells," he said.

Kudos to the Raleigh group and for the future of more secular and non-religious groups getting their word out and becoming vocal proponents of their abilities to raise children to be ethical, moral, and decent citizens of their communities and the world.

(also posted on my blog: davenichols.net)

Views: 47

Tags: Atheism, North Carolina, Parenting Beyond Belief, Raleigh, Religion

Comment by Gaytor on May 19, 2009 at 11:48am
NC is on a short list of different places for my wife and I to live one day. Glad to see this. The idea of moving from Western WA where it's gotta be near 50% non-religious to the south feels like rolling back the calendar. Thanks for a positive note on it!

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