... without inciting anger from my mother and his mother?

My mother sent my nephew to a bible camp this summer and now he has a curiosity towards Jesus and heaven. How do I remedy this without starting a holy war in my own house?

Sorry if anybody thinks this doesn't belong here, I wasn't sure where else to post it, and it's been bothering me a lot.

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My sister actually doesn't take him to church as far as I know, which is a bit of a relief. But I wouldn't be able to attend with him anyways, because they live 7 hours away!
You post belongs here all right, no problem. I'd say, let the kid make up his own mind about religion. Just try to answer his questions honestly and encourage him to study science and math—particularly evolution and analytic skills developed by math.
Personally, I don't say a word to my nieces, nephews, or cousin's kids. I figure, if they're intelligent enough, they'll figure it out on their own and will figure out I'm not a theist and approach me with questions if they have any. I don't like it when my relatives try to push their religious views on my kids (which they do). I just do damage control when they do. I don't mind it that much because what they say sounds ridiculous to my kids anyway and makes them even stronger in their disbelief.
I think the trick to "inoculating" children against the God Virus is teaching them how to think critically. Early and often. Pick topics that are not precisely about god, but also involve supernatural or magical claims. Get them to think critically about Santa, the Easter Bunny, and so forth. Teach them myths as myths. Find good children's versions of Greek or Roman mythology and tell them as stories.

Once they are familiar with the stories, ask them to figure out whether they're real or made up. Ask them why. Teach them basic fallacies with questions about the myths. Once they are familiar with how to figure out what's made up and what's real, you can start asking them questions about Jesus as well. "Does Jesus sound more like a made up story -- like Zeus or Apollo -- or does he sound like a real person, like President Obama?"

Indirectly, you'll be giving them the tools to reach atheism on their own, which is far better than teaching them that there's no god.
I don't think I could teach him that Santa or the Easter Bunny isn't real, he's only barely 6, and a little too sensitive for that news just yet. I just feel that the Jesus stuff is still new enough to him that there is a bit of hope.
I've been trying to teach him things pertaining to science specifically and getting him sciencey birthday and christmas presents, which I hope can help him think critically.
I agree, I would never teach my own kids that Santa is real, but he has a really sensitive heart, and I don't think I could do something that would more than likely make him cry.
The rules governing nouns such as limits, properties and identity help separate what's real from what's imagined.
When my kids were younger (they're both in college now) I used to let my mother take my young sons to her church for Sunday School and even the odd Awana meeting...at the time, I was less firm in my disbelief and plus as a single mother, the time alone was well, necessary. They piddled around with the bible verses, learned a few for the candy they were rewarded with and once, my youngest blurted out 'did you know jesus can live in your heart?' I responded with well, yes, some people say that, but how do you really know its jesus?' He pondered this without a reply...eventually, they got a couple years older, oh 7 or 8, and their Sunday mornings became more valuable to them; I told their grandmother if they didn't want to go, she could not force them to. Pretty much the end of the christianity line for them; neither one has ever gone to church nor do they now...they're both into the sciences in college and mostly just don't bother with religion. It doesn't seem to hold their interest, either for or against- it seems not to be an issue.

Don't know if that helps much, but I'd go along with making a few well placed questions as the years go by...and of course answer any of his questions as honestly as you can. At 6,he's pretty young and while the church does pile on with the bribery, I'm not sure how much of it sticks unless it is also reinforced at home. Bible camp, meh, he may not even come out of that with fond memories...I was fundy raised and I can say that I do have some good memories of church...but of bible camp? none at all, dreadful experience from my end.

He loved bible camp. He made friends there and when he came back he spoke about how to get to heaven (which he thought you had to go underground to get to) and sang all the songs constantly.
Oy, that is kind of harsh but hey, he's still only six; it seemed to me that my sons were more 'into it' when they were young, as they grew older, they made more friends at school and in their neighborhood and the once a week stuff at church faded. But then again, they lived with me and as the years went by, I became stronger and more vocal about my own ungodly feelings...

As an aunt, well, I dunno..my nieces and nephews are in varying degrees of fundy Christianity, by virtue of their parents. Not a lot I can do about the ones two states over, tho I am doing my best about the grandniece who doesn't show much interest in being a proper little Christian lady (you go girl!). I'd slide in around the edges as he grows up, you never know when or where a question might get him to thinking about the whole stuff. Right now, well hearing 'jesus loves me' out of a young man's mouth might be aggravating, I think you're doing ok by giving him the sciencey gifts;you could branch that out as he gets older. I actually miss doing that part myself, I used to LOVE shopping for my sons' xmas/bday gifts, all the science and lego stuff, too cool! Now all they want is money, the car keys and oh yea, um I need your tax return for my college aid application...

I think its cool you're thinking of him though, and I'll bet he does too.
With close Christian family, your nephew will likely have lots of exposure to Christian ideas growing up. It's not ideal, but it's inevitable.

As a non-theist with a Christian wife and a five-year-old daughter whose spiritual beliefs have not yet taken shape, I find it helpful to step into my wife's shoes. Most of us here have our reasons for wanting to keep loved ones from Christianity: it's false, it's damaging, etc. But from my wife's Christian perspective, if her daughter does not find Jesus, she will burn in hell and be miserable for eternity. And that would really suck.

With that, I think your approach has to be something you can live with (your nephew knows exactly where you stand), and also be sustainable (no holy wars in the family). Here are some thoughts off the top of my head. Since I'll be starting this journey myself in the coming months or years, I welcome any feedback, criticism, etc.

* Be comfortable dialogging about Christian ideas without trying to refute them. Have a mutual discussion about your thoughts and feelings. Sharing & engaging vs. persuading.

* At my daughter's young age, she can only follow very simple reasoning. And "Mommy said so / Daddy said so" makes it right. Really I'm not sure how well she grasps that conflicting views can in fact exist. Which makes me wonder if I should even bother presenting them yet...

* Your nephew is probably not old enough to understand why his mother would be so angry with you for telling him there is no God. If only he could understand and would be respectful of her beliefs, that would be a big help.

* It's probably safer and more diplomatic to say something like "I don't believe in God" than it is to say "God doesn't exist".
I think it's really, really important to let children of all ages know that a lot of people don't believe in God. I was in high school before I even knew there was such a thing as an atheist. Don't take it for granted that children know there's a choice.

To that end, I think one of the best things you can do for any child is to be someone they admire while openly disbelieving in God. Children want to emulate their adult role models, and anytime a kid idolizes you, that's the perfect time to just let them know: Some people believe in God and some don't. That knowledge in itself will spark lots of questions. And that's a great thing.

Re: Santa and the Easter Bunny. I think adults get more out of the whole thing than children. Tell a kid that he's getting lots of presents, or gets to eat lots of candy, and he's a happy camper. He doesn't give a damn if the Easter Bunny, Santa, or Aunt Mamie is dishing out the goods.

Sorry if that's a bit harsh, but I just don't think it's a great idea to teach a kid that some things are real and magic, especially when they're young because that's when the most core beliefs about the nature of reality are beginning to form.




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