Why are you teaching your kids about God… You are an Atheist?!?

California-Sunset

I’m teaching my kids about God in their Sunday school class, funny thing is… I’m an atheist.

Most Sundays for the past 2 years you would find me in the a place that should be the last place you would look for me, in a church.  Recently, more than just in a church, as a matter of fact I have been teaching the Sunday school class for one or both of my children.  You see I am an atheist, and it would stand to reason that the last place I would want my kids on Sunday is in a Sunday school learning about God.

I did not grow up an atheist.  It was a long hard struggle for me to get to this place and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I grew up very devoutly Mormon, I was even a Mormon missionary for two years and everything.  Growing up Mormon, meant going to Sunday school each week was a very routine thing for me to do.  Those many Sundays helped give me a framework and lens with which to view the world.  It was a huge part of making me into the man I am today, which among many other things means I have become an atheist who teaches a Sunday school class.

Now in full disclosure I teach a Sunday school class at a Unitarian Universalist church so it may not seem as quite a stretch to understand how I might have been tapped for such a role.  Here’s the thing though,  I want my kids to understand the concept of God.  They are going to be surrounded their whole life by people who believe in God.  I think it is important that they understand their peers and their beliefs so that they can connect and empathize with others. I want them to meet their peers halfway on the field of life and be able to say “while I do not share your particular belief, I understand it, and I honor you for your conviction.”

I approach my role as a teacher very seriously; while I am not inclined to establish a firm belief in God or religion in my kids, I am also not inclined to deny them a belief that might speak better to them than mine does.  At home I hammer away at the tools of critical thinking.  I push them to understand how to ask good questions about anything and everything.  I want them to have a curious outlook on the world, to ask questions, and to always want to learn more.  I want them to have the same opportunity as I have had, to navigate their personal philosophy and belief and find that truth that most speaks to them.

I want to be a part of my children’s spiritual development.  Not to shape it for them, but as one of many guides along the way.  To give insight and provide new thoughts they haven’t considered before.  I want to be an example to them of how to explore the world of religious and spiritual philosophy and have it inform them and not define them.  I know that in the end I will have to let go and watch as they develop into who they are, because if there is one thing I have learned in all my years in Sunday school it is I have as much control on what my kids believe, as my parents had on me.

(This post originally appeared on The Good Men Project )

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