Another ‘Teen Mom’ Reveals Her Atheism May 10, 2012

Another ‘Teen Mom’ Reveals Her Atheism

A month ago, I posted about how one of the cast members of “Teen Mom 2,” Kailyn Lowry, openly talked about her atheism on Twitter.

Yesterday, one of her followers questioned her status as a role model because of that:

Not one to shy away from the label, Kailyn not only reaffirmed her atheism, she did it while giving a shout-out to President Obama:

And a few minutes later, one of her “Teen Mom 2” costars, Jenelle Evans, wrote back to both of them:

Again, it’s not so much that these are teenagers coming out as atheists — That happens all the time. But we don’t normally see teens already under the glare of the media spotlight willing to talk about something like religion, especially when their views put them in the minority. Maybe the fact that they’re already letting people peek into a huge part of their lives gives them the confidence to be honest about other aspects of it.

In any case, it’s welcoming to see MTV stars open up about their atheism like it was no big deal.

(via Gather)

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  • Gus Snarp

    An aside: Is that a proper grammatical use of the word atheist? I always thought of it as a noun rather than an adjective. Is it both? Has it shifted, or is this just a fairly common error?

  • atheist |ˈāTHēˌist|


    a person who does not believe in the existence of God or gods: he is a committed atheist. 
    Oxford American Dictionaries 

    It’s a noun. The adjective would be atheistic.

  • Onamission5

    So young and in such a vulnerable position as new moms, and so brave. Kudos.

  • It’s both, Gus.

  • Skwerl

     Common error. Just like “my son is ADHD” or “I graduated high school.” Pet peeves of mine, really.

  • Glasofruix

    Since when teen moms are “role models”?

  • Ah, to be young again and not give a care what the rest of the world thinks.
    Young folks are awesome.

  • Michael

    Dictionaries seem to disagree on that. Which is interesting because all the ones I’ve checked list theist as noun/adjective.

  • Tom

    I’m a little concerned these teens don’t understand what they’re saying.  “I’m atheist” isn’t the same to me as “I’m an atheist.”  It seems like they are trying to say they’re agnostic and apathetic.  That passes for “atheist” in many circles, where just being agnostic is enough for others to think of you as atheist.

  • Gus Snarp

    I hate to nit pick when someone is brave enough to come out as an atheist, but the sound of it being used as an adjective does grate on me.

  • Tom

    Check out my other comment, I express the same concern, but posit that these teens might not know what the word really means.  They might just be trying to say they are agnostic and apathetic, and that’s enough in their communities to go by atheist.

    Adjectives are descriptors, noun are identifiers.  Using atheist as an adjective is a weaker proclamation than using it as a noun.  Using it as an adjective allows you to give yourself atheist-ish qualities without truly identifying yourself as “an atheist”

  • Satia Renee

    I think it’s wonderful that younger people are able to announce their beliefs, or lack thereof, publicly.  Of course, I can see the fundamentalists now declaring that these girls, who are obviously sinning already by not having sex within the sanctity of marriage, would probably all be blissful  virgins if they weren’t heathens.  

    That said, they have the confidence and hubris that comes with being young enough to know that they are right, which is great!  Perhaps not the best role models for family planning but good role models for being true to one’s self.

    And when did anyone look to a twitter post for grammatically correct sentences?  I surely do not.  

  • I’m jaded enough to just be happy when they manage to put the i after the e where it belongs.

  • Tom

    wups! “think of you as AN atheist.”  Made the error myself!

  • Tom

    This goes beyond just grammar though, doesn’t it?  I think it reflects a hesitancy with identifying as “an atheist.”  Again, I don’t think these teens are anything more than agnostic but want to let you know they don’t like “churchy” things.

  • Satia Renee

    Bad grammar is contagious.  

  •  My mother had me when she was a teenager, I couldn’t have asked for a better role model. It’s not the age of the person that counts, it’s how prepared they are to mature before they’re burdened with such a huge responsibility .

  • rhodent

    Gus: What do you mean “proper grammatical use”?  We of all people should know that there’s not some authority on high that tells us what constitutes proper and improper language use.  It might not be formal English, but this is Twitter, for crying out loud.

    Also, the -ist suffix in English can be used to form either nouns or adjectives, so even if “atheist” had never before been used as an adjective (and I suspect it has, although I don’t have time to confirm that right now), this would still be a perfectly reasonable coinage per the usual rules of English.

  •  Well said. I know teens who are light years ahead of some folks in their 70’s.
     My mother had me in her early 20’s and she was a married, stay-at-home mom.
    She wasn’t fit to make a sandwich, much less have a kid.

  • Glasofruix

    Did she get pregnant after thouroughy planning it, maybe she got married early or was it an “accident”?
    Parents can be good role models to their kids, sure. I assume that the teens in that show haven’t planned to get pregnant, if so they are NOT role models to other teens, heck porn stars are better role models at this point because they at least use contraception. To get pregnant before finishing school is a HUGE mistake, doing so on purpose is STUPID, basically it’s a life ruining experience.

  • Stev84

    Which is why we shouldn’t read too much into it. If you type something quickly without thinking too much about it, you easily make mistakes

  • Why can’t a teen mom be a role model? Okay, so she may have gotten herself into an unfortunate situation because of bad judgment (but it could just be an accident, as well). What matters at that point is how she handles the situation… and there is ample opportunity to be a role model.

  • This is English. Ultimately, what is “correct” is determined by usage. If we start seeing this particular usage (“atheist” as an adjective), it will be considered correct. It’s seldom worth picking at word usage in English.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Twitter mandates omitting unnecessary words since you only have 140 characters maximum

  • Justin Miyundees

    Teen Mom’s are certainly role models if only for their own children and I’m sure some are great and most surely do as well as they know how to do.  But inexperience alone would keep a reasonable person from saddling them with the burden of living up to being a “role model”.  The tweeter put that on Jennelle unless there’s something I missed. 

    Now that being said, however, she shows here that she’s got backbone enough to stand up unapologetically for being a non-believer.  That makes her a pretty good role model in my book!  Different role, so rock on Jennelle and be a great Mom while you’re rolin’!!

  • Patricia Winters

    I disagree, I got pregnant before I was done with school, and so did several other moms in my program.  Our lives are not ruined, they are different.  You can’t plan everything.  I think it was easier for me to have a kid in school than if I had a job, I didn’t have to call in, just made up the work when my kid was sick.  I personally would like to see more support for teen/young moms, it would really make our lives better and our kids lives’ too.  Let’s out it in perspective, teens have been having babies for millions of years, it’s the society we live in with so little support that makes it difficult.

  •  What, you don’t like hearing about all those athiest sceintists?

  • Tom

    The teens saying they were atheist did not use all 140 characters, and 2 more characters isn’t much more to add.

  • Tom

    Except it occurs more often than not to say it isn’t an intentional thing rather than laziness.  And it happens in speech.  I’ve seen a number of YouTubers using this construction

  • Tom

    These ‘bad grammar’ comments are rather snobby…

  • I think that you’re REALLY reading into a teen mom’s poor grammar. Chillax, Tom.

  • Really? The absence of an article in her tweet bothers you that much? Also, agnostics can be atheists, and vice versa. Seriously, I’ve used “atheist” with and without the “an” before it; there’s no deeper meaner hidden here.

  • Says the tea kettle…

  • There is a show called “The Atheist Experience”. I am an atheist person. You can be Christian, or a Christian. You can be Buddhist, or a Buddhist. Why can’t you be atheist and an atheist?

  • I’m sure you researched multiple dictionaries in your attempt to find a well-rounded definition to show us.

  • This smells like a weird form of the “no true Scotsman” argument. Like she does’t know what atheism is if she uses the word without a preceding article. Give me a break.

  • I’m the athiest atheist of all time!

  • Vad

    I use “I’m atheist” intentionally, the same way I use “I’m queer.” I don’t see why it would matter whether these people are really ‘just’ agnostic and apathetic… if they don’t really believe in a god or aren’t sure what they believe but don’t care… well, that means they’re not positively a theist, so atheist sounds like a good word to describe them.

    I use “I’m atheist” when I think to, because it sounds more like simply an adjective describing one aspect of me, not saying anything about what positions I do affirm. I don’t know if there’s actually a difference, grammatically, but that’s just the way it sounds to me. 

  • Vad

    She’s openly describing herself as atheist. I have trouble believing that she doesn’t know what the word means. Does it matter if atheism isn’t a central part of her identity? I don’t think “an atheist” should have any implied qualities other than a lack of belief in god, so I don’t really see a difference in using it as an adjective or a noun. (Unless you claim that “an atheist” DOES have certain other qualities inherently, but I would likely argue that those qualities aren’t necessarily linked to lacking a belief in god, and shouldn’t be attached to the definition of “atheist”.)

  • Tom

    This is definitely snobby.

  • You did get my reference, right? Tea kettle calling the pot black? In other words, you call somebody a snob for making an issue out of bad grammar… while doing the same damn thing yourself.

  • Tom

    I dunno, I think I’m making an issue out of this because I’m afraid people are saying they’re “atheist” just because it’s cool.  I’ve had discussions with not a small number of people who say they are atheist but in reality are attached to some deist, omnipotent/benevolent force idea.  I think many people end up thinking “Well I’m not Christian so I must be atheist,” which isn’t necessarily true.

  •  Yes, but twitter teaches a HABIT of omitting words when u think u can get by without them.

  • Obvious answer: Text limits. Youtube comments are limited to 500 characters. Twitter to only 140 characters, based on cell phone text message limits.

    Even if you write something less than 140 characters, since you get in the habit of condensing words and phrases anyway, even short messages will tend to have minimalized grammar.

    Back when I spent a lot of time on YouTube (mostly commenting), I learned how to cut down my normal length anti-religion arguments into tiny little 500 character logic bombs. It’s good for practice, actually.

  •  Doesn’t matter. You get in a habit, as I explained in a previous comment.

  •  Oh wow, I’m cool. Thanx Tom, i always suspected it but could never be sure as all my friends said i was a dull boy. Just goes to show that with all their “God this ‘n’ God that” they just didn’t know style when they saw it;-P

  •  I know what you mean but, these girls are setting an example to other girls out there. With the current climate of religious opposition to Abortion in the States, these girls are saying “Even if you are stuck raising a child at a young age, it doesn’t have to be the end of your own life” they show that it is possible to do things even with a baby to raise (often alone) & to be openly Atheist as well goes to show how strong they are. I used to hold all the prejudices against young moms myself but have come to realise (partly through watching them) that even the most intelligent & careful Girls can find themselves in a position where they have to tough it out alone. So Kudos to Kailyn & Jenelle for standing up for what they believe, & i do think they’re perfectly aware of what being an Atheist entails & the hardships it may bring & because of that i admire them even more.

  • Perfect answer, like everything else language EVOLVES!

  • Glasofruix

     Don’t get me wrong, i got nothing against teen moms, my own sister got pregnant in her teens and she never managed to finish school (but at least she managed to marry the guy, they even bought a house). I simply think that they are not good role models to other (non mom) teens, at best they are a good example of what not to do.

  • I agree, up to a point. 1.Teenagers have sex 2.Sex education is a joke(Abstinence) 3.Not so easy for teems to access contraception &/or abortions & 4. It’s happened. Of course ideally they would not have fallen pregnant but they did, now it’s up to them to deal with it & as far as i’m concerned they seem to be doing a pretty good job. Because they’re on TV i suspect they may be getting some extra help we don’t see but nevertheless they are portraying what is reality for too many young Moms. As an aside, i noticed you said how your Sis’ “even married the Guy”, i’m pleased she was happy, but for a lot of Teen girls the thought of marriage to someone who may have been not much more than a pal could be devastating & ultimately do more harm. It’s not worth it just to conform to societies expectations & the fact they both declare themselves Atheist tells me they’re not the conforming types!

  •  Exactly

  • Glasofruix

     Maybe i’m a bit biased by the fact that i live in a country where sex ed is a bit more thorough and the access to contraception is very easy (family planning centers everywhere that guarantee anonimity, have professionals to talk with and provide very cheap contraception. And that’s only one way among many others).

  • Hmm…..

    How can getting yourself pregnant be an accident? It’s a conscious decision whether or not you have sex. If you have unprotected sex, then you are making the decision that the guilty pleasure of giving in to passion now, is worth the possible consequences later.

    THIS is why sex education is important. Is contracting an STD worth it? I would say no. Some probably would say yes, especially if it’s something treatable. Is it worth getting pregnant over? I would say no. Others would say yes. Especially with the available option of abortion. Consequences? What consequences?

  • Gage

    I haven’t seen the show myself. The last time I saw a show on MTV that interested me was 2 decades ago.

    If it’s like any other reality show, then it’s not realistic. Raising a child takes a lot of money? Who’s paying the bills? Do they show the mom’s working at all? Or is baby being paid for by the grandparents, MTV or “We the People”?

  • Rwlawoffice

    Support yes, but to make it seem the norm, no.

    Teens who had babies in the past were married with a husband who could not just walk away.  That is far different then the current atmosphere of “baby daddy’s” who regularly walk away from their responsibilities.  The one thing the teen moms shows  reflect consistently is that most of these “baby daddy’s are irresponsible and immature punks who leave these girls to raise their children. It should caution all teenage girls to be more responsible.  

  • Onamission5

    “Teens who had babies in the past were married with a husband who could not just walk away.”

    I have to take issue with this claim. Many married fathers who were goaded into it at the end of a (figurative or literal) shotgun did in fact just walk away back in the “good old days,” and many teen/young mothers ended up in abusive relationships from which there was no relief or support, because marriage and parenthood were treated as punishment for female sexuality.

    If you have issues with teenaged female pregnancy, take it up with the abstinenece only, anti-abortion advocates.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Why is it that a society that requires a man to live up to his responsibilities after he got a girl pregnant a punishment for “female sexuality”? It takes two to have a baby and a society that encourages both parties to live up to that responsibility will be better off then what we have now.  Too  often when teenagers explore their sexuality before they are ready to handle the responsibility of the potential consequences it leads to problems. Why encourage that as the norm? Why not strive for something better for them and society as a whole?  I am not naive.  I know kids have sex and they should know about contraception, but there is a distinct difference between understanding that as a reality and encouraging it as the norm.

    If you think that parenthood is a punishment then there is simple solution- don’t have sex either as a man or a woman until you are ready to be a parent.  I don’t think the answer is to kill the baby that you create and in that regard I am very pleased that these girls decided to keep their babies.

  • You get pregnant by accident when you don’t use birth control, or when you use ineffective birth control (largely because of ignorance). Perhaps you missed the fact that modern technology effectively allows sex to be separated from procreation. When the intent of the sex is not procreation, and proper birth control is in place, pregnancy is rare. An accident.

    I would not suggest that teenagers avoid having sex. That would be unnatural. But they need to know how to prevent pregnancy and how to protect themselves from STDs- both of which are easy and inexpensively accomplished. They do need to be educated, though.

  • Rwlawoffice

     The end result maybe an accident but placing yourself in the position for that result to occur is certainly not an accident. Unless there is a rape involved,  it is a conscious choice to take that risk.  You might be able to say that you didn’t intend to get pregnant but you can’t say that you didn’t intend to have sex with the knowledge that it could lead to a pregnancy.

  • Sex is primarily a social mechanism, and it’s an important one. It is normal and natural for teenagers to engage in sex, and I think avoiding it tends to produce mentally unhealthy adults. There is no reason that people should not be able to have sex without having to worry about pregnancy.

    A teenager is much more likely to be injured in an automobile accident than they are to get pregnant if they have protected sex. Either way, it’s an accident; we don’t suggest they don’t drive, despite the risk, and I don’t see why we would suggest that they don’t have sex.

    But we do need to make sure they understand how to mitigate the risks- whether of driving or of sex.

  • Onamission5

    Taking responsibility for your offspring means  being financially responsible for them as well as actively parenting them once they have been born. In no way does it mean being obligated to enter into a contract of legal relationship with the other parent, nor should it. In many cases, when the parents are incompatible, then yes, marriage to each other would be a life long punishment for a one time mistake. Same with parenthood for someone who isn’t ready.

    By the by, are you also suggesting that married people who do not want children should never have sex?  How realistic is that?

  • Rwlawoffice

     The statistics are staggering. Over 3 million teenagers get an STD every year. Almost 500,000 teenagers give birth to babies each year.  That figure does not include the number getting abortions.  The vast majority of those are to poor teenagers and those being raised in single parent homes.  There is simply no good reason to promote teenage sexual activity. You can promote the idea of a very happy sex life without promoting teenagers having sex.

  • Onamission5

    In states with abstinence only programs, the rates of std infection and unwanted pregnancy are higher than in states with comprehensive sex ed.  You’re basically arguing against yourself.

  • Rwlawoffice

     I don’t disagree with the idea that taking responsibility does not always mean getting married. However, unfortunately it rarely works out that way. Alot of young men in our society don’t have that sense of commitment instead they take the consequences of their actions as lightly as the sex they engaged in in the first place.  how many stories have you seen of young guys fathering multiple babies from multiple different women?  It is rampant and it is the result of taking sex lightly.

    As for married people, they have already made a commitment to each other (hopefully for life) so if they get pregnant they are in a much better position to accept that responsibility.  

  • Rwlawoffice

      I never said that teaching abstinence only was the answer.  What I did say is that we should not be complacent and encourage rampant teenage sex as the norm and the best we can do.

  • Shanine

    Arrgghhhh The grammar police are patrolling again.  Seriously get over it, it doesn’t matter!! The fact that she is saying she’s brave enough to say I’m AN atheist too so what is what matters. 

  • Shanine

    did my errors bother you?

  • And this has virtually nothing to do with sex. Kids have sex even younger in Europe, and these statistics are MUCH lower there.

    The problem isn’t teenagers having sex, it’s ignorant teenagers having sex. And blame for that ignorance lies directly at the feet of religion.

    Personally, I would encourage my children to have sex as teenagers. I think the social development it promotes is key to a healthy adult (and not just a healthy adult sex life).

  • Rwlawoffice

     You need to look at those statistics in Europe carefully and see if we are really comparing apples to apples. There are alot of social factors beyond religion that you can point to for the differences.  There is also a different way in which they collect the statistics that affects the results.  For example in Holland when they count teenage pregnancies they include all girls below the age of twenty as opposed to those girls between 15-19. This leads to different results on a percentage of those teenagers that get pregnant when you include elementary girls in the total.

      Suffice it say that you and I have a different view of teenagers having sex. Maybe you can explain why it is better for them to have sex in their teens as opposed to when they are 20 or older. how is social development promoted when teenagers engage in sex that would not also be promoted if they waited until they were more mature to handle the consequences of those actions?

    One thing is for sure, if less teenagers are having sex, there will be less teenage pregnancies and less teenage STDs. 

  • Onamission5

    Happens sometimes =/= rampant.

    Also, what part of not wanting kids did you miss in my question about the married couple? There are many good reasons to have sex, and only one of them is procreation. Not to mention, there is nothing about a legal contract of marriage which inherently creates a stable environment for raising offspring. Thus, divorce.

  • Onamission5

    FWIW, the group with one of the current highest rising rates of std’s is the elderly, but I don’t see you bitching that grandma needs to keep it in her pants. Why is that?

  • They might be heroes to the no-abortion-ever crowd, even though they are sinners for having pre-marital sex.   Glad to see they are atheists; this means less BS for their kids do overcome.

  • Glasofruix

     Hum, are you for abstinence only programs? Sorry to say, but that doesn’t work well. The solution against teen pregnancies is simple, it’s called sex education. I’m perfectly fine with teens exploring their sexuality, as long as they’re using proper protection.

  •  “Teens who had babies in the past were married with a husband”
    Not true.  There were thousands upon thousands of unmarried girls who “visited an aunt” for about 5 months.  There were plenty of men of all ages who simply disappeared to avoid parental responsibilities, and until very recently there was no way to track them.

  • Glasofruix

     I don’t even know what to say, this much stupidity hurts my brain.

  • Rwlawoffice

     Look at the statistics and then see of you can describe multiple babies by multiple mothers something that just sometimes happens.

    Of course sex within marriage is for many reasons beyond having children (in fact that is taught in the Bible) But trying to compare that with teenagers is comparing apples to oranges.

  • Rwlawoffice

     I am not naive to enough to think that abstinence only programs is the solution. What I do think is that society should promote teens waiting. Unless you have evidence that kids having sex at age 15 is better in the long run for their life then them having sex at say 20 then why encourage it? If you can point to evidence that teenagers who get pregnant are markedly better emotionally, economically or physically then those that get pregnant after high school, why encourage it when they are teens?

  • Rwlawoffice

     I am sure that it occurred.  But the statistics now are staggering and a reflection of the change in our society. And in my opinion it is not  change for the better.

  • Rwlawoffice

     Why do you insist on changing the subject?

  • I don’t think there is anything to blame except religion. In Europe, people are much less crippled by it, and therefore there is wide support for social programs that provide education about contraception and safe sex to children before they become sexually active. All of the things that lead to kids not understanding how to have safe sex ultimately trace back to bad ideas stemming from religion.

    The reason I don’t suggest waiting for sex until the 20s is because doing so is unnatural. Nature planned for sexual activity to start with the onset of sexual maturity.

  • Rwlawoffice

     Sexual maturity for girls can begin at age 12 or 13 so you are saying that they should become sexually active at that time?

  • Rwlawoffice

     Typical way to try and stop a conversation by throwing an insult. So you can’t answer the question of how teenagers or society as a whole is benefited from teenagers having sex in their teens as opposed to waiting until they are in their twenties and presumably more mature or prepared to handle the consequences?

  • Possibly. Sexually active doesn’t necessarily mean having sex, of course.

    Part of good parenting is helping a child decide when the time is right. For most, 13 might be a bit young. Certainly, by 15 or 16 I think most kids are ready.

  • Rwlawoffice

    This is in reply to your latest post. Too narrow below.  All I can say is we will have to disagree

  • Tom

    Unless you claim that “an atheist” DOES have certain other qualities inherently”

    I don’t

  • Tom

    If you didn’t want to continue the conversation, just don’t reply.   Why say this?

  • amycas

     Why don’t you think they’re anything more than agnostic? That hardly even makes sense. Agnosticism and Atheism are not mutually exclusive labels.

  • amycas

     I thought it was funny.

  • amycas

    Glasofruix didn’t say xe supports teens getting pregnant. “Exploring your sexuality” =! getting pregnant. Comprehensive sex education would teach teens how to safely explore their sexuality . And yes, people who aren’t sexually repressed and are able to explore that part of themselves more fully (and safely), do tend to live happier lives.

  • amycas

    Having sex does not mean you are consciously trying to get pregnant. Sometimes birth control fails.

  • amycas

     I guess when I drive my car I’m consenting to be in a car accident.

  • amycas

     Teenage sex is the norm. We don’t have to do anything to encourage that. We know you didn’t say that teaching abstinence only was the answer, that’s the point. Abstinence only programs actively discourage kids from having sex, but those same kids suffer higher rates of stds and unplanned pregnancies. Obviously, discouraging teenage sex doesn’t stop it. Honestly, I find nothing wrong with rampant teenage sex as long as they’re being safe and everything is consensual.

  • amycas

     Because sex is a healthy, natural and enjoyable experience. It’s also a very socail experience. People who are able to experiment and explore their sexuality safely, are happier.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Why is it better that this occurs in the teenage years at say 15 or 16 instead of later when they are more mature? That  question has yet to be answered.

  • Rwlawoffice

     So is teenage drug use but we don’t teach kids how to safely use drugs. Teenagers are  at an age where they make immature choices. So why is it better that they explore sex at age 15 as opposed to say 20?

  • Rwlawoffice

     when you drive your car you are accepting the risk of getting into an accident and you have to be of a certain age to do that. If you have sex you are intentionally engaging in an activity that could lead to pregnancy and disease even if you are careful

  • Rwlawoffice

     Please show me the empirical evidence that teenagers who start having sex early have a healthier sex life as adults.

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