Yesterday, a letter was published in Slate’s advice column “Dear Prudence” from a mother whose 12-year-old son had no desire to attend church:
Each Sunday morning he yells, pouts, and eventually succumbs to my threats. Then he takes his snarky and unhelpful attitude to Sunday school. He doesn’t believe in God, and his very cool Sunday teacher works with that… Do I force my son to go or give up?
Advice-giver Emily Yoffe had this questionable response for the mother:
Well, if he’s not a fan of religion already, that assignment will sure as hell push him over the edge.
… Tell your little atheist that you’ve been thinking about what he’s been saying about church, you’re tired of dragging him to Sunday school, and you’re reconsidering your stand. But before you do, you have a requirement he needs to fulfill. You want him to write an essay (minimum two typed pages) about the progression of his (dis)beliefs, and he must cite examples of people who have struggled with lack of faith — Biblical sources get extra credit. Then, if he takes this assignment seriously, release him.
Here’s something that 12-year-old can cite: A lot of atheists struggle with their lack of faith… at first. But once they realize it’s logical and doesn’t create the cognitive dissonance that religion does, it becomes much easier to embrace. Eventually, the biggest struggle most atheists have to deal with is relatives and friends who treat them like Kryptonite, including mothers who make you write a paper justifying why you don’t take their mythology seriously. And if you have to include biblical sources, make sure you cite the people God slaughtered for not having enough faith in Him. (He’s a pleasant character, isn’t He?)
If the spirit of the paper is for the kid to show he has taken this religion thing seriously — and still wants nothing to do with it — then a conversation about it should suffice. No need to give him homework.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Matt for the link)