Homeschooling when you are not Christian... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 30 Old 05-06-2013, 11:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have just recently joined (because of a post that I saw from 2010 regarding Pagan Homeschooling), and am wondering if there are still any parents on this board that fall into this category?  I will be making the transition from working full-time out of the home to stay-at-home, homeschooling mom next fall and would love to talk to others!

 

Thanks!

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#2 of 30 Old 05-06-2013, 12:32 PM
 
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Which category, not Christian or Pagan?

 

We are non-Christian. I honestly don't know anyone in real life whom I would characterize as Christian homeschoolers, though I know one family that happens to be Christian -- but that's not part of their motivation for or style of homeschooling. I understand there are parts of the US where religiously-motivated homeschooling is common, but it is certainly the exception in my region.

 

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#3 of 30 Old 05-06-2013, 01:02 PM
 
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We're non-Christian, but not Pagan.  Christian homeschoolers seem to be scarce in my area, too.

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#4 of 30 Old 05-06-2013, 01:16 PM
 
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I know that in many regions Christian homeschoolers are the norm, but in my crunchy neighbourhood I know a hundred homeschool families and if any of them are Christian OR Pagan, I woudn't know.

OP, where are you?  

 

 

(ps. That said, we avoid the overtly Christian homeschool groups, gatherings, and park days.)


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#5 of 30 Old 05-06-2013, 01:25 PM
 
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I live in an area where Christian homeschoolers are the norm. It can be a bit awkward at gatherings when they pray, but we would just stand/sit quietly during the prayer. Other than that, they rarely discussed religion. So, even if your area is mostly Christian, you can still homeschool.
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#6 of 30 Old 05-06-2013, 02:41 PM
 
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Pagan and possibly homeschooling next year too.  Like you I am transitioning to staying at home (although I will work little bits here and there hopefully).  

 

I say *possibly* homeschooling because we are currently in negotiations with my kids current private school for tuition next year.  They are adamant about having us back next year, and say they will work with us on tuition... however I haven't gotten a definite yes or no yet so I feel we are in limbo... 

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#7 of 30 Old 05-06-2013, 06:19 PM
 
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well, i am a christian, but that is really irrelevant to my posts here unless someone is specifically asking about some kind of faith based curriculum.  i find this forum & another one that i frequent to be really interactive and supportive, regardless of faith and background.  when we lived in charlotte, our homeschool group was really inclusive of all kinds of people and everyone got along quite lovely. i think intolerant people will simply frequent forums and create groups that consist of only like-minded members.  

 

i think you will find this forum helpful from posters with all backgrounds. i know i do. smile.gif


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#8 of 30 Old 05-06-2013, 09:46 PM
 
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Non-christian homeschooler here.  I identify with many aspects of paganism, but wouldn't strictly label myself as such (or anything else really). 

 

My homeschool co-op has many christians in it, as well as many not (or at least not practicing).  Religion has been discussed, but never in a judgmental way (or at least I did not feel judged for not being a practicing Christian), and it is not an aspect of the co-op at all.  I was nervous at first that it would be hard to find homeschoolers who were not homeschooling for religious reasons, but that has not been the case at all for me. 


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#9 of 30 Old 05-07-2013, 06:34 AM
 
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We're secular homeschoolers in an area where I'd say we're in the minority. I don't think any of us particularly enjoy doing activities with the large, religious homeschooling groups, so we tend to either hang out with our diverse, small circle of friends, or we have to be content to be on our own.

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#10 of 30 Old 05-07-2013, 08:38 PM
 
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I am definitely a minority here. Other than one other family (liberal Christian and Hindu family), we are *the* only non-Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian homeschoolers. Well, probably one of the only families, period, who are not that or Catholic. It is very lonely. Dh is atheist, I am Pagan. smile.gif

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#11 of 30 Old 05-08-2013, 04:46 AM
 
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I think it depends a lot on where you live. We live a large city and while there are some Christian homeschoolers who post on the local homeschooling listserve, the overwhelming majority of events, classes etc are secular. It has never come up for me anywhere yet whether or not we are religious.

I'm sure if we lived somewhere else our community would be very different.
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#12 of 30 Old 05-09-2013, 07:01 AM
 
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I wouldn't join a specifically Christian group but I have never had an issue of not feeling included because we are secular either online or IRL. To be honest, it's been harder amongst those with very different homeschooling and/or parenting styles. 


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#13 of 30 Old 05-09-2013, 09:56 AM
 
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Since we haven't heard back from the OP yet, I'll take the topic in yet another direction.  

 

I have been interested in spirituality ever since I was a trippin' hippy, and I never looked back.  That spirituality included studying Christianity from an academic standpoint, not one of faith.  I also devoured books by Joseph Campbell and other, more forgettable authors, and even exploring the traditional stories of the Pacific Coast Americans, especially Raven stories which are always fun.  Hatha yoga, Buddhist writings ("Cutting Through Spirititual Materialism" especially), Tao Te Ching, on and on....

 

So, my girls get a fair dose of this in our house, not through any academic means, just that the conversation drifts in that direction when we read the stories.  We read stories of Medusa (Greek mythology is a favorite, and Medusa near the top) and I can't help but start babbling about gatekeepers, and the ancient earth spirituality of snakes (and pigs, especially in the myth of Circe) and the overlay of various stories onto more ancient ones as local peoples were overcome by new cultures.  How ancient deities became villains in the stories of conquerors (Medusa, Minotaur).  Kali is mentioned frequently as a parallel to Medusa, the ancient, terrifying gatekeeper who both takes life and creates it.  Fun stuff.  The fascination comes in no small part from the girls' love of monsters and dragons-- in fact, I intentionally introduced Greek mythology because of their love of monsters.  What better monster story than that of Pegasus, Beleraphon, and the Chimera?  The stories we read are read because the girls have a genuine interest in the stories.  The conversations start because I love this stuff and can't help myself!

 

The girls are also curious about the story of Jesus, especially his death and resurrection.  So, I tell that story and usually put it in the context of other stories of rebirth that parallel the story, including descent into the underworld (Ishtar, Horus) and other stories that don't quite line up, but are about a similar transformation-- the journey of the hero, for example.

 

These are just fun diversions inside fun explorations.  We don't use any curricula, let alone any Christian- or Pagan-oriented ones.  We are not religious or worshipful in that sense.  We love nature, and we teach respect in that sense, and I think it's important to teach that living things (and--why not?--non-living) have value in and of themselves and to take a life must be done mindfully and for a purpose, not wantonly.  But I don't think that I feel that in a spiritual sense--it just makes sense that the world and all the things in it were not created for the sole purpose and benefit of mankind (sorry, Adam, no disrespect intended!)

 

We learn the ancient traditions of our family's ancestors-- Yule and Beltaine-- and wind those into whatever we are celebrating, but again, not in a religious sense, always with the purpose of curiosity and joy.  The girls love a celebration!

 

All this is just a small part of our unschooling/ HSing experience.  Like others whose religion doesn't infuse their HSing, I don't mix up math and spirituality-- yet!  Those crazy mathematicians and cosmologists and physicists can start sounding pretty cosmic!  But it is all the trippin' hippy that still is at the heart of this soul that keeps the curiosity burning-- not any identification with one branch of spirituality.  

 

ETA: I live in an area with a strong Christian-based HSing presence, near one of the HSing hotspots in N. America.  Outside of my immediate rural community, you can find HSers of every shape and stripe.


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#14 of 30 Old 05-09-2013, 06:43 PM
 
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We do the same, Silver!  

I was also that kid who was very into all things spiritual. 

 

I will say that I have decided *not* to attend certain HS-ing events on occasion, when I know that there will be a fundamentalist Christian presence.  My partner and I are queer, and I don't want my kids to have to deal with any potential homophobia, if it's avoidable. 


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#15 of 30 Old 05-09-2013, 10:40 PM
 
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We are fortunate to be in a strong homeschooling community and have found a wonderful community of friends who are spiritual in their wonderfully varied earthy ways.  I would say the greater community of homeschoolers here is Christian.

When we have pondered moving we have wondered about if we could find another area that has a rich secular and/or pagan-ish homeschooling community.  Someone above mentioned being in a homeschooling hot spot (or words to that effect).  Where are you :)? I've tried to figure out what areas have rich homeschooling communities but I seem to only find Christian resources or lists of the laws in each state.  Does anyone know of any resource to look into what it's like to homeschool various places?

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#16 of 30 Old 08-02-2013, 10:02 PM
 
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We're a non Christian family here. More like nonreligious/atheist. We live in a small town and there's tons of Christian homeschoolers. We joined the groups to see what it was like. We always felt like outsiders looking in. Plus, I'm a single mom and all of them were married so it just felt off. After awhile we just quit trying. I do wish we lived in a bigger town so there would be different types of people. 


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#17 of 30 Old 08-03-2013, 08:01 AM
 
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Also non Christian, and even homeschooling in the Middle East, we're not majority within the homeschooling set. More Christians than non-Christians homeschooling for sure.

 

That said, there are a lot of other religions (and non-religious people too) in the homeschooling community, and I love being exposed to the differences in beliefs and practices, and I love that my kids are encouraged to look well past religion to get to know someone. I've learned about a few faiths I'd never seen IRL, which is cool, and I like to think we are helping expand the experience of many of the Christian kids as well.

 

We do occasionally have small discomforts, and it's usually because of people's assumptions and expectations. A lot of people might be very used to being a nearly monolithic majority when first coming from the states or other expat enclaves, and when out of 20 families, say 11 are Christian instead of the usual 18, it does affect the way things are done. In a good way, IMO, but it can be difficult.

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#18 of 30 Old 08-03-2013, 08:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by AKfamily View Post

  Someone above mentioned being in a homeschooling hot spot (or words to that effect).  Where are you :)? I've tried to figure out what areas have rich homeschooling communities but I seem to only find Christian resources or lists of the laws in each state.  Does anyone know of any resource to look into what it's like to homeschool various places?

Here is the main (and secular) HS organization:

 

http://www.washhomeschool.org/homeschooling/law.html

 

I'm in the greater Olympia area.  Both Washington and Oregon are crawling with homeschoolers and unschoolers.  Of the two, Washington has the more hands-off homeschooling laws, at least in practice.  Both make it supremely easy to homeschool, and the general public seems quite aware (no "aren't they supposed to be in school?" comments-- ever.)  I've linked you with the main HS organization's site and the WA homeschool laws.  It looks a bit onerous, but:

 

Quote:
The homeschool law also states that the legislature recognizes that home-based instruction is less structured and more experiential than the instruction normally provided in a classroom. Therefore, the provisions relating to the nature and quantity of instructional and related educational activities shall be liberally construed.

 

And, (the part they don't point out) is that there is not oversight.  Testing is required, but nobody sees the scores.  You have to keep records, but no one is looking at them.  I even know (and know of) many families that don't even declare their kids at all without any trouble.  Olympia has the popular ORCA, a public regional learning academy for homeschoolers that also has staff support for parents wanted to create learning plans, etc.  

 

So, yeah, I think our region is very much a "hot spot".  


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#19 of 30 Old 08-03-2013, 09:12 AM
 
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We are starting our first year of homeschooling here.  We are not Christian or Pagan.... my area has a very large home school community and people are all over the board.  I have to say that religious affiliation doesn't really come up often when the groups meet up for field trips or park days.  


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#20 of 30 Old 08-03-2013, 09:19 AM
 
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I just wanted to say that I'm a Christian BUT I do not fit in with the "Christian" groups. I go to a group that is a mix of everything & everybody. I really enjoy it.

 

I want to be around all people. I want to enjoy different points of views. I don't always understand people want to be in this group or that group??

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#21 of 30 Old 08-03-2013, 09:42 AM
 
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I want to be around all people. I want to enjoy different points of views. I don't always understand people want to be in this group or that group??

 

 

I think much depends on whether people are Christian like you are, or "Christian" in the sense that it infuses even relationships.  

 

This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  DH's extended family is devoutly Christian, and many have entered ministries and become pastors.  Even the most politically liberal uncle is a minister.  I've stopped being surprised when family letters sudden;y pop "Bless Jesus and all his good works!" or whatever.  Some family, every other words seems to be "praise the Lord."  These are good people, too.  People I really like having as family.  And people I do not feel comfortable around musing on the metaphor of the Solstice and the rhythms of the Goddess nature of the divine.  

 

Nope.  As much as I think these folks are really great folks, I don't feel like I can let my hair down and be myself.  I would love to talk Christianity with people the way that I did with dh's dad, a former pastor whose deep thoughts were welcoming and open to someone like me who loves to talk spirituality.  But those kinds of Christians are unfortunately not most of the Christians I know.

 

As for homeschooling, I am beyond uncomfortable when a children's math book (given by a family member, of course) states, after explaining 3+3, that isn't God wonderful for creating this?  Sigh....  I'm glad they groove on God's creation, but their wording seems more.... loaded with baggage, I guess.  "God is great, and you should see it that way, too, or your children will have a mother that will burn in hell."  (Actual statement made to my mother when she held us back from Sunday school when two of us were sick.)  Or, being casually told by a 10th grader that one's father (once divorced) was going to hell (which my niece believed because she, too was Christian, but hadn't heard that bit.)

 

Yeah.... some people ruin things for the rest.  I'll agree.  I would rather find a group unrelated to religion at all.  Then the fact that you are Christian, Jewish, Pagan, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, is beside the point from the beginning, and if someone does speak (unintentionally or not) out of line, you can say "this is not the place, but thank you."**

 

ETA: Appropriateness moves both ways, and would totally understand C-hristians wanting a group of their own to let their hair down and exclaim "Praise Jesus!" without feeling like such statements are inappropriate, or to hear people like me groove endlessly on ancient mythological/spiritual nonsense.


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#22 of 30 Old 08-03-2013, 12:18 PM
 
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I think it really depends on where you live. 

 

In my part of Canada (West Coast) homeschoolers can loosely be divided into Christian and secular. In general, secular homeschoolers tend to be more crunchy, unschooler types whereas the Christian homeschoolers are more into "school-at-home", faith based curricula,and authoritarian parenting. 

 

With that said, there are of course many "in betweens". We do not hang with the Christian homeschoolers in their own groups b/c I got enough proselytizing growing up and can't stand being around it. However, I have also made sure to explain to my kids that all homeschoolers here owe a debt to the religious homeschoolers, who really were the pioneers and are largely responsible for the many freedoms we homeschoolers enjoy today in terms of our legal rights. 

 

I will also say that in my new (current) small-ish town the two groups get along well. Although we do tend to have some separate activities we often get together for things like the homeschool swimming lessons, organized by the Christian group but they always invite everybody else, that take place twice a year at the local aquatic centre during school hours when the pool is relatively empty. 

 

I have only met a handful of Christian homeschoolers here but they have all been very nice and I think there is a good relationship between the two groups, even if we do some things separately due to differences in approach.


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#23 of 30 Old 08-03-2013, 03:34 PM
 
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We are starting our first year of homeschooling...we will be secular homeschoolers.

In our area there are a lot of Christian homeschoolers and many groups that are for Christian families only.

I've been told there is one group that is open to everyone and religion is not a part of the group.  We are planning to look into this group.

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#24 of 30 Old 08-05-2013, 11:24 AM
 
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We're non-Christian. We're not anti-Christian at all. However, surprisingly really, homeschoolers local to us are probably mainly Christian, including some hardcore fundamentalists, and those who are not tend to be from another monotheist religion. I have zero problem with anyone having strong religious conviction but what can be an issue for us at times is when people share their, to me, highly intolerant, anti-inclusive views with my secular, liberal family, but especially when its justified on the grounds of religion. To me, intolerance really is just that, it doesn't make it ok because you believe someone else-even a deity- has told you to do it. 


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#25 of 30 Old 08-05-2013, 03:38 PM
 
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We used to live in an area with tons of secular homeschoolers, but the area where we live now is largely Christians. The only truly active homeschooling group in the area is a Christian group. And most of the secular homeschoolers use online charter schools, and are so busy with the demands of those that they tend not to want to do other stuff.


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#26 of 30 Old 08-06-2013, 11:01 PM
 
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We're non-religious homeschoolers (well...unschoolers).
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#27 of 30 Old 08-08-2013, 12:57 PM
 
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#28 of 30 Old 08-09-2013, 09:45 AM
 
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Non-Christian, but otherwise unsure of and exploring religious identity. I understand, it can be tough finding other families like us in some places. We spent 3 years in TX and whoooee. You'd think we were on a mission to personally offend people by being a homeschooling family -- a LARGE homeschooling family! -- and NOT being stuff-it-down-your-throat-and-choke-on-it religious.

 

Now we're back east and we're more a curiosity than anything. Which is a step up I guess. Families back here are smaller so it's the large family aspect that makes people gawk. Lots of homeschoolers, mostly secular ones, around us now so that's pretty cool.

 

 

Quote:

I just wanted to say that I'm a Christian BUT I do not fit in with the "Christian" groups. I go to a group that is a mix of everything & everybody. I really enjoy it.

 

I want to be around all people. I want to enjoy different points of views. I don't always understand people want to be in this group or that group??

 

 

I understand that sentiment in theory but in practice it doesn't always work out that well for non-Christians. For every tolerant Christian accepting of or interested in other points of view, it seems there are two or three extremely vocal ones interested in diverse groups only for their evangelism potential. Like I said above, it varies wildly based on where you live. We've had nothing but positive experience in our current area so far with homeschooling groups, which are all open to all faiths. When we lived in Texas and Arizona, not so much. Maybe in the hip, downtown cores of major cities, it wouldn't be a problem, but outside that... it was. We tried groups in several places, had the same experience each time, even in groups that touted themselves as being accepting and open to all religions. Eventually we got disgusted and joined an alternative group. I felt discouraged about doing it but once we did, everything was so much easier and happier.

 

As much as there is to be said for diversity, there's also something to be said for making friends among your own kind. Christians will never understand how difficult and important that can be because by simple mathematics, any Christian -- even a not-so-mainstream one -- in the US will be spoiled for choice when it comes to other Christians to be friends with, and other Christian influences (media, schools, curriculum, holidays, public officials, even the way the week is set up!) on their kids, because Christianity is still the default.

 

I get enough of Christian viewpoints from the above sources, as well as from family and long-time friends. I feel like I need to be around others who are of alternative faiths just for a change of pace sometimes, and it's hard to find them, let alone get to hear their piece, when the loudest voices in the room are always the ones shouting to the lord. Like I said, not a problem in our current locale, but in TX and AZ, it was a choice that we either continue listening to the twice-weekly sermon and pushing of Christian curriculum, Christian ideas, Christian holiday parties and Christian values at "open" homeschooling groups, or segregate ourselves away in special alternative groups so some real discussion could happen. We chose the latter, and would every time.


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#29 of 30 Old 08-10-2013, 07:21 PM
 
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Yes! To all that! I need my atheist group, that tiny respite from the heavily Christian society. It doesn't mean that I don't live my Chrisyian friends, but nothing can replace my atheist group. It's a crunchy mana atheist group at that! It's my respite from mainstream society in general orngtongue.gif It's my home. It's where I belong, where I'm understood. I can vent freely in there and not worry about offending someone (those most people wouldn't bat an eye at offending me).

I know that when you're in the majority it can be hard to understand why minorities need our closed groups of just us. If you're straight but are an ally, you might think that you should be welcomed in a gay group. But even though you're appreciated and even liked, sometimes the group just needs some time to just be themselves, to speak openly about very deep things that you just wouldn't understand, regardless of your loving, good intentions. I'm not gay -- I am an ally! -- but I know that my gay friends need a safe place even apart from me. As pro-marriage equality as I am, I haven't lived it. I can't understand. And I don't belong in their sacred space.

To get a tip of the iceberg idea of what it's like being atheist in a heavily Christian society, check out this list. It's satire but it helps get the point across. My gay sister sees anti-gay things everywhere she goes, I see anti-atheist. So while we love our Christian family and friends and while we don't discriminate against religiously mixed playgroups, we still need our atheist friends. http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/AntiXtian.htm
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#30 of 30 Old 08-10-2013, 07:23 PM
 
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Wow! Typos! Typed from my phone. I'll edit it when I get out of my wonderfully relaxing bath from where I'm surfing Mothering on my phone smile.gif

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Crunchy, AP, Potterhead Whovian.
L is 4 and P is 2 and #3 is "due" in January.

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