Sunday, July 30, 2006

Asserting our Humanism, by Melvin Lipman, Part 4

There's a quote attributable to the Jesuits that says, "Give me a child at an impressionable age, and he's mine for life." What about children of Humanists? How do we nurture *their* beliefs the way the churches do? Humanist parents often feel defensive when asked, "What religion do you raise your children in?" The questions themselves offend me. Do we ask every Christian or Jew or Muslim, "What do you teach your kids?" Are *we* expected to raise our children to follow some religion that we, ourselves reject?

Of course not. We must respond to religionists who ask "What do you teach your kids?" by making it clear that we are *not* "believers in nothing". And that we have lots of Humanist values and Humanist ethics to teach our children. It's important that Humanist parents give attention to the issues that religion concerns itself with. Things like morality and ethics, and interrelating with others. If we don't answer our children's questions about the world, and the way it works--the mystery, the injustice--if we don't have these conversations, nothing else will do the job except maybe the supernatural religions.

I'm looking forward mostly to the questions, so let me finish with a quote from Howard Zinn. He said, "Throughout history, people have felt powerless before authority, but that at certain times these powerless people, by organizing, acting, risking, persisting, have created enough power to change the world around them, even if a little. That is the history of the labor movement, the women's movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement, the disabled persons’ movement, the gay and lesbian movement, the movement of Black people in the South."

And I'm hopeful that will also be the history of the Humanist movement.

Humanist Community of Central Ohio
American Humanist Association
The Secular Coalition for America
Some Humanist-themed items at Cafe Press

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