Atheist neighbor children are nice . . . Imagine that!
June 28, 1999
by Jeff Lucas
My wife and I have three daughters, ages 12, 10, and 6. Since the day they were born we have raised them without religion. We have never hidden this from our neighbors, but then we haven't advertised it either (except for our bumper stickers). One of our neighbors is a very nice, very religious family. They are Christians, but I have no idea what branch they belong to.
This family has a large home, and the lower level has a couple of bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a family room. Over the past few years they have had several families stay with them, ranging from a few weeks to a few months. Their church, like many, send missionaries overseas to save the local population from their non-Christian religions. So when a family decides to become missionaries, they sell their home and possessions to finance their mission. If they still don't have enough money, our neighbor allows the family to move in with them, free of charge, while the family goes from church to church throughout the area begging for money. Once they have enough money, off they go.
Recently, another family moved in with our neighbor. They had three children similar in age to my daughters. One nice warm spring evening here in Colorado the children were all playing together outside. Just before the children were called to come inside and get ready for bed, the six year old son of the missionary wannabe family told my ten year old daughter, "You know what? You guys are nice enough to be Christians!"
I told my 10 and 12 year old daughters that a good response to the boy would have been, "Wow, imagine that! Who would have thought that atheists could be nice!?" They got a kick out of that, and can't wait to use it.
Obviously, our neighbor had told this new family about the "atheists" that lived only two doors away. Now, if I knew that another family in my neighborhood were atheists and I had some atheist friends visiting, I would probably mention the fact to them. But it would never occur to me to tell visiting atheist friends that the neighbors to the left of me are Baptists and the ones on the right are Catholics, and the guy across the street is a Methodist.
So why did my neighbor tell the visiting family that we were atheists? So that they could keep a tight grip on their souls in case we decided to steal them? So that they could try to save our souls? Well, after talking to my daughters, I found out that neither family had discussed their religion with them. So does that mean they feared us? I don't know. I doubt it. If they did, then why were their children playing with mine? So again, I ask myself why this family was told we were atheists? I still don't know.
"You guys are nice enough to be Christians!" The young boy was surprised. Good! It is obvious that he has been taught, either directly or indirectly, that atheists are not nice. Otherwise, he would not have made his comment in surprise.
My daughters, by being the good, decent human beings that my wife and I have taught them to be, taught this child that one does not have to be religious (i.e. Christian) to be nice. For a short while, this young boy's mind was opened. He doesn't know he learned something that evening. I doubt if his parents know he learned something. But maybe, just maybe, that little bit of knowledge he acquired that one evening will stick in the back of his mind. Maybe the next time he is told how bad and evil atheists are, he will stop and remember those nice, atheist girls in Colorado. Then he just might start to think about the things he has been taught. Imagine that!
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