Atheist blogger says religion can harm your kids

Courtney Heard believes her kids are better off without religion. She says an atheist upbringing will help her children cultivate critical-thinking skills and leave them more open-minded to what the world has to offer.
Courtney Heard
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Courtney Heard says the most important thing when it comes to teaching her two children about religion and spirituality, is that they know there are options.

Heard is an atheist who runs the blog GodlessMom.com.

She says her goal isn't that her kids take up her beliefs. Instead, she says she hopes she has imbued them with a sense of skepticism and critical thinking when it comes to any spiritual position.

"I usually say to them, 'This is what I believe, and then here's what other people believe, and whatever you guys end up believing is totally up to you.'"

Heard says it's dangerous and unfair to impose a singular religious upbringing on children wihtout showing them alternatives.

As a blogger, she has heard from many readers who grew up being taught to fear hell.

She says many of them say that, despite having left their childhood religion, they still struggle with the fear of eternal damnation.

"If you think about it in a human-relationship kind of way, where there's a girl and her boyfriend and the boyfriend says, 'you have to worship me or I'm going to do something horrible to you for all of eternity...' You wouldn't accept that from a relationship between humans."

Heard says when she does address big spiritual issues with her kids, such as what happens after we die, she encourages them to remain open-minded.

Recently, when her family's beloved pet dog passed away, her eight-year-old son wanted to know if he was in heaven.

"If my son wants to hope for there to be a heaven, then it's open for that. He can totally hope that if he wants to and I'm not going to tell him that he's wrong. But at the same time, I did try to teach him that the only thing we know for sure that we have is this life, so this is the one we have to really put effort into and really value and understand that the time we have here is finite and just really cherish it."