How secular family values stack up

Jan 21, 2015

Image credit: Los Angeles Times

By Phil Zuckerman

More children are “growing up godless” than at any other time in our nation’s history. They are the offspring of an expanding secular population that includes a relatively new and burgeoning category of Americans called the “Nones,” so nicknamed because they identified themselves as believing in “nothing in particular” in a 2012 study by the Pew Research Center.

The number of American children raised without religion has grown significantly since the 1950s, when fewer than 4% of Americans reported growing up in a nonreligious household, according to several recent national studies. That figure entered the double digits when a 2012 study showed that 11% of people born after 1970 said they had been raised in secular homes. This may help explain why 23% of adults in the U.S. claim to have no religion, and more than 30% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 say the same.

So how does the raising of upstanding, moral children work without prayers at mealtimes and morality lessons at Sunday school? Quite well, it seems.

Far from being dysfunctional, nihilistic and rudderless without the security and rectitude of religion, secular households provide a sound and solid foundation for children, according to Vern Bengston, a USC professor of gerontology and sociology.


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23 comments on “How secular family values stack up

  • “Many nonreligious parents were more coherent and passionate about their ethical principles than some of the ‘religious’ parents in our study,” Bengston told me. “The vast majority appeared to live goal-filled lives characterized by moral direction and sense of life having a purpose.”

    Exactly.

    When you stop subcontracting your moral due diligence to an outside agency, when you don’t get given a meaning to your life like being given a job…..things get better.



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  • Christianity teaches some dodgy ethics:

    the effects of a crime can be erased by some magic incantations.
    If you make person A suffer, it undoes the effects of person B’s crimes.
    You can commit genocide sinlessly if you have sufficient status.

    They really have some cheek complaining about atheists.



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  • Christianity teaches some dodgy ethics:

    Confession: The effects of a crime can be erased by some magic incantations.

    Scapegoating: If you make person A suffer, it undoes the effects of person B’s crimes.

    Sinless gods: You can commit genocide sinlessly if you have sufficient status.

    Afterlife: It does not really matter if you kill someone, because they will live forever anyway.

    Exclusivity: Anyone but your in-group will be tortured for eternity, so you might as well give them a foretaste.

    Gays: It is your religious duty to kill gay people, or at least make their lives as miserable as possible.

    Christians really have some cheek complaining about atheists.



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  • Many psychological studies show that secular grownups tend to be less vengeful, less nationalistic, less militaristic, less authoritarian and more tolerant, on average, than religious adults.

    Anecdotally and without data. In the circles I move in, I find this statement to have great foundation. The evil sinful atheists I associate with (and there are many) in real life, are people of high ethical and moral standing. People you would proudly write a reference for.



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  • …“Nones,” so nicknamed because they identified themselves as
    believing in “nothing in particular”

    I like this name “nones”, I prefer this term, and not atheist. Sometime term atheist and atheism sound like a political movement, like of many “isms”. I am none. hahaha…



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  • …the largest study of religion and family life … He was surprised
    by what he found: High levels of family solidarity and emotional
    closeness…

    This is a quotation from source article. Very often I notice how “atheistic moral” is considered something peculiar. I mean, there is no “atheistic moral”, … it exist only in religious mind. They think that moral is not something universal. And then there is this surprised how atheist can be moral. To often are atheist considered like some species that is not normal, not natural, but this is exactly what we are – just normal and natural. Although I like this report, I resent the fact that Bengston (who did research) finds moral in atheist surprising. It would help if people would not right such words, because one gets the impression that non-believers are strange creatures who however, can be moral.



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  • As I was about to say, “No shit, Sherlock”.

    It’s like there are hundreds of books dedicated to raising your kids that never bother to mention religion. The association has been made irrelevant for decades in most of Europe. So… yeah.



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  • a relatively new and burgeoning category of Americans called the “Nones,” so nicknamed because they identified themselves as believing in “nothing in particular”

    Comical ignorance! “Nones” identify with no religions!

    Far from being dysfunctional, nihilistic and rudderless without the security and rectitude of religion, secular households provide a sound and solid foundation for children, according to Vern Bengston, a USC professor of gerontology and sociology.

    No surprise really!
    That nonsensical image is just the straw-atheist, fed to sheeples by the bigoted, self aggrandising, ignorant preachers, selling their (allegedly) “superior” morals to the uncritical gullible!



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  • This question of the moral state of atheists, for me is the very epicentre of the problem of religion in the USA. Not the scientific deficit in its heartlands or its political expression in the GOP. The problem of atheist morality is more widely rooted and affects people who should be our secular and scientific-educational allies.

    If we can break the religion=morality mindset we will get quite an upsurge in the effectiveness of all our arguments I suspect. Being the lowest of the moral low means our vocabulary even is verba non grata. Sean Faircloth’s plan to put this more front and centre got my vote.



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  • phil rimmer Jan 22, 2015 at 8:06 am

    This question of the moral state of atheists, for me is the very epicentre of the problem of religion in the USA.

    Religion is just the crutch propping up those whose thinking has been disabled by indoctrination and dogma.

    In order to maintain dependency, – persistent preaching that “arrogant atheists” think they can throw away the crutches and win the Olympics, is required to maintain the delusions!

    We see example after example, of theist sheeples who genuinely believe that skills in empirical evidence-based reasoning, are a disability, which can be “corrected” by learning other (dysfunctional) “superior” D-K subjective, wish-thinking, methods of thought.



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  • 11
    Lorenzo says:

    When you stop subcontracting your moral due diligence to an outside agency

    I’d call that a necessary condition to achieve adulthood, I suppose.



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  • 12
    Lorenzo says:

    Many psychological studies show that secular grownups tend to be less vengeful, less nationalistic, less militaristic, less authoritarian and more tolerant, on average, than religious adults.

    In shorter words, secular grownups are more likely to be human adults.
    Which means that it might not be wrong to say that religion hinders the mental development of humans, in particular by blocking their emotional development and compromising the structuralization of their thinking abilities.



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  • Morality done the theist way has many places to hide. “I was possessed by the devil” or “Tempted by sin”.

    Morality done the atheist way has nowhere to hide, no excuses ‘its a fair cop your honour’…..

    Perhaps the easy option is what drives people to theism?



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  • Given this data (and I’m thinking of this like an insurance company) I should be getting some sort of discount or premium from my society for being and raising my children in a secular fashion. I’m kidding of course but you’d think governments and tax payers who bitch and whine about paying for roads, hospitals and schools should be pointing their guns at the religious, clearly not teaching your kids secular morality (whether you hold religious beliefs or not) is costing society money.



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  • “It’s like there are hundreds of books dedicated to raising your kids that never bother to mention religion.”

    Exactly. And the best one I have found is “The Greatest Show on Earth”, by Dawkins himself. I’m not a troll, trying to sell his book. It will sell itself. The problem is the usual suspects. Those who would benefit the most are the most unlikely to read it.



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  • Far from being dysfunctional, nihilistic and rudderless without the security and rectitude of religion, secular households provide a sound and solid foundation for children, according to Vern Bengston,

    Secular thinking benefits children even before children are born if they are to be born without disabilities or terminal illness, thanks to science, – and no thanks to the faith-thinking of religimuppets!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31063500
    .Senior church figures have called on the UK government to block the creation of babies from three people.

    The Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales said it was not clear the technique – adding a donor woman’s mitochondria to another woman’s egg – was safe or ethical.

    Given that these faith-heads have no medical competence, along with their ignorance of safe science and medical ethics, we would have to ask:
    “Which idiot decided to consult them?”
    Would you ask them how to do a heart by-pass, treat a gastric ulcer, or repair a broken leg?

    But a group of scientists has urged MPs to approve the procedure – intended to stop deadly mitochondrial diseases.

    Ministers want to allow the technique and MPs will debate it on Tuesday.

    Mitochondria are tiny compartments found within cells within the body, and their most crucial role is to convert energy locked in food into energy the cell can use.

    About one in every 6,500 babies is born with mitochondrial disease, which can be fatal.

    Then there is the real reason for the religious opposition!

    “There are also serious ethical objections to this procedure, which involves the destruction of human embryos as part of the process.”

    Looking at a more expert view:

    But in a letter to the Guardian, 40 scientists from 14 countries said the technique offered “some affected families the opportunity to have healthy children”.

    They said the UK had run an “exemplary and internationally admired process” to consider the issue since 2007, and they called on Parliament to approve the proposed change.

    “The UK hosts a world class team at Newcastle University developing this technology, which is ideally placed to be among the first to treat patients,” they added.



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  • Those who can make people believe in absurdities can make people
    commit attrocities.

    Voltaire (after Dawkins, The God Delusion). Let us not teach children to believe absurdities!! I am convinced that children who are raised without religious beliefs are more likely to have empathy for other people and do not betray the human spirit.



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