Atheism and parenthood

Filed under: Just For Moms, Toddlers Preschoolers, Just For Dads, Adoption, Divorce & Custody, Activities: Babies, In The News, Alcohol & Drugs

Not so long ago I wrote a few articles about my religious convictions (I have none) and the possibility of those for my son. He doesn't have any, yet, that I know of. After all, he's a wee nine months old.

Recently, Time Magazine posted an article about a couple denied the ability to adopt a child because of their religious beliefs. The husband is an atheist and the wife is a pantheist. Before I read this short article I admit I didn't even know what a pantheist was.

John and Cynthia Burke, originally of Newark, New Jersey, who were almost not allowed to adopt their son over thirty years ago for the same reason, were denied the ability to adopt toddler Eleanor Katherine due to their lack of religious beliefs--or, rather, lack of belief in God as a single deity. The judge denied them the right based on New Jersey's constitution that states "no person shall be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshiping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience."

Apparently that applies to people who are less than two years old and probably do not have any idea of a higher power. It's possible, perhaps, but questionable. So little Eleanor is once again denied a home, with two people whom the judge claimed had good morals and were ethical. Naturally the Burkes are appealing.

I can see the point in a way--many people believe it is imperative to provide some sort of religious backdrop when raising a child. Many, however, do not feel it's necessary and believe the child can make his or her own decisions when ready--and that could be at any age.

I simply feel terrible for the Burkes and very saddened for the little girl. The chance for adoption is, as we know, like catching a shooting star in some ways. This little girl had a chance for a loving home and family. Now she's back in an orphanage where she doesn't belong.

Even if you don't necessarily agree with me, or with the judge in this case, don't you think Eleanor deserves to be in a home and not in an orphanage? It's not like these people are murderers or drug dealers or something of that nature. In fact, as the judge himself pointed out they seem like wonderful people.

I hate to see a child denied the right to a family. When there are so many, many children out there without homes it seems foolish to deny one of them the ability to go home.

Pic of atheist A by mikebdoss.


Ed. note: The article cited in this post was actually featured in Time in 1970 -- which we didn't realize at the time of this posting. Apologies for any confusion caused. --Kristin

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.