Introducing the subject of religion to kids

I grew up going to a mostly African-American Baptist church, was baptized at a young age and all I knew was that Sunday was for Sunday School and then church service. It of course never occurred to me that by the time I became a parent, our Sunday mornings would be a whole lot different.

My journey towards atheism started when my oldest son was a baby, after round of Bible studying, during long stretches of sitting while breastfeeding. At that point, we were living in a new state, were still trying to find the “right” church and I felt at some point, I need to be sending my kid to Sunday School. Or something. Right? Well, as most atheists can attest to, reading the Bible, with no filters (aka, Bible study books), real objectivity and an open mind, is the straightest path to atheism. By the time I accepted that I was an atheist and embraced secular humanism, I had kid #2. Fortunately, my DH and I were on the same page.

Now with a 5 year old and a 2 year old, I’ve recently begun thinking about how we will introduce the subject of religion to them. They have seen people pray over food and has heard my mother say, “Oh, Lawd!” at one of their funny antics. That pretty much sums up their religious exposure. But they will get older. They might hear one or both of their grandmas talk about God or Jesus. They could hear about the concept of hell. I don’t want them confused or frightened when these topics come up.

So, I’ve decided to get a Children’s Bible. Kids love stories and mine are no different, so why not just read them Bible stories? Except I am not burdened with the task of convincing them that any of the stories are true. We can freely critique them; laughing at the absurdities, rightly judging good or bad behavior of the characters (including God), or acknowledging a moral action. And if they don’t like the stories, we can stop reading.

I’ll be very interested in hearing my children’s honest impressions of these stories. In your secular family, if you read some Bible stories to your children, what did they think of them?