Dear Abby published an interesting letter today, from a woman who, along with her husband, is an atheist. Their families are quite religious, and the writer said that "several nieces and nephews (ages 4 to 9)... have asked us repeatedly why we don't go to church with them, since the whole family attends together. Their mother has made it clear that they do not want the children knowing there is another option besides Christianity..."
Abby gave her some potential responses, and then added, "While I respect your in-laws' desire to practice their faith, I think it is unrealistic to try to keep children in the dark because as soon as they hit school -- unless they are home-schooled or in a church-run school -- they are going to meet other kids who worship differently or not at all."
I face this issue myself. I have nieces that I absolutely adore, who are being raised in a very religious household, one where they are told that if a person hasn't accepted Christ as his or her savior, that person is going to hell. Eventually, my nieces are going to be told that Aunt Autumn is going to hell, because I won't lie to them; I will tell them I'm not a Christian if they ever ask, and because of what they are being taught, it's going to hurt them. And that breaks my heart. But I didn't create this situation, and I won't be the last person around them that turns out not to be a Christian.
I hope that, when they ask me if I'm a Christian, or they ask me why I'm not one, I get to also tell them I believe in love, in kindness and in humanity, that I think all people are part of a great big family on Earth, and that life is wonderful when we work to learn about each other and our world, when we help each other, when we celebrate each other, and through working to keep our planet healthy. I'll never try to convince them to not be a Christian, but I will also never stop trying to help them love science and the diversity of humanity.