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Believers and nonbelievers respond to widely read essay by 'Godless mom'

Published: Friday, Feb. 1 2013 1:45 p.m. MST

Deborah Mitchell, a mother of two teenagers, expresses why she doesn't want to raise her children with religion via an essay published on the CNN iReport.

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Deborah Mitchell, a Texas mother of two teenagers, has been called the “Godless mom” after publishing an essay on CNN iReport about why she is choosing to raise her children without religion.

Her essay was composed of seven reasons she does not believe in God, including the following: “God is not logical,” “God is not fair” and “God is not present.”

Mitchell’s story has received widespread attention. In less than three weeks, it has more than 760,000 page views, in addition to more than 9,000 comments — both agreeing and disagreeing with her atheistic views.

Ryan Barnett, a father raising his children in the Methodist church, responded to Mitchell’s essay on CNN iReport in a piece titled "Why I raise my children with God," including his own seven points about why he believes God is real.

Under his point titled “God is everywhere,” Barnett writes, “The rising of the sun is a reminder that we do not have to live in darkness. If we seek God, we will find him. He is in the sunset, in the smiles of children, in the love of committed spouses. When we don’t see him, it is often because we don’t want to. It is said that God is a gentleman — he only comes where invited. Perhaps there is great truth in this.”

Carl Olsen also wrote a rebuttal to Mitchell’s essay on The Catholic World Report.

“My experience, time and again, is that more than a few atheists want to have it both ways: on one hand, to dismiss God because he supposedly refuses to let them do whatever they want; on the other hand, to express anger and horror that God allows people to apparently do whatever they want. They demand free will, but curse the hand that grants it,” Olsen wrote.

Others in the comment section of Mitchell's post on iReport say they agree with the way she is raising her children and her decision to not discuss religion in the home.

Posted with the username dhume2013, one commenter said, “Pretending to know something you don’t is toxic. Religion by definition claims (pretends) to know things without any basis in fact, reason or reality. Why expose your children to these claims when there exists many better alternatives?”

Another user named saynotofaith wrote, “Brilliant article full of blunt truth and progress. It’s time to grow up people and move on and away from fairy tales and toward rational, reasoned goals and objects. Proportion your beliefs to the evidence.”

In the conclusion of her piece, Mitchel, however, said she does not want religion to go away.

"I only want religion to be kept at home or in church where it belongs," Mitchell wrote.

Mitchell's original post has been flagged by community members as inappropriate, according to a update by a CNN iReport producer, but because it does not violate the site's community guidelines, it has not been removed. Readers are able to repsond to the piece through comments and a section of the site called "Sound Off."

Megan Marsden is an intern at the Deseret News, writing for the Faith & Family section. She is currently a student at BYU-Idaho, studying communications.

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