An interesting thing happened today. I have a six year old boy, and since he started asking questions about heaven and an afterlife shortly after my father died, I've made it a point to tell him everything I know about every kind of belief. We've talked about heaven, reincarnation, atheism, and a few other related topics and I've always tried to be very clear that I have my own beliefs but that he should decide for himself what he thinks, and that he should take as long as he feels he needs to to make a decision about those beliefs.
I have a sister who is christian and she has a bit of the normal christian accents in her home - prayers on the wall and a few other religious items but nothing overbearing or too intense. When my son was spending a lot of time with my sister he started talking about my dad being in heaven and being an angel and how he wanted to be an angel with him when he died.
It's been difficult at times for me to not scoff or react rudely when my son talks about certain myths, but I have tried very hard to be sure he knows that everyone believes something different and that the only person who can and should decide what my son believes is himself.
Well, today we had some mormons come to the door and I was very polite, as I always am, but firm in letting them know I was in no way interested in their message. The conversation went about like this:
Mormons: Hi, we're in the neighborhood doing mission work.
Me: Oh hey, I'm not at all interested, but thank you anyway.
Mormons: Oh, so you've heard this before then?
Me: Oh yes, I know exactly what you're on about. Sorry, but I'm not interested. Have a nice day though.
Mormons: Nice Futurama poster there on your wall...
Me: Thanks! Have a nice day guys, try to stay cool.
It was at this point that my young son surprised me. He popped out of the bathroom, visibly annoyed and said "My mom is an atheist, she doesn't want to talk to you!" I laughed, a little stunned, but the Mormons seemed concerned. "Well, if she's an atheist, what are you?" Incredulous, my little man replied, "I'm 6! I don't know what I am yet!"
At this point the Mormons went to leave but one of them, presumably trying to be playful, turned and stuck out his tongue at my son, waving his fingers on either side of his face. In response my son put both his hand up in front of his face like claws and hissed at them as they left. I have to assume this struck them as a childish interpretation of a demon, when actually he was mimicking a space alien he often pretends to be.
I'm pretty proud of my son for not declaring he's an atheist only because I am. I'm glad he's leaving himself open to making that decision for himself, but at the same time is not impressed by wandering religionists looking for an excuse to proselytize.