Message received via private e-mail:
I have discovered that you have written to my daughter and encouraged her to ‘explore’ atheism. She is going through a very confused time and you certainly have tried to take benefit from her vulnerability.
We are very aware that the internet is a dangerous place for children but are still disgusted that there are people like you who would take such intimate interest in a little girl. We will pray for you and have taken steps to protect our daughter from further advances on your part.
It sounds to me like you have the facts of the matter a little confused. In particular:
- Your daughter wrote to me saying that she didn’t want to go to church with you anymore and didn’t want to read the Bible because she thought it was pointless. I responded to her. That was the end of our correspondence — one e-mail from each of us. I did not even post her e-mail on my blog, as she requested I keep our correspondence private.
- I encouraged your daughter not to “explore atheism” but to learn all she could about her family’s religion from a variety of viewpoints. I said that she should continue to attend church with you if that made you happy, and suggested that she read the Bible before forming conclusions about it. I also encouraged her to talk to you about religion and bring you any questions she had.
- When you say that I am taking “intimate interest in a little girl” and making “advances” you make it sound like something disgusting is going on. There was nothing “intimate” in my e-mail to your daughter other than the suggestion that she examine her own beliefs. Also, your daughter said that she was 17 years old — not a “little girl” in my book.
I would suggest that instead of trying to “protect” your child from points of view other than yours, you encourage her to learn all she can about your beliefs — including criticisms of those beliefs. Obviously, you have answers to any criticism of your religion (if you didn’t, you’d question it yourself), so why not pass those answers along to your daughter? If you demand that she believe unquestioningly, all you’re doing is setting the stage for future rebellion. If you insist that she not think for herself on this subject, then you are teaching her to trust others before she trusts herself, leaving her vulnerable to frauds and cults when you are not there to watch over her.
I received the following response to my e-mail.
This is not a request or a discussion. Do not write to anyone in this household again.
Unless you think I can be taken in by a serpent’s tooth, know that I see through the pretty words you spin. [Daughter’s name] relies on us to shield her from the evils of the world, and that includes your sarcastic comment about having “answers” and your atheism that is nothing but an excuse for feeling free from responsibility for drugs, drinking, premarital sex, debauchery, and all manner of hedonism. You trust the truth of Jesus Christ, not question it. [Daughter’s name] doesn’t need to confuse herself with your lies. When we are not there to keep her on the right path she will have a husband to do so.
Write again and we will sue for harassment and see to it that you are placed on a sex offender’s list for stalking a child. God have mercy on your soul.