Just in Time for the Holidays!

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By Betsy Deville

I welcome the opportunity to share my work. I grew up in a small midwestern town and was raised Catholic. I attended Catholic school through college. It was sheltered. I remember both horror and wonder when visiting a public university and seeing a condom in a vending machine!

After college, religion was not part of my life. I simply didn’t make time for it, didn’t reflect on it, until my first child was born. As I held him in my arms, I knew to my core that there was no god to protect him, just me.

As he grew and experienced the world, he bumped into religion, specifically christianity, a lot. In the preschool he attended, there were bible lessons (which after review, we opted out of). His first grade class had three children with parents who were conservative christian pastors and he heard things like, “you will have a lot of bad luck if you don’t believe in God.” I am grateful for our open relationship so that when he shared things like that so I could work through them with him.

Fast forward a few years. I attended an Atheist Convention in Austin, Texas with a dear friend. We visited the shops in the area and were surprised that there was nothing there that appealed to us. Many of the t-shirts (and there were mostly t-shirts) were snarky and negative. I wanted something different. Something that reflected the generous and positive worldview of the atheists I knew. I wanted to capture words and images that could start a conversation, and not shut others out. Betsy DeVille was born!

I started with bracelets featuring quotes by Voltaire, “if we believe absurdities we shall commit atrocities.”

I created one bracelet that I would wear to a family gathering as my secret truth

I also created small items for the privacy of the home, where we are truly ourselves. Many atheists who are also parents (myself included) feel we cannot be completely open about our lack of believe because of the blowback on our children. I love creating pieces that bring me joy and hopefully bring joy to folks like me.

While planning a winter party for my son’s class at school we were instructed not to include religious themes. The other parents at the planning event did not understand that. I explained that aside from the celebration of the birth of Jesus, there was nothing about Christmas that was religious. Greenery, lights, Santa were all secular. It occurred to me then that we could have our own ornaments too…

 

After the second year, I reconsidered on the t-shirts when the 4th of July rolled around. So many t-shirts intending to show patriotism were christian monotheism. But that is not how our country was founded. So, I created a design that reflected the pledge of allegiance as it was original written into the United States flag code in 1942.

I get my inspiration from atheist and freethinking rebels like the Red Harlot of Infidelity, Francis Wright or the Great Agnostic, Robert Green Ingersoll.

You can visit me online at betsydeville.com where I sell my work, blog about the history of Christmas, raising atheist children, and great books you should read. I’d love to hear from you and can be reached at betsy@betsydeville.com.

Betsy Deville

 

 

About the Author Karen Garst

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