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poza wiaraMy mother’s book has been translated into Apache. Apache, Helen! Not even Shakespeare or Dickens has been translated into Apache!
T.S. Garp, in The World According to Garp

Okay, PBB has not been translated into Apache. But that line from The World According to Garp was the first thing that popped into my head when I learned yesterday that Parenting Beyond Belief has appeared in its first translated edition — and at first blush, it’s hardly less surprising than Apache.

PBB is now available in Polish.

We’ve been hoping for two years to secure a contract for a French edition, especially given fascinating cultural changes underway in Québec, about which I posted in late 2007:

So why the sudden interest among the Québécois about parents non-croyants? It’s a fascinating story.

Québec has historically been the most religious of the Canadian provinces. Over 83 percent of the population is Catholic — hardly surprising, since the French permitted only Catholics to settle what was New France back in the day. But now Québec is considered the least religious province by a considerable margin — and without losing a single Catholic.

Non-religious Catholics, you say? Oui! French Canadians are eager to maintain their unique identity in the midst of the English Protestant neighborhood — and “French” goes with “Catholic” in Canada even more than it does with “fries” in the U.S. Yet educated Catholics — I’ve discussed this elsewhere — are the most likely of all religious identities to leave religious faith entirely. There is, by all accounts, a very short step from educated Catholic to religious nonbeliever.

Poland shares that tight equation between Catholicism and national identity. Fully 89 percent of Poles self-identify as Catholics. The church is considered by many, even some nontheistic Poles, to be a bulwark against the countless threats to Polish identity that pepper the nation’s history (though it was of little use to the three million Polish Jews murdered in WWII). The papacy of John Paul II and the end of Soviet influence in Poland combined to produce a renewed affection for the Catholic church.

So what does all this have to do with a book on raising children without religion? It’s simple. As in Québec, Catholic identity in Poland is high, but observance is fairly low, with Mass attendance at 40.4 percent in 2008. Poland is also a highly educated and literate country, and (as noted above) educated Catholics are the most likely of all religious identities to leave religious faith entirely. So there is a large and probably growing community of Polish parents trying to raise their children without the undue influence of that looming institution.

I’m happy to help.

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.