As I have mentioned before on this blog, my wife believes in god in the Christian sense of the word. She also knows that I am an atheist. Apart from having our children baptized (I was raised Catholic and she is still at least nominally one), I have been successful at keeping religion out of their lives. My kids know that I don't believe in god either. However, I also stress to them that they should never tell any of their friends or classmates who mention god to say things like "My daddy says there is no god" or to otherwise talk about the issue.
Yesterday morning though, for reasons I cannot recall, the subject of god came up as I was making ready to leave for work. My wife suddenly came over and started saying things to the kids like "It's better to believe in god then not to believe in god," to which I replied "Which one, honey?" She sort of dodged the question, but kept insisting to the kids "If someone asks you if you believe in god, you have to say yes. You have to conform or else everyone will make fun of you." And she repeated a number of times about the necessity of conformity.
Of course, it is no secret that an important factor in the staying power of religious belief, or at least organized religious belief such as Roman Catholicism, is the power of conformity. To not believe is considered strange, so one should profess belief, whatever one's doubts may be, for fear of being ostracized by the community at large.
I also suspect my wife's cultural background plays a part in her concerns. In her native Philippines, the vast majority of the people are Roman Catholic, except for the Muslim majority in the southern part of the country. And many Filipinos are staunchly Catholic, as I have seen not only from visiting the country on two occasions, but in visiting the homes of Filipino immigrants here in the United States. Most Filipino-Americans have at least one area in their homes set aside for displaying all sorts of Catholic paraphernalia, including images of the Virgin Mary, Jesus on the cross, candles with crosses or other religious imagery on them, and so forth. Coming from that cultural environment, my wife probably projects the pervasiveness of god belief onto American society as well. Of course, there are many parts of the United States where this holds true, but at least in my corner of suburban Long Island, I don't feel any personal pressure to conform to religious belief. I don't advertise my atheism, and nobody really seems to care what my beliefs are.
But back to my children, my goal is not so much to raise them to be atheists but rather to be religiously neutral. Rather than having a particular religious doctrine drilled into them, I would prefer that they be taught about different religious beliefs along with my own secular humanist outlook and make their own informed choices when they get older.