Children and Religion

I would like to seek the opinion of some of you guys about this issue. Baptist raised for 19 years. Religion was forced upon me until the point of resentment. I have had literal thousands of hours of studies in many varied topics from astrophysics to Buddhism. To be frank i have let anger caused of ignorance about the bible from the hypocritical Christians that blindly accept that Jesus was the lamb sent by Yahweh to atone for mans sin without even knowing what the Septuagint was sway my research into a rational christian faith. So, i would like to ask what you guys think about the morality of springing a religion upon a child who has no understanding of such things upon them.

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Hi Thrifty1,
Thanks for visiting the forum! I’m sorry to hear about your experiences. Forced religion can become much more of a burden than an aid. As to your question, that’s tricky. In a sense all children are taught things they have no understanding of – it’s unavoidable. If a parent sincerely thinks that their beliefs are true, then it would be inconsistent to not teach them to their children in some way. But I think sometimes parents teach kids certain things out of obligation, or don’t practice what they preach, and I absolutely see why that would cause resentment.

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I personally think that for religion to be meaningful it must be a part of a personal quest. One of its most important psychological functions is that of personal identity. As a parent I exposed my children to the comments and comedy of such atheists as Dawkins and George Carlin. And it wouldn’t have bothered me in the slightest if they had chosen atheism for themselves. But then I am not one of these Xtians who believe nonbelievers are all going to hell – I think that is derived from a Gnostic gospel of salvation by knowledge and mental works.

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I definitely think that parents need to teach their kids what the word of God says and academics. But the Jewish nation also restricted their kids from reading Song of Solomon because they were not mature enough to read it. So I think the messages of the Bible, although not evil, needs to be monitored and cleaned up and aged appropriately. Same with science.

Thrifty1. Did that to my kids. They turned out all right. Ish. Well they’re all messed up actually and it’s all my fault, but they love me still. So that’s all right. There is no morality in doing that. Just fear and ignorance. Which is the environmental source of nearly all morality come to think of it. In about 10 years time you’ll forgive your parents. They’re innocent too. They couldn’t help it. It gets worse. It’s NOBODY’S fault.

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I think it’s hard to separate worldview and religion and treat them as if they are different things. Parents are going to share their worldview with their children, it’s an essential part of socialization and enculturation. Many cultural worldviews are shaped by religious values and truth claims and parents can’t realistically be expected to raise children in an ideological vacuum until they are “old enough to decide for themselves.” They will inevitably communicate a worldview, no matter what they do.

That some parents have toxic worldviews is unfortunate, but the solution isn’t to claim that any parent who shares their worldview with their child is immorally “springing religion” on them. There is such a thing as spiritual abuse and that is arguably immoral. But, I don’t think most religious instruction, in Christianity or other religions, rises to the level of spiritual abuse.

All children have to differentiate from their parents at some point to become mature adults, and for many this involves weeding through the worldview they inherited and deciding what to keep and what to let go of. Rejecting some things you have been taught is a normal process, not a sign that you have been a victim.

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Though if one of the things you’re rejecting is the idea that you’re not allowed to reject anything you’ve been taught, it can make your head spin a little. :wink:

Yeah, I guess that is where the “toxic” part comes in.

Indoctrination is a good thing, if the doctrine is true. It is necessary to using and maintaining your car correctly, plus a myriad of other things. But if it’s presented obnoxiously and not lived out in practice, it will be rebelled against and rejected.

Ah, the Santa clause. :grin: The green one.

I DON’T do coke.

Perhaps you may be a parent one day. What will you do?
Most parents have some sort of worldview - kinky, wrong, distorted, biblical…plus their personality.
Maybe you might do the direct opposite because of your perceived experience?
Leave it to the child to decide?
Or perhaps your church bordered on dictatorship and shaped your attitude.

Would you choose to guide your child…how far would you go?
Would you pray for them when they make bad choices?
Would you trust God when rebellion happens?

Or perhaps you may also need to look at yourself and your own reaction now that you are older.
Did I view my encounter with Christ insufficiently - did I even encounter Christ at all?
It is possible to be in church your entire life and still be ignorant of scripture let alone understand doctrine and how it answers all questions and is sufficient.

One of the things I encountered at seminary in my church history class is the challenges that faced the new American colonists in the transition to the next generation. There is a definite difference in mindset when going from a group of enthusiastic converts to those who simply have been acculturated into Christianity. Fortunately this has been confronted extensively in much of the evangelical community with new churches experiencing the same transition and asking themselves how to pass on what they have to the next generation. The result, I believe, is that there are experiences and literature out there about the right way and wrong way to do this.

Excellent replies and thanks for the thought applied. Maybe something that wasn’t conveyed was the fact that I’ve been married for 7 years and have a 4 and 3 year old. One does not gain very specific knowledge accumulation without the very coincidental (timely) access to the the entirely of the current knowledge gathered today. I feel there may be some assumptions purveyed to the “19 years as baptist” quote. The MONTHS of Harvard and Stanford (debatable authorities) current knowledge were gained after my confusion proliferated to a head.

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