985 Children and religious education






My previous blog 984 elicited this question from a reader:

 

My question to you is - how does your view on this translate to those children who simply grow up in their parent's religion by sheer osmosis? By this I mean, the kids go to church with their parents, they celebrate the religious days, etc but the parents do not make any attempt to influence their kids with it ... do you think this is a subliminal form of indoctrination as well? Do you think the parents should make a conscious effort to remove their children from their religious activities once they can understand a basic grasp of it?





 


... the kids go to church with their parents, they celebrate the religious days, etc but the parents do not make any attempt to influence their kids with it ... do you think this is a subliminal form of indoctrination as well?

The answer is an uncomfortable: Yes.

 

Do you think the parents should make a conscious effort to remove their children from their religious activities once they can understand a basic grasp of it?

That is probably not necessary … as long as parents encourage their children to inform themselves - age accordingly - about other religions, as well as secularity. However, the important part is that parents should not be dogmatic about their religion toward their children. And that is probably difficult for many parents who feel strongly about their religious culture. 


I believe that religious culture does not necessarily have to be dogmatic. I do believe one can enjoy the ‘trappings’ of religion - the festivities, the singing, the community - without falling into the trap of dogmatic and intolerant indoctrination; at least I hope so.

 

The video on my Unity page is not necessarily easy watching, and it goes for an hour. Not easy because the good professor is not a good speaker, but the content - methinks - is dynamite! In my foreword I mentioned Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion, have you heard about it? It is a devastating book. Anyway, Dawkins famously considers religious tuition child abuse.

 

but the parents do not make any attempt to influence their kids with it

I believe the influencing happens by stealth. At church the kids will be subject to a degree of indoctrination, of which Dawkins says, they have no defence against.

 

I say in my essay GOD 3 it is hugely important children are taught ethics at school, instead of scripture. And then they may join a religion at age 14, or so. However, that of course is fought against tooth and nails by the religious hierarchies. The formative years are hugely important for religious indoctrination, because it is quite possible that well educated children at age 14 will not join a religion, or - indeed - stay in the religion they were brought up in. I was 14 when I excommunicated myself … see my essay MISSIONARIES.


As the famous saying goes: 

"Give us a child till s/he's seven, and we'll have them for life."


this Jesuit maxim is widely attributed to Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491 - 1556) who was the founder of the Society of Jesus, a religious order of the Catholic Church, called the Jesuits. According to Three Myths by A. Beichman, this saying was "attributed to him, perhaps mischievously" by Voltaire.

 

However, with all I have said, let me point out my essay GOD 4. It’s one of my favourites re. religion, God and beliefs. Don’t miss the story about the two priests discussing if God exists.

 

Do you think the parents should make a conscious effort to remove their children from their religious activities once they can understand a basic grasp of it?

I said before: That is probably not necessary …


... in fact, I think this is a pertinent question, in as much as I don’t know that many people would ask it. It probably is a given that most religious people will see this question as out of bounds, since few people who are entrenched in their religious culture would question their belief or - especially, while they may actually question their belief - they may at least wish to hang on to the activities of their community.

 

So the answer to the question has to be nuanced. I said before, "probably not", with the caveat that parents refrain from promoting dogmas. This could be difficult, because Christianity, Judaism and Islam are soaked in dogmata, as well, of course, as some of the others. 


Except BUDDHISM, which is really just an educational system; the Buddha said: "Become aware, become conscious, become courageous - but don’t hide behind belief systems and theologies. All organised beliefs are poisonous, all belief systems are barriers, since they do not allow free-thinking or doubt.” BELIEF


Please note the last point on my list of things to do: "maintain doubt … don’t be certain about anything, question everything” ... and think for yourself.

 

I think once children are ten, twelve, fourteen years old, they are probably ready for an education based on facts & science as well as tolerance (for other beliefs) & secular syncretism. I think at that age children may add to earlier questions like: is Santa real? The tooth fairy? about God and Jesus. Are they real? 


Parents must think about what to say when those questions come up. I believe it is a great responsibility when bringing up children to tell them the truth, according to their age. Of course it is easy to say, “oh, that’s just what we believe.” But it is much easier to speak the truth if one is comfortable with it to begin with. 


Then one is more likely to adhere to religious traditions without dogmatic indoctrination. Fundamentalists have a hard time here, because they have a warped idea about truth, or Truth. As you know, I write about t/Truth extensively.

TRUTHTHE TRUTH I & IITHE TRUTH III, IV, THE PATH

 

In the video What Shall We Tell The Children on my Unity page, the professor answers: Science. Whatever you talk to your kids about, bear in mind science. 


So, what about God? Is He real? Well, yes ... if you define God as the good in us, as compassion, understanding, wisdom, truthfulness, love etc. GOD 2


And what about JESUS? Jesus adds to the above humility and forgiveness.


If, however, you define God as the being up in heaven who tells us how to live our lives ... well, what would you think of a suicide bomber who shouts out the very last words you'll ever hear: "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great)? Hence Christopher Hitchens' book  "God is not great"  (... how religion poisons everything) ... another brilliant read! GOD 3


Remember the footnote at the very bottom of GOD 4 ...


A 45 year old regular church-goer said “when I was in my teens I was called to confirm my belief in a traditional God, the virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ. I said to the minister ‘I just think this is all rubbish’ and he replied ‘well, you know, I think you’re right.’” 


... so, obviously it is possible not to believe the nonsense that forms part of the indoctrination agenda of religions (mostly a very large part), but at the same time enjoy being part of a supportive religious community.


On my blog 984 is a link to a story from an Amish woman who escaped … it is a sobering read about indoctrination and a non-supportive religious community.









 

 

 






























 

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