Teaching religion to children

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Teaching religion to children

Post  Johntheservant on Sat 04 Jul 2009, 8:53 pm

By David Dinkins

Many parents think that it is there responsibility to teach the tenets of their religion to their children from the earliest possible age. In addition to the “human nature” influence (that is, the desire to propagate one’s beliefs and hand them down), many religions encourage or require such teaching to take place. Does this teaching preclude a child from making his or her own religious decision later in life? If a person has been taught one thing for their entire life, can they really even change their mind or are they stuck forever in believing what was taught them as infants and children?

Every religion I know of requires its members to make their own personal decision (i.e. compulsion is no good, if they don’t mean it, they aren’t part of the religion). Obviously if teaching a child from infancy in the ways of his/her parent’s religion keeps them from making (or makes it harder to decide) a personal decision later in life to accept/reject that faith, then parents should not teach their children their own beliefs. This would amount to indoctrination or propaganda, none of which do any good for the child. If, however, teaching the child from infancy simply strengthens his/her convictions but still gives him/her room to make a conscious decision later in life, then we see that there is nothing wrong with teaching religious principles from childhood.

Teaching your child basic religious principles from infancy is a natural and completely fine thing to do. All people eventually reach an age when they are accountable for their own beliefs. Your children will go out into the world and weigh what you’ve taught them against what they perceive reality and truth to be, and they will make their own religious decisions from then on. Yes, teaching religion to your child makes it more likely that he/she will choose your religion simply because he can understand those religious principles more easily. However, if he decides to join another religion he is able to do that—no amount of teaching can prevent someone from making up their mind on their own. It may require disregarding everything they’ve ever learned (and as such be very difficult), but can be done.

It’s been said that if a parent doesn’t teach his child, someone else will. Wouldn’t you rather, even at the risk of indoctrination, teach your child your own religious convictions than have him/her be taught different ones by someone else? Further, in most religions it is your responsibility as a parent to teach your child in that particular faith. Teaching your children religion at an early age, then, fulfills both religious requirements and also the parental desire to pass on one’s own beliefs rather than have someone else attempt to teach the child a possibly conflicting religion or morality.

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Re: Teaching religion to children

Post  Common on Sat 26 Sep 2009, 4:24 pm

Thanks for sharing that with us John. It was interesting.

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