Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kids and Religion

I just came across an article that asked the following question:
Should Parents Introduce Kids to Religion No Matter What? (Should parents introduce their kids to religion if the parents themselves are not believers?)
My first response to that is a question. What do you mean by "introduce"? If introduce means take the kids to church, or give them a bunch of religious material, my answer is obviously no. If you don't believe yourself, why would you attempt to inculcate religious beliefs into your children? On the other hand, if introduce means to make your children aware of what religion is, and of major types of belief and disbelief, then in my opinion the answer is yes.

Religion is too important to ignore. Even if you are an atheist, it is impossible to shield your children from exposure to religion. Although I'm an atheist, I'm as against indoctrinating children as atheists as I'm am against trying to make them religious. My personal approach was to talk to my son about various religious beliefs, while explaining that ideas differ greatly, and that there are people such as myself who don't even believe in God at all. On the occasions that we've talked about it, I've stressed that he needs to evaluate religious claims for himself, consider the evidence for them, and reject simple assertions of truth. My hope is that he will think for himself -- and it seems that he does -- and make up his own mind about religion and all related issues in a way that will leave him satisfied.


  1. I think you've described the correct approach for atheists to take with their children. I can't help but color this teaching with my own opinions... for example, that some theological teachings are simply used to give men (and their institutions) power. But I'm also able to acknowledge that religion has done good things for civilization.

  2. I'm obviously biased, but I try to be as balanced as possible in a general discussion. My son has shown no particular interest in embracing religious beliefs. If he does, especially when he's older, I'll definitely debate him on them.

  3. Good post. I very much agree with this. I also believe that 'religion' as a subject should be taught in school (they would learn the basics of all religions).