I do not have kids.
...Yet. I take it for granted that in some capacity I probably will someday.
I would obviously raise them without religion and encourage them to think critically about any authoritarian beliefs they come across. However, seeing as kids do not and will not always agree with what their parents think, I see it being entirely possible that at some point, some friend, romantic interest, or close relative may influence them to visit a church they end up getting really attached to. After all, when you become part of a religious community, it's often like getting adopted into a whole new family, which is hard to come by when you live in an area where you don't know any secularists other than yourselves.
So here's the thing - if a child of yours came up to you and said "Mom/Dad, I believe in Jesus now, and Reverend Honeycutt [I don't know] said that he'd baptize me next Sunday if you said it was okay", what would you do?
On one hand I could see myself saying "Fuuuuuuuuuck NO", and I'd tell said child they could join whatever church they wanted when they turned 18, only because by then I wouldn't have a say-so anyway. On the other, if religion or church is treated like it's "forbidden", it could have the opposite intended effect and make them want it more. Added to that there's the issue of wanting to keep religious BS out of the house (or if the ministry they want to join is particularly obnoxious or offensive) versus allowing your child to think for themselves and make their own decision, even if you strongly disagree with it.
Where do you guys stand on this? I honestly don't know what I think about it right now. Would your answer differ depending on age? How would you handle it?
PS, I just realized there's a similar discussion to this from March, so if I need to delete this then that's fine lol.
Let's face it, it's a one sided water fight with a priest. What could possibly go wrong?
If I thought I could get away with it I would start going to church and convince them I wanted to get baptized and then when up at the altar when they douse me with the water I would scream out "It burns IT BURNS!!!"
Now multiply that by 10 and you have a moment for the year books!
I would have allowed it, but in an informed manner. I.e., I might explain different kinds of ceremonies, how they're almost always tied to local custom, and performed mostly for the benefit of people who already believe in it. I might find relevant videos in the library. Um, and I guess I'd also have to learn more about babtism, specifically, in case I have to respond to talking points.
In my experience, it might be a good point for the young person to have close friends that are also of independent minds.
During high school, my friends with our science club honed our debate skills on the local evangelists. They did not always like to see our three person debate gang, with our stocking caps to cover our long hair(at the time), but we always came away with new insights.
A few times we noticed how effective and intimidating 'being prayed over to cast out demons', could silence a well meaning young debateor. This can be unnerving to a young kid without backup.
'Love bombing' nearly took out a gal friend and myself once during a debate/conversation. A skillful religious troll can offer an experience that can create a deep state of enlightenment into the religious/theist mind, and into method for the creation of belief.
If they were younger than 16-18 then no, I wouldn't let them but once they're over 16 I think they'd be mature enough to make their own decisions.
Me too, but first, I'd make sure they were exposed to the basics of as many belief systems, including atheism, as possible, so they'd know what their options were.
I would tell the child, you can do as you please when it comes to ideology and beliefs. However I would not support the actions of the child unless they could give me a "Why". "WHY do you want to get baptized?" And the child will likely have a response, to which I would reply in a manner which doesn't push atheism on the child but pushes critical thinking and force them to rationalize their thoughts.
I have taken a liberal stance on this in the past, but I've changed my position.
I view ALL churches of ALL religions as "cults" because they ALL teach delusions as facts and demand loyalty to only their own particular delusions.
If you wouldn't send your children off to spend the day with Mormons or Scientologists, then don't let them hang out with Southern Baptists or Pentecostals, either.
Just my 2¢.
Here, have a personal story. It should be roughly relevant.
My sister and I were both raised without religion. My parents never even mentioned the fact that there are people who believe in god. It doesn't come up much in conversations with toddlers.
We each had our first religious experiences around 6. My sister's best friend convinced her that religion was the next best thing. She came home talking about churches, and god, etc.
Up until this point, my parents simply hadn't mentioned god, but after about two weeks they sat down with my sister, and explained that they personally didn't believe in god. (And why they didn't.) They told her that it was fine for people to to believe, but that she should wait. They explained that she could still be friends with her best friend even without converting. They agreed that if she waited a year and still wanted to go to church, they would work something out then.
As my sister had been raised without one, she agreed easily (based on personal experience, god has to be introduced pretty early. By like 5, the only thing appealing is community. By 18, even the community seems a bit creepy. (no offense intended. I had to visit a church for my history class and it was one of the strangest things I have ever been through.))
She never mentioned god again. It's been 4 or 5 years now, and she's as firm an atheist as the rest of us.
Little kids trust their parents, especially if their parents use reason. Most older kids won't see the appeal. By high school, even most of my formerly semi-religious friends were questioning. (The really religious ones weren't).
If they want community, tell them to join a club or something.
In short, go with your first instinct, but be rational about it.