I'm a 6th grade Social Studies teacher.  The topic of religion as a part of culture comes up all the time.  Today during a discussion of Greek myths, a student (a 12 year-old girl with a sweet smile) asked me if I believed in god.  I paused and said, "Well, sure."

I felt that I was having a discussion with a child about Santa or the Easter Bunny.  I didn't want to be the one to tell the child that all the adults in her life have been lying to her.

This has been bothering me all day.  When this comes up again - I'm sure it will - should I lie as I did today, or should I tell the truth?

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Totally agree. One of things that most upsets me is when I see "Christian pre-schools", etc. - filling young minds with nonsense and INSISTING that it is the truth.

It's what made me an atheist at age 12 - the sudden realisation of how much I'd been lied too when I wasn't old enough to be able to sort the truth from the crap.

And that's in secular Britain. God only knows ;-) how I'd feel if I had to live in some of the more God-deranged states of the U.S. I think I'd explode.

I would say that a child does not need to believe in something. A child does not need santa to be happy or to be normal. And could you please explain what you mean by "The inquiry of existence is not within a child's mental capacity, and should thus remain out of the child's psyche.". I would have thought that even a child could comprehend existance.

To word it quite bluntly, kids are stupid. That being said, they should not concern themselves with how the world came about.

Kids are not stupid. They are only limited by their biology and the experiences they've had. Almost every kid I have worked with (and please mind you I have worked with hundreds of 3 to 6 year old children) has at one point or another inquired about life, death, god and how the world came about. 'Should or should not' doesn't even work into the equation the fact is that many children if not most of them do concern themselves with life, death, god and how the world cam about.

you are just wrong kids are smart and their ability to learn is probably 1000 times greater than yours

Lying hurts trust. It's not good to lie to a child especially when you're teaching them. The question was 'out of bounds' and the child needs to know that you are the master of the boundaries. The context of the question is somewhat unclear. What do you think was the motive behind the question? 

To be fair, few of the parents are lying to their kids as such - they are telling them what THEY believe to be the truth (absurd though it may be). 

Only if the parents were "closet atheists" and still filled the kids' heads with religious mumbo-jumbo would they truly be lying.

It's telling that this is still an issue in the US. I'm quite sure that no teacher in a British (secular) school would have any problem at all admitting that they were an atheist.

That's really tough.  You might want to take my advice with a grain of salt since I'm only a teenager however usually teachers in my grade schools and jr. highs just changed the subject when a topic came up that they weren't comfortable with.  If the student asks repeatedly they would usually answer the question and move on without elaborating.  That's what I would suggest. 

My niece is learning about mythology right now.  She has been raised as a non-believer, she loves these stories.  She said she would rather believe in these myths of all these interesting gods and goddesses than the jesus myth.  I wonder if this child felt the same.  I know I love the myths, I have books, pictures on the walls of artwork of the gods and goddesses.  It is more interesting than a man being tortured on a cross and all the faithless burning in hell.  We, jokingly, talked about how Christianity should have made a better myth.

From now one, I wouldn't answer a question on your personal beliefs just because some parents go crazy when a child goes home with what their teacher said today.

lol. I agree, those other myths always appealed to me a lot more when I was a kid. Especially anything with animal gods.

I wonder why Christianity was the one that survived when all the cool ones died out. (Well, I guess Hinduism is still big.)

Maybe more boring=more realistic/believable. That's too bad. (I guess?)

Ask her which one.

Be honest with them. Tell them its up to the individual what they want to believe. If you lie to them, then you are putting yourself on the same level as religious people who will try to enforce their lies on the children.

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