I was talking with my wife last night about kids. The idea of children (we don't have any yet) and religion came up. We are neutral in directing them as to what they should believe. Of course our explanations will be based on observable evidence. I also am pretty sure that I'll shutdown or correct any Biblical Stories told to them about Christmas, Easter, etc pretty quickly. I don't fear the stories of the Bible being told. I'd even tell them and we could talk about them if need be. but my wife said something that I objected to and so I thought that I'd bounce it off everyone else so see if I'm off base. 

My wife suggested that she'd allow our children to attend church if they wanted to (she never attended). So we were talking about scenarios and the most likely reason would be a family asking to take your child with them. I instantly said, "I would never allow my child to attend a church service without me." It was a telling moment for me. I think that the stories should be told so that they know what is said in the Bible. But I can't accept the interpretation of a Christian telling the stories and talking about fear and the metaphysical without guidance. Am I wrong for this stance? To say that my child has free will, and choice, but I'm not allowing exposure without my guidance. I'm thinking that around 13 or 14 I'd back off that, but until then, is that too much control? Where do you stand? Would you allow a Christian family to take your child to church without you being there? 

Tags: Children, Christianity, Church, attendance

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On the Mom note, My Mother is a believer as well. I don't even think that she owns a Bible but she hates hearing irreligious discussions. What's up with our Mom's? Reminds me of Richard Jeni doing a stand up bit years ago about believing that there is a man who lives in the clouds who pulls little stings controlling our lives, you just can't believe that you have to get up at 9 am on a Sunday.
I brought my Son, up to be good and kind to others. To make up his mind after learning all sides of ways of life lived by others,and just to live a good life because of what he is, but not of what he is told to be.
If he did go with someone to a Church I would get him to read the Bible as explained by CJ Werleman in Gods Hates You,Hate him Back so he knows the true meaning of the bible, not what, because of their agenda, some would say the Bible means which scrapes passed the truth.. stops their way of thinking for themselves.. We are all individuals.
My parents abandoned their respective faiths (Catholic and Methodist) before they had me and my brothers so I was not raised in a particular faith and we did not go to church. I do remember going to church a few times though. There were a few occasions when I spent a Saturday night at a friend's house (I was in gradeschool at the time) and the family would take me to church with them Sunday morning and take me home afterward. They always asked my parents if it was OK and my parents said it was fine if it was OK with me too. I do remember talking with my parents about it afterward and how Sunday school was kind of "fun"--I remember singing songs and playing games, etc. I don't remember anything very religious about it and I never got the feeling that the family was trying to indoctrinate me. I know if my parents had gotten that vibe they would not have allowed it.

I do know that if anyone in our extended family had tried to take us to church regularly on Sundays (grandparents, aunts/uncles) my parents would have definitely NOT allowed that. I feel very fortunate that my parents always allowed and encouraged us to read, explore, ask questions, etc. and to make up our own minds. Personally I don't think a child attending a religious service is going to warp them. I think if my parents had "forbid" it, it may have made me more curious and possibly rebellious!
Bear in mind, I'm not a father yet. But this is my opinion.

For the same reasons I would be careful about what movies they get to watch at certain ages, I would be careful about what ideas they get exposed to at certain ages.

An over 18s film is unsuitable for a five year old, even a 12 year old. Why? Because they're still in the process of developing their sense of the world and at that impressionable young age, anything worrying or traumatic can quickly consume them. I had experience of struggling with adult ideas myself with substantial ill-effect and that happened to be based not on a horror film or a late night TV show, but the book of Leviticus, which by my childish logic cast real doubts in my mind about sin and salvation.

So the Bible and religion can indeed be bad for a young mind. Most Christians are sensible enough to play it down in Sunday School and make it all joy and light etc. but ironically, given that the same people tend to be all for censorship of violence and especially sex in entertainment media, many Christians will happily expose their children to ideas of adultery and stoning and all sorts of horrific stories just because they are in the Bible.

Similarly, many Christians feel it is GOOD to expose their children to the idea of hell as punishment for sin as early as possible so as to act as a disincentive to misbehave. How does a child view this? Very likely not the same way as an adult. Adults are resilient and confident and self-assured. They are able to think these things through in the context of a knowledge of love and hate, sex and violence, crime and punishment. All these mature concerns are beyond a child.

So, I would agree that I wouldn't let my child go to church on their own. I've nothing against most Christians but their beliefs can lead them to have ideas that I would consider unsafe on occasion. At least if I'm there and some issue happens to come to light, I will know and can counsel my child about it rather than risk them entertain disturbing ideas or fears.
I agree with the points you made. I guess I was lucky that the services (just a few) that I did attend as a young child were in churches where Sunday school was happy play time! I remember going to a Baptist service with a friend when I was in college and being literally sickened by the "fire and brimstone" sermon. Had I been young child hearing that kind of scary garbage I think I would have been very upset. As an adult, my husband and I rented "The Passion of the Christ" after it came out, really just out of curiosity. We could not and did not watch most of the movie--it was just too sick. If anyone saw the SouthPark send up of it, it was right on the money. They called it a Christian snuff film!
Depends on the age and maturity of the child. I was taken to a church service by my aunt when i was about seven or eight. They had to leave because I kept interrupting the service by asking questions.
But on the whole, I'd wager 12-13 is a safe age to let them see for themselves.
Has any kid ever enjoyed church? Of course not! Spend Sundays having fun.
But where will you get all the juicy, neighborhood gossip? ;-)

This subject hits very close to home at this time in my life.  I have a 5 yo daughter who just started school.  

After reading these posts, I have noticed that the "militant" stand is not being discussed.  I am one who views religion as a drug and a scourge of civilizations.  To ask if I would allow my child to go to church is akin to asking if i would allow her to try some meth. "well, she could snort some under my supervision, but I would never let her shoot up"
I don't feel that keeping my daughter away from church is the same thing as making her go to church  any more than "not-doing heroin" is a form of drug abuse. I will do everything ion my power to keep their brainwashing away from my daughter until she is able to develop some critical thinking skills and cultivate a bit more solid foundation of skepticism.

I will teach her the belief systems of the various religions, but I will do so in the same way that we(here in the US) learned about Paul Bunyan and Babe the big blue Ox, as various folk lore and regional tales. I was raised as a xtian, and moved from religion to religion looking for the "right one" until I finally realized that most(most used simply to avoid hyperbole) religions have a few things in common: they aren't real, they are set up as a means of control, most involve an early indoctrination to make that particular brand of bull shit stick.

We all know the stories of children of fundies who became atheists, and children of atheists who became fundies.  Do you all really believe that trying to shape your children's ideology is of any real significance?  If you can teach them anything teach them critical thinking skills. 

I agree with this.  I don't have kids yet, but I have lots of experience and education in early child development, so I know a lot about kids.

 

I want to teach my children how to think for themselves.  Both my family and my husband's family are religious, and I know that our kids will be exposed to Christianity.  And I'm ok with that.  There are actually a lot of beautiful things about it.  And if my kids had questions, we would answer them truthfully.  We would let them decide what they want to believe.  I want to guide my children to be good people, able of independent thought- but I don't want to control them.

 

What I would worry about most is if they went to youth group as a teenager and were pressured into "being saved" or something.  I remember how emotionally manipulating youth groups could be, and adolescents are very impressionable.  

I recall at one point being afraid for my father's soul due to attending a Baptist Church. It wasn't long after that enough stories had accumulated to lead me to say, "Uh no." and move on. As a parent, I would guide them through being skeptical about the claims. Not in telling them to reject the claims, but asking them questions that are certainly leading. "How could someone get air to breathe in a Whale's stomach?" In my head I'm picturing that as teaching them to be skeptical of claims and to weigh the claims rather than accept any information given by someone claiming authority. Next on Future Jerry Springer, a guy who wouldn't let his kids become Christians! [Crowd = "Booo!"] 

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