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?
My wife took my kids to church a few times. My son wanted nothing more to do with it after the first time. My daughter loved the sense of community but not much else. She went to church a few times (even LDS) with some friends when she was 13 or so. I didn't have any concerns.
If my child wanted to go, I would let her. Of course, depending on her age, I would wonder why she wanted to go to church. Was a friend always talking about it and she was curious? Did an adult like a teacher or a friend's parent plant it in her head or pressure her? The why of it would be important to me, but as long as someone wasn't trying to impose on an impressionable child, I probably would not object too much.
I probably would not be okay with a Christian family member taking her, though. I would insist on taking her so no adult abuses their authority with her, as is often the case when indoctrinating young heathens.
If you can protect your children from dangerous ideas, do it. If you can, equip them with the skills to think logically and maybe use religion as an example. Small children should not be exposed to religion until they can make their own life-changing decisions; after that, they are their own.
Would I "allow" my children to go to church. I don't see where it's my decision. If they want to go to church, that's their business. On the flip-side of that, their mother won't be forcing them to go to church either!
Anyone who thinks they can protect their kids from dangerous ideas, well, good luck with that. Parents have been trying to pull that one off for a thousand generations and it ain't worked yet, lol.
At what age Galen? All ages? Just trying to play it out in my head with when I should be considering social pressures while they are young. I have years to think about it and even see who my child is right. Playing with the idea of where to let my child be who they are versus where to guide them.
As a father of two small children, I am contemplating the same question. At some point, I intend to expose my children to several religions, for two reasons. First, I do not want them to grow up thinking that a church is a magical place or that there is anything mystic about what goes on inside. Secondly, much culture has been built around or derived from religion and I want to them to have an appropriate amount of understanding of that.
However, I would certainly not let others take them to church with out me being present. I am fairly new to atheism and know just how hard it is to overcome such heavy indoctrination (Southern Baptist style). My children will grow up understanding and appreciating the world as it really exists instead of living for invisible realities and being burdened with the dogma of others.
When I was growing up my mother didn't allow me to attend church. She let me attend a service once as well as youth group to understand what happened there. Her reasoning was that regardless of what catholics or people of any other religion may believe in or practice, church is a place that demands obedience of its members and frowns on questioning or analyzing the things that are said there. They also promote sexism, racism, and inequality. Then there is the fact that they think homosexuals are somehow more evil or not deserving of eternal happiness. Not to mention the fact that they teach you that your ideals and beliefs are better and more rewarding than those of someone else. Among many other reasons, of course. Anyway, my mother always said that if I wanted to learn more about religion I could, but she would not permit me to join a congregation that promoted such hideous inequalities.
I think that I would do something very similar if I had children.
Anyway, my mother always said that if I wanted to learn more about religion I could, but she would not permit me to join a congregation that promoted such hideous inequalities.
I think that I would do something very similar if I had children.
I like that attitude. Fine with Church (although deep down, I wouldn't like it), not fine with, say, the WBC.
This is actually something me and my girlfriend have discussed in depth, both with each other and with her family. I'm as stern an atheist as you will ever find, proud and ready to defend my (non)beliefs against whomever I must. My girlfriend falls more into the agnostic area of "maybe there is, maybe there isn't, either way I have more important things to worry about" though she agrees with me that organized religion is dangerous and many of the things deeply religious people believe are just plain nuts. My family is indifferent, my mother identifies herself as Christian but has not attended church since she was 8 years old, she owns a bible but hasn't opened it in about 20 years. Her family is quite religious, some more than others, all of them to some degree.
We immediately said we wouldn't tell our children they CAN'T go to church, to us this is no better than parents telling their children they MUST go to church. HOWEVER - they are not allowed to go without one of us being present until they reach their teens and not at all until they are around the age of 7 or 8 and at least capable of really thinking for themselves. As it stands right now they are 2(soon to be 3) and 5, we've done our best to shield them from religion completely to this point. Once they get to 8 or so we plan to begin discussing the subject with them. As they get older the decision will be entirely theirs.
Some in her family are entirely opposed to the decisions we've made but too bad, they are our children, not theirs. They will be free to decide for themselves but we will not open them up to religious beliefs until they are old enough.
As Allen said, in our minds religion has a PG-13 rating.