Religion: Let Your Child Choose Essay, Research Paper
Let Your Child Choose
Should children be forced into religious beliefs? For a parent this can be a hard decision to make. If religion is introduced and forced on to the child, it may be rejected, resulting in rebellion. But if faith is not introduced to a child, is he/she missing out on something? I don’t believe that it is possible for a young child to understand religious faith. Many adults don’t understand that it is unfair to think a child could appreciate or even need religion.
Sunday school as a whole is not an enjoyable thing for most kids. Sure there are exceptions but I believe that for the most part Sunday school is viewed as an annoyance. Having to wake up in the morning and get dressed up in those uncomfortable clothes was always something I dreaded. Anthony Brandt writes in an essay, “I came to think Sunday school was a joke. I learned a few bible stories but that was all. I believed that I should spare my children that kind of charade” (Brandt 194). Brandt echoes my view exactly. My experience was similar; I ended up dropping out of confirmation class because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Stuffing religion down any person let alone a child’s throat will not get you very far. If a child is not allowed to make his or her own decision about faith, then rebellion and dismissal of these beliefs will occur.
However, I am not saying to deny a child the right to learn about faith. Brandt writes, “To raise children in a culture without at least exposing them to its religious traditions, even if you yourself have abandoned the beliefs on which they are based, may
be doing them a disservice” (Brandt 195). A parent has a responsibility to teach children about certain important things in life. Some form of religion should be introduced to give a child knowledge to base a decision on. When a child is young, still in grade school a parent should explain god and what church is about. Undoubtedly questions will arise about god and where people go when they die. For an atheist parent answers to these questions can be hard. It should be explained that some people believe in the afterlife (in the case of death). There is never only one answer to questions like these, a kid should know about different beliefs so that they can decide for themselves. Whether someone wishes to be spiritual or not should be there own decision not someone else’s.
Some may argue that without faith a child will not learn morals and strength. The parents regardless of any religion should teach these things. As Joshua G. Rushing states in his comments on Brandt’s essay, “Children can be taught moral values and courage without religion” (Brandt 194). Morality and personal confidence do not involve religion. Some people may use beliefs for strength and piece of mind but values should be learned early in life. I know many people that have been raised with no religion in there life at all and they are very good and moral people. Values need to be instilled by parents not the church. If parents send their child to Sunday school and expect them to learn all the morals they will need in life, they will be very disappointed. Church can only teach so much, and this is assuming that the kid is listening and understanding the teachings.
“If God is dead, wrote Dostoyevski, then everything is permitted. It hasn’t happened” (Brandt 196). As religion has slowly decreased in it’s following in America,
not much else has changed. We are not living in chaos. Being a devoted believer in god does not make someone morally good. Just as not believing in god does not make someone inherently evil. Parents should not be discouraged if their children choose not to practice faith. Religion is not for everyone and many live happy, fulfilled lives without a belief in god.
I do not think that anyone under the age of twelve has the ability to fully comprehend religion. He or she may understand the basic concept but does not understand the deeper meaning. Why make a child attend Sunday school classes when they may only serve to bias the child against religion? If church is viewed as a chore it is useless. You can only get what you want to get out of faith. If a person resents church and learning about God then they will never come away with anything substantial from it. Only later in life can a person truly make a decision about beliefs.
Faith in god should be a choice made by the individual. Something as important as religious conviction should not be decided by others. Children should be introduced to religion and make a decision when they are mature enough. Forcing beliefs onto kids is not only unfair but also possibly harmful. A child must develop thoughts and ideas for themselves. Guidance by parents is necessary but a child still needs to make independent decisions. When parents do not give children a choice about things that can have a major impact on their lives, rebellion will most likely occur. Parents need to let the children choose, religion, or no religion. In the end it will be up to the child anyway.
Let Your Child Choose
28 November 2000
Brandt, Anthony. “Do Kids Need Religion?”. Presence of Others. Eds. Andrea A.
Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. Boston, Ma: Bedford/St. Martins. 2000