Why deny the kids?

I HEARD of a woman who complained of “Christian indoctrination” at her daughter’s religious education classes and wanted the classes stopped. The woman said she wanted her child to be a “free-thinker”, but perhaps only on her terms.

What is so frightening about religious education?

The essence of every religion is to answer: “Why do I live?” Surely it is a duty of parents to give children opportunities to understand the divine spirit within them. We should at least teach our children the fundamental idea of human equality common to most religions.

In practical terms, knowledge of the psychology of religion is vital in understanding our modern global society and the history of ethics. What is the point of letting the kids watch morally suspect drivel such as Big Brother while keeping them ignorant of spirituality, one of the great life forces?

Let’s teach the kids something about Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, atheism and the rest, and not spare the critical examination. Let them openly debate and dissect the lot and make up their own minds.

Unless our children are exposed to spiritual truths they may live as if they will never die; and die as if they never really lived.

Exposed to spirituality, they may discover life is sometimes ravishingly and maddenly beautiful.

They may better understand that pain and joy both come with life, and how we respond to what happens around us shapes who we become.

They will learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it differently.

They may learn to forgive by practising forgiveness. And they may discover that, as writer Virginia Woolf said, the whole world is a piece of art and we are all parts of that work.

Best of all, our children may find there is a far deeper reality to humanity. And that the vital ingredient — the essence of us — is that mysterious element called soul that distinguishes us from all other beings on the planet.


57 thoughts on “Why deny the kids?

  1. Hubby and I are playing host to a teenage Overseas visitor at the moment, a backpacker looking for suitable accommodation and work to finance her extended visit Down Under. We say grace at mealtimes and I tell her that I am praying that she will find what she is looking for—and she has in a matter of just a few days, thank God!

    Because everything is falling into place for her and I give all the glory to God, she exclaimed that maybe she should become a Christian. She said she knew nothing about Christianity, or religion for that matter because her parents wanted to leave that sort of thing up to her and have never spoken about it to their children. I felt very sad for her, especially when she said that her father had been brought up in a Christian household as a child and was made to go to church each week. Apparently it was a negative experience for him and so he did not want the same for his children. Her whole family are atheists.

    I told her that to become a Christian God had to first touch her heart; call her to Himself and that it was not a matter of intellectual acceptance only. It was rather like falling in love, infact, said I. I could tell by the expression on her face that she could not believe what she was hearing. But I persisted. Yes I said, when the time is right, you will feel a yearning and conviction for God deep within. I cannot convince you to become a Christian, but I can be an example of my faith by the way I live my life. She had a big smile on her face, like she understood what I had said. Hope so.


      • Bryan says exactly the opposite in the next thread, Alexie.
        ie. you must be exposed to ‘something’ in order to hold a ‘belief’ in it, but ‘faith’ is involvement in something which needs no example and has no explanation.

        Who do we believe here ~ and in whose opinion do we have faith?


    • Bryan,
      The words and their meanings through that blog are being switched around.. ‘Religious education’ is not something that means the same as Christian Indoctrination. Neither I nor any atheist or free-thinking associates of mine would object to kids being given religious instruction in school. If by any chance the R.E. classes were being slanted to pressing any one religion then they would appear to be misusing the session time.

      For me, the spiritual side of human life is absolutely natural and totally desirable to be understood. I have never approved of atheists who say that they just want their kids to make up their own minds when they grow up, so they mustnt be taught anything when young. To me that is just too ridiculous. If they dont know about the various religious teachings and traditions when they are young, they will obviously be floundering when they are older and hear about them. If in the process they come in contact with some unworthy but seductive cult that grabs them, they wont have any discrimination to help them sort it all out.

      Cheers, Rian


      • Not in god form today, Rian?? (oops!)
        “I have never approved of atheists who say that they just want their kids to make up their own minds when they grow up, so they mustn’t be taught anything when young.” ….is a pretty dopey, if theologically common, ploy used in trying to attach ‘training’ to ‘teaching’. (I’m not surprised Bryan agrees with you: he’s been doing it for years!)
        They’re two very different things: training is based upon the arbitrary ‘values’ of the trainer, whereas ‘teaching’ is a curriculum founded on demonstrable ‘facts’ and ‘realities’..

        Moreover, teaching encourages criticism and ‘exploration’ whereas training frowns on such waywardness.
        (You potty TRAIN your kids and brook no deviation; you don’t TEACH them, and encourage criticism and experimentation with alternative ideas.)

        Reminds me of the unnamed kid who was thrown out of (methodist) Sunday School for expressing sympathy for hungry lions because there weren’t enough christians to go around.
        ….and asking why.



      • So Rian, whose version of religious instruction would you give kids? Would you give the kid the type of religious instruction that worship of Moloch required (including the benefits of child sacrifice) or that of Judaism who condemned child sacrifice? Would you give the kid the kind of religious instruction involving sexual rituals, or Judaeo-Christian that prohibits such practices?


      • davinci,
        You do come up with the silliest of queries, dont you?

        For a start, Religious Education in our culture, does not exist to instruct kids either in what is right or wrong, nor yet just what religious practices they should follow. Since the pursuit of Moloch disappeared a long time ago, it is hardly of any significance for anyone today. If he bothered at all to, a teacher could dispose of what very few facts we might claim to know about that ‘religion’ in two sentences. Heck, if a teacher set out to instruct the kids on just every religion that has existed, he’d be there till doomsday. If kids had to learn about every religion or denomination based on Christianity and the Bible alone, it would be crazy.

        So clearly since the greatest proportion of religious practice and worship today revolve around the five major religions of the world, surely factual history and descriptions of those faiths would be the right material to concentrate on. (What, – 95% perhaps of the class material?) Clearly children might be also given a very basic understanding of Secularism and Atheism, perhaps along with a brief introduction to traditional Paganism and Animism.



      • Ok Rian,
        Now we are getting to the gist of what you are trying to sell. You would sell a type of religious instruction that steers away from the issue of what is right and what is wrong. Which begs the question.. why are you even here on this blog? And why are you trying to constantly correct people on what you think they might say is wrong (such as Bryan the other day on early Christian denominations). After all according to you all religions are equal so why were you upset that Bryan might have been lying in some way to you. Why should it matter if under your religious beliefs truth is relative?


      • Ah davinci,
        First the interesting question about ‘why I am here on this blog?’ Easily answered. The title of the Blog is Faithworks. As I was always pointing out to others,.. the title is not Christian Works, or Evangelical Works or whatever, so clearly it is for open discussion on and a look at the issue of faith in our society. If you don’t like that fact, why don’t you press Bryan to change the name to something else? I am a person of faith, whether you believe and like it or not. The study of Christianity, its history its doctrines, its traditions and its spirituality has been one of my prime passions in life since childhood. I actually have learned quite a lot from being in on this blog.

        And why, fr’eavens sake do you assume that I was at all upset over the matter of Christian denominations? Not in the least. I notice that neither Bryan or anyone else had a go at countering the list of Testament quotes that I supplied, to correct my thesis. As part of my discussion on the matter, I asked for some sort of definition of what Bryan actually meant by this early or first church that was so distinctly unified. And also, just how long it lasted. No-one had a go at the subject.

        We know that the Jerusalem church lasted no longer than some 30 or so years, since the last remnants of it were lost and gone forever in the horrible chaos of the Roman destruction . Some of the individuals are claimed to have escaped from Jerusalem in time, however. In the middle of that period, an upstart lackey of the Sadducean High Priest suddenly showed up as a new recruit, and claimed to be a leading Pharisee, no less. And the acceptance of Paul took some little time, with many of the faithful proving to be very suspicious of him.
        Then as soon as he started travelling and evangelizing round the ‘world’ of the time, all sorts of strife, dissension and heresies showed their ugly head. Just looking through my list of NT texts, you can see exactly that. It didn’t happen prior to Paul’s joining in. He appeared to have a talent for getting people off-side. Apart from the Barnabus split, etc, note his plaintive wail that everyone in Asia had left him. That speaks volumes. Can you prove any real unity in the church, then? Note that the very first ‘authority’ to put Paul and his writings into a ‘Canon’ of the Testament, was Marcion the semi-Gnostic heretic. (mid 2nd century of course)

        I didn’t claim that Bryan was ‘lying’ to me. I pointed out that he had clearly MISQUOTED me and that suggests dishonesty. And he totally avoided taking up my challenge, that had the cash incentive.

        Oh and the other thing. I don’t claim all religions are equal. Only ‘the God’ knows just how they each measure up against each other. However I do observe a fine spirituality in our friend Dom, for example, just as in Geloruma, Monica, and loads of others in all sorts of religions and denominations.. I guess I could state with confidence that poor standard or distorted Christianity is just every bit as bad and misguided as poor standard Islam or Judaism.

        As far as right and wrong are concerned. – To me, they represent principles that don’t necessarily depend on a religious belief. They should be inculcated at home in the family first. And probably classes at school, whether as part of Religious Education or not, might do well to offer Ethics as a means of enlightenment for the kids. I rather take it that you don’t believe that teaching or practice of morality can exist outside a theistic milieu.??? An old myth!

        Cheers, Rian.


      • davinci,
        just one further thought on the question of teaching right and wrong. It would appear to me to be perfectly appropriate for RE teachers to describe in detail about the moral principles enjoined by each of the various religions discussed. The similarities and the differences could be discussed in detail as an exercise for the kids. Further, they could pursue the ways in which the laws of the land, and matters of common courtesy would be promoted by the principles of these religions.



    • Wonderful Monica. Well done. I hope and pray that she does decide to seek and find God. As well as any other young people who may want to ‘know’.


      • Bubba, got a boat or a helicopter?

        “A religious man is on top of a roof during a great flood. A man comes by in a boat and says “get in, get in!” The religous man replies, ” no I have faith in God, he will grant me a miracle.”

        Later the water is up to his waist and another boat comes by and the guy tells him to get in again. He responds that he has faith in god and god will give him a miracle. With the water at about chest high, another boat comes to rescue him, but he turns down the offer again cause “God will grant him a miracle.”

        With the water at chin high, a helicopter throws down a ladder and they tell him to get in, mumbling with the water in his mouth, he again turns down the request for help for the faith of God. He arrives at the gates of heaven with broken faith and says to Peter, I thought God would grand me a miracle and I have been let down.” St. Peter chuckles and responds, “I don’t know what you’re complaining about, we sent you three boats and a helicopter.”


      • Hi Kathleen,

        Lovely story. Not at all related to the situation but still very nice. Got anything with a real world application ?


      • Bubba, you are supposed to figure it out. People starve, because other people allow them to starve. We are meant to be the change we want to see in the world (Gandhi). Prayers are often answered in the form of another person listening to God whispering in their ear and holding out a hand.

        Real enough for ya Bubs? Afterall, if there is no God, it’s not very ‘realistic’ to blame Him is it?


      • Sounds like somebody else is struggling with the definition of “omnipotent” . I was reading the other day that according to the UN in 1 refugee camp alone 10 children under the age of 5 are dying per day. Malnutrition, disease, poor sanitation etc.

        How many metaphorical boats or helicopters are those kids turning down each day do you think? If I was to guess I’d say roughly none.

        Which is why your cute little story, while being nice, has very little real world application.

        “After all, if there is no God, it’s not very ‘realistic’ to blame Him is it?:

        Even less realistic to praise him, and in many ways much more of a worry.


      • Speaking for myself: God told me.
        ….so obviously there can be no dispute.

        (I’ll leave the triple-exclamation-marks to our less-well-‘trained’ contributors.
        …..but may make the point that a decent ‘education’ in grammar would dictate that they should, in any case, have been question marks. 🙂 )


      • So you also post under the name Alexie ? Some kind of gender bending sock puppet thing ? A bit weird if you ask me but it’s your blog.


      • You’re two different people, ok glad to have established that. So why are you answering Alexie’s questions for her? Is she awful shy or something ?

        As to my comprehension I thinks it’s pretty good for example when I read a sentence that starts “I HEARD of a woman who… ” I take it to mean that the author doesn’t have first hand knowledge of the woman in question, he’d only heard of her. But now apparently “he was there”. As this appears to have happened some years ago (wonderful thing Google) maybe the author is just doddering and forgetful.


      • Hi Bubba,

        Gee I’m glad someone else fell into the trap I did early in my tenure here. You have identified Alexie as female, I see. It’s a male name, and probably Russian maybe in origin. I was very promptly informed that (if I can recall the words exactly) Alexie is a very hot-blooded male.

        Cheers, Rian. (Apostate from Christianity, with heritage links inspired by Humanism, Gnosticism, Pantheism and Paganism. – figure that all out if you can.)


  2. “What is so frightening about religious education?”
    There’s a vast difference between ‘education’ and ‘brainwashing’.
    There are no ‘infallible’ educators.
    Nor ‘educators named ‘Jim Jones’.
    Neither are there 30,000 educational sects all at variance with each other.

    Voyager carries the symbol for hydrogen on its golden record, because it’s one that would be recognised by any educated being in the entire Universe?

    ….Perhaps they couldn’t get hold of an image of god?


  3. indoctrinated ?

    Maybe if they were in a jungle in Brazil where there is no outside world and everyone sings from the same hymn sheet.


    • No Dom; all over.
      Any ‘faith’ is a matter of indoctrination in the first instance:- the acceptance that ‘god’ ~ or anything supernatural ~ exists.
      …or even CAN exist.

      The clear evidence that the concept of ‘spirituality’ is a human invention is demonstrated in that NO OTHER ORGANISM known of in the entire universe holds such a concept.


      • Well, since you ask:- God told me….so obviously there can be no dispute.
        …….and you, having also been told, got the question-mark in the right place this time; a visible example of the efficacy of ‘teaching’. 😆


      • Well of course he did, Kate: would I lie to you?
        …or are you denying that god can do anything he wants to do??

        (He popped up at he end of my bed one night ~ on his way home from Reg Dean’s house after their weekly consultation on how to run the universe ~ and had a giggle about playing with Reg’s head ~ and told me it was all a hoax, since he didn’t exist anyway.

        If you were a christian I’d send him around to your place to confirm it. 😉


      • ….though, just for the record, I must point out that I made NO such claim:-
        “God told you that God doesn’t exist Dabbles? Hmmm”
        The question of the existence of god wasn’t addressed; the issue was ‘faith’.


      • I see you’re back to your trying-to-play-god mode!….:- confuse the issues and the people.

        Your question (How do you know?), related to my assertion that ‘no other organism in the universe is known to hold such a concept as spiritualism’.

        And my response to THAT question was that god had told me so.

        Somehow Kathleen morphed that into an entirely different issue, and artfully asked an entirely unrelated question: that of the existence of god.
        ….and who’d said what to whom.
        (Hasn’t caught your ‘Jesuit-bug, has she?)

        She’d’ve been more critically effective if she’d simply pointed out that, in that case, my claim as to what god had told me was no more than hearsay, and therefore unreliable. 😉


      • Now there’s a conversation-stopper!
        Your line of argument often makes me think of everybody’s wife.
        …or mother-in-law! 🙂

        (Ever watch ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ ?)


    • Just to clarify: Jonestown was not founded to indoctrinate, but to accommodate the indoctrinated.
      And every sect/religion has the same basis. It wasn’t atheists that flocked to Mohammed or Jesus; it was indoctrinated nitwits who were looking for a better deal from the newest business on the block (God; Under New Management) ~ on the strength of promises,promises that even the sleaziest politicians wouldn’t have tried on.


      • ….and anyway, if what we see around were actually the work of a ‘Designer’ he’d be the most stupid, ignorant and incompetent designer in the known universe.

        Come to think of it, that sounds like a description of the bloke from whom Reg used to have visitations!

        I remember one thing he explained to Reg was that starlight didn’t actually come from stars a billion light-years away (since that would destroy the timeline of ‘creation’ as described in the bible.

        In The Beginning, god created the heavens and the earth, but started the light from a very distant star from a point only about 4000 light years away.
        in order that it’d comply with the Genesis-required timeline.


    • Atheists know how to censor, don’t you worry.

      “Now BSU’s President Jo Ann Gora has declared that ID is a “religious” idea at variance with “the consensus of science scholars” and may not be discussed in science classes, since that would be a violation of “academic integrity.”

      “Students and the public are owed a genuine evaluation of the merits of ID, touching as the theory does on ultimate questions of life’s origins,” responded Dr. Stephen Meyer, director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. “However, when scientific discussion is censored by a university, fair-minded evaluation becomes impossible.”


      Sieg Heil


      • Well, (” “Students and the public are owed a genuine evaluation of the merits of ID, touching as the theory does on ultimate questions of life’s origins,” responded Dr. Stephen Meyer, director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. ) to quote that other infamous whore: “He WOULD say that, wouldn’t he?


      • PS…as for :-““However, when scientific discussion is censored by a university, fair-minded evaluation becomes impossible.”, I can’t void making the point that ID has been proven ~ and reluctantly confirmed by Michael Behe in open court ~ to be NOT a ‘science’.

        And obviously it’s NOT possible to censor a “scientific discussion” if the subject isn’t a scientific one.


      • PPS… ID is NOT a ‘theory’ by any definition of the word.

        Moreover, y’can’t have a “theory (touching) on ultimate questions of life’s origins” without first defining what ‘life’ is ~ a definition the proponents of ID (among others) have steered well clear of, and refuse to discuss.


      • Intelligent design (ID) is a form of creationism[1][2] presented by its proponents as the theory that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”[3] It is a version of the theological argument from design for the existence of God that proponents present as “an evidence-based scientific theory about life’s origins” rather than “a religious-based idea” Wikipedia

        People are always asking for proof of God. Why not allow it to be discussed?

        What are they going to do next? Burn books?


      • I really like Thai food, love it to bits. But if I went to a French restaurant and got upset that they wouldn’t serve me Thai food well then the casual observer might thing I just wasn’t right in the head.

        In a similar vein why should a science class be devoted to non-scientific topic like creationism or religion? Why on earth would anybody attend a science class and expect religion to be discussed ?


      • I’m not into book-burning; but I am into accuracy.

        1…ID IS a form of ‘creationism’ ; it is NOT a ‘science’
        2…ID is NOT a ‘theory’ by any definition of the word. ‘
        As you point out –> “”[3] It is a version of the theological argument..”
        3…. ID is neither “evidence-based”, a “scientific theory”, or “about life’s
        origins” , since it makes no claim at defining WHAT “life” is.

        4……And THAT’S a furphy–> “rather than “a religious-based idea”.
        Creationism can ONLY be a religious-based idea.

        5…..As stated elsewhere a court investigation concluded that ID is
        NOT science, and Michael Behe, a mainstay of the
        ID float, finally admitted that it wasn’t, in fact, ANY kind of science.

        So by all means support the ID waffle; write about it, make movies
        about it, evangelise abut it from a soap-box.
        But DON’T even suggest that it’s ‘Science’. It’s not.

        To reiterate the quote from Mondo moon:- You can’t play Electro-magnetic Golf according to the rules of Centrifugal Bumble-puppy.


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