A hard link from Why I will not choose my children's religion. The author (a Christian of the Roman Catholic persuasion) intends to allow his children to find their own way as far as the spiritual life is concerned, without any parental guidance, in the hopes that they will hit upon that which is good and true by themselves.

I would say that this argument relies on three assumptions:

  1. Children know what is in their best interests
  2. The world is the best place for children to learn about God
  3. Such unguided spiritual seeking on the part of a small child (assuming that they will even do any spiritual seeking if not prompted by their parents) is risk-free. If they don't become Christians, it's perfectly all right.

Christians raise their children as Christians for the same reason that parents everywhere decide what their children's diet will consist of, what kind of clothes they will wear, whether they will go to school and where, what time they will go to bed, and all the million other things in which children lack the experience with which to make responsible decisions.

Christians raise their children as Christians because the world will not, does not, and never will encourage Christian principles. Your possessions, your body, your very life don't belong to you? The highest calling is to serve others? Resist your passions and practice selflessness and discipline? Love your enemies? "Give all you have to the poor and follow Me."? These attitudes are, to say the least, not encouraged in my neck of the woods. Just the opposite: the System loves voracious overconsumers whose manifold and uncontrolled desires can be manipulated for political and economic gain.

Christians raise their children as Christians because they believe that it is true. Are parents supposed to deliberately keep silent about Jesus' atoning sacrifice on the Cross, something they believe in the way they believe the sun will shine again tomorrow morning, until the kid randomly stumbles across it on an Easter cartoon special?

And then there's the risk; not that they will spiritually stumble and skin their knee. No, to Christians it's more like the risks that come from playing in traffic. Sure, they may not be hit by a car and killed, but who wants to chance that with their child? We educated, moderate-to-liberal Christians are uncomfortable talking about Hell. We get embarrassed and awkward, and frankly it doesn't score big popularity points with most people, but we still have to deal with it. Frankly, if I were a parent and I felt that there was the slightest chance that the wrong choices regarding God could eventually lead my child to an eternity of misery, I expect I would feel pretty motivated to help them avoid that.

What is really going on here, I think, is that the aforementioned noder is uncomfortable with pressing his children into the service of a religion. I agree. You wouldn't send a kid off to school because you want him to wear certain clothes, have certain accessories, sit at a certain desk from a given time in the morning till a given time in the afternoon, and jump up at the sound of bells--no, you send a kid to school because you want the child to receive an education. Similarly, Christians ought to be raising their children as Christians not because they feel that the pews at their local church need more warm bodies in them, but because they want their child to know God.

NOTE: Sarcasmo appears to be confusing what I refer to as "Christian principles" with basic ethics. To deal with this subject in any substantial way would require a writeup the size of a small book. Just as a fr'instance, these principles involve the complete obliteration of that broken construct we mistakenly think of as the self and the indwelling of the risen Christ. Our principles cannot be separated from this; otherwise they cease to become Christian. See C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity for a relatively painless and easy to read discussion of this.

His assertion that we are selfish, shallow, narrow-minded, restricting, unenlightened, deluded, diluted, misinformed, and ignorant underscores point two of my argument nicely. Your choice as a parent to keep silent on the subject doesn't mean the rest of the world will do likewise, and it's more than likely that this is the message they will hear. Thank you for serving as a case study, 'Mo.

Christians raise their kids as Christians because they were raised as Christians. It's like the testosterone-pumped dad that wants his son to be a big football star. Same thing.

I think Christianity is a well-timed joke that has lasted way too long. However, I do think Christian principles exist in the world. The world needs God to scare the believers away from anarchy. Perhaps Christians bring their kids up as Christians (besides my first guess) because they honestly feel that Christianity is good, and that they want their kids to be good. They really think that their beliefs and values are solely the product of Christianity, and not the product of everyday etiquette or common sense or sensibility. They really think that Jesus is a path that should be not only theirs, but their kids' as well.

If you ask me personally why I think Christians raise their kids as Christians (like in a dark corner in a restaurant or something), I'd whisper "It's because they're selfish, shallow, narrow-minded, restricting, unenlightened, deluded, diluted, misinformed, and ignorant. In other words, they don't know any better." Just plain honesty. I wouldn't say it unless I meant it (or I thought you'd think it was funny).

Fear is your only god.

This single question brings up a helluva lot of issues. A veritable minefield of tank busters. I'm thinking a couple of conflicting concepts here:

  1. The right to your own belief system.
  2. The idea of getting a minor (one who, frankly put, is considered too young to be fully responsible for themselves) to do something, or believe in something, for their own good, and from that...
  3. The extent to which you can force (i'm talking subversion as well as brute-force) any child to do the aforementioned, before it is wrong. For instance, a lot of kids don't want to go to school. We (that is, society, and the government) make them. I do not believe this is wrong.
The first is or at least should be undisputed. Unfortunately, this righteous spearhead of- well, righteousness gets horribly shafted by the second and third arguments, which are also not without their merits. Of course they are also issues unto themselves, with such a massive level of complexity that, like abortion, I'm not going to touch it with an x foot pole.

However, for the sake of simplicity let's just assume that the pro argument for issues 1 and 2 do indeed have their merits. In that case it is possible that there exists a good, positive rationale behind why Christians bring their kids up as Christians.

Let's first consider the Christian belief, and hypothesize that Christianity is indeed true (A valid assumption coming from a Christian parent) Now I don't claim to be any sort of theological expert, but I'm quite sure that when it comes down to Judgement Day, if God sees 'Christian' on your holy resume it's going to look real good (maybe better than a Nobel Prize or a Ph.d in Metaphysics).

So, from the totally materialistic bastard point of view of a God fearing parent, bringing up your child to believe in Christianity is much like making them to go to school - it's for their own good. They might not like it, and maybe when they grow older they can change their ways, but for now that's how it stands.

But wait, you might say, we know that forcing kids to go to school is ok, but Christianity is only a belief and probably doesn't exist!

And who are you to say that? How do we know beyond all certainty that forcing kids to go to school is better for them in the long run? Sure, we have statistics, but in the end it will boil down to a belief.

I am not a Christian, and barring some sort of major catastrophe involving alcohol, car accidents, rubber chickens or failing my degree I do not intend to be one. I personally believe that I am a better, more enlightened person as a strict aetheist. In my younger years, as early as a few months ago, I would have no hesitated, as a militant aetheist, to launch a scorching retort to this question that would put Sarcasmo's to shame. However Everything2 has taught me that the problem is not Christianity but people.

Because it's what they believe is right. Duh. I'll raise my children to believe that malicious murder is wrong, because I know in my heart that it is. I wouldn't send them in to the world to find their own path and decide if maybe wanton murder was right for them - they're my kids, I love them, and I want them to be good people.

If I believed that jesus christ was the one path to eternal salvation and happiness, I expect I would teach my kids so - if I didn't teach them what I believed was the truth and the way, what would that mean? It would mean that either I didn't love my kids enough to want to grant them the boon of eternal life in heaven, OR that I didn't believe strongly enough in my path to want to share it with them - for a devout christian who loves their children neither applies. Of COURSE they'll raise their children to be christians.

Now, as it happens, I value freedom of choice and religious plurality more than I value the intrinsic worth of any one path to spiritual happiness - so I'll probably let my kids do what they want in the way of religion, or send 'em to unitarian religious education, which pretty much has the world's religions covered.

But if I thought that I had found the one true path to happiness, and if I thought that choosing something else would mean eternal damnation? I wouldn't think twice about telling my kids. They're family, they deserve it.

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