Atheists In Kenya (AIK)

Bringing together non-believers

What to tell your children about religion!


Parents and their children reading the bible

When children are raised in a religious environment, what they are taught about religion is relatively obvious and organized — but what about kids raised in a non-religious environment? If you aren’t specifically teaching your kids to believe in any gods or to follow any religious systems, then it may be tempting to just ignore the topic entirely.

That, however, would probably be a mistake. You may not follow any religion and you may be happier if your children never follow any religion, but that doesn’t change the fact that religion is an important aspect of culture, art, politics, and of the lives of many people your children will meet over the years. If your children are simply ignorant about religion, they will be missing out on a lot.

Another, and perhaps more serious, problem with ignoring religion lies in how they will react to religion once they are old enough to make their own decisions.

If they are unfamiliar with religious belief systems, then they will be an easy target for evangelists for just about any faith. Your children will simply lack the intellectual tools necessary to fully understand and evaluate what they are hearing, thus making it more likely that they adopt a very bizarre and/or extreme religion.

So if it is a good idea to teach about religion, how should it be done? The best way of going about this is to simply be as fair and objective as possible. You should explain, using age-appropriate materials, just what it is that people believe. You should also strive to teach about as many religions as possible rather than stick just to the dominant religion in your culture. All of these beliefs should be explained side-by-side, even including the beliefs from ancient religions now usually treated as mythology. As long as you don’t privilege any one religion over another, then your children shouldn’t either.

An emphasis on critical thinking is also important, obviously. If you raise your children to be skeptical as a general rule, it shouldn’t be necessary to go out of your way to have them treat religious claims skeptically — they should end up doing that on their own anyway. Skepticism and critical thinking are attitudes which should be cultivated across a broad range of topics, not something to focus on religion and forget about otherwise.


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This entry was posted on September 7, 2016 by in Uncategorized.
K E Garland

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