The Argument for Teaching Religious Beliefs to Children

 

By Ron Hindbaugh M.A.

 

If we discovered that our children had poorly developed concepts relative to arithmetic or mathematics, we probably would ask, “How could this happen?” There are probably many explanations that could be given. We could explain that the influence of Einstein had sapped the ancestral belief in fixed numerical relations and as a result traditional mathematics has become unimportant. Or we could explain that modern films which portray a society of violence have undermined the desire of our children to get the right answers to mathematical problems. We might even explain that with the proliferation of personal computers we have entered into a post-arithmetical phase in our development as a society and, as a result, mathematics as we have studied it in the past is irrelevant.

When a seemingly logical explanation covers the facts, many accept such explanation and consider no other explanation. It is possible that mathematical skills are not developed by children because no one has taught them. It is possible that mathematical skills are not obtained because the person responsible for teaching them has no knowledge of mathematics. A child can not obtain mathematical skills from a teacher who does not possess knowledge of mathematics. One can not give a child something they do not possess themselves.

Likewise, when we discover that children have a poorly developed religious base we may give seemingly logical explanations by explaining that the influence of science has sapped the ancestral belief in religion and that traditional religious beliefs have become unneeded,  unimportant, or irrelevant. We may present the explanation that as a society has evolved, religious concepts have been undermined by the values and beliefs held by “modern” society. Or we could explain this phenomenon citing the technical age we live in and indicate that traditional religious beliefs have no place in a “technical” environment.

These seemingly logical explanations appear to explain the tendency that our children have to accept agnostic, atheistic, or, even worse, no philosophy of life at all. Perhaps, if questioned, our children might report that as they grew up they heard no arguments in defense of religion. Or perhaps we may discover that our children have been influenced by individuals who have never struggled to develop a creed or religion of their own and, as a result, have nothing to give our children in this area.

There is nothing in the nature of the younger generation which incapacitates them from receiving religious teachings and incorporating such teachings into their behavior. The young people today are irreligious because parents and/or significant others have been unwilling or unable to transmit religious thought to them.

I am firmly convinced that children need to be taught a philosophy of life that includes religious training and beliefs. For a parent to ignore this responsibility is akin to a asking someone to build a house for themselves who has no training in the tools needed to accomplish the job. When the time tested tenants of a religion are taught and understood by a child, there is a foundation on which to build and/or modify.

Because most of the citizens of this area adhere to the Christian Faith, helping children understand the basic tenants of love, honesty, sacrifice, having joy in service, eternal life, and commitment to Jesus Christ should be taught. Children should understand their own faith and learn to appreciate and respect other faiths. At the same time children develop firm convictions relative to their own faith they should be taught to defend the right of others to believe as they choose. When we protect the right of all citizens to believe as they choose we also protect our right to believe and worship as we choose.

Have faith in the faith you adhere to. Do not fear the logic of those who would criticize or try to blame religion for the ills of the world. Be proud of your faith. Do not apologize for your faith. Share that faith with your child. Have faith in the capacity of your child to build on what you have worked a lifetime to develop. In so doing you will provide your child with the framework needed to become, not just a survivor in this life, but a person of depth and purpose.