This morning I posted an update about our effort to have kids. Over at The Whore of all the Earth, Leah wrote about an experience with her five year old when he asked what the “t” stood for on top of a church.
I thought about telling him the Christian story, just so he knows what it’s about and why Christian churches have crosses. But then I paused as I realized that this would involve telling him about a man who was whipped and beaten and then had nails driven through his hands and feet and hung on a cross for several agonizing hours before dying. Sure, I wouldn’t go into that much detail, but it’s kind of hard to explain the cross without explaining the crucifixion, which is brutal and graphic. My son is very sweet and gentle. I want to preserve that innocence a bit longer.
Nope, I think he’s too young to hear about the crucifixion of Christ, just like I think he’s too young for Batman or James Bond. Maybe when you’re older, son.
I’m behind Leah’s rationale to avoid discussing the story. There’s plenty of time for grandiose stories of violence and discussion of all the world’s religions (not just Christianity).
Speaking from first-hand experience, there’s not a day that passes by that I don’t study or discuss religion (on or off the blog) and I often joke that I can’t pick up a stick, a broom or a pencil without pretending it’s a gun. Perhaps violence and religion are so deeply engrained in genes that they are unavoidable.
Growing up, my parents did a good job talking about other religions. Only they made sure to say how wrong the other religions were. After I learned more about those religions, I found out how other religious families said the same thing about my (former) religion. I think the environmental argument of belief is one of the best arguments against faith. That is, the tendency is that you adopt the religion of your environment.
Once you have that religion as a foundation, entire families adopt the religious meme and pass it along to their children. There are families that I know who pass along religious rituals to their children, not because they believe them personally, but because they don’t want older loved ones to be disappointed. I don’t understand this at all.
Faith that is unexplored should not be passed along to children … which is why I think Leah is doing precisely what she should do.
That’s why it seemed timely when I visited the Friendly Atheist today and Hemant posted a trailer for a new movie called, “Skipping Sunday School.” It’s about raising kids without church or faith.
Check it out and let me know what you think. If you had kids, would you raise them with faith? Without? Why? Why not?