LETTER 3 January 2008
Do parents who are members of a religion, have the duty to raise their children in it?
They have the right to instruct their child in the religion but also to let the child know of alternatives. No parent has the right to tell their child, “This is the only right faith. Keep away from anything that contradicts it. just believe what we tell you.” this is the parents claiming as adults to have the right to decide what religion to deem true and then preventing the child making decisions of her own. It is a form of psychological violence. It is indoctrinating the child and bullying the child.
Parents do not have the right to prevent exposure of the children to faiths and ideas that contradict their religion.
Psychological harm has been done to children through religious indoctrination and even simply instruction. The damage has been far more destructive than the harm done by slapping them or beating them up. Being told that unbelievers go to Hell forever has led Christian children into terror in relation to their unbelieving friends and family members. Being told that God punishes is a way of forcing a child to do right rather than letting the child do right freely.
Parents might have the right to inform their children that rudeness and stealing etc are bad and shouldn’t be done and maybe to say that they are against the religion. But to say parents have the right to tell their children that Mary was the mother of Jesus who was God is silly. Buddhist parents don’t teach their children that and the children turn out good. It makes more sense that basic philosophy of right and wrong should be taught to children. It is better to teach them to treat others well than to waste time teaching them stories from the Bible or telling them that the pope is the head of the Church who must be obeyed.
Parents do not have the right to convert their children for the sake of pleasing the priest or making a new addition to the Church. Their concern should only be the welfare of the child. If they have the right to convert their children that then should be the motive.
The thought that a Buddhist parent has the right to make a Buddhist of their child or that Christians have a duty to make a Christian of their child is ridiculous. Both religions cannot be right. Also, why can’t the Christian make a Buddhist of their child? If the parent has a right then clearly the parent should pick the faith that he or she thinks is best for the child not just the faith that the parent follows. If parents have a right to pick a faith for their children, they have the right to pick a suitable one.
Even if parents do have this right, it certainly does not follow that they have the right to make the children members of the religion.
The more decent a religion is the more right the parents would have to propagate it among their children. The scientific outlook gives a child a sense of wonder and respect for differing views and tolerance. It is religion that seeks to stop people thinking independently.
If parents have the right to indoctrinate their child, they have a duty to help the child look other places if the child gets older and wishes to do so. They claimed the right to make the child a Catholic or whatever so now if they care about what is best for the child they will stop doing that and start thinking about what the child wants.
Do parents have the right to have their babies baptised to make them members of the Church?
Some believers say that you are made a member of the church of your parents simply by being born and baptism merely recognises that fact and is not conferring membership on you. The thought of a baby being made a member of a Church is as silly as a baby being a true member of a golf club. It would be a member only in name. Besides, what if the father is a Jew and the mother is a Christian? But if a baby can be a real Church member it follows that the baby should be indoctrinated. This is wrong so making babies members of a Church is wrong.
Parents are forcing their religion on their child and that isn’t acceptable. They have no right.
Do parents have a duty to raise their children without instructing them?
It seems parents have the right to provide instruction for their children but not necessarily to provide it themselves. A suggestion would be to bring in the influence of an atheist, Christian and Buddhist.


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