Should religion be illegal for children?

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44 stone lions
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Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby 44 stone lions » Sat Jun 06, 2015 8:46 pm UTC

I’ve had this thought for a while and I would like to discuss it, I have had a search and couldn’t find anything related to it and my argument is this:

Society bans children from many rights and privileges on the grounds that they are not mature, intelligent or responsible enough to make certain choices, to do certain things, or to foresee and properly judge the consequences. Obvious examples: having sex, getting married, acquiring debt, driving, drinking alcohol etc.

Why then does society judge children to be mature, intelligent or responsible enough to understand and consensually accept a particular theology? Which is often equally or more complicated and difficult to understand then other things that we ban them from doing and is also capable of having consequences that are just as serious. So why not make them wait until they are 18 or 21 and are fully capable of choosing a religion for themselves or not choosing one at all?

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby dalcde » Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:06 pm UTC

44 stone lions wrote:[Religion] is also capable of having consequences that are just as serious.

Please explain.

Also, I believe "watching porn" is a better analogy than "having sex/aquiring debt etc", since we are talking about blocking children from some sort of information that we think they should not see.

----

With that said, I'm not sure whether I support this idea or not. I am under the impression that many people are religious simply because they are brought up that way, and didn't have the opportunity to actually think if the religion makes sense (and yes I am aware that there are some people who convert after they are grown up). However, I think making it outright illegal seems to be going too far, and I don't see any disadvantages of people being religious. In fact, I've got a feeling that religious people generally have better mental health, both due to the beliefs themselves and the peer support arising from religious gatherings.

(disclaimer: I have no evidence whatsoever for the claims made above)

Regardless, this is practically impossible to implement for various reasons:
  • Many schools are run by the church (at least in where I live). If we forbid them from teaching religion, then I don't think they will keep on running the schools.
  • Politicians probably won't want to do anything that would make the church unhappy.
  • Even if it is passed, it would be very difficult to implement as we couldn't prevent religious parents from telling their children about religion.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby ucim » Sat Jun 06, 2015 9:20 pm UTC

44 stone lions wrote:...Obvious examples: having sex, getting married, acquiring debt, driving, drinking alcohol etc.
Why then does society judge children to be mature, intelligent or responsible enough to understand and consensually accept a particular theology?...

The salient difference between these two is that the former are specific acts with specific consequences through which somebody else is injured in a specific manner. The latter is a general outlook on life whose consequences are that they influence other (unspecified) decisions, some for good, some not, and whose consequences are not easily and unambiguously traceable to it.

"Raising your children" is the act of imbuing them with values that allow them to make good decisions. Religion is part of this, and it falls clearly in "the latter" category.

Irrespective of my views on religion, or any particular one, I'm not sure it's a good idea to have government raise your children. Further, I am sure that it's not a good idea.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sat Jun 06, 2015 10:05 pm UTC

There are about a zillion problems with this. Here are eight:

  1. Why do you think that allowing children to be religious reflects a judgment about maturity, intelligence, or responsibility? We do not ordinarily require people to be mature, intelligent, or responsible in order to hold beliefs. In fact, I can't think of any belief that it's illegal to hold in a liberal society, for any reason.
  2. You raise the concern that children might believe a religion without understanding it. This is not ordinarily a prerequisite for believing something. For example, most people don't understand special relativity or quantum mechanics, but we don't require them to remain agnostic about these things.
  3. What would it mean to accept a belief nonconsensually? I can maybe see how this would make sense in the case of literal Orwellian brainwashing, but that isn't how religion is taught to children, and it would obviously already be illegal anyway.
  4. Why doesn't this argument apply to any other sort of belief? I doubt children are going to be any better at assessing moral arguments, scientific arguments, historical arguments... should morality, science, or history be illegal for children as well?
  5. What qualifies as religion? Many people base their moral beliefs on religion. Would it be illegal for religious parents to teach their children that you shouldn't hurt people or take their things? Many scientific claims conflict with the teachings of some religious groups. Should it be illegal to teach children about evolution, since they aren't deemed competent to assess it in comparison with religious creationism? What about Aristotle's belief that change depends on a First Mover - religion? And the problem is not just to draw a line, but to draw it in a way that's compatible with the reasons that you're giving for banning religion - see the previous point.
  6. How do you propose to carry out this ban? Do you make it illegal for adults to discuss religion where children might hear? Perhaps any discussion of religion would have to go behind a porn-style "I swear I'm over eighteen" barrier. Adults who have children go to church on Sunday. Are they not allowed to say what they're up to?
  7. Obviously, any solution to the previous point will either look like North Korea or be profoundly ineffective. In the latter case, what do you do with all the kids who end up learning about religion anyway?
  8. Religion is often a major distinguishing feature of communities and ethnic groups. If your proposal worked, most probably a lot of those groups would cease to exist. And, as a matter of historical fact, colonizers with a goal of assimilating a native population have often put in "Destroy the local religion" as part of their game plan. Why shouldn't I see your proposal as a proposal for genocide?
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby 44 stone lions » Sat Jun 06, 2015 10:15 pm UTC

dalcde wrote:
44 stone lions wrote:[Religion] is also capable of having consequences that are just as serious.

Please explain.


ucim wrote:The salient difference between these two is that the former are specific acts with specific consequences through which somebody else is injured in a specific manner. The latter is a general outlook on life whose consequences are that they influence other (unspecified) decisions, some for good, some not, and whose consequences are not easily and unambiguously traceable to it.


I was raised as a catholic, but am no longer one and do not believe in God. However, due, I believe, to being so heavily indoctrinated with a certain religious view point as a child, I often think of things in a very monotheistic catholic kind of theme. I know that doesn’t describe it very well but do I feel that my mind is limited as a result of it. I think that some things become so deeply ingrained in you that you can’t rid of them.

I feel that it is much more difficult to take a different course in life because of that, and has been a struggle over many year to get the point I am at now, where I actually feel moderately comfortable with my thoughts and beliefs. This is, I think, easily traced back to the fact that I had this religion forced on me as a child. I also find it to be a both a serious and negative consequence of my parent’s decision, although you may not feel the same way.

ucim wrote:"Raising your children" is the act of imbuing them with values that allow them to make good decisions. Religion is part of this, and it falls clearly in "the latter" category.


I think that it is possible to instill an ethical morality into a child without the aid of religion, assuming of course that the child’s parents are in possession of such a morality themselves.

dalcde wrote:In fact, I've got a feeling that religious people generally have better mental health, both due to the beliefs themselves and the peer support arising from religious gatherings.


While this maybe true I also think you can get such benefits from non religious means as well. Community, friendship and general support for your fellow humans does not have to be based upon religious belief.

My point is not that religion is necessarily an evil, it is that it is something that effects you so deeply that it alters and effects the rest of your life in a major way, massively changing the person that you will become. Whether this change is for the better or worse is not the point, the point is that by pushing religion on to the child you are limiting their freedom to choose for themselves, because by the time they become adults they will be a long way from being objective on the matter. A government can meddle with your freedom to raise your children or you can meddle with the freedom of your child's future adult mind. Which is worse?

dalcde wrote:Regardless, this is practically impossible to implement for various reasons:
  • Many schools are run by the church (at least in where I live). If we forbid them from teaching religion, then I don't think they will keep on running the schools.
  • Politicians probably won't want to do anything that would make the church unhappy.
  • Even if it is passed, it would be very difficult to implement as we couldn't prevent religious parents from telling their children about religion.


Totally agree with this, just thought it would be interesting to discuss as a hypothetical situation. It would be completely impossible to implement in most counties.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby PeteP » Sat Jun 06, 2015 10:43 pm UTC

What precisely should or should not be illegal? The title sounds like in some way religion being illegal for the child but based on your post my guess is you might mean don't indoctrinate them or something? Anyway you haven't really made clear what exactly would be illegal. Bringing children to church? Giving them a bible to read? Classes about religion? Telling your children anything about your religion? Answering your childs question about your religion the way you think is true. Explaining about religion at all?

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby 44 stone lions » Sat Jun 06, 2015 10:52 pm UTC

Why do you think that allowing children to be religious reflects a judgment about maturity, intelligence, or responsibility? We do not ordinarily require people to be mature, intelligent, or responsible in order to hold beliefs. In fact, I can't think of any belief that it's illegal to hold in a liberal society, for any reason.


Why would a liberal society allow its citizens to be forced into believing one thing when they don't have the competence and/or ability to question it or reject it?

You raise the concern that children might believe a religion without understanding it. This is not ordinarily a prerequisite for believing something. For example, most people don't understand special relativity or quantum mechanics, but we don't require them to remain agnostic about these things.


Because those are generally accepted facts with proof to support them, and while there may well be people who reject those fact they are in a minority and generally standing on rather shakey ground, most people are also capable of studying the appropriate subject to sufficient depth in order to understand those concepts should they choose to do so. There are on the other hand many, many different, equally valid religious beliefs each having even more interpretations.

What would it mean to accept a belief nonconsensually? I can maybe see how this would make sense in the case of literal Orwellian brainwashing, but that isn't how religion is taught to children, and it would obviously already be illegal anyway.


I would regard being hit over the head with "There is only one true God" for years on end be considered pretty close to Orwellian style brainwashing, I don't ever recall being offered a trip to a Buddhist temple or a mosque or any other place of worship belonging to any other religion than the one I was told to believe.

Why doesn't this argument apply to any other sort of belief? I doubt children are going to be any better at assessing moral arguments, scientific arguments, historical arguments... should morality, science, or history be illegal for children as well?


These are generally offered in a much more open way though aren't they? You're not supplied with only one side of a moral argument. Or only one theory in an open problem in physics and told that this is the way it is and accepted to believe it. History, if taught properly, is meant to be done without bias, weighing up the rights and wrongs of the decisions that had been made with the benefit of hindsight.

What qualifies as religion? Many people base their moral beliefs on religion. Would it be illegal for religious parents to teach their children that you shouldn't hurt people or take their things? Many scientific claims conflict with the teachings of some religious groups. Should it be illegal to teach children about evolution, since they aren't deemed competent to assess it in comparison with religious creationism? What about Aristotle's belief that change depends on a First Mover - religion? And the problem is not just to draw a line, but to draw it in a way that's compatible with the reasons that you're giving for banning religion - see the previous point.


People are capable of being moral without religion. Are you saying that without religion it is right to hurt people or to steal things?

No you teach it to them broadly rather then shoving one, unproven, point of view down their throats until they believe what you are telling them.

Obviously, any solution to the previous point will either look like North Korea or be profoundly ineffective. In the latter case, what do you do with all the kids who end up learning about religion anyway?


I'm not saying that children shouldn't be taught about religion, I'm saying that they shouldn't have one view of religion forced upon them, to me that seems more North Korea. They should be taught about all religions, beliefs and non beliefs as that is what would allow them to make a competent decision about the direction they want to go with it when they are older.

Religion is often a major distinguishing feature of communities and ethnic groups. If your proposal worked, most probably a lot of those groups would cease to exist. And, as a matter of historical fact, colonizers with a goal of assimilating a native population have often put in "Destroy the local religion" as part of their game plan. Why shouldn't I see your proposal as a proposal for genocide?


I'm not saying destroy the religion, if an adult decides to follow a religion then thats fine, I'm only talking about not forcing it on children who don't know any better. Also, not sure where you are from, but here in the UK where I am there are so many different religions that need to coexist peacefully, forcing everyone into one or another track without allowing them to freely think about all the others does, I think, lead to more tension between people who don't understand each other. Religion divides people as much as it brings them together.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby 44 stone lions » Sat Jun 06, 2015 11:12 pm UTC

PeteP wrote:What precisely should or should not be illegal? The title sounds like in some way religion being illegal for the child but based on your post my guess is you might mean don't indoctrinate them or something? Anyway you haven't really made clear what exactly would be illegal. Bringing children to church? Giving them a bible to read? Classes about religion? Telling your children anything about your religion? Answering your childs question about your religion the way you think is true. Explaining about religion at all?


Yes I am referring to indoctrination, on rereading the opener is a bit vague, my apologies. I did say a particular theology, as was also considering that most children's exposure to and practice of religion is basically through indoctrination. I don't think that there is anything wrong with exposing children to religion, but it would have to be all religions equally, otherwise they wouldn't be capable of making the informed decision about it when they were older, and their ability to make that decision freely and for themselves was why I though it should be something that is left for when they're adults.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat Jun 06, 2015 11:22 pm UTC

44 stone lions wrote:Yes I am referring to indoctrination, on rereading the opener is a bit vague, my apologies. I did say a particular theology, as was also considering that most children's exposure to and practice of religion is basically through indoctrination.
My friend totally indoctrinates her kid into the 'Dinosaurs are awesome' ethos.

She's such a monster.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby 44 stone lions » Sat Jun 06, 2015 11:29 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
44 stone lions wrote:Yes I am referring to indoctrination, on rereading the opener is a bit vague, my apologies. I did say a particular theology, as was also considering that most children's exposure to and practice of religion is basically through indoctrination.
My friend totally indoctrinates her kid into the 'Dinosaurs are awesome' ethos.

She's such a monster.


Yep dinosaurs get banned too :P

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat Jun 06, 2015 11:34 pm UTC

All kidding aside, I think the problem of 'what defines indoctrination' is far too slippery a slope for you to address. I feel I was religiously indoctrinated, and my upbringing was no where near the Duggers. My old downstairs neighbors were pretty hippyish and didn't believe in using motrin for their kids aches and pains, instead getting their toddler an amber necklace to help promote positive energy while she was teething - is that indoctrination?
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby 44 stone lions » Sat Jun 06, 2015 11:51 pm UTC

It is complex issue for sure, that's why I posted it, it wasn't wholly motivated by my masochistic desire to be shot down in flames.

My view would be that it is if they were to teach that child never to use modern medicine in favour of alternative medicine.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sat Jun 06, 2015 11:53 pm UTC

44 stone lions wrote:Why would a liberal society allow its citizens to be forced into believing one thing when they don't have the competence and/or ability to question it or reject it?

Nobody is suggesting that it should be OK to force people to believe things. The value I place on freedom of belief is precisely why I'm so skeptical about your proposal.

44 stone lions wrote:Because those are generally accepted facts with proof to support them, and while there may well be people who reject those fact they are in a minority and generally standing on rather shakey ground, most people are also capable of studying the appropriate subject to sufficient depth in order to understand those concepts should they choose to do so. There are on the other hand many, many different, equally valid religious beliefs each having even more interpretations.

Well, first of all, I'm not sure how this fits in with your view from before. Whether or not scientific facts are generally accepted and supported by proof, they're still things that children (and a lot of other people) lack the competence to assess. If teaching religion to people who aren't competent to assess it raises issues about consent and so on, why doesn't teaching science to people who aren't competent to assess it raise issues about consent and so on? Maybe there's some reason that consent doesn't matter once the science is settled, but you don't say what that reason is.

Second, this only seems to cover those parts of science which are actually settled. It still doesn't seem to allow us to discuss those parts of science which people continue to argue about. It also poses problems when old scientific theories are overthrown: does it become illegal to teach Newtonian mechanics when Einstein's results start coming in?

44 stone lions wrote:I would regard being hit over the head with "There is only one true God" for years on end be considered pretty close to Orwellian style brainwashing

I'm not sure we have in mind the same parts of Orwell. Yeah, going to church every Sunday is kinda like writing "War is Peace" everywhere, but it's in no relevant way similar to the stuff that goes down in Room 101.

44 stone lions wrote:These are generally offered in a much more open way though aren't they? You're not supplied with only one side of a moral argument. Or only one theory in an open problem in physics and told that this is the way it is and accepted to believe it. History, if taught properly, is meant to be done without bias, weighing up the rights and wrongs of the decisions that had been made with the benefit of hindsight.

I've already talked about the relevance of settled expert opinion above, so let me set aside history and science and focus on morality. You say that, as a child, I'm not supplied with only one side of a moral argument. This is false. At no point in my upbringing I given different sides of an argument about whether I should lie to my parents, or whether I should hit people on the playground, or whether I should avoid people because of their race. It is an open question in philosophy whether anything is right or wrong, but I was not presented with different arguments on this open question and asked to decide for myself. While some things were presented as open moral questions, the different "sides" that I was given all appealed to values that were handed down from on high as part of my upbringing.

You yourself say that you would want to instill morality in your children. How do you propose to do that without setting down any rules that they aren't qualified to assess? Your kids are going to have to learn to share their toys long before they're old enough to read Mackie.

44 stone lions wrote:People are capable of being moral without religion. Are you saying that without religion it is right to hurt people or to steal things?

No you teach it to them broadly rather then shoving one, unproven, point of view down their throats until they believe what you are telling them.

No, I am not saying that without religion it is right to hurt people or steal things. Take another look at what I wrote.

Regarding your second point, is that meant to address the point about evolution? For my own part, I am not planning to teach my children a broad, open-minded view about evolution. I will be teaching them that the theory of evolution is correct, and that those religious groups which deny this are wrong.

44 stone lions wrote:I'm not saying that children shouldn't be taught about religion, I'm saying that they shouldn't have one view of religion forced upon them, to me that seems more North Korea. They should be taught about all religions, beliefs and non beliefs as that is what would allow them to make a competent decision about the direction they want to go with it when they are older.

Then you seem to have completely abandoned your original argument. What happened to all the stuff about consent, about being old enough to make decisions, and so on? Originally you were saying "Children shouldn't be trusted with religion, like how they shouldn't be trusted with car keys." But this sounds like something entirely different.

44 stone lions wrote:I'm not saying destroy the religion, if an adult decides to follow a religion then thats fine, I'm only talking about not forcing it on children who don't know any better.

I know you're not saying to destroy religion, but that doesn't change the fact that your proposal would be a serious existential threat to many religions, particularly minority religions. You might as well say "I want to shoot someone in the head, but I'm not saying to kill them."
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Azrael » Sun Jun 07, 2015 12:06 am UTC

44 stone lions wrote:Why would a liberal society allow its citizens to be forced into believing one thing when they don't have the competence and/or ability to question it or reject it?

But you're not really talking about being forced in any unique fashion. Children are also forced to potty train, brush their teeth, play with the smelly kid, go to bed, get up, eat their peas, behave at grandma's house, etc. You're concerned about them being taught something that you believe is untrue or harmful. Like Santa. We all know he's fake and makes for whiny, spoiled little shits.

Meanwhile, children mimic all variety of their parents beliefs, politics, biases and prejudices until they do (or do not) begin to form their own set. Why would religion be a special case?

... but it would have to be all religions equally, otherwise they wouldn't be capable of making the informed decision about it when they were older, and their ability to make that decision freely and for themselves was why I though it should be something that is left for when they're adults.

Oooh, I have a great idea: Teach a religious studies course in public schools. You could probably touch on it at several developmental stages with appropriate curriculum for the age group. While we're at it, improve the civics curriculum so children aren't born into political parties, add weight to vocational cross-exposure so they don't get fast-tracked to a less-than-useful college degree, expand health education to include sex-ed, nutrition and healthy living, expand the age-old home economics concept for the modern world, and teach relevant digital skills. I bet I've missed a few, but this sounds like a great framework to teach children everything they need to know in order to function as adults. All we need to do is establish a bias-free, universal educational framework, force everyone to adopt it and monitor teacher's compliance.

... right?

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Puppyclaws » Sun Jun 07, 2015 12:18 am UTC

44 stone lions wrote:
I'm not saying destroy the religion, if an adult decides to follow a religion then thats fine, I'm only talking about not forcing it on children who don't know any better. Also, not sure where you are from, but here in the UK where I am there are so many different religions that need to coexist peacefully, forcing everyone into one or another track without allowing them to freely think about all the others does, I think, lead to more tension between people who don't understand each other. Religion divides people as much as it brings them together.


Something you may not understand is that in the United States we have populations of people who are not very interested in coming together with us, who lived on the land we are now living on (and thus, cannot be told to "go home" or expected to assimilate, not that I think that is actually an OK response to immigrant populations with wildly different beliefs either), and who practice some eccentric religious beliefs which we attempted to wipe out, primarily by making sure they couldn't teach their religious practices to their children. That act has had devastating effects on their cultures. These populations have never recovered; it was effectively an act of genocide.

A liberal society must tolerate the existence of other practices and ways of life; to cease to do so is to cease to be a liberal society, by definition.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby liveboy21 » Sun Jun 07, 2015 12:43 am UTC

Azrael wrote:
Oooh, I have a great idea: Teach a religious studies course in public schools. You could probably touch on it at several developmental stages with appropriate curriculum for the age group. While we're at it, improve the civics curriculum so children aren't born into political parties, add weight to vocational cross-exposure so they don't get fast-tracked to a less-than-useful college degree, expand health education to include sex-ed, nutrition and healthy living, expand the age-old home economics concept for the modern world, and teach relevant digital skills. I bet I've missed a few, but this sounds like a great framework to teach children everything they need to know in order to function as adults. All we need to do is establish a bias-free, universal educational framework, force everyone to adopt it and monitor teacher's compliance.

... right?


Just because something is difficult does not mean that it is not a worthy goal. The problems you list at the end are problems that many school systems have yet to deal with anyway, so why shouldn't we attempt to improve the curriculum in the meanwhile?

To say we should not try teach important concepts because it may not be executed perfectly is quite a sad position to take in my opinion.

Disclaimer: I did start a controversial thread about whether religions should already be illegal because I thought religions could be considered fraud, so my stance on this issue is stronger than most people's.
Last edited by liveboy21 on Sun Jun 07, 2015 12:44 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby 44 stone lions » Sun Jun 07, 2015 12:44 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
44 stone lions wrote:Why would a liberal society allow its citizens to be forced into believing one thing when they don't have the competence and/or ability to question it or reject it?
Nobody is suggesting that it should be OK to force people to believe things. The value I place on freedom of belief is precisely why I'm so skeptical about your proposal.


I'm pretty sure I am talking about people having the freedom to choose for themselves. However, freedom itself is a tricky issue, one freedom can conflict with others, your freedom to make your child into a member of whatever religion you want conflicts with their freedom to choose a life path for themselves.

Well, first of all, I'm not sure how this fits in with your view from before. Whether or not scientific facts are generally accepted and supported by proof, they're still things that children (and a lot of other people) lack the competence to assess. If teaching religion to people who aren't competent to assess it raises issues about consent and so on, why doesn't teaching science to people who aren't competent to assess it raise issues about consent and so on? Maybe there's some reason that consent doesn't matter once the science is settled, but you don't say what that reason is.


In the school I went to we were taught science at the same time as being taught how understand and assess it in a class called "science". In church I was taught that there was a man who walked on water and any suggestion to the contrary would be ridiculed and any further doubt about it would lead to punishment.

Second, this only seems to cover those parts of science which are actually settled. It still doesn't seem to allow us to discuss those parts of science which people continue to argue about. It also poses problems when old scientific theories are overthrown: does it become illegal to teach Newtonian mechanics when Einstein's results start coming in?


Not sure about illegal, but its definitely wrong to teach people to use Newtonian mechanics to solve relativity related problems, not that these were covered in my school science class unfortunately.

I'm not sure we have in mind the same parts of Orwell. Yeah, going to church every Sunday is kinda like writing "War is Peace" everywhere, but it's in no relevant way similar to the stuff that goes down in Room 101.

A catholic orphanage prior to the 1990's would probably get closer to that, but that is admittedly isolated. How about sectarian violence in Northern Ireland?

I've already talked about the relevance of settled expert opinion above, so let me set aside history and science and focus on morality. You say that, as a child, I'm not supplied with only one side of a moral argument. This is false. At no point in my upbringing I given different sides of an argument about whether I should lie to my parents, or whether I should hit people on the playground, or whether I should avoid people because of their race. It is an open question in philosophy whether anything is right or wrong, but I was not presented with different arguments on this open question and asked to decide for myself. While some things were presented as open moral questions, the different "sides" that I was given all appealed to values that were handed down from on high as part of my upbringing.

You yourself say that you would want to instill morality in your children. How do you propose to do that without setting down any rules that they aren't qualified to assess? Your kids are going to have to learn to share their toys long before they're old enough to read Mackie.


That's fair enough, I'll yield the point, but it still doesn't require religion to do so, just moral parents.

No, I am not saying that without religion it is right to hurt people or steal things. Take another look at what I wrote.


Would it be illegal for religious parents to teach their children that you shouldn't hurt people or take their things?


Maybe not, but you do imply here that those parents are teaching those things to they're children because they are religious. Luckily most countries have laws that can deal with these things without requiring the intervention of religions and actually overrule most religious beliefs. So religious or not they'd be teaching their kids that anyway, provided they are law abiding citizens.

Regarding your second point, is that meant to address the point about evolution? For my own part, I am not planning to teach my children a broad, open-minded view about evolution. I will be teaching them that the theory of evolution is correct, and that those religious groups which deny this are wrong.


So you will tell them Evolution, good. Creationism, bad. And hide all the evidence from them. That sounds like another Orwell book.

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
44 stone lions wrote:I'm not saying that children shouldn't be taught about religion, I'm saying that they shouldn't have one view of religion forced upon them, to me that seems more North Korea. They should be taught about all religions, beliefs and non beliefs as that is what would allow them to make a competent decision about the direction they want to go with it when they are older.


Then you seem to have completely abandoned your original argument. What happened to all the stuff about consent, about being old enough to make decisions, and so on? Originally you were saying "Children shouldn't be trusted with religion, like how they shouldn't be trusted with car keys." But this sounds like something entirely different.


Maybe just reread that last sentence of mine there about making a competent decision when they are older, after being educated about it. No they shouldn't be trusted to accept a single view of it, like originally I said "a particular theology".

I know you're not saying to destroy religion, but that doesn't change the fact that your proposal would be a serious existential threat to many religions, particularly minority religions. You might as well say "I want to shoot someone in the head, but I'm not saying to kill them."


The thing about shooting someone in the head is a bit of a hyperbole. If an adult won't choose to belief it by themselves, without be forced into believing it as a child, then doesn't that say quite a lot about that religions grounds for existence?

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby 44 stone lions » Sun Jun 07, 2015 1:04 am UTC

Azrael wrote:
44 stone lions wrote:Why would a liberal society allow its citizens to be forced into believing one thing when they don't have the competence and/or ability to question it or reject it?

But you're not really talking about being forced in any unique fashion. Children are also forced to potty train, brush their teeth, play with the smelly kid, go to bed, get up, eat their peas, behave at grandma's house, etc. You're concerned about them being taught something that you believe is untrue or harmful. Like Santa. We all know he's fake and makes for whiny, spoiled little shits.

Meanwhile, children mimic all variety of their parents beliefs, politics, biases and prejudices until they do (or do not) begin to form their own set. Why would religion be a special case?


I'm not saying that this is because religion itself is untrue or harmful, but that a person should be free to choose the untrue or harmful belief that they which to follow, without being pushed so much in one direction for their entire lives. But the question could be posed about something else I suppose, what parents who force homophobic and racist views onto their kids? that's bad, and a lot of the people who hold those views do get them from their parents (in my experience anyway) but even that is different from a religion in that it can be cast off easier when a kid realises that their dad is a fucking moron. Whereas a religion has big buildings and fancy hats to lend them further credibility than an overbearing parent could ever give.

EDIT: That is of course unless your parents are members of the KKK or some such organisation that can lend credence to screwed up beliefs.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby 44 stone lions » Sun Jun 07, 2015 1:22 am UTC

Puppyclaws wrote:Something you may not understand is that in the United States we have populations of people who are not very interested in coming together with us, who lived on the land we are now living on (and thus, cannot be told to "go home" or expected to assimilate, not that I think that is actually an OK response to immigrant populations with wildly different beliefs either), and who practice some eccentric religious beliefs which we attempted to wipe out, primarily by making sure they couldn't teach their religious practices to their children. That act has had devastating effects on their cultures. These populations have never recovered; it was effectively an act of genocide.

A liberal society must tolerate the existence of other practices and ways of life; to cease to do so is to cease to be a liberal society, by definition.


Surely the mass killing of native americans helped with the genocide bit too I'd imagine, and that was all part of a coordinated effort to put those people down, the white people were still allowed to teach their religions to their kids, I'm not suggesting the targeting of any specific religion, but I do accept your point that there is potential for cultural damage.

The UK has a massive immigration and a lot less land to play with than the US, and also cavalry charges against people of races you don't like is frowned upon these days, on top of that a lot of those people don't want to integrate and on top of that again a lot of our border policy is decided overseas. So there isn't much option but to accept the people who are here.

I'm not saying that people of other ways of life should be subjugated in anyway, and I've always hated the word "tolerance" for that kind of thing, its like "I'll put up with you cause I have to, but I hate you really". No wonder there ends up being so much tension between people of different backgrounds.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sun Jun 07, 2015 1:55 am UTC

To avoid the multiplication of quotes, I'm going to number my responses in parallel with the numbering on my original objections.

  1. Sure, freedoms can conflict with each other, but I don't pretend that it's just a matter of saying "Hah, freedom, I win the argument." We can assign different importance to different freedoms, assess the ways in which they conflict, and so on. It's not like I'm saying that we can't make any choice that prevents any sort of freedom.

  2. With regard to the first point, I don't think you've really addressed what I'm saying. Yeah, they taught you how to assess science in science class. But they also taught you science, and they taught it to you well before you were in a position to assess it. You still haven't said why this is OK, given the issue that you have with teaching religion people who aren't prepared to assess it.

    With regard to the second point, you're of course right that we shouldn't now teach that Newtonian mechanics applies without qualification, but that doesn't address the question of what should be done (and, more importantly, what should be legal) when the theory of relativity is first being broached.

  3. No, I don't think either of those things is anything like Room 101. But also, sectarian violence obviously should be (and is) illegal, and the same goes, I think, for acts of abuse in orphanages. Your argument is supposed to cover religious indoctrination in general, not just guerilla warfare and child abuse.

  4. Well, if you yield the point that it's OK to give children one-sided views on open questions (such as moral questions), then it sounds like you've given up your whole case for your proposal.

  5. Regarding religion, what I've said is that many parents regard moral education as part of moral education. This doesn't mean that moral education can't take other forms, but it does mean that you can't just ban "teaching kids religion" without explaining what you do with the parts of religious beliefs that you want people to teach.

    Regarding evolution, you're putting words in my mouth, so I'm not sure what to say. I'm not going to hide evidence from my children, but I can't possibly give equal time to every stupid view regardless of how stupid it is. Or take the case of vaccination: I'm going to vaccinate my kids, and I'm going to tell them that it's safe and prevents disease. Because children can't tell that there is good evidence that vaccinations work and only bad evidence that they're dangerous, I'm not going to go hands-off and hope that they come up with the answer that's consistent with they're well-being. Your view seems to be that an inability to assess the evidence is a reason not to be told what the real answer is.
  6. -

  7. If you teach kids about religion when they're young, in hopes that they'll make a competent decision when they're older, then they're also going to start forming opinions when they're young. If exposing them to the possibility of an incompetent decision is supposed to be a problem, then this is still a problem. You can't maintain the things you said in your original post while also saying "Oh, I'm OK with teaching children about a diversity of religions, as long as we don't force them down any particular path."

  8. It's not hyperbole. It's an analogy. The point of the analogy is that your proposal has to be assessed for its consequences, and not just for what it explicitly contains. If I say "We should shoot Smith in the head," then I have to explain why it's OK to kill Smith. I can't dismiss the fact that my plan would kill Smith, just because I didn't say that we should kill Smith. By the same token, you can't dismiss the fact that your proposal would in all probability accomplish a form of genocide, just because you didn't say that we should commit genocide.

    Adults would be a lot less likely to be religious when they're older if they weren't brought up that way. Is that evidence that religious beliefs are false? Maybe, but this isn't a thread about whether religious beliefs are false.

44 stone lions wrote:But the question could be posed about something else I suppose, what parents who force homophobic and racist views onto their kids? that's bad, and a lot of the people who hold those views do get them from their parents (in my experience anyway) but even that is different from a religion in that it can be cast off easier when a kid realises that their dad is a fucking moron.

Different people will have different experiences, but I found it pretty damn easy to give up religious belief. It's a hell of a lot harder to give up implicit racial biases - that's pretty consistent across people. Of course, if you want kids to have freedom of choice here, then you shouldn't be teaching them egalitarian attitudes about race or sexual orientation.

---------

liveboy, I don't think Azrael is being sarcastic. What he's proposing sounds like it would be a really nice thing to have in primary and secondary education.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Puppyclaws » Sun Jun 07, 2015 2:13 am UTC

The attempted eradication of their religion and culture ("Kill the Indian, save the man") is generally understood to be the more egregious offense, believe it or not.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Cradarc » Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:46 am UTC

It might be useful to define what you mean by religion.
If you mean "belief in God" then not only is it censorship in theory, but it's impossible to enforce in practice.
If you mean "a social institution that encourages adherence to a particular set of beliefs involving the concept of God" then there is a little more gray area.

First let's consider "a social institution that encourages adherence to a particular set of beliefs". That sounds like every social group in existence! Even a group of people who believe in the freedom of beliefs are encouraging adherence to a particular belief (namely the belief that every should have the freedom to believe in what they want).
So the only issue is "the concept of God". Should this be barred from children? Why?

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby ucim » Sun Jun 07, 2015 5:13 am UTC

44 stone lions wrote:I was raised as a catholic, but am no longer one and do not believe in God. However, due, I believe, to being so heavily indoctrinated with a certain religious view point as a child, I often think of things in a very monotheistic catholic kind of theme.
But you are now grown up enough to realize this. You can therefore apply your mind to changing this kind of limited thinking by exploring life more broadly. You can reject your own rejection. This is where you should put your energy, not towards trying to make a certain kind of thinking illegal.

Of course it's not easy. But if one parent makes a mistake, a few children suffer. If one government makes a mistake, all the children suffer. You cannot prevent people or governments from making mistakes.

44 stone lions wrote:A government can meddle with your freedom to raise your children or you can meddle with the freedom of your child's future adult mind. Which is worse?

The former. See above. And what if the administration changes, and government gets all religious? Then, by your thinking, everyone is screwed. And, btw, the latter is your job as a parent.

44 stone lions wrote:I think that it is possible to instill an ethical morality into a child without the aid of religion, assuming of course that the child’s parents are in possession of such a morality themselves.
Yes, it is possible. Common even. But it's also possible to instill an ethical morality by painting pink penguins. The fact that something is possible does not mean it should be required.

I will agree however that parents should not be required to indoctrinate their children into religion. I'll further state (despite the OT nature of it) that I don't think institutions of superstition should be granted preferential treatment by government.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby 44 stone lions » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:39 am UTC

Well perhaps this is the case, in that I was presented with scientific fact before I had the ability to independently assess those facts for myself. But I was, ever since I can remember (and before I had the full ability to test scientific claims myself or at least understand the proofs or justifications for them), taught that science should always be challenged, that sort of never stop asking questions type of thing, not to accept a theory or even a proven fact just because it was widely held. This was encouraged even before I had the ability to ask the questions, but when I gained the ability, having been encouraged to challenge these things I did.

For example, for a lot of my younger life I was told that aircraft wings create lift because the top surface is longer than the bottom and the air particles want to make sure that they arrive on the other side of the wing at the same time (so they can hang out and get a coffee one would presume) thus the air over the top has to travel faster.

This is wrong, but I believed it for a long time because I didn’t know any better. However, after learning about aerodynamics and gaining the skills to realise and test the truth of the matter through calculation and experiment, I was free to simply drop the old held belief in favour to the one I have now very easily because of the overwhelming quantity of evidence in favour of the new belief.

This really is not the way that a religion is taught to a child who is a member of it. Where blind faith and total belief in established ideas is valued, see my previous comment regarding the response I got to doubting that Jesus could walk on water for an example of the ways such things are dealt with by religious institutions. Also religious beliefs do run a lot deeper with most people that their belief in a particular scientific theory.

You want to teach your child evolution. I would imagine the reason that you wish to teach that to your child is because of the amount of evidence that is exists to support it versus creationism, rather than simple because it is what you happen to believe. Now let’s say that when your child reaches a certain age, let’s say 10 (an arbitrary value, but a nice round number that both gives you time to have taught your child about evolution and plenty of time left where you still have a large influence over their present life), let us pretend that when your child reaches the age of ten, compelling and reliable new evidence is discovered that radically redefines the origin of species and a casts doubt on evolution or supplants it completely. Do you continue to teach your child about evolution being right? I would suspect that you would not and would ensure that you taught them the newer theory whilst also explaining that sometimes science does get it wrong and we should not cleave to any particular persistent theory just because it has been believed for a long time. Thus helping to set the foundation for your child to make rational choices about what they are told in science class in the future. Although that is just my speculation.

This could also be applied to your mentioning of relativity earlier, had you been raising children at the time when Einstein was publishing. Would you have scolded your child as a heretic and a blasphemer for bringing up relativity and told them this is a Newtonian family, and I won’t have that rubbish spoken about in my house. (Serious business aside that could actually be the makings of a pretty good comedy sketch)

It could also be applied to the moral questions. You could ask what would happen if everyone stole from each versus if no one stole from each other or what would happen if everyone hurt each other versus if no one hurt each other. Obviously this is a massive over simplification and does not deal with the many a moral dilemma, but in terms of average day to day morality require by a child I think this is sufficient to find a rational basis for not hurting people or stealing, based on evidence and your own inquiry without resorting to religion. It does also presume that the child in question has the ability to ask the right questions, but you seem pretty smart so I am sure you would be eager to teach your child such an ability as soon as they were able.

The difference with religion, to teaching your child most things, is that no one religion has anymore claim to be the one true religion than any other, but despite this fact many mainstream religions tend to assert this. The cornerstone beliefs and rules of these religious tell you that you must believe what they are telling you to the exception of all else and anything that may conflict with it. To become a true believer of most religions, therefore, is to take a stance that anyone who doesn’t follow it is wrong, regardless of any evidence whatsoever.

If I asked you why you teach your child evolution, I’d imagine you’d be able to come up with a slightly better explanation than “because that’s what I believe” or “because it’s right”. That maybe your initial offering but even a slight prodding would, I am sure, result in some form of both rational and compelling argument.

I wouldn’t think that you would give an answer of “because it’s good”. Evolution is neither good nor bad (it’s a good theory, but the actual motivation is neutral). I would argue that religion is also neither inherently good nor bad, it can be used for good or for bad, but whether its tenants are good or bad would depend upon a person’s point of view. But a religion will quite happily tell a child that it is good, rather than that it has the capacity to do good.

If you were to teach your child a religion what would be your reasoning for choosing some form of paganism over Christianity, or Christianity over Islam etc. etc. etc. And if you were to choose one of those why would you choose a particular version of that? Why would you teach them to believe in the Norse Gods as opposed to the Greek Gods, or why would you choose being a Baptist over being a Quaker? Could you give as good a rational basis for this decision that would rival the one you would give for evolution or relativity?

@ Puppyclaws – Fair enough, I will admit that I am not as well versed in the subject as you seem to be. I can understand the point, being British I am more than well aware of the far more hideous atrocities that my own ancestors perpetrated against indigenous peoples and their respective cultures around the world. However, in all of those cases actions are targeted against a specific group of people, with a belief that one group is better and more civilised than the other, and not applied the society as whole, so they are different scenarios. Also, in the case of the British at least, all things were backed up by massively superior military force, and unbelievable acts of violence, barbarism and cruelty.

@ Cradarc – I think that encouragement is not quite an accurate way to describe how children are made to believe a particular set of religion ideas. Sure they’re not strapped to a chair with their eyes forced open while it’s done to them Clockwork Orange style. But they still don’t have much choice in the matter. And the freedom to believe what they want is the entire point behind the suggestion of not allowing children to participate in a particular religion.
You say the “concept of God” rather than of Gods and belief in God rather than belief in a God or Gods, I find it interesting that you choose to use the singular rather than the plural. Your assentation seems to have already ruled out the existence of multiple Gods in favour of a single monotheistic deity. If that is the case why?

If you mean barring them from being exposed to “the possibility of the existence of one or more supernatural beings, some of which may be mutually exclusive, that may have created our existence and/or play an ongoing role in world through their naturally superior power” Then no I don’t think children such be barred from such a concept.

If you mean barring them from being exposed to “the concept of one God (or set of Gods) who is/are mutually exclusive, and for them to be told that any other belief is wrong” then I don’t see a problem with stopping that.

@ usim – Trust me, that is what I do, although I often wonder what would be the case had I not been handicapped at the beginning to the race by being encumbered with a lot of belief that I did not choose for myself, and was continuously exposed to without the ability to reject the exposure. I see this as more of an interesting what if this could happen? type situation and thus thought it would be interesting to discuss. I am not running around organising some sort of picket line outside places of worship to stop children from entering :P

Well everyone is screwed by administration changes anyway, if the policies of the different governments are radically different and a country is constantly thrust between to extremes every 4-5 years. But that doesn’t mean that democratically elected governments shouldn’t make controversial policy.

And teaching morality through the medium of pink paint with a subject of penguins doesn’t come with the dogmatic baggage that most religions do.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby elasto » Sun Jun 07, 2015 11:58 am UTC

Why jump to such an extreme an approach as making religion illegal for children though? Why not look at how other secular, liberal countries achieve the same end? The US really is an outlier among Western nations for being uniquely fundamentalist.

It's quite simple really, and has been mentioned already in this thread:

- Mandate that schools have religious education lessons, where all major religions are taught, so that people see that their own religion is not unique.
- Mandate that schools teach not just science, but the scientific method. Teach the principles of scepticism and critical thinking.
- Ensure that pupils understand that the scientific method - while itself based on principles that are unproveable such as the universe behaving in the future as it behaved in the past (and hence is a kind of religion...) - has been uniquely successful at explaining and predicting, and is why society has progressed so far and so fast over the last few centuries.

Give children all the tools to be able to make rational choices, and then let them make up their own minds. That way you don't just enable them to see past any religious indoctrination they may have been exposed to, but political dogma, racism, sexism, and all other mental pollutants that your approach wouldn't even begin to address.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby 44 stone lions » Sun Jun 07, 2015 2:21 pm UTC

Yes it is a pretty extreme approach I agree, and wouldn't be practical to implement, plus probably lead to a lot of backlash. It's just an idea, and one that I found interesting to think about anyway.

It's quite simple really, and has been mentioned already in this thread:

- Mandate that schools have religious education lessons, where all major religions are taught, so that people see that their own religion is not unique.
- Mandate that schools teach not just science, but the scientific method. Teach the principles of scepticism and critical thinking.
- Ensure that pupils understand that the scientific method - while itself based on principles that are unproveable such as the universe behaving in the future as it behaved in the past (and hence is a kind of religion...) - has been uniquely successful at explaining and predicting, and is why society has progressed so far and so fast over the last few centuries.


Doesn't your country do this already? That's worrying

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby ucim » Sun Jun 07, 2015 2:47 pm UTC

44 stone lions wrote:I often wonder what would be the case had I not been handicapped at the beginning to the race by being encumbered with a lot of belief that I did not choose for myself...
Well, this can be asked of anything that happens in the formative years. That's why they are called "formative years". But there is an important difference between "X should not be taught" and "X should be prohibited from being taught". One is fundamentally a statement about X, and the other is a statement about people.

44 stone lions wrote:Well everyone is screwed by administration changes anyway...
Not a valid reason for giving the administration even more power over childrearing and other very personal aspects of living.

44 stone lions wrote:And teaching morality through the medium of pink paint with a subject of penguins doesn’t come with the dogmatic baggage that most religions do.
That is HERESY! How DARE you challenge my pink penguins. It WORKS and anybody who doesn't see this obviously wants to keep society corrupt and evil by standing in the way of PROGRESS!
Spoiler:
Yeah, I'm kidding, but you haven't seen my pink penguins. :)
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby morriswalters » Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:31 pm UTC

44 stone lions wrote:Why then does society judge children to be mature, intelligent or responsible enough to understand and consensually accept a particular theology?
They don't. And why would you think they do?

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Enuja » Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:51 pm UTC

What is childhood?

Beyond straightforward physical growth and development, human childhood is essentially about learning. We learn from our parents and from our culture, and about our family and about our culture. The scaffold of information we have previously learned affects our current and future learning: we can pick up on things that fit with our pre-existing knowledge much more easily and quickly than things that conflict with our pre-existing knowledge.

44 stone lions, I'm sorry to hear that you feel that your parent's indoctrination of Catholicism was damaging to your intellectual development, and I wish that they had given you a broader perspective and been more supportive of questioning and challenging beliefs, while still teaching you what they believed. But I am highly skeptical that there is a way to prevent children from having some sort of belief about God, gods, or the lack there of. For many years, my parents claimed that they didn't teach either religion or non-religion to my twin and I. But both my twin and I feel that we were raised as atheists, and we both have great difficulty imaging a universe with the presence of the supernatural. You don't have to be unfairly indoctrinated for the beliefs of your family and culture to bias your thoughts and prevent free thinking. That's what learning is. If you're ever going to an intellectual adult, you've got to learn something, and what you learn, and in what order, is going to effect your belief systems. It's the nature of the system, and there is no way to get around it. I often wish that I had been raised religiously, so that I could have had the thought-freeing experience of rejecting religion. As it is, my atheism simply feels like the received wisdom from my parents, and something that I don't have intellectual control over.

Have your opinions about religion and children changed, from when you first posted this thread? It sounds like we can all agree that children should be introduced to as many possibilities as possible, to improve their intellectual development, but do you now agree that learning religion/epistemology/central cultural assumptions should be (and inevitably is) a central part of what childhood is about? And therefore that learning the religion/not religion of one's family should be legal, and important, for children? If not, why not?


morriswalters wrote:
44 stone lions wrote:Why then does society judge children to be mature, intelligent or responsible enough to understand and consensually accept a particular theology?
They don't. And why would you think they do?
To be more specific, many religions have some sort of coming-of-age ceremony, with the idea that the "child" is now old enough to make real decisions, and to be an intellectually individual part of the religion. The mismatch of many secular ages of responsibility and many religions ones is simply a result of the increased length of social childhood in many cultures over the last two centuries or so.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:56 pm UTC

I'd also like to point out that it's easy to claim what sort of parents you needed growing up, and particularly how your parents failed to be that, but it's a lot harder to recognize what sort of parent your children need, and to be that for them.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Puppyclaws » Sun Jun 07, 2015 3:57 pm UTC

You use a lot of words to say "I don't like this and therefore it should be banned."

44 stone lions wrote:If you were to teach your child a religion what would be your reasoning for choosing some form of paganism over Christianity, or Christianity over Islam etc. etc. etc. And if you were to choose one of those why would you choose a particular version of that? Why would you teach them to believe in the Norse Gods as opposed to the Greek Gods, or why would you choose being a Baptist over being a Quaker? Could you give as good a rational basis for this decision that would rival the one you would give for evolution or relativity?

@ Puppyclaws – Fair enough, I will admit that I am not as well versed in the subject as you seem to be. I can understand the point, being British I am more than well aware of the far more hideous atrocities that my own ancestors perpetrated against indigenous peoples and their respective cultures around the world. However, in all of those cases actions are targeted against a specific group of people, with a belief that one group is better and more civilised than the other, and not applied the society as whole, so they are different scenarios. Also, in the case of the British at least, all things were backed up by massively superior military force, and unbelievable acts of violence, barbarism and cruelty.


People do irrational things all the time, we do not get to decide for them how to live. This includes raising their children in a way that they would like, so long as they are not doing physical harm (there are some boundary cases, but teaching widespread beliefs that have no empirical evidence of grievous harm does not even come close).

The way in which the thing you are proposing is different is that it is an effort to eliminate many cultures rather than just some isolated ones. That makes it worse than the thing that was done in the past with numerous Indigenous populations. You would replace the entire world's culture and values with your own. That is genocide.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby ucim » Sun Jun 07, 2015 4:13 pm UTC

Enuja wrote:I often wish that I had been raised religiously, so that I could have had the thought-freeing experience of rejecting religion.
An interesting perspective.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby elasto » Sun Jun 07, 2015 6:07 pm UTC

44 stone lions wrote:
me wrote:It's quite simple really, and has been mentioned already in this thread:

- Mandate that schools have religious education lessons, where all major religions are taught, so that people see that their own religion is not unique.
- Mandate that schools teach not just science, but the scientific method. Teach the principles of scepticism and critical thinking.
- Ensure that pupils understand that the scientific method - while itself based on principles that are unproveable such as the universe behaving in the future as it behaved in the past (and hence is a kind of religion...) - has been uniquely successful at explaining and predicting, and is why society has progressed so far and so fast over the last few centuries.


Doesn't your country do this already? That's worrying

What makes you think it doesn't? I don't think it does it particularly well, but then again who's perfect, but I'm puzzled as to why you'd think my suggestion meant it didn't.

I am assuming that whatever country you're from doesn't do this though - or at least that your school didn't didn't do it sufficiently well to inoculate you, else you'd never have started this thread...

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby 44 stone lions » Sun Jun 07, 2015 7:42 pm UTC

Well that would be that you brought up the US as a particular example and contrasted it to other more secular and liberal countries lend me initially to the conclusion that you are from the US, then from there your list seemed to imply that those were suggestions to fix problems in the US. The fact that the suggestions included the word mandate lead me to the assumption that they were not already mandated.

You’re assumption that, my believing a country not doing those things already is worrying, makes me from a country that doesn’t do that already, is something that I find to be puzzling.

The reason of why I started this thread leads me to Enuja’s post.

Enuja wrote:I'm sorry to hear that you feel that your parent's indoctrination of Catholicism was damaging to your intellectual development, and I wish that they had given you a broader perspective and been more supportive of questioning and challenging beliefs, while still teaching you what they believed. But I am highly skeptical that there is a way to prevent children from having some sort of belief about God, gods, or the lack there of. For many years, my parents claimed that they didn't teach either religion or non-religion to my twin and I. But both my twin and I feel that we were raised as atheists, and we both have great difficulty imaging a universe with the presence of the supernatural. You don't have to be unfairly indoctrinated for the beliefs of your family and culture to bias your thoughts and prevent free thinking. That's what learning is. If you're ever going to an intellectual adult, you've got to learn something, and what you learn, and in what order, is going to effect your belief systems. It's the nature of the system, and there is no way to get around it. I often wish that I had been raised religiously, so that I could have had the thought-freeing experience of rejecting religion. As it is, my atheism simply feels like the received wisdom from my parents, and something that I don't have intellectual control over.


That is interesting and I have never thought of it that way before, which I believe is the point of public debate of ideas, so that you can gain other peoples perspective and insight, and it has been a good experience for me to read what everyone here has written.

Did I start this thread out of ignorance? I would say absolutely, I did. I guess everyone starts a thread out of ignorance, because you are hoping to know more and be a little less ignorant as a result of the ensuing discussion. Otherwise what is the point? Other than trying to force your opinion on to others, which is the entire problem that I had with the religion for kids in the first place.

Enuja – I would say that my opinion of religion itself is the same as it was when I started, I don’t believe it to be any better or worse as a result. The formation of individuality and personal identity in childhood is something that I have gained more insight into, and is obviously something so complex that wouldn’t be effectively changed for the better by a ban on anything that is currently legal in most countries.

I’d say the main problem that I came to have with religion, or at least in particular to my former religion, is the blind faith aspects of it and the absolutism, which are two things that I’m not comfortable with (although you may see the subject of this thread to be a form of absolutism). I don’t have a problem with the message of Jesus, or much of the central philosophy of that religion but if very young children are given that then why not have Socrates, Marcus Aurelius’, the Koran or buddishst scripture etc being part of the curriculum for primary school children?

I do not assert that children should not learn about these things, and also I can see that it is important to learn about the religion of your parents, both in terms of connecting to them and as part of learning about the culture of your society. But it should just be that, learning. I can read any religious text I like and learn about it, it is not the same as becoming a practicing member of that religion, reading the bible doesn’t make you a Christian. My main belief here is that kids should not be made to follow one religion to the exclusion of all others as is often then case, which is the case that I have been trying to make, albeit probably quite badly :P

ucim wrote:
44 stone lions wrote:And teaching morality through the medium of pink paint with a subject of penguins doesn’t come with the dogmatic baggage that most religions do.
That is HERESY! How DARE you challenge my pink penguins. It WORKS and anybody who doesn't see this obviously wants to keep society corrupt and evil by standing in the way of PROGRESS!
Spoiler:
Yeah, I'm kidding, but you haven't seen my pink penguins. :)
Jose


I wasn't trying to insult your penguins, I was actually trying to state that it could be a better (or at least different, depending on your point of view) way to teach kids about morality than religion. I'm not sure of your exact method, but if you can teach your kids about morality with penguins of any colour then that's pretty awesome :) I'll let you know when I have kids so you can clue me in :P

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby elasto » Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:49 pm UTC

44 stone lions wrote:Well that would be that you brought up the US as a particular example and contrasted it to other more secular and liberal countries lend me initially to the conclusion that you are from the US, then from there your list seemed to imply that those were suggestions to fix problems in the US. The fact that the suggestions included the word mandate lead me to the assumption that they were not already mandated.

No, my assumption was that you were from the US - since I know for a fact that US schooling largely does not mandate keeping religious fundamentalism out of schools. For example see issues over creationism vs evolution in textbooks and such. My understanding is that, in such matters, power is largely devolved to local school boards instead of the feds stepping in and saying 'sorry, that's crap.'

Contrast with, say, France, where schools are mandated to be secular.

I’d say the main problem that I came to have with religion, or at least in particular to my former religion, is the blind faith aspects of it and the absolutism, which are two things that I’m not comfortable with (although you may see the subject of this thread to be a form of absolutism).

It's this kind of statement from you that led me to believe you were from the US. So, apologies if you're not. The US is unique amongst liberal western democracies in how much blind fundamentalism there is. Other countries, like the UK, say, are nominally Christian, but it's rarely a literalist, fundamentalist strain.

Only fundamentalism suffers from the problems you seek to solve with this thread: Non-fundamentalist religions typically move with the times. Painfully slowly at times, sure, but they move. Non fundamentalist parents are usually much more happy to let their children form their own opinion, also.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby maydayp » Mon Jun 08, 2015 5:16 am UTC

I don't think it should be illegal for parents to teach children about religion. But I do not think that parents should hold children to harmful religious principles. Like your faith will heal you ("you wouldn't be depressed if you believed in god harder", or "it's up to god if you/I get better"), or not being treated for medical illnesses due to religious tenants. Or not participating with school events because they are holiday related. I knew more then one kid in school who couldn't participate and they weren't happy about it. And I don't think children should die because of their parent's beliefs. Child marriage, limited education, and access to factual information (ex/news) for religious purposes also concern me.

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby jewish_scientist » Mon Jun 08, 2015 2:57 pm UTC

At the core of your argument is the idea that a child does not consent to being taught a religion; but is very clearly wrong. Parents can consent on behalf of their child. When you consent through a proxy you are still giving consent. The child cannot give or with hold consent; a parent can give or with hold consent.

Imagine a child is on his way to school and he screams, "I don't want to go to school!" However, his mother says, "You are going to school." The end result is that the child is going to school.

Imagine a child is on his way to church and he screams,"I don't want to go to church!" However, his mother says, "You are going to church." The end result is that the child is going to church.

Unless you can show me why the mother is allowed to consent on the child's behalf in the first case, but not the second case, your argument falls apart.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Jun 08, 2015 3:03 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:At the core of your argument is the idea that a child does not consent to being taught a religion; but is very clearly wrong. Parents can consent on behalf of their child. When you consent through a proxy you are still giving consent. The child cannot give or with hold consent; a parent can give or with hold consent.
You are gravely mistaken that forced decision making for someone in your care is the same as consent.
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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby PeteP » Mon Jun 08, 2015 3:27 pm UTC

Really that is a horrible way to view that. We consider children not capable to make some decisions so we don't let them make them. Many still need to be made so we tend to let their parents decide. That isn't equivalent to them being fully capable of making the decisions and giving consent and it would be dangerous to consider it that way. As parent or legal guardians of developmentally disabled adult for that matter there are many things you can't just do to them, body modifications, donating their kidneys, having or selling sex with them…

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Re: Should religion be illegal for children?

Postby morriswalters » Mon Jun 08, 2015 3:29 pm UTC

What would you call it when a parent signs a consent form for a child to have surgery? And again if an adult is unable to consent to a similar procedure yet needs it? Both parties, the parents and guardians, have legal responsibilities, to act for and in the best interests of the people involved. They can and do grant consent for things that need it.

To the OP. If a child was raised and not allowed to participate fully in the life of its parents, can you imagine that it might feel some sense of desertion about that. Think if your parents had never involved you with the activities related to church. Church among other things is a social environment. How much of your life would have been removed from your experiences. You can't make your child's life a patchwork experience.


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