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Caleyna
Queen of Silliness


Joined: 04 Nov 2006
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Location: Maryland, USA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 10:29 pm
Post subject: Teaching Religion
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Nordli posted this in the Freak Speak Q&A and I was the lucky one who got to answer it. I'm going to repost it here so we can have an actual discussion about it. I thought it was really interesting and would like to know what other people think. Tread carefully, though, since it is a very sensitive topic.

Nordli's post:

Quote:
My daughter is now 5 years old. We live in Norway and our state religion is protestantism, however my daughter is not taught any doctrine at all. We try our best to teach her the factual science (like evolution and the laws of gravity) and will continue to do so as she grows up. Whenever she asks us about religious matters (religious festivals like Christmas and easter are taught in kinder garden) we answer them as best we can and make references to previous beliefs held both in Norway and elsewhere in the world to give her a balanced view. In addition we try our best to teach her historical accounts of why such a festivity or belief might have come to be.

We have chosen this approach because it is our firm belief that we as parents have no right, what so ever, to chose religion for her. If she decides somewhere down the line to join a particular religion it will be her choice and not ours and we will respect her for that.

After such a long rant: what is your opinion? Should parents be allowed to teach children a particular doctrine of faith or leave it to the child to discover it themselves?


And my response:

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Personally, we will do what you are doing--teach Erik the history and science and instill him with our own particular moral code that has nothign to do with religion. I would like to say that we will support him when he makes his own religious choices down the road, but I don't think that's true. There are certain belief systems that I just can't imagine supporting as much as I would like to be open minded.

As for the question should parents be allowed to teach their children a particular doctorine of faith, that's a completely different story. As much as there are doctrines I disagree with I don't see how it would even be possible to forbid a family from teaching the doctrine they believe in (whether is it a sanctioned religion or the absence of religion). Systems of belief are a very core part of every single person and to tell someone they can't share that core belief with their children is like telling them they can't feed their child the food that they prepare for family meals. It is each parent's responsiblity to raise a child who will be a productive member of society. This includes instilling a moral code that is (hopefully) socially acceptable.

I don't consider myself a Christian now, but as a former Christian I know that people of that faith really truly honestly believe that if a person isn't a believer in Jesus they will burn in hell for all eternity. There is no way you could convince that person not to instill a love of and belief in Jesus from the moment that child is born. To prohibit them from teaching their beliefs would be the equivilant of forcing them to condemn their child to hell (in their minds, not necessiarly what I believe). I'm sure the same kind of thing is true of other religions but I don't know the specifics so can only use that as an example.

I may not like all religions but as long as they are not actively preaching things that harm others I don't see how any government can interfer with the raising of children. By teaching an absence of religious faith you (and I) are in essence teaching a doctrine. There's no way to avoid teaching your child the moral code that you live by because they will see it every single day.




On a side note, I must say I am sad that no one said the world was created on the back of a turtle or something interesting like that.
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Patrick
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Joined: 05 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 11:23 pm
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Okay.... I had a pretty traditional Catholic early childhood: attended the parish school for four years, had all the attendant early religious instruction from priests, nuns, teachers, etc., had First Confession and First Communion in a typical organized setting. My parents brought my sister and I up in a very Christian household, but it wasn't as if we were forced into it, as many people seem to conclude nowadays. It was just another part of growing up, for me. It's not like my mom sat me down one day and said "you're Catholic and that's that." My parents were converts who came from rather nonreligious homes (Christian, but not actively practicing) and I think they took seriously their perceived duty to educate us in their faith.

I think this question is going to get a different answer from different religions. For me, I'm glad I was given religious education by my parents at a young age, but I am also glad that by the time I was a teenager, my mother wasn't the kind (I knew many) who forced us to attend church and do the kind of churchy things that your typical "active" American Catholic kid does (CYO, choir, altar service, etc.). In my opinion, by the time a child reaches the age where they are able to discern matters of faith for themselves (which is generally held to be around 13 or so, at least as far as Catholics are concerned) it's their decision.

Before that, it's the parents choice if they want to teach their children about matters of faith. For me, if I ever had children, I would want to raise them Catholic. I don't believe children are able to make those kinds of decisions on their own until adolescence, so I don't think it should be completely up to the child if they want to learn about it or not. For me, personally, I would also want to educate my children about other faiths. My mother and grandmother did this, and coming from a confessionally diverse family (Catholics, Episcopalians, and Eastern Orthodox on my mom's side and mainly Methodists on my dad's) I had an early exposure to different brands of Christianity, for which I am grateful.

But I should also say that I would teach my children about science, and more than anything, to love learning. Any and all learning. Of all the things I cherish about my childhood, I think I value most the love of learning that my mother instilled in me. Yes, she taught us what she believed was the Truth, but she also taught me to seek out the things that interested me and to form my own beliefs and opinions, and never to stop. I know that some things I came to believe conflicted with what she herself believed, but she never forced me to stop learning; rather, she encouraged it at all times. If parents have a duty to teach their children, to me it would be a duty to teach them to think for themselves, and not to blindly accept what's handed to them by anyone (parents and teachers and religious authorities included!). Of course, along with that goes a need to instill decorum and respect, but regardless, I think it's essential.

But to end this before I start going off on all manner of tangents, basically I believe that:

1. It is the right of parents to teach their children any particular system of faith, religion, or morals, or none.

2. The State or has no right to forbid or restrict the parents' choice to bring up their children in a specific belief system, unless it's abusive (i.e. cults, although how to define that opens up another debate entirely).
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Alle
The First Evil


Joined: 04 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 11:50 am
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By the mere act of bringing up a child, one is distilling one's own beliefs in almost every action: from choosing what to feed, in establishing rules, right from wrong etc. Absolutely parents should be able to bring their kids up with a specific religion. I was brought up Catholic...attended Catholic school etc. Had I said I don't want to make my Confirmation, it would have caused a major uproar. However, as soon as I became an adult, I made my own choices. Some agree with the Catholic upbringing, others don't.

While I think its wonderful that there are families NOT force feeding a particular doctrine down a child's throat, doing so by no means equates to scarring that child for life. I suppose it could, depending upon the parents and child in question....but then so could lots of other thing parents do to/with their kids.

Government has no right in stating how we bring up our own kids whatsoever. Government officals can barely do what they are supposed to do, let alone take on something like this, and then one would be forced to follow their beliefs? I don't think so. *s*

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GilShalos



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 4:44 pm
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Teaching religion.... I don't really have any problem with. Darren somewhat agrees with Nord's point of view, I think, as I've heard him suggest similar ideas of raising a child, teaching them various things about different religions (or none at all) and letting them choose once they're old enough.

One thing I think **must** be taught to all children young or old is logical and objective thinking. A relegion should be followed through trust, intelligence and understanding, not blind ignorance.

When I used to be religious (and I was very, very devoutly so, I believe) I believed that the religion I followed was the only one true religion... (this is not to say that others had to follow it, or that I wanted to convert them, or thought them bad.... only that jews should follow it.) This meant obviously that the only way was to teach the religion to one's children, because it is your life, not a separate part of you that you only do on certain days.

Forcing one's religion upon others, forcing/trying to convert them, or even trying to force your children to obey once they've reached "adulthood" (I think this age varies, could be as young as 12 or 13, might be a bit older....) where they are making a reasonable intelligent decision (as opposed to just being angrily defiant) is wrong. It is hard to speak objectively here though as one suffering from something of a family rift regarding my lack of religion now, though.

In short, live and let live. if others teach their religion to their offspring, fair enough. if they don't, that's also fine. But no preaching to sinsible adults who are following their own path and doing nothing murderous or illegal. (I was going to say "wrong" but in religion, "wrong" can be so many things that are accepted as normal and safe behaviour nowdays.)







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julie
Wicked Wisdom


Joined: 04 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 6:39 pm
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My husband and I have two teenaged sons. We've raised them in much the same way Nordli has raised little Miss V, when it comes to matters of religion and spirituality.

I grew up in the Episcopal Church and my family attended regularly and were all very active in church functions and committees. Both my parents served on the vestry at various times, my mother was always involved with alter guild in some form or another. I sang in the choir, served as an altergirl, and was deeply involved in our church youth group. I thought I was a good Christian. But for me, church was really about the social activities and following the rules. Prayers were rote. I tried listening to sermons but they usually didn't hold my attention long enough to make a real impression. I was baptised and confirmed and took my classes and did all the things I was supposed to do. But I looked forward to services and activites for the sake of being with friends - people I loved and only got to see once or twice a week.

I believed in God because everyone believed in God. It never occured to me to believe otherwise. If I did things right, I'd go to Heaven and if I didn't, I'd go to Hell. I did my best to do things right until I was about 15 or 16 years old. That's probably about the time I started questioning my religion.

I didn't have some epiphany (terribly ironic word usage, I know) that made me a non-believer. I just gradually became more and more skeptical and by the time I was an adult, I was really only hanging onto belief to avoid going to Hell. I finally decided that was not a very good reason to believe.

I did have some discussion with my spouse about what to do when we had children, and since neither of us really had a religous connection, we decided that it would be hypocritical to push something on the children that we didn't believe - it's really not the same as Santa and the Easter Bunny. Those are fun things for childhood magic. God is serious business. We did take them to Christmas and Easter church services with my family when they were little, because I love the traditions of the Church at those holidays - I love the music and the lights and the stories that go with them. We've never tried to dissuade our other family members from telling the children about their own religions or taking them to church with them. And like Nordli, we've always done our best to answer any questions the boys have about religions and always taught them to respect other people's beliefs. Our basic statement to them is that no one really knows and that religious belief is all about having faith. It's up to them what they decide to believe.

I have no problems whatsoever with any parent teaching his or her child his own moral belief system as long as it's not a belief system that is inherently dangerous to self or others. I don't think you can force religion on anyone, whether they're your child or not. Anyone can say he or she believes just to appease. I do abhor fanatacism in any religion.

And yes, teaching your child to have an open mind is probably the most important thing you can teach, other than a degree of empathy.
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TamAlthor
The Zeppo


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2006 4:59 pm
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I think when it comes to teaching religion it really depends on one?s view of what religion is. Is religion going to a place of worship once a week and going through routines, or is it a way of life, a moral code that keeps you in good standing with a supreme being/force/good, and/or yourself if you feel there is not higher power/force/etc.

For myself, and most other people, it is a way of life.

Regardless of my belief or non-belief in a God I live a moral code in which I feel good, or at peace, with my own self, and my relationship with my fellow man. I guess it comes down to a sense of responsibility.

As such I feel responsible to instill that same sense of responsibility in my own children. They do not have to believe as I believe, I just want them to understand that as human beings we have access to lot of power (ie cars, guns, jobs, friendships) and we have to be careful how we use it.

I am part of a ?major? religion, and I will be raising my children in that religion, with the understanding that they are not obligated to remain in that that religion. I want them to question it. I want them to be able to find their own answers. I want them to find out for themselves if there is a God, and if such, does he/she/they/it care about how they live their lives, I want them to find out if there is a right and wrong, and if there is, how does one really ?know?. I want them to know for themselves if they really should be afraid of a hell, or if religion itself is nothing more that fear and fables and an opiate to the masses.

At the same time, I want to be available to them, if/when they want, to tell them how I found my own answers to these questions. I want them to be able to trust me as a sounding board for their own ideas weather or not they are in line with my own. I want them to share their religious views with me. This was my personal methodology as a volunteer missionary and I found it had the best results. It will be interesting to see if I feel that same way about being a parent.

Regardless they will be required/encouraged to come to church services and functions with the family but only into their teenage years. After that it is their own choice as to where the wish to attend religious services, if at all. (within reason of course)

(wow how can you tell that I am an idealistic young man who has as yet to have his own children. My arrogance shocks me on occasion)

The only belief that I really want my children to come away with, that I want them to know that I believe is, that so long as a person is doing what they feel/know is right (regardless of ?religious belief?) then everything will work it self out for the best.

So I guess the short answer is, I believe that parents have a right and a responsibility to raise their children and introduce the concept of right and wrong (morality), but do not necessarily have a right to ?force? religion upon them.

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Kenshin



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:25 am
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I think teaching religion to students is very important, but nobody takes it seriously. I, being muslim, think it is VERY important to learn your religion. The problem is...the students don't take it seriously.
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Caleyna
Queen of Silliness


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 4:53 pm
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Here's an addition to this question:

If you are secular but live in a Christian environment, how important is it that your children learn the stories from the Bible. I am always stunned when I come across someone who doesn't know who Noah or Jonah or Moses were, but if the kids don't go to Sunday school how would they ever encounter such stories? They are such a predominent part of Western culture that it almost seems like not teaching the Bible stories is causing a lack of basic Western culture knowledge. I am almost thinking about finding a Unitarian church to go to if they teach stories like this to children.
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julie
Wicked Wisdom


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 7:04 pm
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I'm not even sure how one can live in western culture and NOT be exposed to those stories - precisely because of their predominance in western culture.

You don't have to go to church for E to learn Bible stories. You can tell them to him yourself or get a big book of Bible stories and read them as bed time stories just like any other bedtime story.
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jana



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:29 pm
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I have never been to church* and I still know a lot of the basic Bible stories. I think that I had books when I was a kid that told stories from the Bible in a storybook kind of way, just like I had picture books that told stories from Greek mythology. I think that it's important to have at least a passing familiarity with the Bible as a member of Western culture. I also think it's important to have exposure to the Greek/Roman myths, which had a big impact on Western civilization, and as many stories/mythologies/whatever from other societies as possible. It's about understanding the world you live in.

*I have been to a handful of church services in my life, like a couple of weddings, a funeral, and possibly a holiday service or two. I have never once been to a standard Sunday church service.
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Jade
Seven of Jade


Joined: 05 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 3:18 am
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that's funny, I've been to a funeral or wedding here and there, which weren't actually in a church, but I've been to a Sunday service once or twice. I had a friend when I was about 7 who invited me along a couple times. I think she was trying to convert me. Certainly I remember her talking to me about it a couple times as if it was very important. But if that was her aim, it didn't really work, because I remember being bored.

I have a fairly different take from a lot of people, I suppose. There was some religious education in our primary school (it consisted of some old volunteer lady who came in once a week to teach us religious stuff, not a word of which I remember now), and I remember being taught things like Noah's Ark at a fairly young age, but not in a heavily religious context or anything.

But then I went to a quaker high school... I sort of wanted to go to a private school, and most of them were single-sex and run by Catholics or Anglicans. Attending mass or the equivalent was mandatory, and in some cases classes were taught by nuns... and no offense, but I'm pretty glad I didn't end up at one of those. They also had the most ridiculous rules about uniforms, and what was appropriate for ladies (such as wearing gloves and carrying your school bag in a certain manner).

What I find remarkable about an education at a quaker school is how broad-minded it was. To my friends at other religious schools, Religious Education class meant glorified bible studies. At our school, it was a class in grade 10 and 12 that taught about many various religions of the world. They didn't try and force their religion on us, and in fact only a couple of the teachers were actually quakers. But the school's most important policy was tolerance. I remember hearing about very few physical fights among the guys (my brother at a public school was involved in many), and the only aspect of the actual religion we participated in was sitting in silence about once a week. I also remember everyone had so much respect for our co-principals, who were these very gentle, kind people.

One way or another, when you raise a child you're instilling your beliefs in them. If you're strongly religious, you can raise them to follow your faith... if you're an atheist, you're still teaching your child a particular doctrine or set of beliefs. I agree, though, whatever it is you should be open to your child forming their own beliefs as they grow older. No matter how strong your own beliefs, you need to accept that they may not always share them.

I would, like Nordy, like to try and give my child a very good broad education that includes other doctrines so that they can better make up their own mind. Realistically, it may not work out quite so simply, but I think ignorance can (and has) caused a lot of harm in the world.

I remember seeing some study (and I forget where I read it) about cultural ignorance between westerners and muslims. They polled Europeans and Muslims living in Europe and the middle-east (respectively) about what they believed about the other culture; they then polled Europeans living in the middle east, and Muslims living in Europe, and asked the same questions. The first groups had much more radical and extreme views of each other, and believed the cultural differences to be much more extreme. Both Europeans in the middle-east and Muslims in Europe believed that the differences between the two peoples was not all that large, and they were not afraid of each other or unable to understand each other's motivations.

Anyway, um, that was a total tangent. But it goes back to my point, ignorance. If we all knew a lot more about each other, and were exposed to different cultures from a young age, a lot of intolerances would go away......

So, back to the question... I'm more or less agnostic, and would raise my children more or less the same way, but with the best education I could give them.

Jade
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Patrick
Sleepless Sonneteer


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 9:22 am
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Ahh, education. *g* I've some strong opinions on it these days...we've been studying it in sociology class and I really like the conflict theory perspective, which sees the American school system as a tool of the ruling elite which gives them an advantage over everyone else....

Nord should be happy, I think I'm becoming a little more Red. :P

Anyway I dunno if I should be answering this part, since I am not a secular Christian and am definitely one of the regular-Church-attendance types.... But from my own experiences going to Catholic schools, I would never subject my own children to it. Maybe it works great for some people; I'm sure the education itself is generally top-quality in many places. For me, it was hell on earth, especially sixth grade. And what's funny is that for me it wasn't anything visible...I never minded the uniforms or the peculiarities of dress codes and other disciplines (which dictated among other things what kind and color of shoes you could wear and what if any jewelry, hair accessories, etc. It was definitely more onerous for girls than for boys). I actually enjoyed going to Mass regularly and all the other required things we did (Benediction, Confession, etc.). I thought religious education was nice because it was one of the few times we were taught by priests (I had good experiences with priests...up until fourth grade that is).

No, it was something else, the atmosphere of the place. It was disciplined, sure as hell...compared to the public schools here it was amazing in that regard, as I soon discovered upon entering seventh grade. But it was disciplined in such a rigid way that kids like me, who weren't "normal" for whatever reason (in my case it was illnesses and medications that in early years impeded my performance at school; I as physically unable to write "acceptably" until third grade or so, for example) were basically treated like crap. There was a pervasive sense of conformity that went far beyond mere uniforms. And like I said, maybe that works for some people, but for me it was five years of struggle and torment. One day I am going to write about how sixth grade was the worst school year of my life....

Anyway I seem to be getting rather long-winded here. I believe that the Christian scruptures (whether you regard them as the Word of God or pure myth) are part of the heritage of Western civilization, since like it or not Christianity has been the dominant religion in the West for some 1,700 years. Our art, architecture, literature, language, and in some cases systems of government and law all bear direct influences from Christianity and its sacred texts. So, I think the basic stories from Christian scripture should rightly have a place in Western education, even secular education...right alongside those from the ancient Near East and Europe, which have also shaped the Western mind. I think that in everything there has to be a balance. You'll get non-Christians who regard the Bible as absolute myth and want it banned from being mentioned in education at all, and you'll also get Christians who regard any religion or mythology from the ancient world as being "pagan" and accordingly refuse to subject their children to "paganism" (yeah it sounds crazy but trust me, it happens). Both are misguided and narrow-minded.

(Ironic Anecdote of the Day: In Catholic school I learned far more about ancient Roman and Greek religion and culture than I ever did in public schools, whereas in public school--fifth grade in particular--I learned more Christian stories and sang more hymns than I ever did in Catholic school. The world really is a funny place, sometimes.)

Okay, that's enough. *l*
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Caleyna
Queen of Silliness


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:17 pm
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Ah, the joys of a church education. I went to public school but attended a Christian university. At that time I was deeply religious but not a fanatic. I was raised in a secular househould and was the only one who attended church so I didn't have that generations of belief about good and evil that many of my peers did. Many of the students were extremely narrow minded and did things I couldn't even begin to fathom (refuse to go to the movies, but rented movies all the time, refused to wear shorts to the cafeteria but wore them other places, weird stuff like that.) Unless the public schools are REALLY bad wherever we land I can't imagine putting Erik in a Christian school, espescially Catholic. I don't like such conformity (interesting that you say you are turning Red, though, since in my experience in Sweden the one thing I HATED the most was the conformity.

Anyway, all that was to say "YES! I had a student who couldn't study Greek mythology because it was pagan!" I was stunned when the mother came in to complain and rail about how we were going to turn her daughter into a Zeus worshipping pagan. This girl was an 11th grader in my 9th grade class. Her grade was something like 4%. She smoked, she drank, she did all manner of drugs and eventually dropped out of school because she was pregnant, but heaven forbid we teach her about the Olympians. It took a whole lot of work to find a book that was an acceptable replacement for the mother. Eventually I handed her a copy of Old Man and the Sea and that was fine. I would have tried to get something a little better and more on track with what we were doing if I thought the girl would ever bother to crack the book.
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TamAlthor
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 4:31 pm
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I definatly think children should be taught right and wrong. And one of the best way to teach complex ideas is through stories. I have no issue with kids being taught stories in school. However if these stories are religious in nature then there are issues. Religious stories draw conclutions, and make inferences into the mind of a suposed supream being and a suposed supreme right or wrong and reasons each are such.

There are many Christian denomination's who can agree that a story happend but do not agree on the key player's reasoning or on seeminly small details of a possible incident. Though not the the extend to Christianity there are differnt schools of thoughts within Jeudasism and Islam of a similar nature.

So I can agree with teaching children in school stories that relate moralss however even in a prodominatly christian culture i have issue teaching stories of a religious nature in schools
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Moiraine



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 6:58 am
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I admire Nordli for the way she's trying to raise her child. I myself was raised Roman Catholic, and every Sunday from when I was 7 to 14 years of age I was dragged to Church. Well, I actually do remember one time that I was dragged, interrupted from my afternoon playtime, bawling, dressed up to go to Church. And if I don't behave inside Church... Bang! *lol* but true, I would get it. A pinch here and there, not that I wasn't always well behaved *wink* but those kinds of instances left some bitter memories, some childish loathing of this "Church" place that I had to go to. But now I'm actually living a good, uh, kind and honest life..*wink* but I just wish I were given the option to really get to know religion and choose which suits me best, because although I do believe in God and all, there are just some points in my religion that "brushes" sexism, and how a woman can't hold mass because... well, I don't know why she can't hold mass. Maybe it's just that she can't? I don't really practice religion very often now, but I still pray to God every night, and I really do believe in Him. And when the time comes for me to raise a child, though we'd probably be living the Christian life, I'll still give her the freedom of choice to take in the religion that she wants. Besides, what is really important here is that she/he knows right from wrong, and with that, I know my child will do just fine. I won't be having children any time soon, but by then I hope I would have gained more insight and wisdom in the matter, and by reading forums like these I gain just that ^_^ I think... this forum is surpsrising for me because..well, it's the first forum that I've been to that's... clean.*lol*
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Chinaren



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 6:16 am
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I definatly think children should be taught right and wrong.


I strongly believe that it is right to kill people and eat their brains. I plan on teaching all my children by my many wives to do this.

Okay, the above isn't true*, but here lies the problem with that statement. What is right and wrong? People are going to teach their kids depending upon their POV, and there's pretty much bogger all the current non-Big Brother** governments can do about it.

I admire those in this thread who are waiting until the kids are old enough to make their own mind up, and wish everyone was as balanced and fair.

Whilst I'm about it, I also wish for a Ferrari and a couple of million bucks/Euros etc...


*Or is it? :shock:
**Though this scenario is getting closer daily.

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Xinpheld
Bird Man of Alka-Seltzer


Joined: 24 Jan 2007
Posts: 744
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 3:13 pm
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My wife was raised sort of Catholic (not stringent) and I was raised Methodist until I dropped religion on my own philosophy when I was in 8th grade, and am now an atheist. I still hold some interest in world religions, because they have something to teach, even if I don't prescribe to their dogmas, and I have a personal spiritual view. We started attending a Unitarian Universalist church at the beginning of this year and have since become members. It's a very open and inclusive system, with a large emphsasis on learning and understanding. While I left Chrisianity behind, I did value the sociocultural environment that goes with a church community, and we wanted that both for us and for our kids. We don't rely on the church system to teach them right from wrong - we do that pretty much ourselves, imparting wisdom and putting a filter of understanding on the outside world and its many grey areas. It's my firm belief that one does not need to be religious to be good. I also believe that anyone should follow whatever path they need to in order to be that good person, so should any of our kids decide that they want o head down a particular religious direction, we would suport them. We jut want to give them the opportunity to learn what's out there, and make an educated decision about what they need in their life to get them by.
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eoz



Joined: 05 Dec 2008
Posts: 24
Location: Oxford, UK

PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:50 am
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I don't know about the whole parenthood thing, but I like the way religion is taught in schools here in England. As a kid in school you learn about every single major religion, from Buddism to Islam and everything in-between. No one really cares which one you believe in, but everyone learns about all the major faiths, and with knowledge and understanding comes respect. In this way as you grow up you get to take your pick of which faith, if any, sits well with you. I don't think you can ask for more than that really.

Christianity is now the least observed religion in this country, as far as I can remember Islam is number one, with Wicca coming a close second. And yet we still refer to ourselves as a Christian Nation. Someone really needs to think about updating that label :)

As to what should or shouldn't be taught to kids, I'm happy with how the schools here handle things, choice is the key, show them everything there is and let them make their own decisions. If I ever become a parent that's certainly what I'll try to do. I wouldn't force my own personal choice of Atheism down anyone else's throat :)
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avijit



Joined: 01 May 2009
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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 2:28 pm
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The largest threat to religious diversity today is the intolerance and hatred for others that stems from a lack of genuine understanding of and empathy towards religious traditions other than our own. This can be seen all too clearly in the violence that we are witness to in the world right now. How do we promote the genuine, empathetic understanding of religious paths that differ from ours? This can only happen if all of us take seriously the responsibility of fairly and sympathetically portraying the religious beliefs and traditions of others. We must ask ourselves - how do we reveal the face of another? As Gandhi said: "If we are to respect others' religions as we would have them respect our own, a friendly study of the world's religions is a sacred duty." This "sacred duty" must be modeled and taught (especially to young people) by religious leaders and teachers. Therefore, it is time to reassess the way we portray the religious faiths of others so as to preserve the religious diversity of our nations and our world. For us as teachers and leaders in our communities, part of this reassessment involves a turn inward to investigate two things: the quality of our understanding of each other and our motivations for revealing the faiths of others. First, have we truly understood the face of another? That is, have we sympathetically comprehended another faith on its own terms? Second, what are own motivations for portraying another's religion? Is our motivation the denigration of another faith to prove our own superiority or to justify discrimination or proselytization? Or is it the advancement of genuine respect and inter-religious dialogue and cooperation? As Diana Eck says, we are the "keepers of one another's image." We must guard the image of another as carefully and justly as we would have our own image guarded.

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