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March 13, 2014 / BTM

Is Passing Your Faith on to Your Children Child Abuse?

Judge Shaking Finger

[Richard Dawkins], the former Oxford professor feels that it’s fine to teach your kids about religion, as long as you heap plenty of scorn on it and make sure they understand it’s not really true.  But if you actually try to pass your faith on to them, well, that’s child abuse, as far as he’s concerned.  And he doesn’t stop there.  He’s gone on record to suggest that religious instruction of children is arguably more harmful in the long term than sexual abuse.

This is a quote by Subby Szterszky in a recent Focus Insights (Focus on the Family).  Sztersky’s article is particularly pertinent to the topics that I’ve been covering in the Finding the Fingerprints of God series.  It underscores that the realm of science is a huge battleground for believers, and that many are vying for the hearts and minds of our children.

Overall, I think Sztersky’s article highlights the importance of passing on critical thinking skills to our children in this area.  How well would your child fare if faced with the kind of criticisms levied by the individuals quoted in this article?  (How well do you fare?)  I hope this encourages you to be purposeful in preparing your children to face criticisms of their faith and to be able to think for themselves!

Sztersky’ writes:

Bill Nye, the self-styled “Science Guy,” has been in the headlines lately thanks to his creation-evolution debate with Ken Ham, an event we discussed here at Focus Insights.  Before that, Nye made the news for releasing a viral YouTube video in which he slammed parents who taught their children to question evolution.  In his video, the genial bow-tied pied piper of science education adopted a tone very much in lockstep with the surly Dawkins:

“And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine. But don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.”

Leaving aside the fundamentally flawed logic that equates scientific literacy with unquestioning belief in evolution, the message was clear: Parents who don’t raise their kids according to the doctrines of atheistic naturalism are not only doing harm to them, but to society as well.

Most recently, Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, weighed in on the topic of parenting in a similar spirit to Dawkins and Nye. Lamenting the fact that the United Kingdom has state-supported faith schools, Coyne made the following complaint:

“Given that parents can (unfortunately) legally proselytize their children at home, there is no justification for publicly supporting religious education outside the home.”

In other words, Coyne – a high-profile academic at a leading American university – feels that it should be illegal for parents to raise their children in their own faith, in their own home.

One is left to wonder how Coyne might want to remedy the current situation, if given the opportunity. Perhaps homes could be equipped with monitoring devices so authorities could keep track of what parents are teaching their children. Or maybe the kids could be given annual standardized tests at school to see if they’ve developed any religious beliefs. If they have, then police and child services could step in and remove the children to a government facility where they’d be properly taught the tenets of secularism – for their own good and that of society, naturally.

It may seem ludicrous – and honestly rather unpleasant – to speculate along such lines. But in reality, these are precisely the types of practices that have been employed by regimes built on atheism in Soviet Russia, China, Cambodia, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Cuba and others – with invariably ruinous effects on the children and societies themselves.

There’s an upcoming documentary called Irreplaceable, presented by Focus on the Family Canada, that addresses the challenges facing the family in contemporary culture. Near the beginning of the film, there’s a brief discussion of the philosophical foundations that have informed the dynamic between family and state since Classical Antiquity.

Two essential models have predominated. Aristotle believed that the family was the primary context in which the intellectual and moral formation of children should take place. As such, families were seen as the building blocks of society. By contrast, Plato felt that children were a public resource and property of the state. They should be removed from their families and given a standard education in keeping with the beliefs and values of society at large.

As a rule, cultures devoted to secularism have embraced the Platonic model of child-rearing, rather than the Aristotelian. It could hardly be otherwise. Atheism as state religion is not especially known for its tolerance of dissenting views. Parents who raise their children in their own faith represent a palpable threat to the prevailing philosophy. Pretty soon this gets spun as a threat to the well-being of the kids themselves and society as a whole. Despite protests to the contrary, the utopian dream inevitably spirals downward into a nightmare.

May God grant us wisdom to appreciate the danger while it’s still a way off, and the courage to resist it and keep it from gaining the upper hand in our own culture.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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