Teach your children well
by: John Tyrrell
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There's a book out there - which I'm not recommending to anyone - by Virginia Fox, God Is In The House. It consists of a number of testimonies of Christian faith by members of the US House of Representatives. Or pap to be sold to Christian suckers.
I took a quick look at one testimony which was published by Patheos - the testimony of Illinois Congressman Randy Hultgren. It opens with:
"I had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home with wonderful Christian parents who had, in turn, been blessed with a Godly heritage. Because of this, I realized at a very young age (perhaps five of six years old) that I was a sinner... and that I needed a Savior."
That's essentially it. He's a Christian just because his parents indoctrinated him at an early age, and they too were indoctrinated by their parents, who were similarly indoctrinated by their parents. And who knows how far back this "Godly heritage" goes?
Apparently the whole family lacked the capacity for critical thinking, for questioning, for challenging. They just blindly followed their parents.
Imagine if the opening sentence had been "I had the privilege of being raised in a cannibal home with wonderful cannibal parents who had, in turn, been blessed with a cannibal heritage." Would that justify continuing to be a cannibal and raising one's own children as cannibals? It seems that for the Randy Hultgrens of the world, it would.
At some point in life, we have to challenge the teachings of our parents. We cannot be bound by family history. It does not matter if our parents were Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists or whatever. We should not automatically take on our parents beliefs. And we should not expect our children to take on our beliefs -- unless of course, those beliefs survive a critical examination.
The best thing we can do is to teach our children well -- teach them to honestly look at the alternatives and to understand them -- and to come to their own decision.
We should not expect our children to be non-believers just because we are non-believers. We should want them to come to that decision on their own, using the tools of critical thinking we've provided them with.
And if believers honestly believed the basic tenets of their faith could stand up to critical examination, that's what they should want also. Not hand-me-down religion.
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