Why do the religiously devout think it is acceptable to indoctrinate their children in to their religion?

– Xochielt Sanchez

Answer by Dan Holliday:

Re:  "Aren't their children independent people who deserve to make their own choices?"

Ahhh. . . no.  They aren't. Children have precisely ZERO clue about how the world around them operates and it's up to parents to teach them (in the best way that they can) how that world operates.  Their job is to best-prepare their children for the world they're going to live in.  Children need a combination of pleasure and pain to accomplish his (AKA:  reward and punishment).  That is the very essence of "indoctrination". 

The problem is that you think that YOUR values are the right ones and that Christian parents' are the wrong ones.  And look, I'm an atheist — I don't like religion — but parenting is a lot like the Churchill quote on democracy:  "Allowing parents the right to 'indoctrinate' their children in their way of life is the worst form of rearing humans except for all others available." 

Re:  "Moreover, making their own choices is only possible after they become adults provided they have not been indoctrinated already as children."

That's right.  And every parent has the right to replicate their values in their children.  If I had a kid, I'd teach my children about my liberal-progressive values.  What gives me the right to tell a Christian parent that their (supposedly in this example) conservative Christian values are wrong?

All parents indoctrinate.  It's tempting to give in to black and white thinking and say that "Religion is indoctrination, but X is not".  (whatever X is, is whatever suits your fancy)  But that fails in how we specifically define what values and why those values are permitted and which ones we don't. 

No one has ever completely explained to me how "indoctrination" of X value makes the world a better place without first demanding that I accept their personal and subjective values as a part of evaluating those values!  Wow.  Talk about circular reasoning!  Why do those axiomatic values hold sway over the axiomatic values of someone else?   The only option left is to create a tyranny to force those values on people and begin socially engineering humans from the top (government) down. 

No thanks. The best and only model we have is the incredible bond of love and affection between parents and children that goes back to the dawn of humanity.  We simply must fall back on that bond — even though clearly it fails at times.  Yes it's clunky.  Yes we hate seeing "others" use that bond in ways we don't like.  Yes, it sucks in the extreme cases where children end up hurt. 

The alternative is in over-empowering the state to step in and begin imposing its values on people.  That axe swings just as well both ways and would inevitably end up in the wrong hands.  We don't live in a perfect universe.  While it may seem scary to allow parents (even those with questionable beliefs) to "indoctrinate" their children in ways we find wrong, the alternative to this ancient institution is frightening beyond all comprehension to me.

Why do the religiously devout think it is acceptable to indoctrinate their children in to their religion?


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