Religious Education and Religious Schools

Question from Dean:
Brief background:
I am a Christian. When I was raising my Children we went to Church occasionally and my kids went to Summer Camp (religious one) every year until their early teens. (I know, very brief but it should do)
My Son is now in his 30’s with two beautiful children and I am a proud Grampa!

My Daughter in law wants to enrol the kids in a religious based school as opposed to the public system…mainly due that she feels they offer a higher quality education, I agree. And NO…the school is not a wacko young earth type group…and yes…they teach evolution and proper science.
Anyway….my Son flat out refuses and has informed me that he thinks religion is nothing but bullshit.

I respect his choice but I have explained to him that his children should have some religious education like he did, after all, he was free to make his choice and I love him just as much regardless.

I have always felt that exposure to religion is part of a well rounded education.
Free will is a very important part of my Faith, but to have free will and the freedom to choose you should also have exposure to your choices.

Am I wrong?

Answer by SmartLX:
I completely agree with you that exposure to religion is important, because it’s a huge part of everyday life even if you’re not religious, but religious education in a religious school usually goes beyond exposure and is seldom comprehensive.

The issue from your son’s perspective is likely that even a moderate Christian school will not only expose his children to Christianity but actively indoctrinate them into it to some extent at least, and it will not expose them to other religions (that is, other choices) as well. For both your sakes, it’s worth finding out what the RE curriculum is at this particular school, if only to confirm that you have something to fight about.

It’s always a dilemma for non-religious parents when the private, religious schools are the ones with the resources to offer the best education, which happens a lot. I was in exactly the same position myself, but as the child; my Catholic mother won out over my atheist father and I went to a liberal Catholic primary school. It didn’t stop me from questioning Christian doctrine at about age 11, and fading to agnosticism before I reached high school. Based on that alone I can assure you and your son that his kids’ ultimate positions are not foregone conclusions based on the choice of school, especially if it isn’t “wacko”.

I and a lot of other atheists see “comparative religion” as the ideal religious education: “This is what Christians believe, and how they worship. Now this is Hinduism…” and so on. It lays out the undisputed facts and the known history of the major world religions, without endorsing any particular view. That’s the kind of course that gives kids the most information, the most understanding and the widest choice. Sadly, only religious schools tend to be seriously interested in religious education at all, and they have a vested interest in not being impartial. (It’s certainly not the kind of class I had. I had to find it all out later.) This need not be a guaranteed deal-breaker for non-religious parents, but they do feel the need to take it into account.

My regards to you and your family. Good luck with sorting this out.

One thought on “Religious Education and Religious Schools”

  1. Thank you for taking the time to reply.
    I know that there will be no fight over the issue and hopefully a middle ground of some kind will be found.
    You have given me some food for thought.
    I must say that you have done a good job on keeping your website a civil place to visit. Well done.

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