I from the moment she was born decided my daughter would be taught about religion, ALL religion, because I firmly believe the best defense against indoctrination is education. That and I was competing with her mother who had a renewed interest in religion when she became a mother.
Now her mother has since gone over the edge and become ultra religious, we are unsurprisingly no longer together, which is doing more than I ever could to push our daughter to non-belief. But when she was young I would read to her books about different religions and would read bible stories written for kids and he mother hated it. WHY? because not only was I introducing her to the idea that there is not one religion, I would explain the bible stories to get at what the kids version left out and even the adult version kind of glosses over.
So how do you do with your kids?
When my kids were growing up (they are now 27 to 34) we went to church, I was a bible study leader, director of VBS, and active in committees and lay leadership. I was a "church lady". 15 years ago we moved to Omaha and I could not find a church I was comfortable with. Nebraska is way more conservative than I liked, but we ended up in a conservative church because the kid still at home knew kids there, and I had plans for the future that I wanted her to have a good support group. I chose divorce about 10ish years ago, my ex had grown way too conservative and way too invested in his xian website. He put the website above family. I moved out with the youngest, and she and her dad continued going to the church. I drifted, and then moved further and further away from religion. My mind cleared and I saw the light. The two older kids came out as atheist/agnostic, and the youngest still goes to church to keep daddy happy, and her social group, she is now the pianist for the church. It might change, she just moved further away from the church and I think the drive in will be too much with her family obligations. We were a military family so we moved frequently, and military at the time was so inclusive of other faiths and backgrounds, my kids were encouraged to learn everything. My ex is more alarmed that the middle child is atheist than that she is gay.
Funny that this question should come here and today because my 6 year old Nephew just related to me what occurred yesterday in his class.
It seems that they had a substitute Teacher for a while and she, being very religious, mentioned to the class that Christmas was coming soon and wanted to know what it meant to the children.
Well, Henry, my nephew being quite outspoken for his tender age stood up and replied, " Lots and Lots of presents, Mum, Dad, Uncle Tony, Poppy and other friends coming around for lunch and fun stuff like that."
So the teacher, somewhat taken aback, mentioned that Christmas Day was the Birthday of someone very special and did anyone know whose Birthday it was.
Again, Henry beat the rest of the class to punch and replied, " Well it's not mine, mine was last week, Uncle Tony's is before Christmas, Mums Birthday was 2 days after mine, Dads was way before any of us."
So the teacher then asked if Henry knew Jesus and that Christmas Day was the Birthday of Jesus."
According to Henry's Mum, who is a Teacher's Assistant at the same school and was actually assisting with Henry's class at the time, Young Henry merely jumped and said out very loud indeed, " Who is this Jesus bloke, I have never met him, has anyone else met him?"
With that the teacher lowered her head, shook it solemnly and walked out of the room.
It seems to me that another Atheist has arisen to fill out ranks.
My sons both lived with their mothers most of their lives. My youngest son now lives with me. Both mothers are religious and thus my sons -- ages 15 and 11 -- were raised to believe in God. However, both of my boys have confided in me recently that they aren't sure if they believe in God. I explained to them that it's okay -- natural even -- to question one's faith in God. I told them both that I'm agnostic myself and answered questions they had as to why. Ultimately I told them that I'm proud of them and that I support whatever they decide to believe. They both seemed glad to know that I felt this way and I hope they both continue to question, not just religion, but everything...
None of the above.
I made science and learning a priority in the house and told my children to research all religions if they decide they were interested. They did, and decided all were full of shit.
My oldest is 40 and my youngest is 28. They're still atheists.
Before my son was even born, his mother and i agreed we were going to teach him there was no evidence that a god existed.. and, as he got older, if he had questions, we would explain to him that people believe in god for very few reasons.. 1, it explains things they don't understand... 2, they were indoctrinated at such a young age, they find it difficult to let go of.. 3, religions have been careful to include threats in the brainwashing, so people who are unwilling to truly analyze the silliness of religious beliefs, are easily scared out of challenging the religion that was forced upon them.. he's a perfectly reasonable 27-year old now...
My ex wife and I were both atheists and we raised our daughter as if religion didn't exist and that seems to have worked out fine. I've never been one to waste my time learning about something that is non existent. I spent about the first 15 years of my life enduring that shit and decided that the further I could stay away from it the better I would be.
My wife is catholic and our daughter went to CCD for awhile but decided she didn't like it any more and asked me what to do and I told her to tell her mother the truth. No problem. When she had questions I gave her a Bible and told her to get to reading. She got to Lot in Genesis and refused to read further. Atheist since.
I was an atheist and a single mom with two sons in a very Jesus-y rural small town. I let them go to church with whomever they wanted to join. I let them know that I didn't believe but that they would need to draw conclusions about what they believed on their own. I had strong feelings against indoctrination of any kind. By the time they got to high school, both sons attended churches sporadically, usually following some girl there, and either became immersed or rejected it as the inclination struck them. Both are in their 40s now and are strong atheists.
I take little to no credit for this, other than for allowing them to think freely for themselves.
I won't bring it up but I answer her questions about it as much as I can. I found teaching her critical thought processes and sticking to the truth was enough. But I also had a spouse that had my back. I purposely avoided relationships with theists specifically because of their belief that children must be saved.
Not having my own kids, I was never faced with how to raise them.
Especially with a partner who was a believer.
I have daily interaction with my nephew's two youngest children.
Their mother says she's agnostic, but she is in recovery, and AA helps
her stay sober. She believes more than she used to, and I don't interfere
with what helps her sobriety. Even if it's AA.
My nephew told me he's an atheist. We've only had a handful of conversations
over the subject of religion and our atheism.
He sends me funny memes about atheists. (I'll include my favorite)
They have their son in Boy Scouts, and we all know about the BSA.
Their kids occasionally attend church services with family friends when
there are sleep-over weekends. I think other people talk to their kids about
religion much more than what they hear at home.
When I'm with the kids, whenever the opportunity arises, I always say that
all gods are myths.
We watch a lot of Marvel movies. Thor and Odin are the perfect examples for
me to use.
We talk about how the days of the week got their names.
I don't attack christianity with the kids. They aren't my kids and I walk a fine line.
I always try to be respectful of how they're raising their kids.
I try to use my influence as wisely as I can.
The older they get, the more I'll be freer with my beliefs, or lack thereof.
Same as I was with my nephew and his siblings.
My sons are adults now and non-believers like me. Their father was Catholic and insisted on raising them as Catholics; we were married in a Catholic church mostly to please his mother who is very religious.
They now laugh at the dogma they were taught and how silly some of the teachings seem.
Catholicism makes me scratch my head.
I don't have children, but I recall what it was to be a child in a devout Catholic home and how indoctrination affected me. I lacked critical thinking, having been taught from the time I was a toddler to accept things on faith. I accepted it all, and when I did have questions there was a convenient answer: it's a mystery, beyond human comprehension, and it will all be revealed in the afterlife. I grew dogmatic in my teen years, and that allowed me to accept other things about reality and life without critical examination. I was a bright, kind, sensitive child, but I was also arrogant and believed those who didn't share my views were stupid, destined for eternal damnation, and to be disregarded. I would not have felt that way had it not been for a religious mindset.
So, if I did have children, I don't agree with some who think there's no harm in letting them find their own way and that religious influences pose no threat. A child's mind is quite susceptible to accepting illogical explanations, and not everyone can break free once religion has its hooks into them. I was fortunate that in my college years I cared enough about exploring truth to confront the uncomfortable and often painful reality that my worldview and the foundation of my ethical core were flawed and needed to be reformed, replacing authority with reason. Many people, when confronted with this dilemma, can't bear to turn away from their childhood, the beliefs of their parents, the traditions that built them up, and they instead turn back to religion with renewed vigor; I saw this happen to a close friend of mine, smart and inquisitive, who once told me that he envied me because I seemed to have everything figured out and was at peace with leaving religion while he remained terribly conflicted and uncertain.
What I'd do, then, if I had children, is not to demonize or ignore religion but rather to set a solid foundation for logic and reason and to provide a home environment that's safe and comforting so those who peddle religion and prey on the depressed and downtrodden as a welcoming community of caring people won't find an easy target in my kids. I'd teach modern religion alongside other mythology, drawing parallels and encouraging critical thought along the way, infusing logic and reason, presenting it as part of philosophy and psychology and anthropology, showing where and how it overlaps with science (e.g., in its attempt to explain the world) and how the scientific method has improved on such endeavors. Providing a basis for critical thinking and healthy skepticism and showing that it's okay to not have all the answers and how that helps to drive intellectual curiosity and progress is the best inoculation against the easy answers and occasional charlatanism of the religious and cultists, political partisans, pseudoscientific practitioners, and so on. It's still no guarantee, but it's the best I would be able to offer.
I used various religions to teach my kids about the great diversity in humanity. I did not practice any of them, but explained all the holidays various cultures celebrated and sometimes took them to observe how different they were.
Told them none are proven, but many people believe them, that in America people were free to believe whatever they liked. Eventually that led to them, at the age of reason, to ask me why I did not practice any of them. They explored these ideas as teens equipped with critical thinking, and none of my kids are religious as adults.
I did not vote as there was not an answer that was fitting. I taught my childern to think, analyse, and research with credible sources. I did not do anything else. They did and do not believe in gods. I was an in the closet atheist and my wife was a Christian.
As atheist parents, we never took our daughter to church. At 29, our daughter is atheist, too.
To my dismay, Claire was best friends with a Mormon girl. I tried to warn her about the Mormon religion (women and girls are submissive; at age 15 kids may not have non-Mormon friends, history of polygamy, etc.)
Claire refused to listen. But when her friend turned 15, she rejected Claire because she wasn't Mormon. Claire was heartbroken.
We raised our daughter to be a critical thinker, and gave her an overview of religion in general. My husband died when she was three, so it was mostly up to me. My family is religous, and we didn't partake, but I found it impossible for her to interact in the real world without some information from the bible. For instances, I'd have to explain what was meant by a reference to "30 pieces of silver" when she heard it in a play. Or what it meant when someone was referred to as a Judas. I also taught her that many people need religion or life is too overwhelming for them, however, this was tested when my husband died and people scared the shit out of her with spooky sayings about her Dad looking down on her and so forth. She knows dead is dead, and probably took some people aback when they said ridiculous things to her. Okay, I found that bit a little satisfying when it happened.
Why not just let them discover for themselves unless one is part of a religious community.
They have enough things to discover like best friends, tadpoles in ditches, acorns into oak trees and so on.
Questions about religion will arise as a matter of course. There is no need to put a parental bias on their development. Time would be better spent explaining acorns into oak trees than the perceived stranger danger of religions.