WENDY THOMAS RUSSELL: I did a survey of 1,000 nonreligious parents to find out exactly that. And the top reason cited was, people weren’t sure how to talk about religion without indoctrinating their kids into what they believed themselves. That was a hard line.
The other one was interacting with religious family members and keeping the peace in families. When you’re raising a child who is in a secular household, how do you bridge the gap between the older generations who may be more rigidly religious?
JEFFREY BROWN: This word indoctrinating is an important one, because it comes up time and time again here. What’s the difference between indoctrinating and guiding children, right?
WENDY THOMAS RUSSELL: Right.
Indoctrination, I see, as almost the antithesis of critical thinking. Of course it’s fine to guide your children, but I see indoctrination as sort of this middle ground between full-on brainwashing and guidance. it’s stronger than — it’s stronger than just merely guidance.
I see indoctrination as telling children that there is only one way to believe, and that all other ways and people who believe all other things are less worthy of our respect, less intelligent, less moral. It’s that — that’s the crucial issue, because I think that, when you do that, you set up your child to be bigoted against those who don’t believe the way that you do. You know, we are — it’s not a black-and-white world
Although not important to the purposes of this post, the interview above is about a book Wendy Thomas Russell wrote about how to discuss the topic of God with your children. I know for the very religious fundamentalists among us the idea that we indoctrinate or brainwash our kids into believing what we believe is tantamount to heresy. But to the secular or even those of us who are spiritual but not particularly religious it seems to be a viable statement.
As mentioned several times on this blog I did a very serious ten year study over at RedLetterLiving on the topic of beliefs and religion. During that time I learned just how diverse the beliefs in God are. There are currently over 35,000 different versions of Christianity and each one believes they are the ones who have it right. From personal experiences I learned this truth the hard way in being told I didn’t tow the line close enough and informed I was no longer welcomed.
“Telling children that there is only one way to believe, and that all other ways and people who believe all other things are less worthy of our respect, less intelligent, less moral” as the article mentions is the primary reason there is so much violence in the world today. 90% of the violence in the hotbed Middle East is muslims fighting each other. The other ten percent is their hate for the U.S.
I am very much a follower of Jesus Christ but not so much what his church, or any religion for that matter, has become. If we ever want to see peace come to this earth we have got to get over thinking that when it comes to God our way is the only way. We Christians just need stop saying our particular brand of religion is the only “true” one.