Recently I heard Zak Ebrahim talk on Ted. Zak is an activist and Author of the book “A Terrorist’s son”. His talk in my opinion raises the point that there is a better way to life and you can find it even if you have been indoctrinated to violence during childhood. That you can look at life and love instead of death and hate. It is a very good message which also conveys that no one can give excuses, even that of childhood indoctrination as reason for an act of violence.
But I felt the issue is a bit more complex than that, this talk though is a good start but most time indoctrination of religious violence does not happen at home, it happens as one grows up through the religious institutions and groups. I also don’t think any parent teaches their kid religion asking him to be violent and go and kill people. Now Zak’s case is not the general case for everyone so I think we should explore if there is a problem in teaching kids religion. And here is my 2 cents.
I am of the opinion that teaching religion to kids, (any religion for that matter) in itself can create an intolerance problem. Because even if they don’t think that their religion is about violence, they will think that the other person’s religion is violent. This happens because they start believing that life always revolves within the boundaries defined by religion.
There are folks who claim that they teach religion so kids can be moral. But to teach morality, to teach that humanity is the core value of humans, you do not need a religion, you do not need the concept of god. What you need is sensible good teaching skills to teach good things. And yes you need a clear and clean perspective of life without a religion. Praying to god and knowing scriptures by heart do not add anything to sharpening your moral judgement. Kids should be taught to be good without religion.
But I agree with one thing, through religion you can teach your kids not to eat pork, not to eat beef, not drink, not eat meat or may be not have banana’s on wednesday etc…… But that is not morality it is a habit or culture that parents impose or pass on to their kids. I say that because even if kids break off from their religion they might hang on to these habits. I have seen muslims turned atheists who do not eat pork or drink liquor, hindu turned atheists who still don’t eat beef or meat.
On a lighter note I am sure you will find a guy who does not believe in his/her parent’s given religion (what ever that is) and still does not eat bananas on wednesdays. A person who also does not think that someone is more religious because he does not eat banana any day of the week 🙂 you get my point I guess….. And praying, that is another habit you will teach children with religion; but praying you can be sure he/she will lose if they manage to escape from the clutches of their religion 🙂 remaining habits they carry on….
Now even if you say you need to teach religion, think in a different way… how can you teach something so complex as religion (take it from a philosophical perspective) to a child as small as 7. Even adults find difficulty understanding it and they fight among themselves saying that the other guy’s interpretation is wrong and their’s is right. Hope you are with me…..
Finally if parents find out that teaching religion will definitely make their kids violent in the future, will they teach them religion? may be not. So may be Kids should grow up knowing that religion is not important for being human. And you do not need to specifically teach that religions exist in our world, because it is something a kid can learn for historical and academic reasons if needed as they grow up in his/her way at his/her pace. It is ok if they are slow learners w.r.t religion 🙂 I think they should be taught more about humanity.
As a kid we were not taught religion yet I did not grow up an atheist. We were not religious at home, but temple visits happened once in a while. I never really thought about religion as I was growing up but then when I seriously started thinking about it (much late in life) and even trying to practice it for a while the absurdity of religion and the concept of God was what filled my mind. That might be just me though.
We don’t teach our kids religion, but our elder one seems to be interested in exploring on that lines. I guess even have an interest visiting temples and church etc… We discuss about it… she said she is agnostic and she definitely does not want to be called an atheist. Kids grow up to make their mind. They carry a mind of their own to know what is right and wrong for them.
To be honest I don’t even teach them something called atheism. I don’t think that is necessary either. But when a discussion of religion and God comes I tell them that I don’t have one and I don’t believe in god and my reasons for the same. I also make it a point to tell them that there are people who do not agree with me. And that the majority of people don’t agree with me 🙂 It is up to them to be the minority when they grow up or join the majority or remain just unreligious. Unreligious (not atheist) is also a growing group and that is an interesting trend when I look around.