Children who Question Faith/Religion in Schools

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Terri Ann Ragoonanan's picture
Children who Question Faith/Religion in Schools

Hello everyone. I'm a new member so forgive me if I bring up topics already discussed on this site. I was born into a fairly religious family. My mother came from a Hindu background but converted to Christianity when she married my father. As a child I attended church regularly, including Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. My grandfather also used to read the Bible to me frequently and by the time I was 7 I could recite entire chapters in the gospels by heart. My maternal grandparents were still Hindus so I also attended Hindu prayers and performed certain rites and rituals associated with Hindu beliefs. I was immersed in religion at a very young age but I never really understood it. I used to ask so many questions, one of which was, "Where did god come from?" That was the main question I asked over and over to everyone I met. To me as a child, if I just knew where the man in charge came from then I would know whether or not he was worth being worshiped. The problem was that most people didn't have an answer or if they did it was usually a pretty weak response that never convinced me. A memorable moment came when I asked one of my primary school teachers, who was and still is a devout Jehovah's Witness, this very same question when I was nine. He said, "A long time ago there were these chemicals, and the chemicals reacted in a certain way and god came out of it.' Of course my very next question was "Where did the chemicals come from?" Now, I do not know if that is what Witnesses believe but that is what he told me. I questioned the authenticity of the Bible constantly, and I was forever comparing it to the Bhagvad Gita (forgive any misspelling) by asking all and sundry in Church how they figured out that the Bible was true but the BG wasn't. Every answer I heard never satisfactorily appeased me and I continued to wonder all the time why humans had divided up god into different religions, if there was only one god surely he would ensure that everyone knew who he was and where he came from and then everyone would just be the same religion. It was only when I was a teenager attending a Presbyterian High School that I realised that the reason I always had so many questions was that I just didn't believe in god or any religion. No one had ever provided enough evidence, even when I was a child, to convince me that anything in the Bible, the Bhagvad Gita or any religious text was true. Bill Nye the Science Guy and many other educational programs from my youth instilled in me a wonder and a desire to understand the universe for what it is and not what people made up centuries ago about its existence. I've been an atheist my whole life, I just didn't realise until I was old enough to figure myself out. To this day I make it a point to tell children the truth, despite their family's religious affiliation. I know this may seem disrespectful but at the end of the day children can make up their own minds about what's real or not. I am aware that in many schools in the USA there is the issue of what to teach in Science class. In my country (Trinidad & Tobago) there are three main religions, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. There are several schools that are run by these denominational boards, two of which I attended (both Presbyterian) and oddly the issue of Science as a counter to religious teaching was never a major problem. These schools offer Science classes as well as religious classes to all students, regardless of the student's religion (meaning there could be a Hindu pupil in a Muslim institution learning about Islam and vice versa) and this is just accepted as a norm in the country. I, for one, find this admirable. But the treatment of people of non-faith leaves much to be desired. Everyone is expected to have a religion. The first time I ever acknowledged myself as an atheist was when I was registering for University. There were the 3 main options (Hindu, Muslim, Christian), Other, and to my very pleasant surprise, a blank space. When I chose the blank space I felt liberated after years of pretending to be Presbyterian on school forms (we weren't Presbyterians but my parents thought it would be best to pretend to be). My parents are now devout Christians, much more so than when I was a child. My father became seriously ill years ago and he nearly died. This was a transformation period for him and my mother. Today they are the most Christian Christians ever. I have never told them that I'm an atheist. I don't want to be 'exorcised.' Maybe I will eventually, but for now I am enjoying being open-minded and learning about the universe through scientific reasoning. Finally I can ask questions and get logical responses or at the very least an admission of ignorance with the subtext that, hey we're still trying to figure some stuff out. That I can live with.

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Unknowntyper's picture
I am no one official, but

I am no one official, but "Welcome to the group, and thank you for sharing!" :)

I personally think that none of those options should be on any school application or form, but that blank space must have stood out indeed. I am glad you could fill it in honestly.

Congratulations on shedding the shackles of faith and dogma. The world is so much more precious without them!

As for telling your parents, you may want to ask them about the topic first and "feel out" to gauge a potential reaction. But I can assure you that once you come to grips with it in yourself, hiding can be daunting.


mysticrose's picture
Last year, when I enrolled my

Last year, when I enrolled my child in pre-school, I noticed some posters on the the wall saying the right of children such as right for education, love, etc. What caught my attention is that according to one poster, every child have a right to be taught about religion and the curriculum includes teaching the children about god and worshiping god. I'm wondering, why should wetaught children such complex topics when adults can't even thoroughly explain those stuffs? Topic about god should be explained when a child becomes more mature or during the adolescent stage.

Unknowntyper's picture
It is about indoctrination.

It is about indoctrination. That is how this whole thing works. Very few people never raised in a faith or a religion (or at least involved in some spiritual lifestyle at a young age) ever convert as adults.

SammyShazaam's picture
I've seen a lot of people

I've seen a lot of people turn to religion as they get older, but I'm not sure how many of them were actually raised religious and just grew away from the church for a while. I don't think I know any decided atheists who have turned back, but still I think there are probably more than it at first might seem.

Trevor's picture
I think I was kind of one of

I think I was kind of one of those kids that questioned religion at a very early age, I was around 12 years old.

ginamoon's picture
I think parents should

I think parents should welcome those questions and try to answer them the simplest way possible so not to complicate things. Anyway, as we grow old, we will all have the time or freedom to believe what to believe in and think what we like to think as we own our minds. :)

SammyShazaam's picture
I always questioned religion

I always questioned religion as a child. I was raised without religion in my home (we practiced in the presence of my grandparents, but it was clear that it was more for familial respect than for anything bigger than that), and it both fascinated me and weirded me out wholesale when I met other kids who believed in things like that. Especially the scarier stuff - where some types of horror stories ok, and others would land me in time out?

I was a pretty curious kid with a lot of questions... I realize that, since i was in Catholic school, that may have been seen as inappropriate.

By about 8 I realized that other kids were unimaginably disturbed by questioning their own beliefs (I *still* don't understand why, minds should be flexible, just like joints - develop your range of motion or you'll risk injury!) so instead I played with the question of what I could make them believe. I figured if they'd buy the Santa Clause story, they'd buy anything!

Developing cults got old somewhere around middle school. I figured that I couldn't do a better job than has already been done by the Catholic Church.

firebolt's picture
You have said the most wise

You have said the most wise thing I have heard all week, "Minds should be flexible, just like joints- develop your range of motion or you'll risk injury"
That's fortune cookie good Sammy!

SammyShazaam's picture
Fortune cookie good? Now that

Fortune cookie good? Now that's *good* :)


mysticrose's picture
We must taught our kids

We must taught our kids things that we can thoroughly explain and understand. Even if they will grow up and finally understand what's going on around them, our teachings whether they are fantasy or not or even the effects of media will always influence the subconscious mind of our kids as they grow up.

mattyn's picture
I think mysticrose has a good

I think mysticrose has a good take on it. We should teach them what we can and only what we can explain. Everything else, we can explore together or they can learn on their own throughout their lives.

yaller587's picture
We actually often teach kids

We actually often teach kids things we can't explain. We teach kids about cancer, when we can't fully explain the causes or treatment. We teach kids about evolution and other scientific and controversial theories that have not been 100% proven as truth.

Spewer's picture
I don't know if you intended

I don't know if you intended to imply that the theory of evolution is controversial. The only controversy is generated from creationists who completely misunderstand the theory of evolution or science in general. The theory of evolution is probably the most supported by actual evidence of any modern scientific theory. In the field of biology, there simply isn't a controversy about ToE.

Not only that, no theory is "100% proven as truth." Science works in probabilities. Proof exists in theoretical mathematics and not many other places.

ginamoon's picture
It will be hard to answer

It will be hard to answer kids question with another question. :P
Better to directly answer the questions simply as possible so that kids will not further be thinking of how complicated a religion or belief could be.

mysticrose's picture
Recently my child heard about

Recently my child heard about Christmas season from the neighborhood, so she asked me to buy a christmas tree and other christmas stuffs. I really don't know what to do and what to say to avoid her from becoming confused. I didn't discuss her about christmas but she learned about it from others and she found it a happy season to celebrate. While I don't want to waste time decorating my house for christmas, I simply promised to my child that we will go shopping for toys instead.

Zaphod's picture
Do what you will but I think

Do what you will but I think you should at the very least explain what Christmas is all about from your point of view and it will not harm you to celebrate it just for the sake of giving your child a good memory. Perhaps you could decorate for solstice and explain why to you child I think it could be a great learning experience. This time of year is a great time to celebrate and there are many reasons to. Perhaps you could make decorations with your child that express it all, you know Christmas, Hanuka, Yuletide Kwanzaa Solstice Ramadan ect. ect. It will give you a chance to cheaply decorate and get a some bonding time with your child while giving your child a more rounded education than someone who were to celebrate just one of these holidays. If everyone else gets on the party boat and you don't well you missed it.

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