Are Religious Parents Brainwashing Their Children?

Reader Comments

Levi · 2015-11-07T12:15:15Z Study also find that religious children are more sensitive to injustice. Study is flawed and based on other flawed studies. Social science is crap, it is so subjective, and tries to pass subjectivity as objective facts.

System · 2015-11-07T16:58:57Z “Religious parents are more likely to describe their children as empathetic and concerned about justice than are non-religious parents. But, new evidence reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on November 5 suggests that THE OPPOSITE is in fact true.” So, the study found that children from NON-religious families are more empathetic and concerned about justice- not children from religious families. That fits what I’ve observed in my life. I find that the most “devout” christians are least likely to help a friend or family member if the help needed is great, and would involve EFFORT rather than money. The reasoning I’ve heard from those devout and non-helpful christians is that all they are required to do is to pray- that if a person is “deserving,” God will give them the help they need – no human intervention is required. And that if “God” does not provide the help needed, then “obviously,” (from the devout christian’s point of view) that person is bad, sinful, and deserves their bad fortune/ situation. I’ve observed this attitude widely in the community of devout christians. They think they’ve done their bit in providing help to you if they pray for you. In their eyes, if God doesn’t come through for you, then you are undeserving of help (because God would have helped you if you WERE deserving). The devout christian is “off the hook,” and never needs to lift a finger to help anyone- and gets to feel rightous and holy (and superior) compared to the schmucks who need help. Put together a couple billion of these “devout christian” people, (plus a bunch of psychopaths causing the miserable situations that people need help to get out of) and you can understand why the world is such a mess.

just thinking · 2015-11-07T18:31:21Z [Link] A Holiday Hazing: the Santa Clause Syndrome Christmas. The holiday in its current formation gives us all practice at complicity, passing on cultural fictions because they were passed onto us, and because that’s what adults do. It is effectively a child-friendly celebration of the doctrines — It’s better to receive than to give, and you’re expected to lie so long as everyone else is doing it — proudly brought to you by your favorite sugary drink, Coca-Cola. The worst part of the celebration of this vile conjuration is not the lie itself, but the results of it. Lying to kids in this way creates a parody of genuine human tradition, substituting meaningful ritual with an illusory commercial mockery. But that’s only stage one of the Santa Claus Syndrome…continued [Link]


Dont Expect Participation in Religious Rituals

Seriously, stop trying. You know they don’t believe, so that just makes the rituals all for show if they do follow through. Nothing more. The act of going to church is a complete waste of time for an atheist. Even if you’re saying grace, it doesn’t mean your atheist child is doing so too or cares in the least about whatever you’re telling your imaginary friend.

Praying away the vegetables.

Praying away the vegetables.

Religious parents for some reason still feel the need to push all these little superficial extras onto their atheist children. It doesn’t make any sense and is only going to come off as ignorant and annoying. Aside from that, it unnecessarily creates a point of contention. So, leave it be. If you still have to do your religious duties, go ahead, but don’t make it so apparent that you’re hoping they’ll join in. They won’t, and even if they did, it would be an empty gesture.

We don’t mind Christmas presents, though.

What to Do

So now that we’ve curbed any potential disasters, let’s plan out how you can best handle your child’s revelation.

The very best thing you can do is also going to be the hardest.


That’s right—listen to your child. Let them speak. Allow them to tell you how they arrived at their atheistic conclusions. Don’t yet offer comment or criticism. Just listen.

Afterward? Give them a hug and reassure them that, while you don’t agree that their worldview is the correct one, you still love and cherish them, and you’d love to talk about their decision.

And just like that, you’ve saved your relationship with your child instead of destroying it. And by giving a good example of God’s character, you’ve also propped open the door for Him to come back into your child’s life.

Once you’ve opened communication channels with your child through listening, and have assuaged fears of abandonment and rage, the next step can begin.

It’s time to teach your child how to think rather than what to think.

You will never, ever change their mind by arguing from the Bible if they do not believe scripture to be inspired by God. After all, would you believe someone of a different faith if they attempted to convert you through their own holy book?

Instead, teach them how to read the Bible, rather than your interpretation of what the Bible means. Teach them how to find the truth for themselves—after all, all truth leads to God.

Do this by showing your child how to interpret each verse. Have them look for who is speaking, who is being spoken to, the historical context, and the context of the verse within the overall Bible. This will eliminate many of the perceived inconsistencies and cruelties that seem, on the surface, to mar the Bible—this is the source of many conversions to atheism.

Next, you’ll want to make sure that your own faith is strong, and that you’re living a life as free from hypocrisy as possible.

The sight of Christians treating others badly, rejecting members of their own family, and ignoring the edicts of their own holy text is another leading cause of atheism. Young people desperately want purpose. They want meaning. But they want these things to be authentic.

So when they see Christians behaving badly, it’s difficult to see Christianity as anything but ineffective. Unlived faith is meaningless.

So give them an example they can admire. Don’t just believe, act. Help people. Give to charity. Feed the hungry. Be kind to others. Be a beacon, a lighthouse for God, shining in a sea of cultural darkness and unkindness. That is how you win people over.

Finally, pray for your child. Sometimes, the only thing that can bring a person back to God is God, Himself. If He did it for Saul of Tarsus, He can do it for anyone. So pray, fervently and earnestly. God will listen. He will gently tug.

Remember Theyre Still Human

There’s really no reason your relationship with your child should change just because they stop believing in your god. Maybe you don’t see them in church as often, but surely your relationship is predicated on more than religiously mandated routines. Didn’t you ever play catch with your son? God had nothing to do with that. It turns out atheists can catch baseballs. So, keep treating them like you had been. They didn’t turn into some unfamiliar monster. They’re the same creature you’ve known and loved all of their life.



Atheism doesn’t drastically change a person. It is change, yes, and change is a part of growing up, whether it’s a change in beliefs or not. Your atheist child is still the same person. They have the same childhood memories they’ve always had, hopefully with you in them. Atheists have hopes, dreams, fears and problems just like anyone else. So, when dealing with your kid remember that they’re not just an atheist; they’re a human being. If they screw up, it’s not because they don’t believe in God. It’s because they’re human, and humans screw up. Your atheist child probably doesn’t want you thinking of them as your “atheist child”.

Conclusion: What Really Harms a Child

Child abuse? We hate to abuse the term, as Dawkins and others do. Still, we have to point out that the very things Dawkins advocates—to deprive a child of living water (John 4:10–14) and the spiritual nourishment (1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:14; 1 Corinthians 10:1–4) available in the Bible, to deprive a child of the knowledge that they were created by a God who loves them (John 3:16; Colossians 1:16; John 1:3–4,12–14), to deprive a child of the knowledge that the evils of life are rooted in man’s sinful decisions, to deprive a child of biblical answers for life’s greatest questions, to deprive a child of the truth about how to be saved now and forever, to deprive a child of the knowledge that “Jesus loves me” (Galatians 2:20)—can cripple and irreparably harm a child, for now and eternity.

As Christian parents, when you ponder your responsibility to teach your children what the Bible says, remember that they can best build genuine faith in Jesus Christ through God’s powerful Word (Romans 10:17; Romans 1:16; Hebrews 4:12). It is no wonder that self-appointed enemies of Jesus Christ—like Dawkins and Krauss—are afraid for you to teach Scripture to your children. It is no wonder that the enemies of God want to stigmatize religion—and especially Christianity—by the inflammatory epithet of “child abuse.” Take heart and don’t fail in your God-given responsibility. Don’t be intimidated by the twenty-first century echoes of the mantra espoused by so many parents during the last few decades of the twentieth—to let their children grow up with no religious instruction under the illusion they would one day seek out any information they need. Instead, remember daily what the Apostle Paul told to his protégé Timothy, recalling that Timothy’s mother and grandmother had taught him God’s Word from childhood:

But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 2:13–17)

Christian Middle-school Teacher Sues School Board for Religious Discrimination

A math teacher at Fort Riley (Kansas) Middle School found herself the target of an effort to remove all Biblical references to sexuality…

Bob Adelmann

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