Religion in Society

Should Skeptics Send Their Kids to Church on Sundays?

| by John W Loftus

Last night I talked with a skeptic who wants his children to be exposed to Christianity in order for them to learn about it and to decide for themselves. So he's sending them to some church on Sundays. Is this a good strategy? NO, not at all, for several reasons. There are other alternatives. I have an alternative proposal for him and others like him.

Let me suggest to these skeptics what they ought to do. If they want to truly expose their children to religious ideas then they should send their children to different churches for a month at a time, or more. Have them attend them in a random order. Have them attend a Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, Seventh-Day Adventist, United Church of Christ, Congregational, Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Unitarian, Disciples of Christ, and Non-instrumental Church of Christ churches. And don't forget a Jewish Synagogue, a Muslim Mosque, a snake handling service, a Pentecostal healing service, and so on and so on, and so on and so on. If this skeptical parent truly wants to expose his children to the religious ideas of his culture then give them the whole range of choices to choose from. And don’t forget to take these children to atheist meet-ups, and freethought gatherings too. Then these children can truly choose for themselves. Then these children can be truly educated about these ideas. And then these children will most assuredly choose to be skeptics.

Nothing but total exposure to the varying options will educate his children. This is what Daniel Dennett proposes with regard to educating our youths in American schools, but will probably never fly because of First Amendment concerns. When placed on a equal playing field religious options are no options at all. That's why I love Bill Maher’s movie Religulous, because it does just that.

One danger in sending our children to the same church over and over is that children are easily swayed to believe what an authority figure tells them in a community of happy looking, but deluded, people. Take for instance Norman Geisler, known as the "Dean of Christian Apologetics." He was raised in an atheist home, but because of a bus ministry he went to church every Sunday for nine years and was swayed to accept and then later defend Christianity. His parents thought the same thing as this skeptic, but they were wrong to do so.