Religion and Education are Enemies
Our children are already falling behind in real subjects - let's not waste any more time having them study fake ones!
by Ross Rosenfeld
In my role as an educator, I deal with many parents. And I feel it is time to correct a misconception: teaching your child religion is NOT harmless.
I'm speaking mainly to those parents out there who are reasonable-minded and do not take religion too seriously. Some of you have told me that you feel it's important to teach your child your "heritage." What's the harm? you think.
But there is harm. Serious harm, and it must be considered.
First off, if your child is taking even just two hours each week to study religion, that's two less hours he or she could be studying real things, such as science or mathematics. It's two hours that your child is bored, and to him or her, this is more proof that education is boring. You see, your child does not know that religion class is not really education. To him or her, it is similar to sitting in English class or Social Studies. Which brings us to the next harmful point:
Confusing Truth and Fiction
By teaching your child religion as a basic truth, you're making it difficult for him or her to distinguish actual truths from stories and mythical beliefs. You're essentially violating their trust. When you tell your child something, the child will believe you because children accept the words of adults.
In a child's mind, the realities of history and science can become conflated with the fictions related in the Bible. After a while, it all becomes noise. Alexander Hamilton is no more real to many of these children than Adam and Eve. Abraham Lincoln is just a story, not a real person. It leads to an under-appreciation of real things.
It also leads to point three: Stupidity.
Do you seriously want your child believing that a man named Noah built a giant ark and put at least two of every species on the Earth on it? Do you know how many millions of creatures that would've had to be? Do you seriously want your child being taught that the Earth is six thousand years old, rather than 4.6 billion years old? Do you want your child thinking that the dinosaurs did not exist before humans?
Somebody please tell me what the benefit of that is?
Now, I know what some of you are going to say: religion offers moral benefits. But let's examine that as well.
Religions do offer numerous tales of strength, charity, and ethical guidance. But do you really need religion for that? Have not we as a society reached the point where we can teach these values without the burdens of religion? Are there not enough real people and real events from history to learn these values from?
More importantly, those who claim that the Bible is good for teaching morals have not read it very carefully.
The Bible's god (and, yes, it's a lower-case g because he's no realer than the Greek gods of ole) isn't exactly the most moral fellow. He condones slavery (Exodus), kills children (also Exodus), and is frankly vain (whole Bible). Are these the morals you want for your children?
I believe that if you need religion to teach your child morals, there is something wrong with your parenting.
Our children are already falling behind in real subjects - let's not waste any more time having them study fake ones. By having your children study religion, you are taking away valuable time that they could use to get ahead in these real subject areas. You are also making it more difficult for your children to examine the world around them. Religion is truly indoctrination. By teaching religion to your children, you are asking them to accept what they are told without regard to logic or evidence. You are teaching your children not to question things. That is, in fact, what faith is: willful ignorance.
Teach Reality, not Religion
It is time that we stop pretending that education and religion do not conflict; that they are separate and that both are valuable - this is not the case. The more religion you teach your children, the less about reality you should expect them to know. If you want your children to grow up to be intelligent beings who question the world around them, start by not forcing them to be indoctrinated with harmful, segregationist nonsense.
Religion is a choice. If you are an intelligent person who believes in such things as evolution, the existence of the dinosaurs before humans, and the scientific method of discovery, why are you allowing your child to be taught by delusional people who don't believe in those things? Perhaps you should sit down and consider: Is there really any benefit to this or am I simply forcing my child to do something that he or she does not want to do and that I do not truly believe in?
Ross Rosenfeld is a New York based educator with his own tutoring business.