Introducing the Child-Friendly Faith Project

I wanted to let you all know I recently accepted a position on the Board of Advisors for a really wonderful organization called The Child-Friendly Faith Project. The group was founded by Janet Heimlich, author of Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment.

The Child-Friendly Faith Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) public charity that educates the public about the impact that religious, spiritual, and cultural beliefs and practices have on children in the United States and around the world.

The CFFP does not promote or denigrate any particular religion or cultural group. Rather, it exposes harmful religious and cultural teachings and practices that are abusive or neglectful and promotes those that enhance healthy child development.

In short, parents have the right to raise kids as they wish, but their religious beliefs should not in any way physically or psychologically harm their children. That means speaking out against faith-healing-related medical neglect, physically abusive corporal punishment justified as “biblical chastisement,” unhealthy ritualistic fasting, other behaviors that violate child welfare laws, etc. It also means letting parents know how to minimize the negative impacts of their cultural or religious rituals. The CFFP promotes the idea that adults should scrutinize their beliefs and practices before teaching them to children.

I know there are people out there who would argue that teaching Young Earth Creationism (or any other wacky religious belief) is a form of mental child abuse, and we don’t discount that. The CFFP opposes exploiting, isolating, and indoctrinating children with a narrow world view. A child-friendly faith should encourage the intellectual autonomy of children, encouraging them to ask questions and express doubt.

If all of this is something you can get behind, there’s a conference in Austin, Texas scheduled for this November. And, of course, I’ll post updates to what the group is doing as it grows and develops. For now, I would encourage you to just check out the site and see what we’re all about.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • A3Kr0n

    The title seems a bit like an oxymoron to me so I’m going to put this in the same category as the atheist church, although I haven’t thought of a label yet for the category.

  • carolsue1313

    Could be an outlet for parents who questions their beliefs.

  • Ian Reide

    The Catholic concept of ‘guilt’ springs to mind. Then there is …

  • rg57

    I think this org lost me when it claimed (in bold) “All children are raised in some sort of faith.” I’m also disappointed in the failure to adopt a strong position on male genital cutting.

  • Geoff Boulton

    How sad is it that organisations like this are even necessary? Why is it that things like faith healing are allowed to flourish almost unchallenged by the authorities even in so called ‘advanced’ societies? Until some poor child dies, of course. Then there is finally a prosecution accompanied by a media circus with ‘tut, tut, how could this have happened’ being quoted left, right and centre.

  • Tanner B James

    We should all be humbled and inspired by the many humane societies dedicating time, money and effort towards enlightening peoples of all faiths and non-faiths, on the benefits of living a life free of dogmatic and harmful religious rituals. There is no better proof that we have evolved fully into The Age of Reason, when Atheists reach out with unconditional and dogmatic free compassion.

  • anniewhoo

    You know you’ve made it Hemant when you are on an advisory with Raffi! The board of directors looks like a well-rounded group of people as well. It will be interesting to see what this group accomplishes.

  • Anna

    I think this sounds like a wonderful idea! While of course we might prefer that people stop indoctrinating their children completely, that’s just not realistic. Better to encourage those who are religious to adopt a more humane form of faith to pass along to their children. After seeing the absolutely appalling things coming out of the conservative fundamentalist and evangelical world, it’s clear that such an organization is sorely needed.

  • Robster

    I thought the post was going to be about another dodgy christian outreach project to snare kids for their cults. They give their sleazy organisations cool sounding names that generally have nothing to do with what the names suggest. Like the ‘Good News Club’, not good news or a club. But the post is better than that suggesting that the organisation may actually protect kids form religious nonsense.

  • Joe Zamecki

    We already have a movement that’s dedicated to doing this work. But without a group title that sounds like you’re actually promoting religion…sheesh. Plan much?

  • Joe Zamecki

    Well I wanted to edit my comment, but it won’t let me. I wanted it to sound less harsh. lol