Answering the Richard Dawkins Foundation’s inbox

Answering the Richard Dawkins Foundation’s inbox September 24, 2014


The Richard Dawkins Foundation posted an email from their inbox today on Facebook. The email read:

I have a 1 1/2 year old little girl, and me and my wife are atheists. But the local school is amazing yet a church school and requires us to attend church to get our daughter in when it comes time to apply.

My wife says that getting a good education takes priority over our principles. But I don’t agree. She wants to start taking our daughter to church and I know it’s going to drive us apart. But I’ve run out of ways to reason it; and I’m not willing to change my principles and start going to the place that wasted my childhood and fed my head with nonsense. Any ideas would be very much appreciated.

My first thought is that his wife is correct in one sense, that getting a good education sometimes does trump principle. An example being that I am against Charter Schools, but would I be right to send my son to an underfunded public school if he can go to a well funded Charter and get a better education? Should my ideological beliefs hurt my child’s future?

However, principle does not always have to take a backseat when you really break down what the education they are getting is, and at what cost to your child.

So the local school that is amazing is a religious school, but what do they teach? They may very well have a great output of students who test well, but how do they approach science? How about critical thinking? I went to a highly ranked private Christian school growing up and was told evolution was disproven and that dinosaurs may not have existed. That is not easy to unlearn, but the school was ranked highly and if I had graduated from that school (I was moved to private eventually) it would have looked great on some college applications. Yet I was actually under-educated.

While our goal as parents should be to make sure our child gets the best education possible, is that worth them being taught they are owned by a supreme being and are broken sinners who need to be fixed? Is it worth them being told they will be punished in the afterlife if they do bad things and if they are children who are aware that their parents are atheists, is it worth them being taught they may not see their parents in the afterlife, something that will most likely horrify their young and impressionable mind?

I don’t believe so. I do not think that a “good” education should trump the potential long-term damage religious belief can cause. Even if your child does not necessarily believe the claims now, or if you plan to undo this damage at home, it will not be that simple, because the truth is, these schools have your children’s attention more than you do, and will do everything in their power to create blind believers in their faith. Don’t ever let a faith school tell you otherwise. If religious indoctrination was not a priority for them, they would not be faith schools.

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