Video: How To Protect Your Kids From Religious Indoctrination

Video: How To Protect Your Kids From Religious Indoctrination April 12, 2018

I get asked all the time what I would do if I found out my son’s school or other adults in his life were teaching him about God, the Bible and Jesus as though these things were true. When I answer that it doesn’t really bother me, people seem shocked. Of course it should bother me! I’m a godless heathen and these Jesus freaks are trying to snatch my son’s eternal soul right out from under my nose, right?

Nah.

I’ll tell you why it doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t bother me because I’ve vaccinated my son against such threats. Oh? yes, you heard me right. Vaccinated. Just like you can vaccinate your babiest babies against polio and measles and all that other junk that can mess a body up, you can vaccinate your kids against religious dogma.

So, how do you do it? How do you vaccinate your kids against religious belief? You teach critical thought. If you inoculate your little tinies with critical thinking, ain’t no creation myth gonna stick.

Here are some of my ideas for promoting critical thinking at home and protecting your kids from being indoctrinated with religious mumbo-jumbo. I’d love to know what some of your ideas are for raising critical thinking children, whether you are an atheist or a believer. Let me know in the comments!

This video was adapted from an old post on Godlessmom.com called 11 Ways To Make Sure You’re Raising Critical Thinkers – you can read that post here.

Image: BG by freepik.com


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  • ThaneOfDrones

    I know a couple who live in a country with government-funded religious schools. They send their daughter to a Catholic school because it is a good school and nearby, etc. Both parents are atheist or agnostic, but they have not discussed this with their daughter because they do not want her to be ostracised at school. I think they are doing it wrong.

  • wolfypuppy

    If you wax enthusiastic, they will have to do the opposite and rebel. I’m also great at reframing the narrative. When my kids asked, very young, why some people believed in God, I said, “some people feel better if they have someone watching over them. It makes them feel secure.” Implication: religious people are weak. Then, enthusiastically, “what about you? would that make you feel better?” and “What kind of god would you choose?” Implications: There’s more than one “God,” and believing in gods is a conscious choice. I can smile and cheerlead and be enthusiastic: “What fun! I’d choose Athena, what about you?” There’s no way my kids will ever see religion as anything more than a crutch. Plus, it bores them to tears when I go into enthusiastic lecture mode. 😀 Oh, I also tell them “I really don’t know what X religion believes. You’ll have to ask them!” My kids are too lazy, and don’t want to know badly enough. In kindergarten, my son tried to tell his Catholic friend that their god was make-believe, like Santa Claus. I was more concerned with his giving away that there was no Santa. 😉 My daughter loves the shows Supernatural and Lucifer, which make fast and loose with Old Testament mythology. She’s impulsive and talkative, so in her case I have to remind her “don’t forget, these people think it’s all real and you don’t want to hurt their feelings,” and “It makes Nana sad when you laugh about God being named Chuck. She doesn’t understand so just talk about something else!” (Kinda hard for her since she is SOOO into Destiel! Swoon! She’s 14.)

  • Wow, some really great ideas in there. I love the big about choosing a god. Sounds like you’re doing a wonderful job. Thanks for reading!

  • pasapdub@gmail.com

    My daughter was only four when I discovered one of the workers singing a religious song during nap time. I had to put a stop to that. They were surprisingly agreeable about it. You can’t allow this stuff!

  • crden

    I live in the South, so I kind of assumed my children would be hearing from some adults that God, the Bible, and Jesus are real, and that some people would be pretty insistent upon it. I don’t have any magic pill, and frankly, as one who was raised atheist under a lot of pressure from outside (neighbors, teachers, one set of grandparents, etc.) to believe, I do get upset. This is largely because I was told some pretty horrible things by believers as a kid, including responsibilities I don’t think adults should try to place on any kid. For example, my next door neighbors were not the only adults in my life to tell me not that I was going to burn in hell, but that it was my responsibility to convert in order to save my parents and my brother from hell. While I basically innoculated my kids, that sort of manipulation angers me a great deal.

    Largely, we kept the lines of communication open, exposed the kids to a wide variety of both ancient myths and to current day religious differences (easy to do since we started out in a large city), and didn’t freak out when the children approached us with religious ideas, invitations, and the like. We even took them to watch a friend get ordained as a priest.

    I made sure they got exposed to the normal Bible stories. I would like to point out that, when handled neutrally, quite a few Bible stories don’t come off sympathetically.

  • Eddie Gateway

    YES! Raise ’em up knowing what the real world is…what thriving cultural values are and how much more valuable they are for forming freethinking minds! We’ve started bedtime (after a few hours of TV or video games (they’re about 7 now) ALL rapping to JAY-Z songs! They memorize the words quite quickly with those young minds, and it’s something the whole family can enjoy doing together!

  • Eddie Gateway

    Questions like “why would God allow all that evil in the world?”. REALLY??? Did your intellectual, critical thinking, self projecting self STOP developing when you were about 16 years old? If that’s the question of the ages in your critical thinking, stay there in the shallow water. I affirm ‘sheltered’ experiences in other cultures, though now the list of possible countries to explore is significantly shorter than when I was a kid. Maybe your kids will be deep thinkers They say genius skips a generation.

  • Geek the Form

    I tried to ask multiple choice questions that did not include the answer. Like are you 6 or 7 right after the 8th birthday. That became a fun game, looking for the perfect moment when they were distracted because they knew it was coming.

  • EllyR

    Brainwashing very young children should be a crime!

  • Linguagroover

    All authoritarian belief systems like to get at children on the principle of ‘give me the boy until he is seven and I will give you the man’. It is little surprise that, for example, kids in Thailand tend to grow up Buddhist while their counterparts in North Korea generally become ardent devotees of the Kim dynasty. When I was an adult (Christian) theist, I would not have admitted I had been indoctrinated as a child or had engaged in indoctrinating behaviour as a parent. Now, as an atheist, I think children should get taught critical thinking skills, and the basics of what a range of religions and other systems teach (ie, education, not indoctrination).

  • Sinonymous

    “What kind of god would you choose?” In the beginning man created God. ;-p

  • I don’t worry about it too much. They’re going to hear it one way or another.

  • pasapdub@gmail.com

    Yes…and I thought about that when my daughter came home singing about Jesus. There’s no justification for spreading the gospel (as it were) to a FOUR-year-old!

  • Sophotroph

    I note your “critique” doesn’t include why you think that’s a shallow question. You just assume everyone will agree.

    Maybe your kids will be deep thinkers.