Anglican Child Indoctrination

Anglican Child Indoctrination

Question: Some people say children should be left to make up their own minds about religion. Do you agree?

Rev. KEVIN FLYNN is an Anglican priest and director of the Anglican studies program at Saint Paul University.

I often wonder whether the people who maintain this view also withhold food, clothing, shelter, education, and health care from their children until such time as they can “make up their own minds” about these things. It is only within the last couple of hundred years or so that people in this part of the world would even ask such a question.

In a traditional society, you would be thought mad to withhold from children all the goods available to you, including the good that is religious belief. Parents who have faith cannot not impart that faith to their children. Not faith in the sense of certain verbal propositions about the nature of God or Jesus, but faith in the sense of what sort of ultimate they live by, of the way in which they do or do not live not out of fear or conformity, or whether they live out of the conviction that they are grounded in and loved by God.

At some point children do have to separate themselves from their parents. They will decide whether to continue to live by the faith in which they were raised, to make it their own, or to go another way altogether. Beyond a doubt they will live by some kind of faith. They will place their hope in something.

It may be a rather shallow pursuit of pleasure or of gathering to themselves more and more toys. Or, if their parents have lived, not perfectly but with integrity, with a capacity to forgive and be forgiven, to love others as themselves, then the children will have a good sense of just what holding to their parents’ religion entails.

Parents are not the only influences on their children, but they are certainly key when it comes to faith.

Religious Opinion

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