I ran into an old friend the other day during a Fourth of July celebration. He is a devout Christian that I grew up with. He now has two daughters (identical twins) and one son. Where have the time gone? Nonetheless he told me that he was having some problems with his 4 year old son. Apparently the son no longer wants to go to church. The son claims that he wants to be like his mother and stay home. The mother is an atheist. My friend, who by the way name is Travis, has been trying to convert Amber (the mother of the son) for the longest but it doesn’t seem to be working (can’t say I am mad about that). To complicate things more Travis is married to a devout catholic who has made it her mission to see that Travis’ and her twin daughters are raised catholic and that Travis’ son is also raised catholic which is a major problem with Amber. Amber has half custody of the son, whose name is Joshua. Joshua does live with his father and step-mother for two months during the summer and is currently residing with his father today. The mother has tried to get full custody of the child and even have tried to get a court order preventing Travis and his wife from religiously influencing and forcing religion on this child but the problem is Travis and his wife live in Texas and Amber lives in South Carolina and so no court wants to “deny the child religious privileges” Though Amber, whom I also know very well, has never asked me for any advise on the matter, I have offered some advice to Travis. Of course Travis didn’t like my advice when I told him that the child has a right to reject any religious belief and if the child prefers to take after the mother then there is nothing wrong with this. I told Travis that educating the child on multiple religions including their origin is perfectly acceptable but forcing one particular form of religion on the child is just wrong and should be considered a form of abuse. Needless to say we haven’t spoken since. I felt at the time that I offered some good sound advice but maybe I was wrong and maybe I jumped to one-side too quickly. What do you think, was I wrong?

NOTE: I replaced the real names with alias in order to protect the person’s privacy.

Tags: Teaching, children!, religion, to

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I agree with Judith.
Your explanation was spot on. A true friend does not fluff up a statement if it's of this import. You spoke the truth.
This child in question is no doubt unable to choose where his body will be on Sunday, but his brain is in defiance. The only problem is this... the child has to be somewhere while the rest of the family is in church. Of course a 4 year old cannot stay home alone, and it's not practical at all to send the kid home to Mom clear across the country on Sunday. Should the family stay home from church when the 4 year old is with them? Of course I believe they should, but this is not likely going to happen.
I like the socratic method in this situation any in reply to thier respectiable comments I think there is always time for being tolerant. Anyway I have been useing this method since I was young (mostly to get out of trouble at school) and now that im older to counter evangelicals, although I didnt know it had a name until I heard the Chariots of Iron podcast episode 29 Socratic counter-evangelism(they have a group here and are on itunes its a great athiest podcast but with so much more)
Basicly for those of you that dont know what it is, you dont force your view on him by showering this Travis with knowlage and logic cause this causes him to go on the defensive which when your defending your view your MUCH more unlikely to give it up. You defend it no matter how irrational it is, and the religious are not known for logical thinking in the first place.(dont get me wrong not all religious people i know are illogical my best friend is a Christain and uses logic much more then faith he doesnt pray for a sickness to go away he goes to the doctor so on and so forth)
Useing the method you use your logic to move Travis into your camp by using him and getting him to contradict himself mean while never being agressive keep on letting him attack and redirecting his attack back at him until he thinks about it. You sow the seeds of doubt in away, and thats all you can do.
Basicly dont use your logic as a hammer constantly hitting the rock but never damageing it and if you do you ruin it. Use it as a chisel (with proper force of course), sculpting this rock into a master peice of free-thought.

As par your question do I think you did wrong? No i dont think there was but next time you might wanna try the method I put forth here.
If you didnt understand anything or need me to go into my detail I dont mind.
I also have to say I dont know him you do, you need to know how to guide him into your way of thinking i cant help you there. Use him dont be confrontional and you will be fine. The only way for you to lose is if he doesnt like what he is hearing himself say but by then its to late you made him question himself.
You're dead-on-balls accurate. He's not justified in indoctrinating the kid or in cutting off ties with you.
If the kid spends most of his time with his atheist mother then I doubt that bullying him into Sunday school occasionally will warp his little mind.

My kids all did religious instruction in school if they wanted (it's optional in Australian gov't schools) and when my 10 year old daughter defiantly used to tell me she believed in god I just said "That's nice dear" and waited for it to wear off, which it did.

A bit of religious instruction will more likely make him even more anti-god as he listens with amazement to the crap some people are prepared to believe!
Marquell, this is the category specifically for discussions about Atheist Nexus, and ideas and site suggestions for the site. You might get more people reading this if you move it to the "Theism, Deism, & All Things Religious" category, or maybe "Water Cooler".
We're were talking about Harry Potter at the dinner table the other night, and my 11 year son and 8 year daughter were going on and on about the whole story and how everyone was related. After they went to bed I said to my wife how glad I was they knew more about Harry Potter than anything from the wretched Bible. She agreed. Dawkins has some really good, powerful arguments on the brainwashing of children.
I agree with your position, but as a parent I gotta say the words "child abuse" can raise the hairs on the back of your neck. I do think relkigious indoctrination is a crime against young minds. I think if you have another opportunity to speak with him you can focus on If it really is true, God will find him. Let your son do this now and maybe he'll change his mind later. If you have to force it on him, then he's not really accepting it anyway.

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