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The Curious Reason Talking Religion With Kids Can Help Make Them Secular

Posted: August 7, 2019

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In the current state of the world, children need to be taught secularism and tolerance. Here is why they need to be taught secularism through religion!

This summer, one lazy evening, I accompanied my daughter to the park in my residential society.

Amidst all the chatter, buzz and happy screeches that are a typical summer scene, I happened to eavesdrop on a conversation by two seven-year-old girls busy with their sandcastles.

Kid 1: I don’t see you wear that every day.

Kid 2: Wear what?

K-1: That grey thing on your forehead.

K-2: Yes. We had a Pooja at home today.

K-1: Ok. So you are a Hindu?

K-2: I don’t know. What is that?

K-1: You go to a temple, and you are different.

K-2: I know you go to a church, but my mom says it’s the same God everywhere.

K-1: No. We are different (With a strong emphasis)

The last sentence surprised and shattered me at once. I was stunned by the divisive thought society inculcated in a seven-year-old.

Why are religious studies essential?

Every religion comes with a rich history of its own. By exposing children to the ideas of religion and its education early on, you help fill a gap in their knowledge. Their curious minds can fetch more than you can fathom from ancient ideals and practices.

As a matter of fact, most children inherit their religious ideals from their parents and mentors. The early questions on life and death are tied to religion. Then, by the time the child reaches a stage of reasoning, he has learnt not to question the belief. This is standard practice all over the world.

What is wrong with the practice is its one-dimensional approach to God. David McAfee, the journalist and author of several books on secular writing, recommends exposing children to various religions at once.

He further suggests that by learning about multiple faiths at once, a child learns to see all religions as a part of a similar occurrence and will not see his or her faith as superior to others. McAfee is also of the opinion that fundamentally most religions across the world are the same.

Inculcating a scientific temper

Along with the ideals of religion, children should also be given a strong exposure to science. Show them the marvels of evolution, space and the many life forms. Despite these lessons being thought in school, a parent can bring in a fresh perspective.

Wendy Thomas Russell, author of Relax, It’s Just God: How and Why to Talk to your Kids about Religion, warns not to portray religion and science as two strong opposing forces.

This is a common practice in families with strong religious inclination, she points. Russell suggests presenting facts is the best way, as kids can decipher meaning by themselves.

Truth- The end lesson in every religion

Seeking truth by way of life is the basic lesson in every religion. A child should be advised that eventually, the goal of every religion is the same.

Along with spiritual lectures, a few lessons in empathy will go a long way in shaping a child’s personality. Like it is said time and again, it is important for parents to lead by example.

In today’s divisive society, it is necessary to inculcate the values of inclusiveness, and teach the child not to smirk at people with different practices.

The need to respect other faiths and at the same time to honour the contradictions can only be taught by practice. Majority or minority, belief and devotion are the same.

I remember a personal anecdote here. As a ten-year-old, when questions on religion surfaced in my mind, my father replied with his self-postulated water theory. Like water, paani, thani, vellam, neru etc., God is known by different names in various practices, and just the way the sole purpose of water in to fulfil our needs and quench thirst, religion is to appease life’s thirst.

It is the same knowledge that I pass on to my daughter.

Picture credits: Pexels

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Content Consultant/Editor/Writer by profession. Published short stories and essays in various forums. A

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