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Creation: Thirteen 6-in-1 Comprehensive Curriculum Lessons
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Feedback archiveFeedback 2010

Do parents have the right to teach their children?

Published: 23 October 2010(GMT+10)

Parent teaches child

It is the parents’ right and responsibility to teach their children.

Jason G. from the United States commented on Lita Cosner’s feedback article The indoctrination of children, arguing that parents shouldn’t ‘indoctrinate’ their children. The letter is first published in its entirety, then with a point-by-point response by Lita Cosner:

Jason G. from the United States writes:

I’m 37 years old and I have Same Sex Attraction (SSA). I was brought up in the Mormon faith [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints].
While I was growing up with these beliefs, I was being fed religious views that at that time I was not able to understand. What child mind can comprehend anything other than to absorb what is going on around him or her—and then later make the connection between the two.
When you teach a child about Jesus, they only know the name— they do not start to develop a testimony of that name and its true meaning until they are much older. I find it shocking that any parent would indoctrinate a child—taking away the choice of that child to make the decision of whether they want to know about it or not.
There is a difference between teaching right and wrong, and inflicting propaganda and other religious beliefs simply because the parents believe in it.
I myself would not even mention the name Jesus or anything of God until I was either asked or the child made up his or her own mind as to what they wanted to believe in. My reasoning behind this is due to my orientation and the stigma behind it.
Even as I choose not to indulge in the lifestyle and follow what my religious beliefs and convictions are, I would rather not know anything about them. I was robbed of my choice and free agency from religion; but I can no more deny it now than if I was of any other faith. It’s rooted too much in me and once that happens, you’ve been indoctrinated.
I would rather be free of my knowledge of the Mormon faith, and have had my choice of whether to listen and follow it’s teachings than to have it forces upon me, simply because everyone around me in the Mormon faith believed in it.
Children are systematically indoctrinated into religious beliefs that they find later on in life to be not to their liking. For me it included that and suicidal tendencies and thoughts because it conflicted with my sexuality that the belief that God did not like or approve of such things.
I live everyday with the knowledge that was granted to me by my faith and parents; and even through Christ Himself. But it was done in an improper fashion and it’s caused many problems for me in my growing up.
Free agency to a child is precious—even as their virtue and chastity is. One should not and cannot impose personal beliefs simply because they think it’s best for someone else. Who are they to make that choice in the first place?
Jason G.
USA

Comments from CMI’s Lita Cosner are interspersed in black:

Dear Jason,

I’m 37 years old and I have Same Sex Attraction (SSA).
I was brought up in the Mormon faith [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints].

Please see The Fall: a ‘glorious necessity’?!

While I was growing up with these beliefs, I was being fed religious views that at that time I was not able to understand. What child mind can comprehend anything other than to absorb what is going on around him or her—and then later make the connection between the two.
When you teach a child about Jesus, they only know the name—they do not start to develop a testimony of that name and its true meaning until they are much older. I find it shocking that any parent would indoctrinate a child—taking away the choice of that child to make the decision of whether they want to know about it or not.

Children do not come into the world fully formed and capable of weighing the options between religions and picking the truth. They need the help and direction of older people to learn how to discern truth.

As I said in the feedback to which you are replying, the issue is not whether one will indoctrinate his children, but with what beliefs. Children do not come into the world fully formed and capable of weighing the options between religions and picking the truth. They need the help and direction of older people to learn how to discern truth. Some people think this function belongs to the schools; I think that this responsibility lies with the parents, given the predominance of biblical passages about the importance of the parents’ training a child. This does not mean that the parents may never send their child to another to be educated; there is evidence that some children, especially those who went on to be rabbis, were educated by people other than their parents in Jewish society, but the principle is that the responsibility lies with the parents.

There is a difference between teaching right and wrong, and inflicting propaganda and other religious beliefs simply because the parents believe in it.

But even the ideas of right and wrong are part of the indoctrination of a child. And those ideas of right and wrong are usually an integral part of a religious system, without which the ideas of right and wrong make no sense.

Again, as the parents are the ones charged with the child’s education, I think simply “because the parents believe in it” is enough of a reason for a child to be taught it as truth.

I myself would not even mention the name Jesus or anything of God until I was either asked or the child made up his or her own mind as to what they wanted to believe in. My reasoning behind this is due to my orientation and the stigma behind it.

Christian parents’ first obligation to their children is to ensure that they are trained up in the faith, to believe in Christ as their Savior.

But you must understand that for someone who believes that Jesus is truly the only way to salvation, this would be the most unspeakably evil thing a professing Christian parent could do to his child. Christian parents’ first obligation to their children is to ensure that they are trained up in the faith, to believe in Christ as their Savior.

Also, I cannot imagine a child being happy with this sort of thing. Children naturally ask all sorts of questions about the world, and for a Christian, one cannot talk about where everything comes from, why we are here, etc., without mentioning God.

Even as I choose not to indulge in the lifestyle and follow what my religious beliefs and convictions are, I would rather not know anything about them. I was robbed of my choice and free agency from religion; but I can no more deny it now than if I was of any other faith. It’s rooted too much in me and once that happens, you’ve been indoctrinated.
I would rather be free of my knowledge of the Mormon faith, and have had my choice of whether to listen and follow it’s teachings than to have it forces upon me, simply because everyone around me in the Mormon faith believed in it.

I would rather not know what Brussels’ sprouts taste like, but I was forced to eat it. Many choices are made for children that they have no ability to resist; that is part of being a child. As an adult, you are free to believe what you like, just like I’m free to never eat another Brussels’ sprout if I don’t want to do so. But in denying the parent the right to make those choices for their children, you assume that the parent is capable of not indoctrinating at all, and you assume that the child is wise enough to choose for himself. The child is not wise enough; had I been able to choose what to eat, I wouldn’t have had vegetables, I would have had chocolate cookies and Cheez-its. It was my parents’ responsibility to make sure that I ate correctly; just like it is a parent’s responsibility to make sure that the child is ingrained with certain ways of thinking. Until the last half of the last century, the idea that the child comes into the world incomplete and in need of intellectual forming was unquestioned. The thought was that he needed to be ‘civilized’ by teaching him the literature and the culture of his people. As non-creationist scholar Dr Thomas Sowell (b. 1930) puts it: “Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.”

I live everyday with the knowledge that was granted to me by my faith and parents; and even through Christ Himself. But it was done in an improper fashion and it’s caused many problems for me in my growing up.

Parents are imperfect, and even with the best intentions will make some bad decisions. But I maintain that the parents’ choices for their children (under normal circumstances) will be, most of the time, far better than the choices that the child could make for himself.

Free agency to a child is precious—even as their virtue and chastity is. One should not and cannot impose personal beliefs simply because they think it’s best for someone else. Who are they to make that choice in the first place?

They are the parents. Throughout history, the role has meant privilege and responsibility. They are entitled to the obedience and loyalty of their children, and they have the responsibility to provide for the child, including providing for their intellectual and moral development, simply because they are the parents—God has given the parents the responsibility for their children’s education.

What is your alternative? The State takes control? This means that a group of elitists decide, but who’s to say that they are right either? The results of the modern education system are not pretty, thanks to fads in education. Dr Sowell puts it: “Whenever people talk glibly of a need to achieve educational ‘excellence’, I think of what an improvement it would be if our public schools could just achieve mediocrity.” Note also, these elitists pay no price for being wrong, as parents do, so are quite OK with using kids as guinea pigs.

Sincerely,

Lita Cosner

Information Officer

Creation Ministries International

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