I believe that many people in the world have a neutral spiritual orientation. Such people have the following characteristics.
- They will usually follow uncritically whatever religion their parents profess and expect them to be. They do so out of loyalty to their parents, not out of loyalty to the religion itself.
- They have little interest in controversies based on competing religious or anti-religious dogmas.
- They are tolerant of people who profess a different religion or no religion, as long as those people do not cause them problems by trying to convert them to their way of thinking.
- They think of religion as a means of social binding, not absolute “truth”, even if they do think of some of the doctrines of their own religion are true or at least likely to be true.
- They pay little attention to propaganda designed to convert themselves or others to a religion.
- They tend to not be active in religious worship practices and never rise to leadership in their religion.
- If they do convert from one religion to another, it is usually because they marry a partner who does have a strong spiritual orientation and want to join the partner’s religion for the sake of family unity.
Such people, if raised in a multifaith religious group like the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), may choose to simply identify themselves as UUs and nothing more. If raised in a dogmatic cult like the Baha’i Faith, the Mormon Church or the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they may find themselves drifting away from such excessive social control once they reach adulthood, which is why these cults constantly seek new members to replace the ones they lose. The claim that they are trying to bring salvation to the world is merely the excuse they give for their obsession.
Seriously, parents need to STOP trying to “raise” their children in any religion, but tell them what the various options are so they can explore on their own once they approach adulthood.
For those who feel no strong attachment to religion, you can still express love and unity with others by finding secular causes to work hard for. What issues do you care about? What sort of difference do you want to make in the world?
The American Red Cross? http://www.redcross.org/
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee? https://www.uusc.org/
Doctors Without Borders? https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/
The Nature Conservancy? https://www.nature.org/
The Union of Concerned Scientists? https://www.ucsusa.org/
People for the American Way? http://www.pfaw.org/
Those are just a few examples of worthy causes. I’m sure you can find many more.
“Seriously, parents need to STOP trying to “raise” their children in any religion, but tell them what the various options are so they can explore on their own once they approach adulthood.”
Religion is part of the culture, and if the parents don’t teach their children their culture, who will? Jewish children should be experts on how to live a Jewish life. There is strength in traditions, strength and comfort and support and stability and safety. All this is important, valuable and good.
Now, the children should be taught understanding and knowledge of the other spiritual lifestyles as well, of course, but most often parents are not the best people to do this. You, for example, shouldn’t be teaching anyone what it is to be a Mormon or Baha’i or Jehovah’s Witness or member of other religious communities you have a strong opinion on.
This is why religions should be taught at school. As informative, general education, not as indoctrination to a religion.
Which is why religion teachers should be neutral, preferably atheists, giving just the facts and no opinions, and there should be visitors at school talking about their view and experience of the faith.
Also, the community should be possible to reach in another way than joining a church, even the UUA. It would be wonderful, if the school class was that community. If every member of the class felt accepted by the others, with the sense of belonging and will to help each other.
Also, people who are not parents need to limit their intervention to violence. Raising a child Christian, Jewish, Mormon, Pagan, Buddhist, whatever, is not violence, even though some fundamentalist atheists think it is.
Good points, Ketutar. Perhaps I should clarify what I was condemning with my statement which you criticized.
Read this: https://dalehusband.com/2016/02/10/a-mature-discussion-about-religion/
Imagine if the father had said to his son: “We are Christians and I expect you to be one too, period.” I got the impression that when you “raise” a child in a certain religion, you don’t offer him a choice about it and you regard his not embracing your own religion as being disloyal to you personally, thus making your love for the child conditional.
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