A good friend of mine and I had an interesting discussion years ago that still rings within me today. We were talking about the best way to raise and educate children and my friend, a strong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told me he believes in the “indoctrination of children” into a religion.
He believes children need a base in the LDS church in order to be proper citizens in society and that they should fear God and know there are punishments for bad behavior far beyond what he could do as a father.
I know a lot of parents place the eternal welfare of their children in faith and in other non-religious doctrines and philosophies beyond their parental embrace and I am curious why that is important. Why do some parents place the final authority over their children outside the direct discipline, love and influence of the family unit?
Why do some parents relinquish control of their children to what some consider abstract ideals or theoretical myths or concepts beyond the body that take leaps of faith and mind to sustain? Is it not enough to teach our children behaviors that are simply human? Is it not enough to “indoctrinate” a child with the ideas that murdering someone is bad and feeding someone who is hungry is good?
Why must any indoctrination go beyond those kinds of core ideals? Why do we have to wrap basic human principles in dogma and external doctrine? Shouldn’t children respect their parents’ authority instead of fearing the wrath of a punishment from somewhere “out there” outside the lives of everyday people?
What are the benefits of indoctrinating a child into beliefs beyond a common universal morality? Are there dangers in the “indoctrination of children” into a belief system that is governed from a book or shouted from a soapbox?