- Published on Sunday, 26 July 2009 01:59
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 4851
We supposedly live in a free society where we have freedom of speech and freedom of belief (religion). And this includes children - in fact in 1989, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, proclaiming elementary rights for children worldwide. Among other provisions, the Convention safeguards children's religious freedom and their freedom of thought.
But at the same time, children are brought up by parents who teach them everything they know - including their religion and all the baggage that goes with it. So a child of Catholic parents (like I was) is brought up as a Catholic; a child of Muslim parents is brought up as a Muslim; a child of a fundamentalist is brought up as a fundamentalist and so on. The only freedom the child has is when he/she grows old enough to think for themselves. If you were brought up as a Muslim, you have less chance than others because your upbringing was close to being brainwashed. See this article
Some thinking people have suggested that this should be changed - two examples are:
- Innaiah Narisetti, chairman of the Center for Inquiry, India, who has written a book Forced Into Faith: How Religion Abuses Children's Rights (Prometheus Books). Narisetti cites numerous examples of the ways in which early religious indoctrination leads to later negative attitudes such as intolerance, suspicion, and outright hostility directed toward those who believe differently. He also notes that religion provides a cloak for such obvious evils as sexual abuse, genital mutilation, and corporal punishment of children. While most societies are quick to condemn such abuses, Narisetti suggests that they should be willing to take the next logical step and look to the role of religion in such problems.
- Michael Reiss and John White: Atheism needs to be studied in schools. [Reiss is an atheist and a member of the British Humanist Association and White is a priest in the Church of England; both are academics at the Institute of Education, University of London.] Their view is that young people should think about whether they live in a divine world or a godless one. This points to discussing the standard arguments for and against the existence of God and such questions as the likelihood of life after death. But they also need to discuss whether human lives can have any meaning or point outside a religious framework. And whether people can live a morally good life that is not dependent on religious belief. They recommend that this mostly be taught in secondary school but a start could be made with older primary children. See their full article here.
Although at first look this seems unlikely to be accepted by Christians let alone Muslims, Christians are getting concerned about the loss of faith by young people so feel this would stir up interest. And many Muslims are also coming to the view that the state at least should be secular [to separate Church from State] so these Muslims would likely support something along these lines.