Why Children Shouldn't Have A Religious Label

There are some arguments against religion that won't get you very far with religious people. For example, saying religion is harmful to society. 

You know, a lot of religious people volunteer, they go on mission trips. Church makes them feel good. So when you say "it's harmful", they don't understand what you're talking about and they just dismiss that argument completely.

But there's one argument against religion that I think even a lot of religious people could get on board with. And it's the idea that Richard Dawkins popularized in his book "The God Delusion" that children shouldn't be assigned religious labels. 

That means we shouldn't say a kid is "Catholic" or a baby is "Muslim". I mean, it just doesn't make any sense, because those kids have no idea, probably, what any of that entails. I mean, the baby can't even speak but you're telling me it fully accepts the Quran? 

That should be ridiculous. And yet this labeling happens all the time. Now I get why religious parents would want to raise their kids in the religion. But it doesn't mean the kid has committed himself to it. So we shouldn't say the phrase "Christian child". 

There's no such thing. There's only a child with Christian parents. To paraphrase the example that Dawkins uses in his book, it would also make no sense to say "that little girl is a republican" or "that child is a socialist". 

I mean, that kid's eating Styrofoam it found on the floor. I promise you it hasn't joined a political party yet. It's almost a joke, but it's actually a really horrible thing when we give kids these labels before they're old enough to decide for themselves where they stand on these issues, that they really need to think about. 

And I think everyone accepts that when it comes to politics or philosophies. Kids aren't born with specific ideologies. No baby is ever thinking "transgender people don't deserve civil rights". Bigotry and beliefs have to be taught. And they can change. 

And when we assign kids certain labels prematurely, it makes it that much harder for them to get away from it if they grow up and decide they don't agree with it. 

There's even a debate going on right now about gender. Some progressives saying it's not fair to tell a kid, based solely on genitalia, that she's a girl; who likes dolls and cooking and not sports. 

And even if you think the PC principle (political correctness and social justice causes) goes a little too far, I think we can all admit there are a lot of labels we assign to children based on how we think, and not based on what the child actually wants.

Because, you know, they're not old enough to think about this stuff yet. Why do you think it's so hard for a lot of people to come out as being gay. 

Because they were told, from birth, that boys are supposed to like girls, and visa-versa. And when they were growing up and they realized they didn't fit that mold, they thought there was something wrong with them. And there isn't. 

Which, let's admit, is probably why religious people do this in the first place. They know that if they waited until kids were, you know, teenagers before they introduce religion to them, they would never take it seriously. "Like, this communion wafer is literally Jesus' body? You got to be shitting me." 

It's just easier to tell kids from the moment they're conscious, that they're Hindu, or Lutheran, or Mormon. Those kids just grow up thinking "oh, that's what I am". "So this is what I believe". 

No wonder so many people hold on to so many silly ideas. They were ingrained into their whole system from birth. If they ever stop to think about it, they would realize it makes no sense. 

So remember that the next time people tell you that they have a Catholic son or a Jehovah's Witness daughter, no they don't, they just have kids who haven't made up their damn minds yet. 

What are these parents so afraid of that they don't want to let their kids figure it all out for themselves? 

And, by the way, yes, this also applies to atheists. We've made a video about this before, but I've heard a lot of you say that babies are atheists because they don't believe in God. 

Technically, yeah, I guess that's true. But if you're counting as atheists people who have never given a second of thought to the whole matter. 

You're just as bad as the religious people who are labeling their kids. A baby is a baby, stop trying to turn it into a miniature version of yourself. 

Just teach kids how to think. And how to ask good questions. And how to be kind people. And don't get so worked up over whatever label the children decide to call themselves later on in their lives.

Originally published by Hemant Mehta on the Atheist Voice. Republished on Fadewblogs courtesy to the author.

More from this author: Are Babies Atheists?

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