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Teaching religious tolerance to children

In the comments section of Sarabeth asked:

But, Ami, doesn’t it (secularism) have to seep into our private lives in order for our children to become non-judgmental about others’ beliefs?

No. We should love and respect others, no matter their beliefs, but I don’t think we should be ‘non-judgmental’ about their beliefs. It is our duty to weigh beliefs against facts and logic, judging some to be false.

We should actively talk about religion to our children. We should tell them what we believe and why. Helping children be healthy, civil, rational, and have moral behavior is our job. It is our responsibility to society.

I think what Sarabeth are after though, is having our children tolerate and be compassionate towards others no matter their beliefs, and instilling humility in them. I believe that is one of the most important things we teach children, and I don’t think it is something that will occur if we simply don’t talk about controversial subjects. Being non-confrontational is not the same.

I tell my kids point blank that they are not better than others. Everyone has their own story that they are the hero of. I tell them to be kind and polite even when other people are being rude. As kids grow and become more capable of abstract thinking, we can go into more depth about those concepts.

One of the ways we combat religious fundamentalism is to actively exemplify and teach these kinds of moral values. Also, I am a huge proponent of incorporating critical thinking skills early on in our school curriculums. It should be the fourth R: Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmatic, and Rationality.

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