"There is no such thing as a Christian child; only a chid of Christian parents." - Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
Considering the fact that I identify as a Christian, it may seem strange that I am quoting Richard Dawkins, or that I'm bringing up the issue of religion in children at all. You have likely heard Dawkins talk about it, but as a theist, I thought I would give my two cents.
So, if you didn't know, I was raised as a Christian. I went to a Baptist Church when I was young, every Sunday up until I was around 4, if I remember correctly. After that I hardly went, mainly because my parents wanted a church that played traditional music and did not feel as if they fit in anywhere. Because I have not went to church regularly in over a decade, I still know very little about my own religion. Over the years I have simply accepted the Bible as fact.
In 2011, however, I began hearing about the subject of same-sex marriage a lot. It has always been in the news, but I had never noticed before then. My parents told me growing up that gay marriage was wrong and against the Bible, and made negative comments every time a new state legalized it, so at that point, I had never known anything else. Anyway, over the course of the year I met some people and did some research that completely changed my perspective (thank God). Throughout all this however, I ran across one argument that really stuck in my head. Basically, it said that since no one follows the other laws in the Bible (no mixing fabrics, no rounded hair cuts, no divorce), they have no right to tell gays not to marry. It all went downhill from there. . .
To make the long, pathetic story short, I became a very confused person, and though I do obviously support gay marriage, religion screws me more every day. Reading this, you probably assume that since I skipped Church for most of my life, I did not have much of a religious background anyways, and I guess that's true, after about 5 years old that is. However, it was always stuck in the back of my head and was pushed at me during a child's prime years of development, which makes it very hard to look at other views without bias.
I understand why my parents, or anyone for that matter, would bring their children up with a religious background. It does make sense that parents would want their children to view the world in the same way, and when I have kids, I suppose I do hope their views are somewhat similar to mine.
But what I don't understand is why parents push religion so early on, when they are not willing to bring up things such as sex or childbirth. My parents told me that most of the world was going to hell before I even knew what masturbation was. If you think about it, really, that's pretty messed up - telling your sweet, innocent CHILDREN that they are going to endure endless torment in the fiery pit of hell unless they accept Jesus Christ as their savior.
I was always told that the reason I was "saved" so early in my life was so that if something were to happen, I would go to heaven, which I have major problems with. If you think God is the type of person (Deity? Authority figure?) that would send innocent children, that have done nothing wrong - to Hell. . . explain to me again why you worship this guy?
It just seems like Christianity as we view it is a very convenient religion. My mom told me two days ago, in these exact words, "No, being a good person doesn't matter." in relation to how we get into heaven.
The worst part is the fact that people will actually tell others - whether it be at the church or just on the streets - that their kids are religious and just got "saved". Well, I hate to be the one that bursts your bubble, but your children are not saved. They probably had no idea what you were talking about. They probably just didn't want to disappoint you. You never hear about 6 year old democrats or republicans. You never hear about vegan children. Why? Because those things come with intellect and maturity! How could you think religion is any different?
The point I wanted to make here is that, essentially, children are far too ignorant about the world around them to make an intelligent decision about the religion they want to follow. I was too young when it was pushed on me, and who knows - maybe I'm still too young. Maybe I'll never be solid in my faith. Maybe I'll flip flop back and forth my entire life. But I think that's okay. No matter what you believe, no one can say that they know with absolute certainty what's out there. Whether you want to admit it or not, we're all agnostic to some extent.
When I have children, I won't take them to church. I won't expose them to religion. I will wait, and let them decide for themselves. I won't have them Baptized before they can say the word, and I won't push my beliefs on them. If God really wants us to have free will - and I think he does - I'm sure he won't mind.