Christians do it. Atheists do it. Even people who are adamantly opposed to brainwashing their kids end up doing it — or letting someone else do it.
We will all “brainwash” our kids. We are mimetic; we imitate… I have talked to several friends who have felt tricked by religion into believing that things are black and white when they are often various shades of gray. They still love Jesus but they don’t want to do that to their children. A very noble goal. But in their attempt to protect their children from the deceit of the religious system, they often swing the pendulum the other way by “not indoctrinating” their children – which really means either allowing someone or something else to indoctrinate them… or indoctrinating them with a doctrine of “no doctrine.”
Indoctrination is a part of life. The question is WHAT we’ll indoctrinate our kids with — and how:
For our family, we have decided that we are Christians and that we will raise our children as Christians. But along with our personal beliefs and the Christian tradition, we will indoctrinate them with a Christian faith that (1) respects religious diversity, (2) respects Christian diversity, and (3) humbly accepts they might be wrong.
It’s a good model for all of us wondering how to pass our faith to our kids while at the same time encouraging them to think for themselves.
On his blog, Jared unpacks each of the three ideas above more deeply. Well worth reading.