Sunday, January 18, 2015
The Kids Are All Right, Part IV: Secular Family Values Edition
Below is an informative op-ed from the LA Times that speaks to the questions many parents who are raising their children with no religion have.
Raised in the Catholic faith, I made the decision to not, in turn, raise my children in any religion, but often found myself second-guessing my decision. As they grew and asked question about religion, I told them that when they were old enough to understand, they were free to learn about any religion that interested them and to make an informed decision about joining any faith. They made the decision to not join any church, mosque, or temple, and it turned out that there was no need for any doubt on my part, since my children are moral, caring, loving adults who are raising their children as they were raised. In fact, my grandson's teacher, in a parent-teacher conference, told my daughter that my grandson was the kindest student in her class.
Another grandchild who is not being raised in any faith had questions about religion. Her mother told her that it would be her choice, when she was older, whether or not to choose a faith to study and join. The grandchild thought about the conversation with her mother and later said that she would probably not join a religion because Evolution made more sense to her. So there it is. Mine is only one family out of millions of others who have made the choice to raise their children without a religion and to see that passed on, by choice, to other generations.
The study linked in the following article from the LA Times shows the growing number of Americans who choose "None" as their religious affiliation and the article also shows that the countries where secularism is predominant are stable, with lower incidents of violence than religious majority countries, and that their populations are content and happy.
How Secular Family Values Stack Up
by Phil Zuckerman, LA Times Op-Ed
More children are “growing up godless” than at any other time in our nation's history. They are the offspring of an expanding secular population that includes a relatively new and burgeoning category of Americans called the “Nones,” so nicknamed because they identified themselves as believing in “nothing in particular” in a 2012 study by the Pew Research Center.
The number of American children raised without religion has grown significantly since the 1950s, when fewer than 4% of Americans reported growing up in a nonreligious household, according to several recent national studies. That figure entered the double digits when a 2012 study showed that 11% of people born after 1970 said they had been raised in secular homes. This may help explain why 23% of adults in the U.S. claim to have no religion, and more than 30% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 say the same.
So how does the raising of upstanding, moral children work without prayers at mealtimes and morality lessons at Sunday school? Quite well, it seems. Far from being dysfunctional, nihilistic and rudderless without the security and rectitude of religion, secular households provide a sound and solid foundation for children, according to Vern Bengston, a USC professor of gerontology and sociology.
Another meaningful related fact: Democratic countries with the lowest levels of religious faith and participation today — such as Sweden, Denmark, Japan, Belgium and New Zealand — have among the lowest violent crime rates in the world and enjoy remarkably high levels of societal well-being. If secular people couldn't raise well-functioning, moral children, then a preponderance of them in a given society would spell societal disaster. Yet quite the opposite is the case.