A Parent’s Guide to the 5 Skeptics Who Want to Shame Your Kids for Being Christian

Kids need to understand the emotion-laden shaming attempts they’ll encounter.

To be clear, none of the non-believers I personally know would use shaming tactics in person. But when people are behind their screens, it brings down the “barrier” of civility, and faith conversations often look very different. You can see it on social media (even with friends who wouldn’t say such things in person), comments on news articles, blog posts—everywhere.

 

Having blogged for over six years now, I’ve received hundreds (and hundreds) of comments and emails from skeptics of Christianity. Once in a while, I receive one from a pleasant non-believer who is truly interested in discussing evidence, asking reasonable questions, and engaging in thoughtful discussion.

But that’s the exception.

Those who contact me typically wield the tool of shaming to make their point—something highly ironic given how much skeptics talk about the importance of evidence.

To be clear, none of the non-believers I personally know would use shaming tactics in person. But when people are behind their screens, it brings down the “barrier” of civility, and faith conversations often look very different. You can see it on social media (even with friends who wouldn’t say such things in person), comments on news articles, blog posts—everywhere.

Kids need to understand these emotion-laden shaming attempts they’ll encounter. Like so much else, this is something parents can and should prepare them for. Here are the five most common skeptics who want to shame your kids for being Christian.

1. The Science Thumper

Shame Tactic: Making the child believe they don’t have enough scientific expertise to understand that belief in God is unnecessary and silly.

The Science Thumper applies some notion of science to each and every conversation about Christianity, making it the final word on any given topic, and implying that science and Christianity are at irreconcilable odds.

For example, in response to one of my blog posts about the meaning of life in a theistic worldview, a skeptic commented:

You need to study the mechanisms of replication, mutation, natural selection if you want to understand why life exists and is the way it is. If life and existence are too amazing, astounding and astonishing to exist naturally…then how much more complex is god [sic] for having created it? … Did you invent superman as a panacea answer for everything you don’t understand?

Questions of faith and science are very important, but framing faith and science as a choice—one option for the unsophisticated and one for those in the know—is a cheap and false dichotomy.

Parent Solution: Thoroughly address faith and science topics so kids understand how shallow and unnuanced the Science Thumper’s claims are. See this post for more on how to do that.

2. The Indoctrination Informer

Shame Tactic: Informing the child that the ONLY reason they believe in Jesus is that they’ve been “indoctrinated” by their parents.

Indoctrination is a word that both Christians and skeptics use wrong. Skeptics often think a kid has been indoctrinated any time they’ve been taught a given religion is true. Christians often think indoctrination means teaching kids Christian doctrine. These misunderstandings lead to conversations that unfortunately sound like this:

Skeptic to Christian parent: “You’re indoctrinating your kids [by raising them in a Christian home]! Let them think for themselves.”

Christian parent to skeptic: “You’re right! I’m teaching my kids Christian doctrine, and I’m proud of it!”

Both skeptics and Christians need to understand that indoctrination means teaching someone to fully accept the ideas, opinions, and beliefs of a particular group and to not consider other ideas, opinions, and beliefs. In other words, indoctrination is a problem with how you teach someone something. It is not inherently related to any particular belief system, though religion is one type of belief system where indoctrination is possible.

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