Do Christian Parents Brainwash Their Children?

A common accusation made against Christians is that they “brainwash” their children. Famous atheist Richard Dawkins has even said that raising children in a religious household is worse than abuse. Of course, Dawkins doesn’t represent most atheists, but the claim of “brainwashing” or “indoctrinating” children comes up often enough, even if not as ridiculous as Dawkins’ statement.

Now, the other day I posted an article that showed Dawkins’ claim to be empirically false. Studies have been done and they show that children raised in religious homes are better off than those that are not. Dawkins is supposed to be a man of science and reason, yet he flaunts around making emotionally-charged statements like this one. Clearly, the aim of such comments are not evidence-based, but are meant to stifle conversation and discourage conversion. “Oh, you think Christianity has some merit? Don’t forget, they’re a bunch of child abusers!” This sort of behavior is beneath any rational thinker.

It’s also worth noting that this is a mute point either way. It has absolutely no bearing on whether or not there is a God, whether or not Jesus rose from the dead, whether or not the Bible is trustworthy. It has no place in these dialogues and is empirically false.

What Does the Bible Say About Children?

The Bible says that children, as well as all people, are created in the image of God and therefore should be valued (Genesis 1:26).

The Bible says that we should take care of orphans (James 1:27).

The Bible says that children should be taught God’s Word by their parents (Deuteronomy 6; Ephesians 6:4). Why? So that they will be blessed! This isn’t about control or power, it is a matter of God knowing what will lead to our flourishing and us passing that on to our children.

What Does Dawkins Say About Children?

As an evolutionary biologist, Dawkins cannot avoid the obvious: children are merely the by-product of random mutations. They have no inherent value, no more than a chimp. Any value we give them is either the result of random mutations, or some cultural attachment. Nothing inherent, nothing absolute.

So, again, this is not a point that has any bearing whatsoever on whether or not God exists. I do find it comical, however, that the accusation is empirically false and that if Dawkins really wants to play the “Who values children more?” game, he might want to reconsider.

God loves children and wants them to flourish. He has revealed in the Bible how humans can best flourish through a relationship with Him because of what Jesus has done for us. Why would we not pass this on to our children?


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3 Replies to “Do Christian Parents Brainwash Their Children?”

  1. Striking comparison with Darwin’s beliefs about children versus the Bible’s value of them!
    I have heard (and believe it to be true) that it is the level of commitment to the truth, within a family unit, that determines the level of dysfunction within that family. Bible=Truth.

  2. Children will either be brainwashed by the world or have their minds and hearts washed by the Word of God. Either/or, indoctrination will happen. Nice article

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