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Sunday, December 14, 2008

My son was confronted by a classmate about his religious beliefs at school. My son said he wasn't quite sure why the boy brought up the subject of religion, as they were not talking to each other prior to the question, however the class was discussing the History of the Romans, and how religion played a roll in their lives. The boy bluntly asks my DS if he is a Christian. My DS says "No, I am not." The boy then asks "Do you believe in God?" To which my Son replies "I don't know. I have a hard time believeing in one God without evidence." "I tend to take a more scientific approach to life."The boy then tells my DS he will go to hell for not believeing in God. The conversation ended at that.

This has happened to my children on a few occasions at school. Someone challenges their beliefs and they get some fearful threats of burning in the firey pits of hell.My son asks me today to explain to him a bit more about Hell. I explained to him that many religions believe that Hell is a place where sinners go to suffer and that this is their punishment in the afterlife. Some religions think of the existance of Hell as forever, while others think of it as a place to pay your dues inbetween incarnation.I have told my children that they are Free to believe whatever they believe in. They know that they are free to feel differently than I do about any aspect of life. I want them to be able to make these choices on their own and when they are ready. I expect them to respect others of varying religions, cultures, etc. even if they completely disagree with their beliefs. I could never imagine a Secular child approaching someone, asking if the are a Christian, and then proceeding to say "Ha ha, you believe in a God that doesn't exist." or "Ha ha, you believe in Hell and there is no such place."

My children have been told that if someone chooses to challenge your beliefs that the only acceptable way to respond is with factual information, and with good intentions. I told DS next time he could reply with a simple "Well, I guess it's a good thing I don't believe in Hell." and walk away. Or he could say "I'm not disrespectful to you for being a Christian, so please respect my choice to not be a Christian."We don't question a person for believing in something that we do not believe in. My daughter has said many times that she feels sorry for one of her Christian friends because she isn't free to have her own thoughts, and that when she does decide something for herself that the childs Mother then has a conversation with her about it and she changes her mind. This is very frustrating to my DD because she has a hard time understanding why all children aren raised as Free Thinkers. I have tried to explain to her that this is every parents choice, and that she will find many who make a different choice in their parenting than I do. I have told her that it is not her place to pity her friend. I told her she might be suprised at how her friends beliefs develop as she gets older.

Anyway, I guess I am just wondering...do Christians raise their Children with the belief that it is okay to tell other kids that they are going to hell if they don't believe in God? What occurs to make a child think it is okay to tell someone that they will be sent to hell? What would your reaction be if a Non-Christian child approaced your Christian child and told them "God isn't real." or "Hell doesn't exist."? I'm having a hard time understanding how a Christian can think it is appropriate to attack a persons beliefes life this. I just couldn't imagine a Secular person, a Humanist, etc. just approaching someone and challenging their religious beliefs like this.

We ended up having one of those great conversations that left me feeling full. Full of accomplishment. Full of success. Full of appreciation. I really enjoy these thought provoking conversations with my children. I also enjoy where they lead to. This conversation about Christianity took us to conversations about other Countries, other Religions, Cultures, and even about Santa Clause.

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