Mind Matters

by Rev. Robert H. Tucker

Number 266
October 20, 1997

How Will We Raise Our Children
In a Pagan Culture


Starkly put, that is an issue for religious folk.

For much of American history, children got a smattering of the Christian story in schools ("In Adam's fall, we sin­ned all" was how children learned "A" in the McGuffey Reader), and in patriotic programs with their frequent references to the "faith of our fathers." Even though church membership was low for much of our country's history, even meager homes had a Bible.

The Christian story, interwoven in our cultural heritage, is being systematically extracted. The movie Pocahontas makes no mention of her being baptized and becoming a devout Christian. Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, edited to a more reader­friendly size, eliminated every one of the numerous Christian references. Newly composed non­religious musicals for school choirs during the December holiday season are a growth industry.

The absence of the Christian story of 'redemptive love' has allowed other stories to fill the vacuum. The most common story is that of 'redemptive violence.' Redemption takes place with foes vanquished by guns or lethal karate hands-a story repeatedly told by movies and television programs. With the Christian story of 'redemptive love' now pre­empted by that of violence is it any wonder that we have the headlines we do.

With neither biblical knowledge nor Christian values being transmitted in the public arena, the home and the church are the main places for children's religious education. However, given the difficulty most adults have in talking about the Bible and their faith, the task of religious education increasingly falls on the church school. Add to this the casual attitude toward the church school by adults and the sporadic attendance of most children, and it may be that the pagan world is clearly winning.

This absence of religious education may not seem important when children are living at home and given guidance by parents, but the absence of the Christian moral base can be quite serious when our children are adults and run into the issues of morality at work, fidelity in marriage, and involvement in the volunteer and civil world. Not everyone without a religious grounding automatically fails, but our children need to have as many internal resources as possible to navigate life. We are truly remiss when we withhold the gift of Christian knowledge and faith. Osmosis is very chancy.

With our casual approach towards the religious education of our children and the extraction of the Christian story in our culture at large,


How will we raise our children in a pagan culture?


--Robert H. Tucker
20 October 1997

© Robert H. Tucker, 1997.
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