Sunday, August 03, 2008

Food for Thought: Religion

"The great end in religious not to stamp our minds irresistibly on the young but to stir up their own; not to make them see with our eyes but to look inquiringly and steadily with their own; not to give them a definite amount of knowledge but to inspire a fervent love of truth; not to form an outward regularity but to touch inward springs..."

Rev. William Ellery Channing at the 1837 annual meeting of the Boston Sunday School Society, quoted in The Unitarian Universalist Pocket Guide, William F. Schulz, ed.

This quote struck me as the ideal definition of what religious education should be. Perhaps because of my experiences in the Philadelphia Catholic school system, at institutions such as Northeast Catholic High School, I strongly distrust dogmatic approaches to religious instruction. Catechisms seem fitted mainly to making children into slaves, not thinking worshippers and citizens. I feel the Unitarian approach is much better, teaching children to think for themselves even at the risk that they may later change or depart from their parents' faith.

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