***SENSITIVE TOPIC READ AT YOUR OWN RISK
Let’s start off this topic by putting things into context. There are many different religion in the world. I am a free-thinker and I’m also somewhat Atheist so I don’t know everything under the sun about every religion. However, this post isn’t about digging the virtues of each religion. In fact, I am not going to be talking about any religion in particular. What I want to convey is a broad idea or an argument and that is people should not be given or “labeled” with a religion the moment they are born.
As a Singaporean, I know for a fact that on my birth certificate, there is a little box where your parents can fill up your religion when you are born. Mine is ‘Buddhist’ and there is nothing wrong with that except I did not know and still don’t know what Buddhism encompasses. For the longest time, I told my friends I was Buddhist because it was written in my birth certificate. At this point, I implore you to find out what yours is written as on your own BC, if you don’t already know. Is it then accurate?
The way I see it, to have a religion means that one has accomplished these two things:
- Understand the in and outs of the religion and what it stands for
- Believe in the religion
What I mean by understanding the in and outs of the religion is for instance, if you’re a Christian, then maybe you should have read The Bible, understand the morals it contains, maybe go to church and have knowledge about the key figures that come with the religion as well as its teachings. You get the point.
Next, believing in a religion has to come AFTER understanding the religion. Without knowing what a religion is about, one will not even have anything to believe in. After understanding a religion, then one should ponder over it and as they say, receive a “calling” for it. This is where you believe in the religion. You believe in its values, virtues, the history of it and of course, the existence of a higher power which that particular religion acknowledges.
With that said, if we think about a new-born baby, is a new born baby able to accomplish both those steps that one needs to take towards acquiring a religion? The answer is, of course, NO. If the answer is no, a baby is unable to fully grasp the concept of religion and accomplish those two tasks prior to having a religion, then they should NOT be given a religion because religion is not concrete and does not “run in the blood”. You can say someone is Chinese at birth, because it’s their ancestry. You can say someone is a boy or a girl, because it’s biological. However, religion is not something that is biological or something that can be passed down like ancestry. Religion comes with spiritual enlightenment, which is something one can only acquire on their own.
I’ve had some counterarguments like religion teaches morals and that’s very important for young kids to learn, even if they don’t understand the religion they’ve been “labeled” with. To that I say, someone who is Atheist or a freethinker has morals as well. Different religion all teach somewhat the same morals such as “be a good person”. Hence, is there a difference whether your parents labeled you as Christian, or Catholic, or Buddhist? Because they ALL teach you morals. If that’s your argument, then why do you believe in Christianity and not any other religion? Because many religion teach the same set of moral values. The difference between each religion is more like the different figures of higher power. The reason for choosing to be one religion over another is a person’s belief in the existence of that religion’s higher power. It doesn’t have to apply to only the belief in a different higher power. It could also be like in Buddhism there is reincarnation but that’s not the same for Christianity. The bottom line is, morals is not reason enough to label a child a certain religion because what normal child is able to be spiritually enlightened? Please ENLIGHTEN me. Geddit?
All I’m saying is, religion is spiritual. In all respect for every religion under the sun, I’m sure they each have great teachings. However, young children more often than not have that familial pressure put on them to conform to a certain religion since they first come out of the womb. The most devoted Christians I know only accepted Christianity after understanding it and then believing in it and were not born to Christianity. On the contrary, all of the people I am friends with who are born into a religion know very little about their religion even though they’ve been part of that religion all their life. How can you be proud to say that you’re part of something when you don’t even know what it encompasses?
Comment your serious thoughts if you have any!