Religion is a big part of many peoples’ lives and is often what defines them. Every country has its own predominant religion, all of which are different, yet they also have their similarities. However, one particularly controversial segment of religion is children.
Many argue that children will adopt their parents’ religion, however, some say they should have their own choice or religion if they want to be religious at all! While no one say which is better, there are clear benefits and downsides to both, as a recent study has shown.
Fact or Fiction?
Led by Kathleen H. Corriveau of Boston University, researchers have examined how religious exposure affects a child’s ability to distinguish between reality and fiction. The results were quite shocking and show that religious exposure at an early age makes children less able to differentiate between reality and fantasy.
The research revealed that those children from a religious background, who attended church, or who were enrolled in a parochial school, or any sort of religious education system, had a more difficult time telling the difference between fact and fiction, something which so many of us take for granted every day.
This research involved numerous studies on different groups of children. To get the most acreage results, researchers presented three different types of stories, religious, fantastical and realistic, to groups of 5 and 6-year old children. Religious children were divided into three groups: children exposed to the Christian religion either as churchgoers who attended public school, non-churchgoers who attended parochial school, or churchgoers who attended parochial school. The fourth group of children included non-churchgoing children who attended public school and had no exposure to religion in either church or school. The goal of the research was to find out if religious exposure would affect the child’s ability to identify if the lead character in each of the stories was real or was in fact made up.
The end results showed the difference between each group when they were read stories with events which were brought about my magic, or without magic, with both events being equally impossible in the real world. Secular children, that is ones without any exposure to religion, were far more likely to identify these characters as make-believe, whereas religious children were far more likely to believe they were real.
Regardless of their religious background, the majority of the children were able to identify the obviously real characters and real events as being real. The divide only came when they were presented with fantastical, religious, or just downright insane stories, events, and characters.
It’s surprising how much of an impact religion has on our children, the future of our countries and of the world. What does this actually mean though? Is religion a negative for our children? Should we be taking a more cautious approach when it comes to feeding them information about things that are, and likely will be, highly controversial? No one can say for sure, but the evidence is there.