Atheist Parent Sends Children to Religious Preschool July 11, 2010

Atheist Parent Sends Children to Religious Preschool

At Rational Moms, mother Aerin explains why she and her husband sent their twins to a religious preschool despite neither parent being actively religious:

Because the program was associated to a church, it was significantly less expensive than other programs. It was also NAEYC accredited (National Association for the Education of Young Children). The teachers were experienced and had years of teaching pre-school either at the school or at other locations. Some teachers/staff were religious, but some of them attended other churches than the one associated with the pre-school (i.e., Roman Catholic). No one seemed to care which church anyone else was affiliated with. We were invited as a family to attend church at the church, but our kids didn’t seem to be disadvantaged in any way because we weren’t members. In fact, most of the students at the pre-school were not members of that congregation.

Time will tell how wise this decision was. For us, it was the right decision for our family. I respect that people disagree and have made other choices for themselves or their own families. It would have been nice to have a pre-school that reflected the beliefs that I have, and have all the other stuff too. It would have been nice to find a reputable inexpensive program that wasn’t religious. But as it was, I don’t regret our decision at all.

For those of you atheist parents with children, would you ever consider sending your kids to a religious school?

If the answer is yes, how would you deal with the discrepancy between what is taught in school and your own beliefs?

(Thanks to Julie for the link!)

"No, that would be really right...if you pick the right Mohammed picture...preferably one that includes ..."

Catholic Defenders Lash Out Against People ..."
"I believe the proper title is "Convicted Criminal and Proven Liar Dinesh D'Sewer"."

Christians Held a Huge COVID-Denying Event ..."
"Lusers that infest Religion aren't going to suddenly be making "Intelligent Career Choices" just because ..."

A Pentecostal Church in Maine Was ..."
"Whatever ..."Never attribute to Good Intentions anything that is just as easily Lack of Opportunity."This ..."

Catholic Defenders Lash Out Against People ..."

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I’ve been around a lot of Catholics, and in my experience, the longer they spent in a religious school environment, the guiltier they felt. Thus, my ex-sister-in-law, who attended Catholic School for 12 years, is a guilt-ridden wreck while my ex-husband, who didn’t attend at all carries only a modicum of Catholic guilt. It might work out okay if they pull the kids out for public school after preschool.

  • For those of you atheist parents with children, would you ever consider sending your kids to a religious school?

    Absolutely not. If the public schools in my area weren’t up to par and I couldn’t afford a secular private school, then I would homeschool. I don’t consider that an ideal situation, but I think it would be preferable to indoctrination at a religious school.

    Especially if we’re talking about preschool. I don’t want my children exposed to religion at such a young age. I realize the exposure may happen no matter what I do, but I certainly don’t want the god-concept implanted in my preschooler’s brain by trusted authority figures and school curriculum.

    Ironically, I went to a preschool that was attached to an Episcopal church, but the program was completely secular. We never went inside the church next door, and there was nothing religious about what we were taught. Just because a school is on a church’s property doesn’t mean it’s actually religious, but parents should tread carefully and ask questions.

  • Heidi

    My kids are in college now, but not in a million years would I have sent them to a religious school. There are many reasons for that, not the least of which is that I flat out refuse to financially support religion in any way. Certainly at that age I didn’t want my kids to learn that it was ok for teachers to tell you things that aren’t true, or that they have no evidence for believing.

  • It’s truly sad that any child of an Atheist would ever have to go to any religious ‘school.’

    In my opinion, anyone who sincerely believes in a god, isn’t fit to teach. Teaching should involve learning without lies, and religion is the opposite. A personal faith is their right, but their first dedication should be to truth instead.

    Not trying to be absolutist or draconian, but this particular job is that important.

  • My husband and I live in a heavily Christian area and looked and looked and found only one preschool in our community that wasn’t affiliated with a church. Fortunately, it was also a good program, so that’s the one we picked. If I’d had misgivings about the secular program that we found, I would have looked more closely at some of the church-affiliated programs. It would depend on if/how much religion was mixed in with the curriculum. I have a non-religious friend who sends her son to a Lutheran school because of the smaller class sizes and more personal attention.

  • benjdm

    No.

    Heck, I’m still not particularly happy that the preschool taught the Pledge of Allegiance.

  • No, we wouldn’t send our kids to a religious school. As it is, our neighbourhood public school offers a Christian-based program (don’t even get me started about how I feel regarding my taxes dollars paying for this program!) Had we sent our children there, we would have chosen the “regular stream”, but it only had 5 kids registered for the Kindergarten class my son would have attended. In addition, regardless of the program attended, the whole school does not observe Halloween. Even that is enough to make me avoid the school!

    Instead, we chose a French immersion school in another neighbourhood, and we’ve had no regrets. It’s been the best choice for my kids…a challenging program within the public system.

  • Timothy Norfolk

    My wife and I did that with our youngest, since our local school system didn’t offer all-day kindergarten, but the local rural Cathoic school did. It really wasn’t a problem. Church bored the pants off him.

  • Kayla

    For those of you atheist parents with children, would you ever consider sending your kids to a religious school?

    No, but then again, we don’t plan on sending our children to school anyway. And even if we did, I can’t fathom why we would even consider it. Unless there is a religious school in existence that does not in anyway try to push off their superstitious bull onto the children both in the classroom and during school sanctioned activities, I wouldn’t feel comfortable sending them there. There’s a difference between being exposed to different ideas/worldviews and being introduced to them as being truth. Especially at such young ages.

  • Katherine

    I myself am an atheist teenager with two atheist parents, and I attended a religious preschool for two years. My parents chose to send me there because it was in a convenient location, and the educational aspects were well taught. I overall had a positive experience (from what I remember), but they did have me brain washed with their religious dogma, and it was something my parents had to put extra effort into to conteract.

    Although it hasn’t hindered me now, I doubt that I would ever send my child to a similar facility. Young minds are so easily molded to the opinions of their teachers, and I expect that most parents would prefer teachers who’s main mission was to help their child acedemically instead of smothering them with their personal religious beliefs.

  • flawedprefect

    I am reading these responses with close interest, as I will be in this situation in a couple of years.

    Practicality often wins out over standing up for what you believe. When the religious school (in my case: Catholic) is the option which provides a better education, better facilities, better teachers, lying through one’s teeth is easily justified – I don’t really believe this, but my kid’s getting the best possible education; if he/she ever asks me about what I believe I will tell them; as a parent I need to provide for my child and it was the best option at the time… etc etc etc.

    The public school system here in Australia is such that your child can only attend the school in your municipality. You can apply at public schools outside your area (as they do take overflow students) but the places are often limited, and the good ones fill up very quickly. Private schools are largely run by religious institutions, and because they are privately funded, they have the better facilities. Non-religious private schools are often so overpriced and exclusive they’re are rarely considered an option.

    My wife and I often argue about this. I am conflicted because I wonder how I can teach a child ethics and morals including the value of honesty, when I have to lie just to fit into the “club” which holds the better education.

    I am so happy movements such as “foundation beyond belief” are around, but I feel as though we need more such foundations.

    We’re only just going through ethics classes trials in public schools here in NSW, Australia, and it is not without vociferous protest from religious institutions (I am aware of the irony that religion is taught in public schools and that non-christian students are not allowed to do anything while SRE is on).

    Yep – my kid isn’t even BORN yet, and I am already a guilt-ridden wreck, like Jude’s example above. I look forward to reading other’s experiences here.

  • Meredith

    Both of my children have attended a Presbyterian preschool. I had my concerns initially and actually addressed them with the director. I explained how both my husband and I weren’t believers and questioned how much ‘god talk’ there would be. She assured me that the program was peppered with bible stories where they apply, but there wasn’t a hard push for Christianity. (Nor was there any daily bible study or praying with the exception of grace before snack).

    My now 7 year old remembers nothing about her supposed indoctrination. She remembers Christmas celebrations, but not a the Happy Birthday Jesus party. She remembers friends and Farm Day and Pajama Day, but not the story of Easter or how often she sang “The Lord’s Army” at the top of her lungs.

    My now 3 year old is in love with his teachers, likes to play and paint and sing and dance, and sometimes wakes up singing “Rise and Shine and Give God Your Glory”, but by 6 he will have left that all behind, too. This winter, he exclaimed that god created us all and I corrected him and told him that I created him. That was good enough for him on that day.

    When all is said and done, I love the people there. No matter what their personal beliefs, they treat my children fairly and with love. They treat me with respect even though it is well known that I am an atheist and that my children will be raised with my beliefs. My kids are safe and happy and sure, it costs me a little less. I have even traded work with the school for tuition for the last 4 years.

    I suppose for what it’s worth, I don’t think they are evil people. Maybe that’s why it isn’t a big deal for my family.

  • Richard P.

    I taught my kids how to think and be critical of what they are told. I didn’t need to sensor my children from religion. They were able to see it for what it was.

    Both of my kids had moments when they were “believers”. Both grew out of it and could not commit to it. I am very proud of my kids.

    Better to teach kids how to think and prepare them for the real world than to tell them what to think. Seriously, If you have not developed your child’s ability to critically think through the mild onslaught of religion in a school setting, how are they ever going to be prepared for the real world?

  • Mariela

    I was sent to (roman) catholic school from 1st to 12th grade (in Latin America). When I confronted my parents about it I was told it was the only good girl’s school in the city (true at the time I started) and that they sent me there for the morals (hm). True, the nuns were fairly liberal jesuits, several had college degrees in the sciences, and evolution was accepted, but the experience left me a little scarred. It’s taken a while to feel comfortable standing my ground, since I spent so long hiding what I actually thought. My dad was (I think) an atheist who did not try to impose his believes on me (but he gave me Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot as a 12th birthday present), and my mom had serious issues with the catholic church. We never went to church as a family, although I was made to go to mass in school.

    Please, don’t do that to your kids. It’s not easy to live a double life when you are a kid, and the feeling of being “evil” for not following the church really gets ingrained and comes back to bite you periodically.

  • Trace

    My sister went to Catholic school…bad joojoo. I promised myself I would never send my children to a religious school.

    When my son was three we starting looking….the public school system where we lived at the time,(KC, Missouri), had lost its accreditation…..yikes.

    We then looked into a charter school. I even started volunteering at the library to get better acquainted with the school….no, not for us either.

    Finally we joined a secular home school group and we have never looked back.

    We now belong to several HS groups and co-ops, some secular, some religious. Since I, or wife accompany my son to them, we deal with religious issues as/if they emerge. Not perfect and not always easy but, hey, nothing is, right?

  • Claudia

    Disclaimer: I’m not a parent.

    I think the only answer to that is a big “depends”. It depends on what other options I have: Are the public schools totally unacceptable? Is there absolutely no available/affordable secular school? Is homeschooling an option?. It also depends on the level of religiosity of the school. I’m pretty sure that Sidwell Friends (where the Obama girls go) which is a high end Quaker school, does not get deep into the indoctrination. Religious schools are vastly different and to me it would come down to how present the religious education is. Having a child in an even lightly religious school requires being fully engaged to make sure insidious ideas (like the idea that you are flawed and broken) are being effectively countered.

  • Nikki

    I enrolled my daughter in a Montessori program for Pre-K and Kindergarten. Having gone to a Catholic Private school myself it was a choice I weighed out carefully. I chose the school not for affordability in fact, it cost me a great deal of money. I chose the program for academic reasons. My daughter will be entering 1st grade ready to read, write, add, subtract, multiply, and divide! The basic christian outline they taught my daughter to me is as harmless as telling her about Santa, the tooth fairy, and the easter bunny. Have they confused her about evolution, dinosaurs, and heaven? Not any more than what she would pick up from other children in public school! We frequent the science museum and she loves space! Bottom line I find it harmless if you are prepared to have open conversation, willingness to show them truth, and realize they are children!

  • There are very few childcare centers that take infants here, two that I have been able to find. One is a 20-minute drive each way and won’t have an opening when we need one anyway. The other is part of a Methodist Church, literally across the street from the high school where I do most of my subbing and would like to teach full-time. But we will not send out kid there because of the daily religious teachings. I would maybe be OK with it up to a year, but after that I don’t want one of his repeated exposures to be to religious songs and stories.

    We do expose our older son to information about religion, but in a more academic presentation and with full opportunity to discuss it. I don’t want my baby to be taught about it by people who would present it as fact.

  • Hannah C

    It really isn’t a big deal.
    Neither of my parents are super religious, but they sent me to a private Christian pre-school, because they were able to take me more than other schools (both my parents have full time jobs). I had fun, and enjoyed chapel day on thursdays. I also loved being around the other kids, and learned to write the alphabet and count.

    Even then I thought it was kind of silly though. I remember asking why we always had to bow our heads in prayer, instead of looking up to where God was. In my eyes, we were praying to the devil, haha.

    Now of course, I am an atheist and go to a public high school. But, I am thankful that my parents sent me to a good preschool, even if it was religious, instead of some random day care.

    So, in the future, I don’t think I would have many qualms about sending whatever kids I have to a religious pre-school if it provided the better care and education than the alternatives.

  • tim

    There are catholic schools and there are catholic schools. I offered to pay for a local catholic school for my nephews until they hit high school. Its a model I’ve seen work really well. Mainly because most catholic schools are much better teaching good habits than the majority of public schools out there.

    Now that my first nephew is hitting high school I wish my older brother took me up on that offer.

  • DeafAtheist

    Last year the staff of my son’s Early Childhood Family Education classes recommended I have him put in daycare for a couple of hours a couple times a week to give him some more socialization with other children and give me a break from parenting. The daycare they recommended was housed in the basement of a local Lutheran church. Knowing that I’m an atheist the staff assured me that even tho the daycare was located in a church building, the program was secular. I took their word for it, but also figured that at 16 months of age my son was too young to be indoctrinated with religious propaganda anyway. When touring the daycare itself I was impressed with the program and the staff and felt comfortable leaving my son there.

    That being said, I would not in any circumstances allow my son to be put in a religious school. If I don’t agree with what is being taught in a school program I certainly wouldn’t put my children in that program.

  • I think there are too many variables. I was never baptized but sent to Catholic school since I had cousins nearby attending it. It was never a dividing line between my ability to make friends or be involved in what went on at school. Yeah, I had to get D’s in Religion since I couldn’t participate in the Catechism stuff but I was one of those kids who didn’t notice the lack in that area and never did feel left out by everyone doing the things I couldn’t. I don’t know why not, though. Maybe I was just weird. I still wound up atheist even with 8 years of mass every week, after all. Maybe it’s genetic. My folks aren’t believers either.

    I still came out of the whole experience feeling like God wasn’t a real thing that I needed to focus any time on. Not that I could have described it that way, mind you. They had their weekend rituals and I had mine. My folks were very secular and never acknowledged a power in prayer, let alone expect me to do any of it. Not that they would have banned prayer; they just knew it wasn’t necessary. They also ignored every aspect of religious life, save the secularized ones with Easter bunnies and Santa’s reindeer.

    Somehow it worked out for me.

    Would I put my own kid through that? I really don’t know. I think it’s fair to say that school shouldn’t be the only place where socialization is going to take place, any more than I’d say parents should be the only ones doing it. In some cases, maybe kids are just predisposed to buy into stuff others might not.

    But I’m just guessing.

  • Patrick

    I attended an Jesuit High School. I got an excellent high school education there. The staff and the priests there were all committed to building “men for others”. I was never reluctant to express my lack of religious views, and had some very interesting discussions with teachers there. I never felt like an outsider even though it was well known that not only was I not catholic, but I was non-religious in general.

    I suppose it could have just as easily been the other way, but in my case I got what I consider to be a much superior education to that I might have gotten at the public high school that would have been my alternative. And I recived some education that broadened my horiszons when dealing with those from a religious, and specifically catholic background. All in all I had an excellent education from a private religious school.

    But then again I suppose it could have just as eaisly gone the other way. Perhaps I was lucky.

    In the end it built me as a person, and strengthened my own beliefs after learning about those of others.

  • Although I have no children, and will not have any, the answer would be a resounding “No.” My children would absolutely not attend a religious based school.

  • Brian-sama

    Not a parent yet…

    However, a friend of mine sends her two small children to a religious-based preschool. There, they are taught to say “Thank you, Jesus” for everything they are given. Alone, this doesn’t seem so bad, but it is definitely an early indoctrination job, particularly since these kids have no real concept of who this Jesus guy is, anyway.

    I should add that, as far as I know, there is no other religious instruction at this preschool. Still, by teaching children to thank Jesus for every small thing, the school is teaching them that Jesus is responsible for all the good things that happen in life, which is definitely religious instruction.

  • Kat

    I attended at United Church of Christ preschool. There was absolutely zero religion involved, other than the time that we took a “field trip” to the church, adjacent to the school to look at the organ.
    The teachers in the preschool were also not affiliated with the church at all (I was raised Catholic and one of my teachers went to my church.)

    I would feel comfortable sending my kids to a UU preschool as well, but probably not to a preschool run by a more conservative denomination.

  • If the answer is yes, how would you deal with the discrepancy between what is taught in school and your own beliefs?

    Presumably even at a secular school they’re going to teach some things you don’t agree with, and I assume you’d just deal with them the same way.

    (“I know your teacher says that the angles of a triangle have to add up to 180 degrees, but that’s because she has a narrow ‘Euclidean’ view of the world. You don’t have to disrupt her class, but at home you should know better.”)

  • VXbinaca

    MY experience with religious schools was between 6th and 7th grade, just after my parents divorce.

    It was a fundamentalist baptist school. There were repeated accusations of abuse over they years that have not stopped in the nearly 2 decades since I left it.

    My solution to the problem: don’t have kids.

  • I live in an area that has plenty of secular preschools, so I won’t have this dilemma. But if religious preschools were our only practical/affordable option… well… I’d consider it. I’d vet each school first to see if any had a mostly secular curriculum. You never know; I might get lucky. Until I confirm or deny the existence of a mostly secular preschool held in a church, I can’t unequivocally answer the question. But like I said in the beginning, I’m fortunate in that I won’t have to.

  • Rich Wilson

    No.

  • Hitch

    Needs serious prescreening and it sounds like some of it has happened.

    There are very progressive, tolerant and non-proselytizing places out there and I would have no problem with my kids being there.

    But as said pre-screening is key. Ideally I’d even have a talk with the director and verbalize my expectations and see if we have a consensus what my kids should be exposed to and what they should not.

    But if there is too much religiosity going on (pre-lunch prayers etc) I’d rather shell out some extra money and have the kids in a secular pre-school.

  • From Pre-k to 4th grade, I was sent to a Christian school. Not because my parents were religious, but because we lived in a bad school district. All the schools were overcrowded, underfunded, and basically bad places. There were no exceptions. Because of that, I was sent out-of-county to a strict Christian school.
    We had morning prayer, Wednesday church, an after-school youth group, and we were required to stand up during the pledge of allegiance. No other views were taught. You either accepted what they said as fact (i.e. Jesus is our savior) or you got detention.
    Detention was an after-school pay-per-minute place where you cleaned the floors, wiped down tables, and all sorts of other physical labors. Your parents had no say what-so-ever. The school required that the student stayed a minimum of 30 minutes, and every repeat offense added 15 minutes. (You swore in class. 30 for a first time offense, 45 for the next, 60 for the next, and it keeps going.) Students in 2nd grade up could be put in detention.
    There was also a very strict dress code. Red, white or navy blue polos, khaki or navy blue pants or shorts with belt, or khaki or navy blue skirts for the girls. I once got detention for wearing an orange shirt which I honestly thought was red.
    After we moved, I was put in public school. I had absolutely no experience with people other than through the school and the school’s church. I was completely unprepared for the jungle that is the public school system. I didn’t know how to talk to people without asking about religion. I was, in effect, socially handicapped.
    I don’t believe anyone else should go through that kind of thing. I’ve been out of that school for several years now, an atheist for about half of that, and I think that all these religious schools are doing is using fear to dominate kids. I hated that school. I still do.

  • I’d consider a nominally religious school only because most public schools are god awful and don’t give two shits about the gifted.

  • shawn

    Not a chance in hell, all pun intended

  • Tina

    It’s not a school, it’s a preschool. For some reason, most people I know have gotten it into their heads that a preschool is required. Last I knew, children were not legally required to attend a school system until age 7. Preschools have become one of the new ‘keep up with the Jones’ fads. Absolutely ridicules.

    We are also secular homeschoolers, and after reading the Newsweek article, ‘The Creativity Crisis’, I chalk it up as another reason to remain so.

  • Oh my gods! I just read the article!

    Irresponsible parents that are irresponsibly parenting always say stuff like, “It’s right for my family.”

    Pffffffttt! (my sound of contempt)

  • David

    If preschool was the only religious school that they went to, and I sent them to public school when they entered Kindergarten, I don’t really see a problem with it.

    Do you really believe the one year they spend in a religious preschool will stunt their growth as rational human beings? For crying out loud, they are 4 years old. They are not even listening to a damn thing the teacher has to say. They would not be indoctrinated in such a short amount of time.

  • I would NEVER send my children to a religious school.

    A recent study here in Brazil analyzed the books used by religious schools in my country and they found the obvious: most books used by these schools compare homossexuality to a “mental illness”, say that Evolution is “just” a theory without real evidences to support it and a lot of BS in general.

  • Absolutely not. I’ve had quite enough with Catholic school garbage, and I only went for 9 years – I especially have an issue with the fact that preschool isn’t even really necessary. My brother never went and he does just fine for himself; if there were no better preschools available, I think it’s better that the kids just stay home another year. It won’t do any harm.

    As for anything beyond preschool, I plan to take the school district of the town I’m living in into consideration before I even begin to raise children. No child needs to go through what I did, especially if their parents don’t even believe in the things that the school is teaching.

  • Tim

    I would never send my kids to a religious school, especially a preschool. I know most schools are just that, schools, and not full of indoctrination; but I wouldn’t want my kids in that environment during those formative years (or any other years). During that time in their lives the children are building the paradigms with which they will interpret and analyze the world for the rest of their lives; the lens through which they will view their entire existence. I wouldn’t want their worldview to be created for them and forced down their throats by a religious school. Now, I can feel the more moderate atheist/agnostics reading this and thinking that I’m advocating atheist indoctrination over religious; but that’s a false dichotomy. Atheism is only a thing in its own right because religion exists; just as there would be no shadow without light (not to suggest that atheism is the “shadow” to religion’s “light…”). If no one believed in god, there would be no reason to have to declare “I don’t believe in god.” In that way, simply by not exposing your children to religion, you are not “indoctrinating” them into atheism or anything; you’re just NOT indoctrinating them into religion. If you were to picture the two on a number line from 1-10, religion being 10; atheism would be 5, the neutral value.

  • Meg

    Absolutely not.

    That said, I won’t second-guess another family’s choice in the matter. They obviously considered many factors, and ultimately I can’t say what I’d do were I living their life.

    I’m homeschooling my three kids. I don’t mind that most other people say they wouldn’t homeschool. I do mind when they think they know that I shouldn’t.

    🙂

  • It depends on the school… like all schools. I’d prefer not to, but it’s not like a secular school is guaranteed to be a bastion of ideal learning.

  • I attended a preschool at a Methodist Church, even though my parents are Muslim. (I think the fact that it was very close to our home may have been a factor.) I don’t remember anything religious (but then again, I was 3 or 4, so that may be flawed). In fact, I didn’t even realize it was at a church until I was older, saw the sign for the preschool in front of the Church, and made the connection. As far as I know, my parents didn’t have any issues. I loved the songs they taught. My mom says I would keep singing the Muffin Man song over and over again.

    I think that in preschool it might be fine as long as it’s just learning the alphabet, shapes, colors, etc. As far as I know, there isn’t any religious rule that contradicts the fact that squares have four sides, so there’s not much conflict. It would depend on whether religious instruction was going to be included. If there was religious instruction, I would not sent my hypothetical children to the school, unless there really was no other option.

    For the rest of my education, I attended secular public schools. I’m grateful for that. I would not want to go to a religious school in which the religious dogmas actually contradict the secular subjects that should be taught. I would feel that I (or my hypothetical children) might not be getting the real information, and a biased religious interpretation instead. Plus, I’d be concerned that (in primary or secondary school) religious education would be included, even if it wasn’t in preschool.

    Basically, I think secular school is better overall, but if one does not have an option, try to choose a school that at least does not teach religious dogma (or perhaps has an opt out option).

  • gwen

    Yes, in a heartbeat. I sent both of my sons to catholic school for 12 years of schooling. They learned the (illogical) bible, while I taught them to think for themselves. I think in ‘vaccinated’ them against later indoctrination. The catholic school system also has the most thorough teaching of evolution and sex education of any of the other systems here, bar none. It didn’t take much for me to add my teaching about homosexuality (normal) and birth control (use it!). They both got a great education and got into good colleges. I also wanted to make sure they knew as much as possible about ‘what I didn’t believe in’ and why. It worked, they are both atheists. My parents did the same to me…

  • Baktru

    It’s pretty common in Belgium actually. The catholic schools tend to be of better quality than the public schools in many cases, and that’s pretty much all there is to it.

    And of course, getting two hours of religion in a week there is actually an effective inoculation against it, at least in my opinion..

  • I am in college in the early childhood development program. When I graduate I will be working for preschoolers and may have the option of working in a religious environment. I have observed several childcare settings so far, and the one I liked best was in a Methodist church. On the day I observed, the kids did nothing religious whatsoever. No religious subjects were so much as discussed.

    When it comes to preschool age or younger, I don’t think church programs are a problem, unless you really don’t want them coloring pictures of Santa Claus. The biggest issue is finding a program with well trained facilitators that will take your child’s needs seriously.

  • inmyhead

    I have pre school aged twins and went to great lengths to find a school that was not affiliated with a church. This was not an easy thing to do in the south. I am new to the area and had no clue where to look, So I googled. I found that the public school has a pre school program along with a special ed program for speech therapy. I am so happy with it and the fact that it is not a church makes me happy.

  • My wife and I are childfree by choice. If we did have children, however, we wouldn’t dream of sending them to a religious school. As a lesbian atheist/agnostic couple we’d have to be damn fools to do that.

  • Trace

    Andrew Hall: “Irresponsible parents that are irresponsibly parenting always say stuff like, “It’s right for my family.”

    WT#? 🙂

  • April

    I did send my daughter to a methodist pre-school. I had my qualms, but there was no religious indoctrination taught at the preschool. I sent her because we were in a very small community. There were NO OTHER preschools except for Headstart, which we did not qualify for.

    It was actually a very lovely experience all around.

    There have been other times when I’ve kicked around the idea of sending my kids to something that is sponsored by a religious organization. There is a group sponsored by the local churches that goes to Pisa, Italy every year for a camp (we live in Belgium). All of my kids’ friends go. Apparently it is a fairly inclusive and progressively liberal organization, but still…I don’t know. I really resent that there are so many more opportunities available on a religious level than on a secular level.

    Even things that should be fairly secular, are becoming more and more religious. For instance, my kids went to a YMCA summer camp one summer. Yes, it was founded on Christian values. But the camp counselors really hounded my kids with “Christian values” while they were there (they made crowns with the words “God’s princesses” on them) to the point that my oldest daughter just wanted to come home.

  • geekgazette

    I’m kind of torn on this one. While, as a nonbeliever, I think the indoctrination that may occur is reprehensible, sometimes the education is better. Everyone I know that went to a Catholic school is successful, most are very successful. Yet very few of the people I know that attended public school, were in the “advanced” programs and considered highly intelligent, are for the most part strictly working class.
    Since all of us grew up in pretty much the same neighborhood/area (working class suburb) and most of our parents had similar working class jobs, you can’t completely discount the quality of the education at the Catholic school.
    I’m attending a Baptist university for graduate school and though everything is taught from a religious perspective, I can’t complain about the quality of the education. The professors are top notch and friendly. Nearly all of my classmates, and professors are ministers, the wives of ministers or regular church goers, I can’t deny feeling like the odd man out. I keep my mouth shut about religion, do my assignments and I get along with everyone just fine. They have never questioned why I never have a prayer request, say amen, mention Jesus(classmates bring him up a lot!), or even bow my head during prayers and I never bring up the topic. Granted there are times I want to bust out laughing at the things they say, roll my eyes or even correct them when they say something extremely idiotic (it is very hard to keep from doing this last one), but I figure I’m there for the education and I’ve run into my fair share of bible thumpers during my time state university that were a lot less civil than anyone I’ve met at the Baptist college.
    Making the decision to go to a religious university was a tough one for me. They had the program I wanted, they are a well respected school for this area and the tuition is affordable, so there were a lot of pluses and only one big minus, the religion. Now that I’m attending, I think I made the right choice as the waulity of education I’m receiving is very good.

  • geekgazette

    So I think that if at home the parents make it very clear what is real and what isn’t, the child won’t be adversely affected by going to a religious school. In fact they may benefit from it.
    I sometimes feel that us non-believers are so bent on fighting religion, because we generally only see the nasty side of religion, we forget that there are tolerant, good, caring people that believe as well. Some of them, though it seems they are few and far between, are happy to not force their views on others. If these parents feel that the pre-school they have chosen is an environment positive environment, they I say they are lucky to have found a quality program.

  • skinman

    No.

  • 5ive

    My gut reaction is NO NO NO… But then I think about the fact that my agnostic/atheistic parents sent me to a christian preschool and I remember nothing from it except the tricycles and playing cow (pretending to eat grass) and the fact that some kid kept insisting that a caterpillar was a snake. That still bugs me… I mean, the picture was in a book called “Insect guide to North America” sheesh. And yes, I was an early reader…
    So, I don’t know. I wouldn’t/didn’t send mine to a religious preschool. But they do go to church with their grandparents occasionally, then we come home and talk about it. Best lesson they got from church: You can’t always trust a person in an authority position to tell you the truth.

  • Korou

    I went to a religious school, because I’m British. Like all British schools, we had prayers every assembly and lunchtime, and sang Christian hymns all the time. None of us actually believed it, I imagine.
    Why is it that Britain has a state-endorsed religion that is comfortably ineffectual, and America has a wall between the state and a power-hungry church?

  • SickoftheUS

    From original post:

    “It would have been nice to have a pre-school that reflected the beliefs that I have, and have all the other stuff too. It would have been nice to find a reputable inexpensive program that wasn’t religious. But as it was, I don’t regret our decision at all.”

    Ah, that’s the typical American…we want all the good things, especially when they give ourselves or close blood a leg up on life and they don’t cost us too much effort or money. But working to uphold our values, too….well, that’s merely “nice” if we respect those. Convenience trumps integrity.

    I went to a Catholic school for 8 years. Good curriculum (except for the daily religion crap), good materials, mostly shitty teachers addled by religion and poor understanding of children’s needs, and overall a poor investment in my childhood.

    Overall, more evidence that bringing children into this world and raising them is a huge clusterfuck, for so many reasons. The only way to win is not to play.

  • (from Ireland)

    All my children go to a “religious” school -but my wife is Christian so it’s not against “our” beliefs – and frankly I don’t mind.

    Some of the teachers are religious nut jobs – but I’m not really bothered; my kids are smart enough to filter the BS, and it’s good to expose them to it. By BS, now, I mean the nastier side of religious (the prejudice and intolerance stuff). My kids are very quick to point out to anyone that wants to try that their uncle is gay and happily married to his partner or that daddy doesn’t believe in Jesus or God.

    I find the vast majority (99%) of what is taught is either neutral or positive (e.g. fostering good relationships). And when they come home they get a good dose of science from me, just to boost their immunity.

    Personally, I’d prefer if all schools in my country were secular, but they’re not. And it’s very difficult to squeeze your child into the few ones that are. But as they say, our day will come.

  • GSW

    Yes.
    As a single mother, faced with the need to work full time and the only schools offering late afternoon supervision being catholic, there was not much choice.

    By expanding what the school taught in order to cover current religions, lots of older religions (Greece, Rome, Egypt, Scandinavia) some philosophies and lots of fantasy fiction, it is possible to educate children to become open minded, rational thinking, non-dependent adults.

    Know thine enemy!

  • ASD

    A year and a half ago, I would have said yes because they generally provide better education than the public-funded preschools. (Here in Australia, there aren’t many exclusive pre-schools – most of them are either K-8 or K-12 (primary-only or primary and secondary schools). I’ve yet to see an exclusive pre-school.)

    But, having faced an absolute shamble of a Lutheran high school (and having seen the behaviour of the students at the neighbouring Catholic high school) I wouldn’t do it unless I investigated the school and its students first.
    While religious schools generally have a good reputation, a lot of them aren’t actually all they promote themselves as.

    So I’d probably investigate several schools and talk to students and former students and ask them what it is like.
    But, with that being said, if I was to send a kid to a religous school I would request that they be exempt from religion-centered lessons until about Year 4 or 5, when I’d feel that they would be mature enough to not take the lessons at face value.
    In closing, don’t always assume that a religious school is going to be a good school. My highschool was a disorganised, badly-financed, poor-quality shamble, and not one of my ex-classmates has a good thing to say about the place. A better approach IMO would be to investigate several schools in the area (religious and non-religious, public and private) and see what ones have the best quality of education and that the students actually like.

  • AJ

    I would if it were the best school in the area, and I’d use the discrepancy to teach my children early on that authority figures aren’t always right about everything (but equally sometimes it’s in your best interest to pretend to agree with them).

    There is no ultimate truth in anything; what a teacher says about a story or history or even mathematics is not necessarily always right, even in a secular school. School only generally helps children take in what they’re being taught–religion gives a reason to learn how to question those things early on too.

  • We did send our two kids to a Methodist pre-school that was just a few blocks away from our house. It was a fairly popular program in our neighborhood and many of the other kids who lived around us also went there. I kind-of deferred to my wife (who is a “lite” Christian) decisions such as where to send the kids for day care/pre-school. Although I did have some misgivings, I didn’t want to sacrifice the “good” while holding out for the “perfect”.

  • AJ

    Then again, I live in the UK where the religious landscape is rather different from that of the US.

  • At the moment, it looks like I will have no choice.

    I am English and live in the UK. As it stands, ALL UK school children are compelled to participate in a daily act of Christian worship no matter how old they are, regardless of their religious background, or whether the school is a private, faith or state school.

    I am looking into campaigning to get this law (instated by the previous Tory government) repealed and will not stop until it is. It was largely ignored during Labour’s term but now the dreaded-Tories are back, they are looking to have it enforced and Ofsted is behind them all the way.

    This law is telling. It tells all of us that those in favour of compulsory Christian worship in schools, don’t really care who believes what provided people appear to go along with what the Christian community believe.

  • My daughter attends a Church of England Junior school. She’s there because it is about the best school in the area for her age range (although she is moving on to a secular high school in September). The fact that neither I nor my daughter have attended the attached church has never been an issue. The school is freely open to those of any and all faiths, and they quite happily list Atheist as an option on the school census forms. It’s never been an issue, but this is England.

    Yet again it’s strange that a country with a national religion is more secular than one that specifically has none. 🙂

  • TheDeadEye

    Preschools have become one of the new ‘keep up with the Jones’ fads. Absolutely ridiculous.

    QFT.

    It’s preschool for spaghetti sake! o.O

  • We sent my son to preschool at the YMCA. He definitely needed the head start, and this was the most secular school we could afford in our area. The only religious element in the curriculum was a few christian children’s songs I remember singing in church as a kid. This didn’t bother me very much, because we also sing christmas carols about Santa at christmas time and tell ghost stories on halloween.

    I find it easier to teach my children to be skeptical when there are concrete examples to work with (I can’t wait for the day I get to explain Santa Claus). Teaching my children to be skeptical and critical thinkers who can function respectfully among superstitious peers is one of my top priorities. They need to know that people they love and respect are going to believe messed up things. They need to know how to think for themselves while maintaining that love and respect.

    As a side note, I played various sports through the YMCA all through my childhood and had no idea they were a religious organization until I was in my 20s. I don’t know if our local YMCA is more secular than others, or if this is indicative of the organization as a whole. If you are okay with giving money to a religious organization, this might be a viable option for anyone here looking for an affordable preschool.

    Oh, and I would never send my children to a religious grade, middle or high school.

  • LeAnne

    No, I’d never send my kids to a religious school. Even if it was close, cheap, etc., I would NEVER subject them to it.

    I wouldn’t want to be subjected to it, so I wouldn’t make my kid do it.

  • In Ontario, Catholic schools are part of the public school system. Because Catholic schools outperform secular public schools, all our children attend them. My husband discovered his own atheism in the midst of a Catholic education. We have open and frank discussions with the kids about religion and reality and science. My 5-year-old believed superpowers were real until recently, so a beleif in a deity isn’t a stretch. I am often uncomfortable with the indoctrination, but they get it briefly during the school day and at no other time. We point out inconsistencies and ideas that simply are not right.

  • My now 3 year old is in love with his teachers, likes to play and paint and sing and dance, and sometimes wakes up singing “Rise and Shine and Give God Your Glory”, but by 6 he will have left that all behind, too.

    But how do you know that? Just because your older child forgot everything doesn’t mean that your younger one will. Many Christians feel that they were called or touched by God at a young age, even as preschoolers, and had personal relationships with him starting at that time. Granted, home usually trumps the school environment, but not always. They’ve already convinced him that God created him. Who’s to say he will ever completely lose that belief?

    Better to teach kids how to think and prepare them for the real world than to tell them what to think. Seriously, If you have not developed your child’s ability to critically think through the mild onslaught of religion in a school setting, how are they ever going to be prepared for the real world?

    IMO, a “mild onslaught” would be the exposure to religion that would happen naturally as my child learned to read, watched television and movies, and met children from religious families at school. I don’t consider systematic indoctrination a mild onslaught, but rather a massive one. Putting a 3-year-old into an environment where authority figures are telling her that God, Jesus, and heaven are literal truth is extreme to me. A child that young has no critical thinking skills. She’s simply going to swallow whatever she is told. Parents can combat the indoctrination at home, but why allow the indoctrination in the first place, especially at such a young and impressionable age?

    Do you really believe the one year they spend in a religious preschool will stunt their growth as rational human beings? For crying out loud, they are 4 years old. They are not even listening to a damn thing the teacher has to say. They would not be indoctrinated in such a short amount of time.

    I think evidence shows the opposite. It might not have a long-term effect, but religious schools are quite good at indoctrinating children in the present moment. Even a year spent in that environment will introduce them to certain beliefs, and those beliefs will be presented to them as fact. It seems foolish to pretend that children are ignoring teachers to the point where they are not going to notice they are being taught about a deity and are reciting prayers to it. They’re being indoctrinated into a religious worldview. It’s normalizing the single-male-deity concept that all of us are eventually exposed to. Although it’s possible for parents to defuse the situation at home, you’re going to be contradicting the child’s teachers and 80-90% of the rest of society. Eventually the child may realize that and a) never completely lose the theistic beliefs she was taught or b) go back to them later in life because they seem normal and natural to her. And why wouldn’t they seem normal and natural? She was indoctrinated with them at the tender age of 3.

  • heironymous

    Well, my kids go to a pre-school that has a religious affiliation, but doesn’t do any religious “education” I screened carefully and the only thing I object to is saying “grace” with meals. But I can cope with that and discuss it with my kids.

    The kids will go to public schools when they reach Kindergarten. It’s not like they haven’t been introduced to religion. My mother is Catholic and I know she brings it up occasionally (not confrontationally).

    It also allows my daughter and I to have discussions about religion and different notions of “God”. She’s full of questions and I discuss it with her occasionally on the way to and from school. I discuss the various gods worshiped throughout history – “Today’s Thursday – it’s named after Thor the god of Thunder” “Daddy – which is more powerful, Jupiter (king of the gods) or Mars (The god of WAR)?”

    And FFS, I’m not keeping up with the Jones. We have jobs and need a place for the kids during the day. We do want the best possible for our children and moved to where the public schools are great. They’re just not old enough yet. It’s a choice between an active learning environment and a place to drop off the kids where they watch video’s all day.

  • Starle

    I just joke with my kids about Jesus being a zombie. After a while they have started treating the whole thing as a big goofy story.

  • mumus

    My husband and I spent a long time debating whether to send my daughter to the church preschool where nearly all the other children in the village go or to send her to a state school in another part of town.
    In the end we chose the state school.

    We live in Italy and even the state schools offer weekly religon lessons, so I exercised my right to opt her out of the religion lesson. I was a bit concerned that this might prejudice the teachers against her or make my daughter feel uncomfortable when she was escorted from the room while religion lessons were being held. But it seems to me that the Church wouldn’t go to such lengths to teach religion to three-year-olds if early indoctrination didn’t pay off.

    And though my daughter sits out religion, she has picked up some wild ideas about Jesus, Mary, heaven and death from her classmates and teachers.

  • Shannon

    I wouldn’t feel comfortable with it, but I’m also in agreement with the other commenter who said s/he wouldn’t tell another family what to do. We homeschool and so it’s not an issue with our family anyway.

  • JB Tait

    What are we afraid of?

    If we have taught our children to do what is right because it is Right and not because “God’ll getcha for that,” then they won’t take on the attitudes of being sorry for getting caught even if they see others doing it. They will retain their inbuilt conscience in the face of book based, cherry-picked morals.

    If our philosophy is supported by observation, facts, inquiry based on the scientific method, rational thought, logic, and the like, then it will stand up to scrutiny, and the contradicting religious propaganda will be seen as flawed.

    I sent my child to a religious preschool wherein I encouraged her to learn to treat others with courtesy and respect, even when they were preaching nonsense. She turned out just fine and as a bonus gained a better understanding of the people and beliefs that surround us, as well as developing techniques to deal with their sometimes irrational behavior. I considered the experience to be an entry level course in Comparative Religion and a starter for the socialization needed to live among those who claim to be the majority.

    Just as a child knows when a certain kind of touch is inappropriate despite the adult committing the crime trying to convince them it is ok, so too, they can evaluate other stories they are being told. Just be ready to answer questions as they arise and it will work out great.

    If a child learns a second language it does not mean they must stop thinking in and with their own first language.

  • JB Tait

    I sometimes wonder why so many atheist parents think it is ok to lie to children about Santa Claus but don’t think the kids will recover from being told about God. At least with Santa they see evidence of him with their own eyes. They see him in the mall, they find presents under the holiday tree, their mail to him doesn’t bounce, and yet, eventually they figure out that it can’t, without some awesome magic, work the way they were told.
    God, on the other hand, doesn’t do personal appearances, doesn’t answer prayers, doesn’t leave gifts, doesn’t even try to visit every home in a single day to eat the treats left out for Him (so we’ve stopped with the burnt offerings mostly–no need for good food to go to waste), and his mail usually bounces.

  • Heidi

    Those of you who say it’s ok because your kids aren’t going to be indoctrinated, you are really fine with *funding* religion? Your kid doesn’t go to god school for free. And while some of your money certainly goes to teacher salaries, school upkeep, etc., I seriously doubt if that’s where it all goes.

    If we’re talking Catholic school, you’re funding the Popemobile, the big stupid hat, and the pedophile cover ups. How can we condemn “good Catholics” for tithing and letting their kids be altar boys, and then turn around and send our own children and our own money to these people?

  • Joyfulbaby

    I’ll probably send my daughter to a Methodist preschool, simply because it’s down the street from our house. I feel like she will need preschool to get more social skills, rather than scholarly ones after being home with Mom for her first years. Oddly enough, when she does start school, I will have to wrestle with possibly teaching at a religious school. I know I don’t want to go back to teaching in the (horrible) county schools any time soon.

  • Meredith

    Those of you who say it’s ok because your kids aren’t going to be indoctrinated, you are really fine with *funding* religion?

    I do not hate the church, religion or people who are religious. I am a born skeptic and not a recovering religious person. For me, its a non-issue. I do not donate ‘gifts for Jesus’s birthday’ that go to the crisis pregnancy center. I do not donate items for missionary work. But I don’t have any problems taking care of the school that takes care of my child.

    Just because your older child forgot everything doesn’t mean that your younger one will. Many Christians feel that they were called or touched by God at a young age, even as preschoolers, and had personal relationships with him starting at that time.

    HE IS 3. We do not teach religion at home. Where the hell else will he get the idea that his personal relationship started in a place he won’t remember? That’s like saying that if he was born in a Catholic Hospital, there is a chance he will praise the Pope.

    She turned out just fine and as a bonus gained a better understanding of the people and beliefs that surround us, as well as developing techniques to deal with their sometimes irrational behavior.

    Thank you.

  • HE IS 3. We do not teach religion at home. Where the hell else will he get the idea that his personal relationship started in a place he won’t remember? That’s like saying that if he was born in a Catholic Hospital, there is a chance he will praise the Pope.

    I know you don’t teach religion at home, but why do you think he won’t remember? He’s not a newborn. He’s already being taught religious concepts. Indeed, he came home and told you that God made him. The single-male-deity concept has been implanted in his brain, and it’s completely possible that it will stay there. Your family’s atheism will probably trump the school’s Christianity, but there’s no guarantee. Your son may look back later in life and feel that his contact or relationship with God started in preschool.

    I’m not trying to be argumentative or put down your family’s choice, but I tend to think of the god-concept as insidious. Once it’s in a child’s brain, it might not ever leave. And if it does leave, it might come back at a later date. Once a child has been familiarized with the notion of a deity and prayer, I think she is much more “at risk” of converting later in life. If someone approaches the child when she is 14 and asks her to pray the “sinner’s prayer,” the prayer itself is a familiar action, because she has performed the ritual at a much earlier stage in life. It doesn’t seem odd or strange to her. It seems normal and natural, perhaps even comforting. That’s why religions work so hard to get children when they’re young.

    My views are probably colored by the fact that I did not have any concept of deities until I was in elementary school. When I was 3, I had never heard of God, Jesus, or an afterlife. So when I think about preschoolers, I think of absorbent little sponges soaking up the memes that will be reflected their entire lives. Not just what they believe, but what they consider normal. I firmly believe that the reason I stayed an atheist is because religious beliefs and actions were never normalized for me or reflected in my day-to-day life.

    Of course, opinions vary. Growing up atheist, I had very few experiences with religion, so I tend to think of all religious beliefs as potentially harmful. I don’t want my children ever believing that they are broken sinners in need of salvation. I don’t want them ever thinking that hell exists. And all of that goes hand-in-hand with Christianity, even so-called moderate forms of it. So I would tend to err on the side of caution.

  • Eliza

    I have an almost-12-yr-old son. For us, NO to religious schools. If there were no other reasonable choice, I’d want to make sure there was essentially no religious education or influence as part of the curriculum.

    Sunday school at our UU church is different – it’s great – it’s nontheistic, focusing on humanism, science, rational morality, etc.

    What are we afraid of?

    Just as a child knows when a certain kind of touch is inappropriate despite the adult committing the crime trying to convince them it is ok, so too, they can evaluate other stories they are being told. Just be ready to answer questions as they arise and it will work out great.

    IMO, sending a child to a school which tries to inculcate fear-based religious beliefs is like inviting the inappropriately-touching family friend over to babysit while the parents go away. Why would you put your child at that risk?

  • Heidi

    I do not donate items for missionary work. But I don’t have any problems taking care of the school that takes care of my child.

    And the strong possibility that not all of your tuition is going to the school itself is irrelevant? It’s not a matter of “hate.” It’s a matter of what you are, or are not willing to financially support.

    That’s like saying that if he was born in a Catholic Hospital, there is a chance he will praise the Pope.

    No, it’s not. I’m 40 years old, but I remember being 3. Don’t you? I don’t remember being born. Nice straw man, though.

  • I did send my daughter to a religious preschool for a bit. Here’s what happened: http://www.beginningwithi.com/comments/2003/11/07/bible-stories/

  • Bruce

    There are religious preschools, and there are preschools located in churches. We didn’t explicitly choose the church preschool my son attended and daughter attends, but rather it was one with space available. We’ve stayed beyond that initial year because it has turned out to be a fabulous place. The religious aspect is minimal; chapel once a week for an hour. It’s not indoctrination–at this particular school, YMMV–it’s education. I don’t mind some low level exposure to the bible and its stories as these stories form an important part of our cultural idiom and help us communicate (think Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra from STTNG).

    My wife is a natural atheist; she didn’t grow up going to church. I did. I am still startled when I have to explain something like Noah or Samson or Samaritans to her. She is absolutely appalled by the story of Noah. And, interestingly enough, so is my son. “Why did god have to kill everybody?” he asked me once. I replied, perhaps somewhat flippantly, “because they were all bad.” His response: “Really? Everyone?” And that, and other questions about the bible stories he learned, shows a spark of intelligence and skepticism.

    And to be perfectly frank, there’s the Grand Inquisitor aspect as well. What DO YOU say to a weeping five year old who is scared of what happens when you die. He said, “in chapel they said you go to heaven.” I said, “that’s what they say.” I wasn’t about to drop my own understanding on him that dying is the end of it, and to me that’s a relief. A mild belief in god, like santa claus and the tooth fairy, helps ease the transition into the real world.

  • Nicole K.

    We sent our 4 year old to the Catholic school that my mother teaches at for pre-school. I was raised Catholic and went to the same school for 6-8 grades. I thought that for 3 hours a day, surely there couldn’t be that much religous instruction. Wrong. It was amazing to me how quickly my son memorized the Our Father and Hail Mary prayers. Not to mention all the little religous songs he came home singing. The worst part was before Easter he was taught about the crucifiction of JC and this was very disturbing to him. Not only to learn about death but a very brutal death (“Mommy did you know they nailed Jesus to the cross until he DIED?”). Up until this point we were really considering keeping him in the school through 8th grade. We have changed our minds and he will be attending a public school this fall for kindergarten. Luckily we have a very good school close to our house.

  • I live in TX and I honestly don’t think you could find a non-religious preschool program where I am. Both of my daughters went to a preschool that had a Bible hour, but it wasn’t an issue when I asked that they stop going to it. The teachers knew and the children knew that my girls didn’t go, and it was never an issue. We talk openly about religion (even though they are now only in Kinder and 2nd grade) and I explain to them why I don’t believe, but every single other person they come in contact with down here does. I think by being exposed to religion, without being indoctrinated by it is good, as long as we are able to discuss with them what they have heard. That being said, if it was a school where everything was god-centric, then no, I wouldn’t have sent them. I think that it would have been too difficult to de-program them after an all-day stay at a church run school.

  • Melissa

    When I was 3 my parents went crazy trying to find a decent preschool to send me to. After looking all around town, my mom asked a fellow sewing class member where she brought her son (same age as me) to school. The answer was a preschool at a local lutheran church. So they set up an appointment so my parents could meet the teachers, and well, my mom agreed to it and signed me up for the next 2 years. I don’t know what persuaded her to send me there, but honestly, I don’t remember anything regarding religion at all from those years. I remember the old man who would come in and play his harmonica for us, and santa clause coming during xmas time (though, personally, I think it was just the harmonica man), and I remember snack time and making a clock during arts and crafts and meeting my best friend. The only religious aspect I remember was when we graduated we all got little cross necklaces to wear. That was it. From then on I went to the local public school with no repercussions from preschool.

    As for my future children, I don’t believe that I will send them to a religious preschool if it can be helped. And as for elementary/middle/high school, I will be taking full advantage of the public school system. I don’t think religious schools and lesbian parents mix very well after all =)