Imposition of theistic values

I read in another thread, about religious parents imposing and suing schools for teaching ‘secular’ mindfulness. Branching off from that thread, I wondered how you would respond to Christian or other theistic values being imposed on your, hopefully Buddhist, children :boy:? This is not in terms of creating a controversial post, but to ‘see how we feel, about’ it.


Hi Mat,

If it is “values” in the sense of morality, etc, isn’t there is quite a lot of compatibility?

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I’m not sure what Mat had in mind, and I think for the core values there is quite a lot of compatibility across religions and secular society - killing people (except where it’s ‘justified’), lying, cheating, stealing. But what about the idea that drinking alcohol is OK? The killing of animals or the idea of a just war? And it seems that many Buddhists would prefer vegetarian or vegan meals as the norm. Might this be another area of contention?

In the UK we have recently seen Muslim parents picketing state primary (elementary) schools over age appropriate lessons on LGBTQ issues being taught, with many Christian groups backing them up. Some Buddhist teachers have issues with LGBTQ expression also, and they claim scriptural (although not EBT as far as I know) authority.

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Well, actually I was thinking of religious education in schools. Kids are taught to believe in God, or they believe that God exists, after they are taught the story. I have been trying to equate him with Santa clause and having a difficult time explaining the similarities. I didn’t even know R.E. existed, as a subject for my year 3 child, until I got a specific report. I don’t want these ideas inserted into the mind of a child who is too small to differentiate them from reality?!

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I am not sure if the process of indoctrination is not limited to religion but extends to all fields of knowledge. The aim of modern education is not to produce original thinkers, but individuals who can function in predictable ways, specialize in a certain field and contribute to the collective.

In fact, teaching children Buddhism is not less risky than teaching them any other religion if we set-aside our own biases. They basically differ on how things can go wrong.

You could maybe equate God with (I think it’s) Mahabrahma? The one who thinks that he created beings because he was the first born after a world expansion and wished for beings to be born. The next lot of beings were then reborn into the world, and they took Mahabrahma as creator because he was there first. I can’t find the sutta (or maybe sutra). Is it in the EBTs? Anyway, it places him firmly below the Buddha in the superiority of beings.

EDIT: Found it. It’s DN1, 3.1.2. Partial Eternalism section


It already does happen in Bavaria, Germany, every classroom has a large cross and the kids study religion (mainly Christianity).

Personally I prefer the division of church and state. I’m not a fan of imposing Buddhism or ideologies in general on others not already a part of that particular community.

How should people discover Buddhism then? Existential crises seems to be a good motivator.


Easy. Just impose “Buddhist values” before “Christian values”, and before the development of their critical faculties.

And pray the kids don’t rebel by running off in the complete opposite direction when they hit their teens. Imposing anything seems to have that effect on teens :smiley:

Better to just take Buddhist concepts of virtue and secularize them without the labels, and then maybe hint at where these values come from (Philosophy, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, etc…), maybe throw a little “What comes around goes around” superficial kamma understanding in the mix as well with a hint pointing to Buddhism, then wait for the existential questions to arise “what is the meaning of life” etc… and introduce them to all sorts of philosophies including the Buddhist view.


This thread doesn’t belong to the discussion category. Watercooler maybe?

While very interesting, it may be a bit of a strain to connect this thread to Early Buddhist texts enough for the forum, particularly the Discussion category. If it’s ok with Mat, I’ll move it to Watercooler.


As someone without children but as a tax payer, I am uncomfortable with tax money used to propagate religion, especially specific belief systems.
I am also uncomforable with morality, ethics, and good habits being characterized as the sole provance of specific belief systems.
And I am uncomfortable with tax dollars being given to religion- affiliated social services, as often the understood “cost” a recipient will pay is time being indoctrinated; this isn’t charity, it’s subsidized recruitment & pay for recruiters.

However, Buddhist charity may, if compared to Christian charity, seem insular, judgemental, not altruistic, somewhat 19th century in a focus on “worthiness”.

Not wanting an argument; sharing hopefully relevant thoughts as requested.

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I don’t understand why this should be up to the user.

The categories, clearly explained and set apart should precede users preference, no? :confused:

Sorry for being picky but I believe everyone would benefit from a greater adherence to the well explained categorisation proposed for the forum.

On second thoughts the water cooler might be better, if only for the difficulty in questions of ‘Buddhist identification’, being addressed in the discussion forum! In terms of the sila ‘ladder’, respect/dignity for what people must call their ‘own’ has to taken into consideration.

Oh, funny, but society is imposing it’s values.

If you think that Buddhism is what is beneficial after having compared it with other beliefs, wouldn’t giving it to your kids a compassionate act! Otherwise Christianity will beat you to it, and they will be disadvantaged. My child’s yoga class in UK was almost cancelled until the British parents who sent their kids to it spoke up!

Exactly! I think I’m saying it’s slipped in.

With metta,

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You might find this useful:

We raised our children by asking them questions. One time our daughter asked about God. Her mom answered with a question, “Some believe that there is a God. Others do not. What does God mean to you?”

It was a refreshing change from the inevitable, “Are we there yet?” :rofl:

But seriously, the same approach held for values. We still all ask each other questions all the time.


Yes, I ask them questions about it too. They told me they are all the same ‘as they can do magic’!

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If we are talking about teaching dhamma or secular mindfulness in the West, I don’t know if this can be avoided. As with all cultures the religious background permeates the cultural mindset. One of the problems I find with a opposition to the idea of religion is that an oppositional stance does not allow the person to see how much their thinking is influenced by their cultures religious tradition and history.

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True. Even children can be defensive of what their teachers taught. I find exploring and providing new information is helpful, but I don’t want their own exploration to be curtailed by ‘going with the majority’ which is group think!

With metta

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