Why Atheists Should Lie to their Children
Okay no one should lie to their kids but recent studies are showing the drawbacks of neglecting God in family life. Dr. Erica Komisar is an author, therapist and private practice psychiatrist specializing in children and youth. She declared in a recent article:
As a therapist, I’m often asked to explain why depression and anxiety are so common among children and adolescents. One of the most important explanations—and perhaps the most neglected—is declining interest in religion. This cultural shift already has proved disastrous for millions of vulnerable young people.
Recent studies have shown conclusively that children raised in religiously
active families marked by weekly attendance at churches and synagogues score higher on ever measure of psychological well being. They do better in school. They have lower rates of drug use and sexual activity. They are less at risk for mental illness. They show much higher rates of volunteering, a sense of purpose in life, and hope for the future.
It is well known that the fastest growing segment among young people are those who declare themselves as having no religion. In the last 20 years there has been a 20% decline in weekly attendance at religious services. Nearly half of adults under 30 do not identify with any religion. It's fair to point to this growing godlessness as the primary explanation for the explosion of depression, anxiety and suicide. The last 10 years have seen a national 50% increase in suicide rates among those under 24 years old. It's an open secret that the ranks of school shooters come from this godless, depressed segment of American youth.
The stark mental health contrast between godly and godless youth is remarkable. Dr. Komisar goes so far as to say that even atheist parents who do not care about religion should consider raising their children in a religious community. In a world growing more individualistic, narcissistic and lonely by the minute, it is religious community that provides the only known antidote to the intensifying despair of so many. Churches provide training in empathy, community and hope. Youth and young adults are in crisis today because they don't know where they came from, they don't have hope for the future and they can't articulate a clear reason for why they should go on living.
Today the U.S. is a competitive, scary and stressful place that idealizes perfectionism, materialism, selfishness and virtual rather than real human connection. Religion is the best bulwark against that kind of society. Spiritual belief and practice reinforce collective kindness, empathy, gratitude and real connection. Whether children choose to continue to practice as adults is something parents cannot control. But that spiritual or religious center will benefit them their entire lives.
If you are a Christian, you might redouble your efforts at connecting the children you know with our children's ministry and youth ministry. If you are religiously indifferent you might re-consider the despair you are inadvertently instilling in the rising generation. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”