A catechism class can be an act of violence from which some children never fully recover. To teach religion as a bunch of finished answers robs a child of intellectual agency and asks them to see the world through our eyes. It is hard to imagine a violation more intrusive.

Fortunately for me, by the time I reached confirmation age, I had already figured out that the adults didn’t know what they were talking about. I had already realized they were just repeating the answers they had been given by the same process. So, I was not intellectually hobbled by confirmation class, but, I never lost the chip on my shoulder for religious pretence and bullying.

I’m not saying a child should have to figure out the world without adult help. It is also a serious error not to share the images and tools that will help children be a part of a community of meaning.  We do have answers to share, but we should never forget that they are our answers not the child’s. A child’s mind and heart are sacred, tender things. They are to be honored and protected from indoctrination.  A child will not live in our world forever. They will live most of their lives in a future world we cannot comprehend. Children will need to outgrow much of whatever we teach them, so we need to approach religious teaching with great humility. Their questions will guide them much further into the future, than will our answers.