General Question

comicalmayhem's avatar

Is putting kids in CCD ethical?

Asked by comicalmayhem (809points) October 2nd, 2011

It’s “a religious education program of the Catholic Church, normally designed for children.” (
And a lot of people from school go there and have been going there since 6th grade or even kindergarten when they don’t know any better that there are other decisions. It’s really no wonder why we live in such a Christian country where kids and teens are too ignorant to know they can decide for themselves and they just live with being a Christian because with fear involved, it’s really the safest route. It’s scaring children into Christianity for learning Christian values. Ethical?

Of course that’s my opinion. I just hate to see a world that is wrongly Christian for the reason being it’s shoved down kid’s throats until they don’t know anything else. I’d like to see what Christians think, too.

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67 Answers

emeraldisles's avatar

Well I was forced to attend CCD classes until one day when I was older and about to attend high school. I just put my foot down.I felt like religion was being forced down my throat. It didn’t help that my uncle who was a hypocrite would go to mass/confession and treat my family like garbage/threaten and demean us.I just felt like its not okay to justify being an evil or despicable person by saying that you’ll go talk to a priest while everyone else thinks that you are this kind person.Still I consider myself Christian and will attend church based on it being my decision.

plethora's avatar

All parents have the right to train or mis-train their children as they see fit if they are not breaking any laws….at least in the US. Atheists have the right to withhold any religious education at all.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@plethora Sure, it’s their right. But is it ethical? You can do unethical things that are legal.

jaytkay's avatar

A Catholic believer might say it would be unethical to not send their kid to CCD.

Personally I would be happy if all religion disappeared, but I don’t presume I can make that decision for other people.

plethora's avatar

@comicalmayhem You’re right. Yes, I think it’s ethical too. I may not agree with the parents’ action (Christian, Atheist, or otherwise), but I think it is ethical for the parent to train their children as they see fit.

Les's avatar

I went to CCD and I still managed to figure out that I had a choice when it came to religion. I also went to Catholic High school (my choice. My parents would have preferred me to go to a Chicago Public School). I was not brainwashed and never in my later life have felt that my parents were wrong or unethical for sending me to CCD.

JLeslie's avatar

Sure. I think parents have every right to put their kids in CCD classes. Catholics are fine with evolution and the sciences, teach their children to pursue learning, are not separated from other people on society, there is nothing cultish about them. It’s not like they are brainwashed to a point where they are intolerant of others and other ideas.

Plus, most Catholics are not walking around saying the US is a Christian Country, and doing the holy rolling, fire and brimstone bit. That is the Evangelicals. Over 50% of Catholics are Democrats by the way.

zenvelo's avatar

Religious training education is generally the choice of the parents up until adolescence. CCD is no different from Hebrew school, or teaching the Quran at a mosque, or teaching Hindu children the Bhagavad Gita.

I wonder why you single out CCD instead of all religious education. You might get a better discussion if you don’t single out a particular religion.

Describing this as one of the reasons we live in such a Christian country where kids and teens are too ignorant to know they can decide for themselves; well, we are NOT a Christian country in the US, and most evangelical Christians are very skeptical of including Catholics under the umbrella of Christian.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Neizvestnaya's avatar

Why not. I’m sure there are many of those parents who look on CCD as additional childcare with a little social structure thrown in more than they want their kids to become brainwashed Jesus freaks.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@zenvelo No one I know from my school goes to any of those. Just CCD.

My point is it’s only pushing religion further in the wrong ways. Kindergarteners are getting brainwashed and growing up not thinking they were because they are brainwashed into think they’re not and they made the decision on their own, but no they were taught that way and that’s why they believe what they believe. It might’ve been a different story if they didn’t go to CCD.
I don’t think parents should make these decisions for their children, though I recognize that it is their right to.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@Neizvestnaya There’s like one Jesus freak at my school that goes to CCD. I’m not saying brainwashed into doing rituals, but brainwashed into thinking Christianity is the only way – that it’s fact.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@comicalmayhem : It’s been my experience that children are not nearly so brainwashable as you seem to think. What a young child takes as fact because their parents and parts of their community have said so gets left behind very quickly as the child grows up and is exposed to more and more ideas. Children learn to choose. Have a little more faith in the intelligence and perception of your peers.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@comicalmayhem: I may be an odd ball here but growing up, I don’t remember any kids I knew who felt indoctrinated in anything their families put them in. Most everybody questioned spirituality and explored religions with their family’s encouragement. The big idea seemed to be that most people find religion is comforting in their lives, most parents want that for their kids. Whatever helps, whatever works you know.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@JilltheTooth I’m not saying they even practice Christianity, but I’m saying they believe in God and Jesus and if I were to tell them otherwise, they wouldn’t consider it because of the whole ‘fear of hell’ thing or simply because they were taught God is real.

JLeslie's avatar

@comicalmayhem One kid does not a generalization make. Catholics are really not usually the ones saying Catholicism is the only way, at least not in the last 75 years or so. That kid might have very religious parents.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@Neizvestnaya My friend doesn’t think he’s being brainwashed. He’s gone to CCD for a while and won’t believe otherwise. It doesn’t matter if the kid thinks they’re being brainwashed, because if you were brainwashed, you wouldn’t know it anyway.

@JLeslie I was saying one kid to point out I wasn’t generalizing. Most CCD kids (that I know) don’t even practice their religion more than going to church on sundays and ccd and they simply believe in God and Jesus.

Edit: There seems to be a miscommunication with my opinion. I’m not arguing, I’m just restating my point so you get what I mean to say. You have the right to your opinion.

zenvelo's avatar

@comicalmayhem There are no kids going to bible school? No kids going to Mormon Sunday school? No Jewish kids getting ready for Bar Mitzvah? Sounds like there are only Catholic kids at your school.

What do you mean “pushing religion in the wrong way”? Is there an alternative way that you propose? Calling it ‘brainwashing” is a pretty strong statement about parents exercising their rights. Why is your “telling them otherwise” acceptable?

JilltheTooth's avatar

Again, @comicalmayhem , I say that you don’t give your peers enough credit. Believing in a deity is not a sign of delusion, nor is it a sign of ignorance. Simply because you don’t agree doesn’t mean yours is the only position. And, BTW, belief in Jesus is generally Christianity.

mrrich724's avatar

You’re being dramatic.

I was Catholic schooled until college. I went to church at least 2x a week. My mom made me (not made, it wasn’t really unpleasant) memorize bible verses before I was even in Kindergarten, and I was in Awana (a ministry for children).

Nothing was “shoved down my throat,” and no other options were taught as viable.

Here I am at 26, I don’t go to church, and I’m quite aware of the other options out there, and that there are religions that Christianity took some of its beliefs from that are thousands of years older.

Also, I don’t think there is a problem with parents bringing up children in their faith, especially if that faith is teaching them the principals of love, generosity, etc. Now if they were teaching them white supremacy or something like that, it would be a huge difference.

Bottom line, I was “brainwashed,” as a kid, but I turned out just fine. And children are naturally inquisitive and will find things out for themselves, and with media today it’s easier than ever . . . I didn’t even have high-speed internet ‘til college, and I found ways.

mrrich724's avatar

Also, for Christian parents, the more important question is of faith, not ethics.

Christian beliefs would say that it is the responsibility of the parent to direct their children to God, and it would be an “injustice” if they didn’t do so and let their children stray.

ALSO, (sorry, lots of alsos), children are baptized when they are too young to make the conscious decision to accept Christ for themselves. When they are old enough, they go through CCD and are given the choice to do confirmation or not. I, for one, decided that I wasn’t going to go through confirmation.

JLeslie's avatar

@comicalmayhem Well, you are seemingly at an age where the kids you know are going through the religious education right now, so they are learning it and living it, but as they getolder and interact with more people they will chill out most likely. Even if they themselves continue to be religious, they will become more aware of other religions amd other beliefs.

We are all raised knowing our parents beliefs and in our family’s religion more or less. Even lack of religion. Athiest families raise their children to be athiests. Even if the parents of any religion say to their kids they can decide for themselves when they grow up, the child still is influenced by how the parents think regarding God and religious belief.

JLeslie's avatar

@comicalmayhem Where do you live? Are there many religions in your school?

comicalmayhem's avatar

@zenvelo I recognize the rights of parents.
And I meant to say that they’re pushing religion onto their kids. I don’t believe in shoving religion down your kids’ throats. And I think making them go to CCD (especially at a young age where they don’t really care to rebel or know that their parents aren’t always right) is shoving down your kids’ throats.
I’m just saying, I don’t think it’s ethical to make your children go to CCD or church at a young age when they don’t really know a world other than what you tell them. We’re all born atheists until religion is taught to us. To me it seems like parents who put their kids in CCD at a young age are shoving religion down their throat (but that does not mean bad intentions, it just means they’re not telling them other options. If you’re forced to go to CCD, you’re only being taught the options of Jesus Christ as if they’re fact).

@JilltheTooth When did I say Christians didn’t believe in Jesus? I’m confused.

@JLeslie The problem is they’re not religious, they just think they believe (and maybe they do actually believe).

@mrrich724 I see why parents would teach religion because they don’t want their kids to go to hell, but from an agnostic atheist point of view, I think forcing them still is unethical.

@JLeslie Massachusetts. There are other religions like Judaism and then there’s irreligions agnosticism and atheism (No, this is not an example of kids not being brainwashed because agnostics and atheists in my school were not sent to church or ccd, but again – not everyone who goes to ccd is brainwashed, but they have a higher chance of getting brainwashed if they are forced to go to ccd or church.

comicalmayhem's avatar

Verb: Make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure: “the organization could brainwash young people”.

I feel like some of you may think this is a strong word and that’s throwing you off. And the pressure part isn’t much of a factor.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@comicalmayhem : Up there ^^^ you said:…I’m not saying they even practice Christianity, but I’m saying they believe in God and Jesus…
And as to your definition, “different beliefs” from what? And no one is “making” them. I think you are a bit confused by the reasoning of parents, here.

JLeslie's avatar

@comicalmayhem Being raised athiest is not brainwashing, but it certainly is an opinion about God, and a rejection of the idea of God. If the country was not so religious athiesm would be like a nothing, a non-issue, but in the US being an athiest, is in some ways the same as being Catholic, Muslim, etc, in that people usually Identify partly by their religion in this country.

Your definition of brainwashing I would never apply to Catholicism. 90% of my friends are Catholic, and my husband was raised Catholic. No one seems extremely brainwashed to me, and none of them are trying to convert anyone.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@JilltheTooth By practice I mean like pray and do whatever Christians do. I don’t think simply attending church just because you have to is truly practicing it.

@JLeslie The few atheists I know were raised Christian, but pretty much freethinkers. I know a few agnostics that used to go to church, too. I don’t know anyone who was raised to be atheist, but there probably are some in my school.
The definition I used was from google search, and what I meant does NOT include the pressure aspect.

plethora's avatar

@comicalmayhem We’re all born atheists until religion is taught to us OH Please!!!!

JLeslie's avatar

@comicalmayhem I was raised Athiest. Athiest Jew. I did not even know people believed in God until I was a teenager. I thought we just read about Him in a book about history of my people at Passover. I had friends from every religion, it was never a big deal. My parents being athiests certainly led the way for me being an athiest.

JLeslie's avatar

Plus, most kids I know dread CCD classes. Just another obligation, another class, instead of being with friends and having fun.

Earthgirl's avatar

comicalmayhem I went to Catholic school from 1st through 8th grade. Following that I went to a public High School by choice. I did not want to go to Catholic High School. I was tired of the whole culture of Catholicism. I just wanted to be myself. My parents insisted that I go to CCD and I didn’t want to. Maybe I have a more skeptical mind and rebellious spirit than average, but actually, I don’t think so. My parents were strict but I would not say repressive or abusive. They wanted their children to have an education in the things that they believed in. They didn’t force us to accept it. They merely wanted us to be exposed to it.

The most memorable thing that I got from CCD was a born-again Christian teacher telling us “Don’t let anyone shrink your dreams!” That was a totally random, not necessarily Christian doctrine type message. But it hit home wioth me. I guess what I am trying to say is, that people are not as easily brainwashed as you may think. The most important thing parents can teach their children is to think for themselves. But even if they don’t teach them that, CCD isn’t going to warp their brains to the point where they cannot think for themselves and make their own moral judgements. It’s like anything else in life,you make your own way.

plethora's avatar

@Earthgirl Great Answer..:)

jaytkay's avatar

We’re all born atheists until religion is taught to us OH Please!!!!

I don’t see how that can be disputed. All we know is what we are taught.

Earthgirl's avatar

jaytkay I can’t even believe you say that!
“All we know is what we are taught.”

We can seek out knowledge and come to our own conclusions!!!!

JLeslie's avatar

@Earthgirl What @jaytkay says does not negate the possibilty of learning by seeking knowledge.

plethora's avatar

@jaytkay Atheism is not an absence of belief. One could just as well say, “We are all born believers in God”. Believing there IS a God and believing there is NOT a God are both theological statements regarding the existence of God.

JLeslie's avatar

@plethora I was raised with the absence of God, meaning it was never mentioned or brought up in my house. Later I found out that means I am an athiest. If I had grown up in a vacuum, where every family basically was like mine, I would have had no idea of the existence of God as being a possible real thing in life today. He was just in a few stories I heard.

jaytkay's avatar

Atheism is not an absence of belief

And not collecting stamps is a hobby.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@jaytkay That’s what I was saying. We only know what’s taught to us. You aren’t born with a belief system.

@Earthgirl I agree parents should teach kids to think for themselves, but forcing them to go to CCD (even if they dread it as @JLeslie said) is not having them think for themselves in one factor; religion. Like they don’t trust their kids being freethinkers and they think they need to rely on religion. I guess [arguably] religion is the lazy way of teaching morals.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@plethora If you are born not knowing about God, then you have the absence of belief in God. Which means you do not believe in God when you’re born. Therefor, we’re born atheist.

JLeslie's avatar

@comicalmayhem My point was people who are brainwashed don’t dread it.

So, what do you think parents should do? If the parents are Catholic, and want their children to know about Catholicism? I would want my kids to have a Jewish identity. Their dad’s side is Catholic, so they might wind up identifying with that. I would hope they did not become Evangelical and try to convert people or think I am going to hell because I am an athiest. I would prevent them from going to churches that are born again style Christianity. Preventing them is almost the same as indoctrinating them. We raise our children hoping certain basic things, hoping they too will adopt certain things we think about life. Parents help mold their children, that is their job.

mrrich724's avatar

I really don’t see how this would be any different than giving a child the decision of attending school or not. I’d guess most children, if given the choice, would choose not to go to any form of school! Is that brainwashing? No. Is it unethical to force children into school? No, because we value the education.

People have a set of values that they would like to pass on to their children, and make the decision for them before they can realize the value (in some cases) for themselves. There is NOTHING unethical about it.

It would be different if CCD were using brainwashing techniques like that of a cult (doesn’t happen), and if the parents ostracized them from any element that might teach them anything other than what their religion dictates.

But that does not happen. The children go to a school, or class, or whatever, that teaches them the parents chosen values (uh, nothing unethical about that), and throughout that time period and beyond, the child will inevitably be exposed to ALOT of other stuff, and make their own decisions.

In fact, I’ve found that myself and most of my friends (my friends have pretty much all been private schooled in a religious setting i.e. went to my school) have actually strayed away from organized religion being that we have control of our own thoughts and have been taught so many of the contradictions that organized religion values.

Andy many times, in fact most times, I have major trouble believing any of the things I “should” believe, so I definitely wasn’t brainwashed. In fact, the good schools will encourage you to think about it, and to challenge what you are taught, and come to your own conclusions.

So again I will say, there is nothing unethical about it.

SuperMouse's avatar

Sending one’s children to CCD is no more unethical than telling them there is no God.

My parents sent me to CCD from kindergarten through eighth grade. After I was confirmed I was allowed to decide whether I wanted to continue as a practicing Catholic. Was I brainwashed? No. My parents taught me the belief system they subscribed to and when I was old enough let me pick for myself.

I am teaching my kids about my faith. Our faith does not allow children to even become members until they are 15. I have taught them what I believe about God and faith and have taught them to think for themselves and do their own independent investigation of the truth.

mrrich724's avatar

@SuperMouse “Sending one’s children to CCD is no more unethical than telling them there is no God.”

Thank you!

plethora's avatar

@comicalmayhem Your question asks if sending kids to CCD is ethical. You have had both Atheists and Christians tell you they think it is ethical. So what are you trying to prove?

jaytkay's avatar

You have had both Atheists and Christians tell you they think it is ethical…

Yep, @plethora sums it up The overwhelming answer to the original question is “yes”. I don’t think anyone voted “unethical”.

Rarebear's avatar

Count me in the basket of atheists agreeing with @plethora, although I disagree with him on the definition of atheism, but that’s not the point of the question.

boxer3's avatar

I went to CCD. My parents were more religious then than now, though weren’t every extremely religious. Anyway there are different stages in CCD, you learn about the bible, you repent your sins a few times…eventually, I had my first communion, and my Confirmation. After that- my parents said, ok you’ve been to CCD for quite some time now, and we want to give you the option to stop going if you don’t want to. If you want to stay thats great if you don’t want to stay that’s great and either way we’ll support you.
I decided to stop going, and it was fine. CCD didnt brain wash me.
I was in a few Christmas plays, had an option of being a certain faith but had the option to not be as well…..
I think its perfectly ethical if the parent keep open minds about how the process should be.
* on a side note:My favorite memory of CCD is that my teacher would give us those lego candies when we got an asnwer correct…

Rarebear's avatar

Just as an unrelated side note, my atheist Jewish daughter goes to religious and Hebrew school. She’s comfortable in her atheism, and it is understood by all that we’re sending her there for cultural context. She just doesn’t talk about her atheist views in class.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@SuperMouse I’d raise my children freethinkers. I wouldn’t tell them that there is no God, and I wouldn’t make them go to classes to learn about how great God is.
Don’t jump to conclusions about the alternative to CCD. The alternative is raising a freethinker given parental morals.
And my point exactly is not knowing you’re brainwashed when you’re brainwashed.

I guess I’d argue that it is ethical to put your kids in CCD if you believe it’s for the best. But my real argument here is that CCD and church at young ages brainwashes kids into Christianity (and they don’t think they’re being brainwashed). Even if you’re given options later on, you’re brainwashed, because you don’t want to accept any other option given previous teachings.

Look at it this way for a second:
Child goes to kindergarten
Parents put child in CCD
Child learns all about the Bible and God – not thinking there is really any other way (some parents may tell the child there are other options early on, but that’s not so relevant to them)
Child becomes teenager and is given options: Stay in CCD or explore new faiths (or no faith at all)
Teenager chooses CCD because its all they know. (Or they know of other faiths, but are taught that CCD was correct – mindset has been set since kindergarten)
Teenager continues practicing Christianity, looks into other faiths in spare time but dismisses them, given the knowledge that the Bible is truth.
Adult is Christian. (May or may not go to church or pray, but calls themselves a Christian because they believe in God and Jesus).

Keep in mind brainwash is a strong word and I don’t mean it to its full extent (I mean taught one belief, but pressure rarely being a factor other than the whole sin and hell thing)

perspicacious's avatar

When you are grown you can choose your own way. If your parents want to send you to Church school or whatever, they may certainly do that. This is a cute attempt at parent bashing but not effective, not on me. I tried to allow my children to be exposed to many things, even though we were and are a Christian family. They “chose” Christianity; one of them is now a minister.

comicalmayhem's avatar

It’s something about many kids from my school being forced to go to CCD that just doesn’t seem right. Almost like it may be the reason the US is 70% Christian, and that reason isn’t reasonable [to me].

Passively preaching to kids. Shoving your religion down their throats pretty much, but I acknowledge not all kids are stupid and will find they are capable of making their own decisions before the preaching gets to them and turns the switch that says “CHRISTIANITY”, basically turning off all other switches.

plethora's avatar

@comicalmayhem Looks even worse Wikipedia estimates about 2% atheist and 4% agnostic in the US. Looks like about 94% of the US population has been brainwashed. You might be on to something.

zenvelo's avatar

@comicalmayhem It is really insulting that you are focused on CCD which is Catholic education. Catholics believe in Jesus and God and and are a Christian religion, but please don’t lump us in with evangelical Christians. It shows your ignorance and prejudice. CCD focuses on Catholic doctrine, not the bible.

And why do you keep talking about it like some forced indoctrination? It is the kids parents that are enrolling them.

By the way, CCD ends in middle school, not high school.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@zenvelo I’m not saying all Christians make their kids go to CCD and I have a reason to only include CCD – 70% of America is Christian.

And kids in my HIGH SCHOOL are in CCD. I’m a sophomore.

JLeslie's avatar

@comicalmayhem You are not listening to @zenvelo, he is trying to teach you something, not trying to argue. Catholicism is only 25% of the US population, which is about ⅓ of all Christians in America. You just live in a state that is very Catholic. Most Christians in America are not Catholic, and do not go to CCD.

@plethora That athiest number seems a little low to me.

JLeslie's avatar

@comicalmayhem Here is a map for you. A lot of the Baptists, and other Evangelicals down in the south don’t even consider Catholics to be Christian. I do, but I am not an Evangelical Christian.

SuperMouse's avatar

@comicalmayhem I am done participating in your ridiculous religion questions. I understand that you are young and trying to understand and solidify your own belief – or lack of belief – in a power greater than yourself. However, you aren’t asking these questions to hear or consider the opinions of others, you are asking them so you can argue, show how brilliantly open minded you are and try to make others feel inferior. As you grow older you will begin to understand that that is not debate at all and that you really aren’t expanding your mind with these types of exchanges. I hope that someday you are confident enough in what you believe not to have to try to bait others so you can disagree with them. I wish you all the best young man and I hope you find what you are looking for.

fizzbanger's avatar

I don’t think it’s unethical, if someone genuinely wants to learn about Catholicism. A lot of people did it just to fit in where I grew up (small town Massachusetts). Not going to CCD was like not drinking the Kool Aid. It affected making it onto sports teams, being invited to cookouts, etc. All of the “popular” kids went.

JLeslie's avatar

I thought I would add that most people have a problem with other aduts and children trying to preach their religious beliefs to other peoples children, but rarely are people upset about a child’s own parents deciding what religious thought should be taught to their own children.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@JLeslie Most kids in my school who go to CCD are Protestant.

@SuperMouse Sorry if you took it like that. I’m really, really, just trying to state my point and I feel I’ve miscommunicated so I keep having to reiterate many things which may be why you think I’m not open minded and can’t accept opinions of others. Also, don’t attack me.

plethora's avatar

@JLeslie That atheist number may have been low. Seemed low to me, but that was the number in Wikipedia.

JLeslie's avatar

@comicalmayhem I have never heard CCD used regarding Protestants. I think of Protestants as going to Sunday school or bible study. Maybe I learned something new? But, everyone on this thread seems to also be assuming you are talking about Catholics, and wikipedia seems to consider a Catholic class also.

Ron_C's avatar

As a former Catholic that had to do go to catechism classes, then Confirmation classes, I think it is cruel and unusual punishment. I would say that it is ethical to send your kids when they become teenagers but not before because little kids are quite gullible and telling them about Santa Claus is as far as you can ethically go. Leave the big stuff until they’re old enough to make up their own mind.

Strauss's avatar

If we are going to question the ethics of Catholics who send their children to CCD, what are the ethics of Protestants who send their children to Sunday school, or Jewish parents who send their kids to Hebrew school, or even Islamic parents who send their children to Quran classes. Many fine folks who embrace these traditions feel a moral and ethical obligation to send their children to such schools

GracieT's avatar

I went to Catholic schools for 1–4th grade, but had to deal with CCD for the rest of my time in school until college. My friends In CCD and I thought of it as a big joke and acted like it was. We would rather not have been there, but at least we were able to make the best of it. In answer to the question, I think that if the kids don’t want it, they won’t take it seriously and shouldn’t have to go.

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