Outside of Evangelizing, Why Teach Kids About a Man Getting Nailed to a Cross

@DaleCutler Maybe you can give a better answer than this vicar. Why teach kids about a Man getting nailed to a Cross?

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What is a myth?

That a man had to be tortured and nailed to cross and die of asphyxiation in order for humanity to be save from the wrath of the man’s father God who was the man who was killed.

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Labeling it a myth makes your reasoning circular unless you can establish the myth claim with evidence.

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Man, @Patrick, you’re on a roll tonight. :slight_smile:

I think there is a big difference between the cruxifixction being taught (and re-enacted) in a public school setting and the more general statement you put in the title, which seems to more generally imply religious education in any setting. Which one do you want to discuss here?


Christianity is the true myth.

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So why would YOU teach an eight year old child about a man getting nailed to a cross?

True myth? Please explain what a true myth is.

‘Myth’ in an academic literary setting is a term meaning merely ‘traditional story’. One that is true is a… wait for it… true myth. :slightly_smiling_face: @jongarvey, @AllenWitmerMiller: do you have any corrections or additions?


Because I would want him to understand about reality (but I would have started younger than eight). Indoctrination is a good thing, if the doctrine is true. Atheist dogma is not.

I would simply add: “… especially one that explains the origin and/or reason for some idea or phenomenon.”

As to the OP question of why teach children about Jesus’ crucifixion, how else can one educate them on why 2.2 billion people today (and so many others over the past two thousand years) consider themselves Christians? How else will students understand countless aspects of Western art? How else will they understand so many major geopolitical events of past centuries?

Patrick, I’m often amazed at how much you appear to oppose making young people knowledgeable about the world in which they live. Understanding other humans is a vital part of peaceful coexistence.

To draw an analogy with a hypothetical: If one-third of all the people on earth were atheists, I would consider it important for schools to educate young people on what factors and ideas had led to that type of non-belief in deities.


That’s a good question, it get’s to the heart of the Gospel and Christianity.

  1. Of course it’s possible to tell stories in age-appropriate ways, including those in the Bible. We don’t need to go into all the raw details to get the story across. I Corinthians 15 and the rest of the early creeds don’t go into the gory details, for instance.
  2. While certainly the death of Jesus is important theologically, I think we miss out if we don’t teach the rest of Jesus’ life. I think that also helps put things in a lot more context. There is unmistakably pain and suffering in the life of Jesus, but also hope and love and healing.
  3. OK, so with all that said, what would I teach them specifically? Probably something like this:
    “What Jesus had to say, that he was the long-awaited Messiah and the only one we should follow, was not well received by those in power and so they conspired to have him executed on a cross. He could have refused, but instead he laid down his life for everyone else. Three days after he was buried in the tomb he was resurrected by God to confirm his Messiahship, which is why we celebrate Easter. Christians have several different interpretations of what exactly his death did, but all say that God loves us, even when we don’t always deserve it, and he wants to have a good relationship with us.”

At least that’s the best I’ve got at the moment.


That is hard to overstate. I am particularly sensitive to the music that has been spawned and developed by Christianity. Children should be culturally clueless? I don’t think so. (Have you seen a ‘flash mob’ choir singing Handel at a mall at Christmastime? Very cool. Pick one… or more. :slightly_smiling_face: Where’s the FFRF when you need them?!)


Because it would be hard to understand western culture without knowing something about Christianity.


I would add that the nuance of “myth” has to do with its universal application (which is why a “fictional myth” may still be “truthful.”)

So, for example, the Prometheus myth is fictional, but gives the modern age what it considers to be a truth about man’s ceaseless quest for knowledge etc.

But one historical example of the same theme is the “persecuted Galileo” story, which is broadly true (but see discussions about the distortions on this very site, I believe), but which is used in a mythic way to say “scientists are always persecuted by religion.”

On the other hand, Newton’s apple is a traditional story with little or no mythic qualities: it’s simply used to say “Newton got lucky and used his head” (in two ways!)


Naturally. Waiting until they can critically examine your claims is counterproductive.
“Give me the child for the first seven years and I will give you the man”.

Indoctrination is a good thing, if the doctrine is true. Christian dogma is not.

Any statement that can be made in identical form by some-one with an opposing view is not only pointless, but so trivial to counter that making it is detrimental.

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I am very much in favor of educating young people knowledgeable about the world in which they live. That education should be based on science, reason, and human empathy from a very young age. Children should learn how to be adaptable to ever changing secular values, morals, and ethics in the society that they live in.

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Children learn who they are from their parents and who their parents are…

It would be impossible to understand me or my motivations without considering Christ and the things he has done/taught including his death on the cross.

Whose history, thought processes, worldview etc should my children understand first and foremost? Mine or yours?

You are getting into the same athiest attitude that the Soviet union had…

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This is a very good point you make and I believe that the story from the cross represents the society in which we live, more than you admit. Apart from the Christian narrative, here are a few reasons why, @patrick :

Self-sacrifice: You may consider it ridiculous to sacrifice one’s life for another, but this is the crux of this story. Jesus chose death on the cross so that others would live. Imagine if your children were on a lifeboat and there was not enough room for all of them. But someone else volunteered to get off the boat and swim instead so that your children didn’t have to go through the agonizing process of choosing between them. People, to their own detriment (death, even), have made this decision countless times. Organ donation to strangers makes no sense, either, but people do it because, likely, at one time they have been inspired by a similar story of self-sacrifice.

Awareness of Evil: It is truly important, albeit sad, that children need to learn the evil that men do. Crucifixion was an ugly, cruel, and torturous method of killing someone. Children need to know that there are not only sick individuals out there, but there are entire regimes that are sick in this way and that they do not value life the way that one should.

Justice: Contrary to many other Christians, I am against the death penalty. Not because I don’t believe that certain people deserve this punishment, but rather that death for humans is physically permanent and cannot be retracted. Jesus was not guilty and had many opportunities to save himself, but he chose to not speak in his defense. Many in this modern world are unable or incapable of speaking in their own defense. People look for closure and are quick to judge. This often works against true justice.

Would you agree that these themes are important and that they can be readily gleaned from this story?


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