Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Children and Beliefs

Children use storytelling to help them organize thoughts and feelings about the world. The most important stories are those that incorporate cultural and religious myths. By identifying with the characters in the stories, young children vicariously experience moral conflicts and solutions that will have great relevance later in life. Adult belief systems, especially those concerning religion and spirituality, contain significant remnants of the stories these adults heard and read while growing up. Extensive research by Altemeyer and Hunsberger showed that children who grow up in fundamentalist families tend to obey authorities and follow rules. However, they also tend to be self-righteous, prejudicial, and condemnatory toward people outside their group. They tend to develop an ‘us versus them’ mentality that many maintain throughout life. The studies also pointed out that fundamentalist congregations tend to experience a 50 percent dropout rate among members over time.

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