Possummomma has a posting, "Props to P2's Vice Principal" , that concerns atheism and her child that contains the line:
I reiterated that he doesn't have to choose any philosophy just yet, and that it was no one's business.
I disagree with this.
It is morally obligatory to rule out certain 'philosophies' at a very early level - to teach children that this or that philosophy is unacceptable, and not on the legitimate list of choices.
We can see this quite clearly in the philosophies of the Nazi or the racist. Telling a child that he "doesn't have to choose whether the Jews are an inferior creature that should be exterminated just yet, and that it was no one's business," is utter nonsense.
It is just as much nonsense to tell a child that he may still choose to believe that homosexuals and those who work on the Sabbath should be stoned to death, or that women should be denied basic freedoms concerning who they may speak to, what they may wear, or even basic medical and educational care.
In fact, the bullying that P2 was subjected to is yet another example of a 'philosophy' that no person has the liberty to choose - even 11 and 12 year old kids. They should, at that age, know that these philosophies are off limits.
I can anticipate a response to this being that, "Of course, that is what I meant, Alonzo. You are twisting my words, taking it out of context."
And, yet, this brings up the question, "Exactly what philosophies do you actually think that this child has the liberty to choose?" To say that a child has a liberty to choose such a philosophy is to say that there are no moral objections to the way that the people who adopt that philosophy behave.
I do argue that belief that a God exists is morally neutral, and nothing we have reason to be too concerned over. Yet, this philosophy is very rare, and hardly the thing that comes immediately to mind when granting these sorts of permissions.