Children are free spirits sensitive to many outside influences, especially religious influence. Religions have begun to strengthen their child involvement; this is why they have begun placing more emphasis on children ministries. If religion is a major part of a child’s life, it will shape who a child becomes and how the child is raised. Religion directly affects how a child grows up and how they perceive people and situations in their life after their childhood. In order to understand how religion affects a child, it is important to view the various situations through a variety of religious perspectives and approaches. As suggested by Don Browning, in Children and Childhood in American Religions, “A careful investigation of religions in a comparative analysis can significantly advance contemporary attitudes toward children and provide a richer basis for concerted public action on their behalf” (12-13).
In Salvation, a short story by Langston Hughes, he depicts how religion affected his entire life. Hughes describes his aunts’ church during their revival, along with how the entire congregation “rocked with prayer and song” however, he still “kept waiting to see Jesus” (Hughes). Hughes never did see Jesus, but he got up and went to the altar anyway. He felt the pressure of an entire congregation and as a child; he felt he had no other choice than to pretend. The congregation inadvertently pressured Hughes into joining the church. Peter Pufall, in the book Rethinking Childhood, stated, “Throughout history religions have looked to children for the survival of both the community of faith and the faith itself” (57). In Hughes’s case, the overwhelming power of the church and the fear of going to the alter affected the rest of his life, so much so that he became an atheist.
Religions can drastically affect how children are raised and who they become later in life through the importance of education, family dynamics, and traditions. Browning argues that, “even though childhood has distinct biological parameters, societies and social groups construct the meaning and nature of childhood to a considerable extent around powerful… religious ideas” (4). These societies and social groups are affecting all parts of children’s lives, particularly their education. Education is an important part of many religions; some apply more emphasis than others do. Either way children are subjected to the pressures of completing high levels of education.
Children subjected to the stress of academic achievement are the products of religious influence. The pressures of doing well in school are a major characteristic of religion. Religions are resolute and controlling when it comes to their prospective followers getting the best education possible. Wanting to control all aspects of a child’s life is common in many religions. They go as far as creating their own private schools to ensure that their children are properly educated. Browning confirms, stating, “Religions with...