Much discussion in today’s media about children of religions other than christianity celebrating christmas. One muslim family said they impressed christmas and allowed their daughter to decorate the house and tree. Another woman said that her nine year old daughter most definitely could not celebrate christmas because it ran counter to her religion. I beg your pardon, I would have said had I been the interviewer. Your nine year old daughter? Why on earth should you inflict religion – any religion – on a young child?

How many more times do we have to say this? There is no such thing as a religious child. They can only be children of muslim, sikh, christian parents. Religion is the one area of life where it is, apparently, perfectly all right to indoctrinate children with superstition for life. We rightly say that children should not have sex, work, drink and so on until they are mature enough. Why should this not extent to choosing one’s own god?

We know the real reason for that: if children were left to determine their own religion on the basis of free will, there is a fair chance they would live a life without it. Without being taught that ancient texts prepared when no one really knew what was going on, they would find it very hard to believe any of them. The decline of organised religion would accelerate apace if we left it to people to decide when they were old enough. And we know that indoctrination works because how many children do you know who have a different religion as their parents?

The reality is that people celebrate christmas for all sorts of reasons and I suspect few of them revolve around the alleged son of god. I love christmas because I get to see my family and I get to spend quality time with them. Others go to church, some for their one visit of the year. Good for them.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved the nativity plays with my kids, the carol services and all the paraphernalia that goes with christmas; everything except the Jesus bit, really. And increasingly most people feel the same these days. By all means enjoy christmas and let your kids enjoy it too but let’s not force religion down their necks.