Myth Religion Cures the Fear of Death

Given the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I'm baffled whenever I hear it implied that religion cures the fear of death. I know many deeply religious people, all of whom work hard at delaying their demise. They look carefully before crossing the street. They watch what they eat, follow doctor's orders, shrink in terror when given a troubling diagnosis, pray for the recovery of seriously ill friends, and weep as uncontrollably as the rest of us when someone close to them dies. They are every bit as dissatisfied with company policy as I am.

If not more so. I also know some who worry themselves to distraction over whether they've satisfied the requirements for entrance to Paradise. One woman I know lost sleep for weeks after her uujj-j ■ j 4.1. 4. u u j If we are immortal, it is a husband died, convinced that he had gone to

, „ r . . l/r fact of nature, and that fact hell for missing too many Masses.

does not depend on bibles,

Some comfort.

on Christs, priests or creeds. It

When it comes to comforting children cannot be destroyed by un-

in the face of loss, most mainstream parenting experts find the invocation of heaven belief.

problematic at best. In Guiding Your Child —RobertGreen Ingersoll, orator, Through Grief, James and Mary Ann Em- "The Great Agnostic"

swiler caution against such wincers as "God took Mommy because she was so good," or "God took Daddy because He wanted him to be with Him," for reasons that should be obvious. "Don't use God or religion as a pacifier to make grieving children feel better. It probably won't work," they continue. "Do not explain death as a punishment or a reward from God."1 By the time they and most other child development experts are done, the single greatest supposed advantage of religion lies in tatters.

We've now set the bar more reasonably. Our goal as parents is not to somehow cure the fear of death, but to keep that natural and unavoidable fear from interfering overly much with the experience of life.

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