I have observed something over the past couple years that is very thought provoking for me. People I know who leave the religion of their childhood appear to have a strong likelihood of losing their moral bearings. So many I know have become moral drifters, making up their values as they go along and often getting swept up in a sort of adolescent ethical confusion. Men and women who begin to act like 18 year olds during rush week.
This makes me wonder if it's a good idea to teach children morals and ethics from a religious perspective even if the parents are strongly religious (I believe very strongly that children need to be taught values, morals and ethics generally speaking). Should we be telling our children to behave a certain way "because it says so in the Bible" or "because it makes God happy" or "because you'll be rewarded in heaven"? If a list of Bible references is the only thing a child gets when he asks why he shouldn't take that thing that doesn't belong to him, what happens when/if he questions if the Bible holds any authority in his life? Or if the threat of eternal punishment no longer holds any weight because she doesn't believe in hell anymore, where does the motivation to do right ultimately come from?
I'm less concerned about this when it comes to adolescents because whether religious or not, every child must work through these things for him/herself. I'm thinking about it more when it comes to adults who leave their religion to some degree or another as adults.
This interests me as someone who doesn't really "buy into" the type of religious moral teaching that I received as a child and am now trying to reformulate my moral and ethical compass and it especially interests me as a mother. These aren't loaded ponderings either, I'm genuinely wondering because I really don't know.