The Archbishop of Canterbury thinks children should be taught the Lord’s Prayer. No, Archbishop, they shouldn’t. The Lord’s Prayer isn’t a magical talisman that will somehow or other lead children to live good and moral lives. Teaching it to children won’t make them better citizens or happier human beings. It won’t mean anything to their lives at all.
Unless, that is, they’re Christians.
To be sure, Christian parents should teach their Christian children to pray the Lord’s Prayer; to obey the 10 Commandments; to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and their neighbors as themselves. Christian parents should be teaching their Christian children all of those things.
But non Christians? No. They don’t need to learn it because it isn’t a prayer they can honestly pray. Only Christians can. Only Christians can utter the words ‘Our Father…’ with any meaning or significance. ‘Our Father’ is the core of the prayer and it indicates that those praying it have an intimate, familial, familiar relationship to the one to whom they pray. Teaching persons to pray a prayer which shows a familial relationship to the One with whom they have no such relationship is the very definition of pointlessness.
Besides that, it’s a lie. One who mutters the words ‘Our Father’ without having God as Father, without the familial relationship necessary, is one who lies. And teaching children to lie is a very bad thing. Teaching them that God is their Father when they ignore, dismiss, and live their lives completely apart from his Fatherly guidance is also a lie.
Archbishop, your interest is in ‘cultural christianity’ and not Christian faith. Cultural christianity is meaningless- and in fact, a distortion of real faith.
Parents – if you wish to teach your children something meaningful teach them to love God and know his Son their Redeemer. Then you can teach them to pray, with other believers, ‘Our Father…’ If you think, however, that teaching them a certain prayer will result in something wonderful you’re simply blind and mistaken. You’ve turned prayer into magic.