The Charter for Child-Friendly Faith

The mission of the Child-Friendly Faith Project can only be fulfilled through respectful and positive dialog. Common to all faiths, ethical models, and spiritual traditions is the value of protecting from harm those in society who are most vulnerable, including our children. Therefore, we call upon all people to affirm these principles:

I. ON THE IMPACT OF FAITH PRACTICES ON CHILDREN

While many religious belief systems and practices benefit children, some enable adults to abuse and neglect children. The CFFP opposes all forms of maltreatment, including that which is justified with religious doctrine or permitted by laws that provide exceptions for certain religions or cultures.

II. ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION

Adults have a right to subscribe to the belief system of their choice and teach young people their faith, and, with this right, comes a responsibility to ensure that religious teachings and practices do not harm children, physically or emotionally.

III. ON CHILDREN’S RIGHTS

Children have a right to grow up in an environment that is safe, promotes healthy physical and emotional development, and is free of abuse, neglect and exploitation; to not be subjected to teachings and rituals that cause pain, severe discomfort, trauma, or disfigurement; and to ask questions and express doubt about religious doctrines, beliefs, and practices and discover their own spiritual and philosophical paths without fear of punishment or ostracization.

IV. ON THE RESPONSIBILITY OF RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS

Adults and religious organizations should remain vigilant to ensure that faith practices and childrearing methods they promote enhance, and do not interfere with, healthy physical and emotional development. All adults who work with children should receive training on child development, abuse and neglect prevention, and mandatory reporting laws. Religious organizations should use teaching materials that have been vetted by child development experts, develop effective abuse prevention policies and procedures, and report suspected child maltreatment as required by law.