family in handsIn the fall of 2012, a small group of child advocates began a nonprofit organization called the Child-Friendly Faith Project. It is nonpartisan and has been designated by the IRS as a 501c(3), which allows interested parties to make tax-deductible contributions. What sets the CFFP apart from other child advocacy organizations is that it aims to educate the public specifically about the impact that religious, spiritual, and cultural beliefs and practices have on children. Whether the effects are good or bad, we believe that we owe it to children to seriously consider our ideologies. Some are beneficial to children, but others are harmful.

Let’s make sure we examine our beliefs and faith practices before we assume they are good for society’s youngest members.

A few things we believe: 1) Faith can be beneficial and harmful to children. 2) It is not our place to promote or denigrate any particular religion, place of worship, faith group, or ideology but, rather, look at how people’s beliefs and practices affect children. 3) All children are raised with some kind of faith or another. Let’s ensure that such an upbringing is a healthy experience for every child.

To take part in the conversation, we invite you to join our closed Facebook group and contribute to our Facebook page. Our Twitter page can be found here.

Thank you for your support, and we look forward to hearing from you!

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Janet Heimlich is an award-winning journalist and the author of "Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment," the first book to fully examine the issue of child abuse and neglect enabled by religious belief. In 2012, Janet founded the Child-Friendly Faith Project whose mission is to share knowledge and build community around the issue of religious child maltreatment (RCM) and advocate for and empower those whose lives are impacted by RCM. She also sits on the board of directors of Foundation Beyond Belief and co-hosts the podcast, "Parenting Beyond Belief." Prior to becoming a child advocate, Janet was a freelance reporter for National Public Radio, work for which she won numerous journalism awards; she has also written nonfiction articles for such publications as Texas Monthly and the Texas Observer.

2 Comments

  1. Sharon
    May 19, 2013
    Reply

    What a wonderful new organization! I just learned about Child-Friendly Faith Project today through a link from the Richard Dawkins Foundation’s website.

    I grew up in a religious abusive organization, which was called the Worldwide Church of God at the time. Several youths in my local congregation of the WCG committed suicide at a young age. For the past few years I have been looking for a venue or forum to expose the irrefutable evidence of this church’s impact on children.

    • May 19, 2013
      Reply

      Dear Sharon,

      Thank you for writing and sharing a little about your background. In my book, “Breaking Their Will,” I quote from individuals who had grown up in the WCG and wrote comments that were published on a site for former members. From their consistent comments, it was clear this was an authoritarian church that was more interested in controlling children than addressing their needs. When I read how the church was changing its doctrines to be more tolerant and less extremist, I was fascinated and contacted church leadership. I requested that they allow me to interview them on how these changes might benefit children. Rather than agreeing to do an interview, a church official sent me a long email in which he questioned the veracity of victims and insisted that I did not have permission to quote from his email unless I includes the entire thing in there. I couldn’t do that but I certainly included mention of his email (without naming him) in my book, summarizing its content.

      I thought, one the one hand, how great the church is joining a movement common in many churches that includes taking steps to shed authoritarian beliefs and practices. But, on the other hand, a church official has refused to acknowledge how/if this change could affect children’s lives. And, instead, starts out on a defensive tone. This led me to question whether the church actually cares more about children’s rights than they did before.

      I appreciate you keeping this conversation going. If you are interested, please join our closed Facebook group. We’d love to have you!

      Best to you,
      Janet
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/childfriendlyfaith/
      Twitter: @chfriendlyfaith

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