Religious Upbringing Law and Legal Definition

Religious upbringing refers to training in religious matters which a child receives during his or her childhood. The custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents and so generally the child can follow either of the parent’s religion. The State has a wide range of power for limiting parental freedom and authority in things affecting the child's welfare. This includes, to some extent, matters of conscience and religious conviction. While the parents' right to provide religious training for their children is constitutionally protected, that right does not include as a necessary adjunct the right to jeopardize their children's health or safety. As stated by the court in Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (U.S. 1944),: "* * * Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion when they can make that choice for themselves.” It is not easy to draw a line between the parental right to provide religious foundation for their children's lives and the right of children either to reject or to be free of unwanted consequences of their parents' faith.