“Children with exposure to religion — via church attendance, parochial schooling, or both — judged [characters in religious stories] to be real,” the authors wrote. “By contrast, children with no such exposure judged them to be pretend,” just as they had the characters in fairy tales. But children with exposure to religion judged many characters in fantastical, but not explicitly religious stories, to also be real — the equivalent of being incapable of differentiating between Mark Twain’s character Tom Sawyer and an account of George Washington’s life.

Are the authors of this study assuming that any reasonable person would know that the characters in religious stories are fictional?

What constitutes a “true” story is nuanced.

C.S. Lewis in “After Virtue”, writes, “It is through hearing about wicked stepmothers, lost children, good but misguided kings… that children learn or mislearn what a child and what a parent is, what the cast of characters may be in the drama into which they have been born and what the ways of the world are.”

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