There are many ways that character is formed, but first, shouldn't we determine what character means? What do we mean by character? Is there one attribute that is necessary to be of worthy character? Character is an illustration of a person's values. Character is seen in contexts of situations.
Everyone has character, but not everyone responds to situations in the same way. The Sermon on the Mount is used sometimes in Christian circles to illustrate what Christian character is. But, this has been debated, as some believe that it is an ideal that illustrates how far we fall short and should turn us to God. Others believe that it is part and parcel of what a Christian should be. I disagree with both.
Character is a response to a situation that illustrates the person's most important values and convictions. There is no one form of response, because there is no "ideal form". Conformity is what religion is about. It is not about individual people who may differ in situations, because of personal issues. No, some believe that unless you act in a certain way, then, there is eternal hell and damnation.
There has been a statement in our local newspaper about having respect. This statement was made within the context of domestic violence. We would not believe that it is appropriate for an abused person to react as the Sermon on the Mount. No, we would desire for the abused to hold another accountable, so that there could be change in the situation. This is character, as well.
Ethical children can be raised by secular parents and they do not have to have God to do so. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, not the end. Children fear retribution and act because they fear, not becasue they have developed their own convictions or principles. As adults, reasonable dialogue is useful to bring about a change of mind. But, most adults do not respond to an anihlation of rights, in regards to their personal choices. Choices are what make humanity human, because we are not responding out of reward and punishment, but because of a conviction of a certain kind...