Saturday, June 27, 2009

Is Forcing Religion On Children Child Abuse?

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Most people get religion in their youth, usually because of their parents. Thus the children of Mormons usually grow up to be Mormons, the children of Muslims Grow up to be Muslims, the children of Evangelicals grow up to be Evangelical Christians and so on. Sometimes an adult will convert to a religion, of course, usually for emotional, irrational reasons, but even in those cases (e.g., a lapsed Catholic who becomes saved by inviting Jesus into his heart and then adopts fundamentalist Protestantism) the person grew up in an atmosphere of belief where they were told God exists, Jesus (the Catholic Jesus) is real, etc. But what would happen if children were allowed to eventually make up their own minds when old enough to really reflect on the questions involved?

When I was a child I was a natural skeptic. My Dad became "born again" after my parents divorced, and on weekends when my sister and I stayed with him, we were subjected to church on Sunday. I always hated church of any kind, the whole thing was boring or silly to me, and I would ask questions about it. But not too many questions. I was very close to my dad, and as a small child you naturally believe what a parent tells you (how could they be wrong?) so I accepted the whole scheme for quite some time until I grew out of it. But even in those days I remember my doubts. My dad got involved with the Pentecostal movement, the tongues speaking, prophesying religion. I can recall a late night adults-in-a-circle speaking in tongues session during which I fell asleep on the floor of the house of worship. I thought to myself well, it must all be true, because how could they be talking like that if Jesus isn't real?. I was too young and ignorant to understand that the phenomena of glossolalia was just a bunch of gibberish.

The truth is though, that that's how religions perpetuate themselves, and those that don't eventually die out (as happened with the sex-forbidding, no procreation allowed, Shakers). That movement is a real world example of what happens when there are no children to indoctrinate with the faith.

But if God, Jesus, and Allah are real beings, why feel the need to force belief on kids? Wouldn't the overwhelming truth of the One True Faith overcome all objections? Wouldn't its reality be obvious, without cramming it down the throat of an innocent child? And if faith is so important to the idea of salvation, shouldn't parents want their offspring to see the truth of it all on their own? How valid can "saving" faith be when it's not a matter of real, unencumbered choice?

If parents routinely forced children to smoke and drink before adulthood, potentially polluting their young lungs and livers, most would consider it child abuse. How is polluting young minds with irrationality any different?


  1. Part of it has to do with our society's view of children as property of parents.

  2. Very thoughtful. Being brought up in the church myself, I had to struggle with what can only be call my sanity trying to get over it. I did but some don't. The overarching question is how does a loving parent instruct their chrild in proper moral concepts and structure without indoctrinating. I still ponder about it. My chrildren are grown and well adjusted, or so it seems to me and now the grandchildren are here and I find myself right back in the hunt. With an even greater concept of religion as a form of control of the culture. Yet the people who i would want to change think this is a good thing.
    Nice read for this saturday afternoon.

  3. If you're talking about organised religion, then yes it is used as a tool of control, as your blog says it's part of the 'machinery of mass conformity'.

    Though I think there's more to religion than mythology. It's a source of cultural identity just as much as nationalism and other forms of tribalism, which in my opinion isn't a bad thing (not talking about forms of *supremacism* there, just to be clear.)

    You say theists accept God 'usually for emotional, irrational reasons'

    I think that's a little harsh. I was raised with essentially zero exposure to religion; now however I am a theist, perhaps loosely a Christian.

    But I don't embrace mythology, in my opinion the real, most important religion is having faith in goodness, morality and humanity, which can go hand in hand with what people call 'theism' or 'atheism'.

    Libertarianism restored my faith in the individual and in freedom, which is as important to me as any other kind of faith.

    The reason I have more admiration for Christianity than I used to is because, by what we can tell, it seems to have been born out of resistance to the tyranny of the Roman Empire. Of course, within a couple of centuries it had been co-opted via Catholicism, and became a tool of opression as great as the Romans themselves.

    I also believe forms of atheism to be religions too. Either way, theist or atheist, it's about believing, sans evidence. Anyone, myself included, who's honest, will be a bit agnostic.

    The chief modern day religion of today's establishment is eugenics. (if of course you overlook Paganism, Satanism, and whatever other weird ritualistic demonic mentalities they hold.)

    Eugenics dresses itself up in many forms, such as the sustainability movement, evolutionary science, and social Darwinism.

    Forcing these ideas on children is equally child abuse as any other kind of indoctrination.

    (And I'm not saying evolution is necessarily untrue, but it is a religion in its current form due to a shortage of evidence. Or at least I'm not convinced, especially because it was immediately latched upon by Darwin's cousin as a way to rationalise engaging in eugenics.)

    The agenda of society's great overlording planners today, is the removal of conventional religion. Not to get rid of mythology - it will be replaced with a new global pagan/satanic/Earth religious mythology - but to remove the other elements associated with faith, such as community, family, nationalism, and moral absolutism, because these things block their new global tyranny; which will be a far greater form of abuse than any religion.

    So in short, I do believe organised religion is a tool of control, but that doesn't mean theism is inherently opressive towards thought - some ideas associated with atheism also have the potential to be indoctrinative. The problem isn't religion itself, but indoctrination and opression in all its forms.

  4. @ libhom: So then, if the family unit is a problem, who should raise children? The molestering bastards working for the state?

    They aren't necessarily 'property' of parents, rather parents are the guardians of their children. Seriously, you want the governmental control freaks to get their dirty hands all over people's children???

    CPS = Child Paedophilia Service

  5. I also had doubts about religion from a young age. I don't think I *ever* believed in the heaven/pearly gates story. When I was 5 or 6, I remember asking my dad whether there was any actual evidence god existed (he didn't get mad at me, and at least tried to answer). In fourth grade, I remember asking some other adult how we knew some guy didn't just make up the Bible while sitting on the crapper--a line that still makes me laugh. :)

    Perhaps not all theist parents are guilty of child abuse, but the ones who pray to the "lord" instead of taking their kids to the doctor (and other lunacy) most certainly are.

  6. Oh, I am so on the same page as you about this. For me, apart from teaching right from wrong (which I believe has nothing to do with religion), kids should be brought up as a blank slate. They should be encouraged, if they want, to read any and every religious text and make up their own minds whether to follow one, some or none.

    I've seen stories saying that some parents are lambasted for bringing their children up on a specific diet. Whilst I don't necessarily agree with that, I don't see why it shouldn't apply to religion too.

    People don't seem to have the decency to consider that their children are individuals and will have minds and consciences of their own.

  7. Same. I was adopted at birth into a christian family. I kinda went along with it but as soon as i hit 13 it dropped. None of it made any sense, it was just a made up book written by dead guys. And people blindly followed it. I hate church. I hate going there. People are so judgemental and closed minded it's frustrating. I never want anything to do with that crap again and i don't care what anyone thinks. Religion is simply a thing people use so they feel safe.. people don't like not knowing things and if they make up something that answers the unknown then they'll follow it like a heard of dumb animals. Well i'm not buyin it. Ever.


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