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Brainwashing: Children and Religion 6 May 2007

Posted by Todd in Christianity, Democratic Theory, Documentary Film, Teaching.
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After watching the documentary Jesus Camp this afternoon, I was thinking about my strong emotional reaction to what I saw. Given what I’d read about the film and friends’ reactions, I had expected to be offended and disgusted. And indeed, I was actually embarassed by the weirdness of some of these people (the older woman with the cutout of Pres. Bush speaking in tongues was beyond freakish). But mostly I felt violated.

There’s a scene early in the movie with a young girl, around 7 or 8 years old, who is bowling with friends and family. As she tries to hit the pins, she prays to god to make it a good strike, and she “commands” the ball to do her will. Seeing this twisted my stomach in nots. I have vivid memories of believing that I had that kind of power, because I had faith.

The teachers used likely techniques to indoctrinate the children and to get them to believe: emotional activities designed to excite feelings, music and dancing, object lessons, rhythmic chanting, telling the kids that they are chosen and important, encouraging the children to profess their faith (not to mention to speak in tongues and heal), showing the kids models (inaccurate ones) of fetuses. But mostly it was the content of the teachings that disturbed me–a blatant manipulation of the emotions of a child.

Richard Dawkins has taken a lot of heat over the past year about the claim in his book The God Delusion that indoctrinating children into religion is a form of child abuse. It is hard to watch these kids talk about Americans as sinners who need chastening, or about how they are sinful for wanting to watch Harry Potter, just because it’s so silly. Or even more, the little bowling girl goes up to evangelize a woman at the bowling lanes, it’s painful to see the brainwashing in practice. But taken as a whole, the kids taling about why evolution is evil, and global warming isn’t true, and how they have to redeem america from Satan…it’s hard not to see this is child abuse.

I suppose it is my own discomfort with my own childhood, and the degree to which I had believed what I was taught. I realize mormonism is a different kind of religion from Evangelicalism, but many of the processes were the same. I have to wonder if my long, difficult journey to reshape my own world view and perspective would have taken so long had I not been indoctrinated in the way I was.

For me, the film raises again the question that may very well be at the center of democratic freedom: what rights do children have? Do they have the right to be raised free from their parents’ superstition? Is the kind of emotional, pyschological, and intellectual damage inflicted on children not a form of abuse? I believe that these parents are sincere in their beliefs and they truly want what is best for their kids. But is sincerity enough to justify what religion does to children?

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1. Sean - 6 May 2007

I agree 100% with Dawkins that the religious indoctrination of children is a form of psychological abuse. Where I run into problems is when I try to imagine how public policy should change to reflect this. It just seems very problematic on a practical level.

2. mattblack - 6 May 2007

Man, it would be awesome if we could figure out a way of outlawing all forms of well-meaning or inadvertant parental psych-abuse. As kids, we’re little meme vacuums and though religion is a particularly sticky and systematic way of transferring parental and community values, the religious certainly have no corner on the market for transferring ideas that screw up children. It’s not for nothing that the first words you hear when reclining on your shrink’s couch are, “tell me about your relationship with your mother/father.” That’s what parents do–they screw up their kids.

3. dino - 6 May 2007

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Apr 2nd, 2007 by pharaohscenotaph

The fact that the majority of the world’s populace haven’t a clue: as to what the human significance, is all about: is rather, disturbing…

Innumerous, organizations: of religions, traditions, and superstitions – aren’t helping, either… Many of whom, serve, only to facilitate the catalytic perils, of the blind leading the blind. However, man – have, marginally, survived his errors, notwithstanding… So far.

Owing, of course, a measure of gratitude: and, perehaps, a rite of passage: in honor, of the philosophical minds that are responsible, for the revelation: of the vortex, of spirituality. The perceived, hypothesis, of God.

Unfortunately, the negative, nuances; injected, through – corrupted, factions: promoting personal, agendas – spawned, a web of parasites…

From, voodoo, to lucky charms: predators, of the human psyche – “brainwashing, by default.”

The most lethal, of all the predatory tools – masked in the guise (appearance), of religion; is, friendship: an ill-promised, companion.

Trust your ‘gut instincts’… You do not want to play ‘host’ to a ‘ghost,’ if it ain’t holy. Otherwise, you’re looking at the candidacy, for exorcism…

Safe journey

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ananth - 10 August 2011

Children should be raised like my father did, when as a kid I asked him about God he said you grow up and you will know

4. molly_o - 11 May 2007

I don’t know if you can single out religion, I think parents indoctrinate their kids about *everything* — from bigotry to vegetarianism to things as trivial as the 9-year-old I heard explaining wisely that there’s nothing for kids to do in Vegas unless they want to sit on the sidewalk and watch panhandlers (a complete untruth obviously told him by an adult who wouldn’t take him to Vegas!).

It’s a fundamental part of parenting to teach your child what you believe to be true — all we can do is press for school curricula that encourage kids to think critically, giving them the tools to sort the wheat from the chaff of their parents’ beliefs.

5. Tonia - 24 February 2008

Many people don’t realize the consequences of teaching children facts, then throwing in that they must accept the idea of god/s also as fact. From a very young age, reasoning abilities are damaged. Because it happens so young (for most), it is very hard to undo. It takes a lot of faulty reasoning to accept the bizarre and barbaric, and view it as loving and right. If a mother is seen favoring one child over the other, it is considered abhorrent. But when a god favors one group of people over the other (and also tells the favorites to kill off the others who don’t satisfy the god’s need for obedience[slavery], including children and animals(wtf), it’s okay. Brainwashing isn’t just a weird cult thing – mainstream religion uses repetition of its rules and family like acceptance for positive reinforcement as well. When everyone around you is doing it, especially family, it is bound to take. If you question things to the furthest extent, you’ll get the throw-up-your-hands answer similar to ‘we can’t understand the grand design, the master plan, with our feeble brains’

Ask yourself this every day without fear, without the taught (pre-programmed) responses: Why would a perfect, omnipotent, loving god create imperfect beings, only to punish them for it? If you do it without the taught fear, things get uncomfortable…and interesting. But for most, it’s just not possible because it’s a loop or flowchart. Every response will be pulled from the book, like rote memorization of multiplication tables.

I’m glad I took the RED pill and woke up. :O)

6. Lambert Stillaway - 19 July 2008

I have two small children whom have been taken from myself the natural father. They have been relocated to another part of the provience and enroled into a church by their mother for the last couple of years. I have given up our hme moved been forced to follow all kinds of rediculous rules in order to see my own children. Threaten with alligations of abuse. I have been blackmailed had money extored and yet I am told I am evil and my family evil due to our native background!! by my the children’s mothers pastor(she also states she has been in a O.R. and pulled her husband back from death several times with the staff supporting her) My wife believes her but not that she told me my family is evil? There is so much more that has taken place however it all is unimportant compared to what lies ahead for my children. They are hearing the voice of God in their little heads and they are just 4 and just turned 6yrs old. I have court coming up at the end of this month and I need hard proof that this is dangerous for their longterm mental health. Please if you can help me do so asap
I will be happy to provide more details, please have credenicals to back up any documentation as I will need it for the courts here, they tend not to favour fathers even if we love our children.

7. bkyu - 20 July 2008

Hi Lambert,
Unfortunately, I don’t research this area or know of any good resources for you, but i know that other people *do* research this and a lot of psychological work has been done on children growing up religious and on mixed-faith parenting. Keep looking and digging and best of luck in your efforts to care for your children.
Todd

8. Raised in Religion - 28 July 2008

I was raised in a church since I was born. In primary I was so confused. What there is no beginning or an end? I kept on thinking and thinking trying to figure it out. Nothing made any sense and God was made from the dust? Huh. I was one confused kid. Because logically these things didn’t make sense I kept on asking questions about it and most of the time I got I don’t know from parents and teachers. In the end I decided to stop thinking about it and worrying about it. I never thought that it was an option to think another way. This was when I was about 4.

Now I am a bit more independent and I want to leave the church as soon as I turn 18. Why I wait? Because when I show any sign of not believing or not believing in the exact same way the prophets said it everyone looks at me like I am evil and the devil fooled me. My parents and my little brother too. Now I don’t want to live two years dealing with that. So I wait and while listening to the ridiculousness I feel like I am going to explode and tell everyone what I really think about it all. My teachers teach lessons and show their active belief in the evilness of anyone who is against the church.

Yes there is fear in the church. If you leave everyone thinks of you as the “lost one” in need of rescue from the deceptions of the devil. They say people think for themselves then they say that the devil fools people and that god pulls people into religion. So many contradictions it makes me sick.

Nonmember seems to make someone less in the members eyes. Then in the lessons they say that the person who is fighting the church believes the church is true the whole time and I think what kind of idiot would believe that someone actively fighting something would believe in it at the same time? Gee.

9. Michael Duberson - 30 July 2008

RELIGION IS FOR FOOLS

Having once been a devout Catholic and Christian, I am now so saddened to see how people make fools of themselves believing in the mythology of religion. Just sit back and observe any religious service and note what it is doing to the minds of the believers.

Most religions forbid their adherents from reading anything of enlightenment beyond approved religious texts under implied threat of eternal damnation. This is how they maintain control of the masses of followers.

Heresy is the control word that comes to mind. Religion is nothing more than control based on fear and guilt. Religion is brainwashing. It is nothing more than disguised sun worship, extending all the way back to ancient Babylonian and Egyptian times. Note the halo around Jesus’ head!

Religious adherents are afraid to read or they would soon learn from their investigations how their churches are controlled by the same powers which control all governments through The Rothschilds’ central bank system. The Rothschilds have commandeered every aspect of human control from government and education all the way through to religion. You don’t have a chance.

Religion is a very powerful tool of government because religion can get you to do what your government, by itself, could never get you to do, i.e., die in war for the benefit of those who profit from it. Some way to get to “heaven”, huh? Maybe fools do get what they deserve.

Very few people ever escape from the Masters of Damnation. They are very good and have been around for thousands of years, taking advantage of the basic human instinct to BELIEVE.

Try to talk to one of them? Forget it! They are already programmed in their response because their puppet masters knew ahead of time what challenges would be raised.

If there was a law which forbade parents from teaching bullsh*t to their children until their 21st birthday, how many would chose the religion of their parents? Would any churches still exist at all?

There are two things I have learned about God in this lifetime: he’s not “up there” and he sure as hell isn’t in church!

Religion is an awful thing to do to the human mind.

See the movie ZEITGEIST.

Michael Duberson

Huskie - 1 January 2012

“Religion is a very powerful tool of government because religion can get you to do what your government, by itself, could never get you to do, i.e., die in war for the benefit of those who profit from it. Some way to get to “heaven”, huh? Maybe fools do get what they deserve.”

I was in the Army, and served in Iraq in 2004. Some of us were religious, some of us weren’t, and it may even be true that some of us were “fools” (though I don’t see you as a person in a position to make that judgement) We were all willing to die for something bigger than ourselves…we believed in something and went all in on it. Maybe it was my parents that warped me into believing that the Arm Chair Crusaders ought to show a bit of deference to those who have been there and done that.

10. David - 29 September 2008

What are we, as humans in general, doing to our children? It is hard to realize that no matter how many times you “whisper to the wind” your so-called “God” will not answer. In the long run we ARE seriously hurting and abusing our children and it does need to STOP.

11. Brainwashed no more - 6 October 2008

It’s good to see that so many people share the same view as me! I was forced to believe the way my parents did for eighteen years, and am just now beginning to “see the light”. Although I have finally been able to truly believe religion is just a sham, I still have “flashbacks” that are left over from my childhood, feelings of great fear that I will go to hell for not believing. I know I might have a long road ahead of me before I am truly freed from indoctirnation, it is so helpful to read other peoples stories, thanks!

12. Saddened by religion and children - 13 May 2009

I couldn’t agree more!!! My partner was raised in a religious group and married not for love but because his father told him she was a “good” one and of course he was 20 and all he wanted was to be able to have sex! What better reason to get married! ughhhhh
Anyhow, to prove you have faith…you have children.
5 children later and with one on the way he realizes that this is not the life he wants…he wants to be free to think for himself and love for love not to fake it to show faith.
So he left…met me and we’ve been together ever since (almost 3yrs)
I had to help him a lot in the beginning as he thought he was for sure going to hell.
The rules for him to see his own children were rediculous…he could not see them unless someone in the church or the exwife was present.
He could not afford a lawyer as I’m sure you could imagine the amount of child support for 6 children took most of his paycheck.
It has been a huge struggle and horrible for him to be away from his children but even if he fought to see them, she told him she would make sure to make a huge scene every second weekend in order to make the children not want to go with him.
So him being the great man he is…decided it was better to not put the children through such turmoil and hope that when they grow up they will see the light of reality. He stays in constant communication with them…in which they always beg for him to come home and to leave me “the devil”.
It so very sad…but what else do you do…do you make the childrens childhood horrible with constant fighting or do you leave them to try and have as much of a stable lifestyle as possilbe and hope for more for them in the future.
It’s heartbreaking for me to see…he truly is a great man who is finally “in love” and it’s too bad his children can’t see what real love is all about :(
We have many recordings of phone conversations and emails for the children to read and listen to when they are older so they can see and hear that in fact their father wanted a relationship with them but that their mother and religion created a very large wall between that.
So sad…

13. Saddened by religion and children - 13 May 2009

added to that….these children are told to pray everynight for their father to come back and rejoin the church and that every prayer goes into a bucket in heaven and once the bucket is full…it empties and all the prayers are answered! Now, tell me that is not mental child abuse!
Crazy is what it is

14. OverTheHill - 21 June 2009

The misery that religion causes is obvious to me. It’s an evil way of controlling people. I was raised by a very religious family and three unfortunate things happened : 1) I took it very seriously, and wanted nothing more than to please my family, (2) I was precociously bright and was primed to be the golden child who would bring the light of Jesus to the world, (3) I turned out gay. The time I spent in my teenage years reading christian apologetics in an attempt to deny the undeniable instilled in me a great deal of bad mental habits and I’m only starting to enjoy life, even as the signs of aging are becoming apparent. What a wasted opportunity – I spent decades alone and in a great deal of mental pain, trying to convince myself that I was crazy, because what I experienced was impossible according to their bible and its interpretations. Well, I wasn’t crazy to start with… At this point I’m very good with the arguments – having seen it all, from all sides, there isn’t much that I haven’t reasoned my way around – but I also know it is pointless to argue with a person living under the bonds of religion, because they generally don’t have the attention span necessary to understand what you’re saying – if they are even listening, they are simply looking for a place to insert their ideas about God.. I wonder if I would have broken free if my sexuality was normal. Maybe it was a gift from God after all, I would rather be sad and honest, than happy and deluded.

15. Connor Oliver - 9 July 2009

I also agree completely with Dawkins. I’m 17, and was raised in a baptist household for the majority of my childhood. You said that it was a long journey to reshape your worldview and I can sympathize completely. Even now I constantly subconsciously revert to my former way of thinking and have to focus very hard to overcome my past superstitions. It may sound stupid and childish but it is amazingly hard to overcome childhood indoctrination, to have to knock down and then rebuild the foundations that you built your life around for the most critical years of your life. I’m not seeking sympathy or pity, but I have been to two seperate in-patient drug treatment centers and countless out-patient centers. That’s how I used to shut out my suspicions and doubts, everyone takes a different road and that was the unfortunate road I took. The only reason why I even bring this up is to silence doubters, I’m still a child myself and thus I would consider my perspective on this matter quite valid. The ironic thing, is that my father and step-mother both consider raising children as muslims child-abuse, yet consider raising children as christians to be the moral and proper thing to do. Either way it’s wrong; but I digress, I suppose all I can do is continue to think logically. Wish me luck on my own singular journey.

16. Todd - 10 July 2009

Connor,

I realize from your perspective right now, this will sound trite, but you are so lucky to have figured this out in your teens. My doubts didn’t start until my early 20s and didn’t really change completely until I was in graduate school. It does take a lot of years and hard work to “deprogram” yourself, especially from tight religious scripts such as a conservative evangelical background.

The problem is that religion gives you a complete world view, giving meaning to everything around you, so when you realize you don’t believe it anymore, you are left floating and adrift, moorless. So I would urge you to focus your energies on looking for “meaning”. A good way to do this is to step back from religion and think of it as a “philosophy of life”, and start looking around the world at how different people have answered the Big Questions (Who am I? Why am I here? What does it all mean?). Artists, poets, musicians, philosophers, and even religion (if you think of it is humanity’s attempt to give meaning to life) can give you ideas, thoughts, inspirations. You’ll start feeling connected to humanity and to other people on the same journey as you. Rather than feeling a connection to a “god”, you can learn true compassion for your fellow human beings. If possible, see if you can find a group of friends you trust to talk about these things. There are even “churches” that offer this kind of atmosphere, such as the Unitarians. You might even consider an in-between step by reading some rational, liberal, loving Christian thought; I highly recommend Elaine Pagels’ books on ancient Christianity, Bishop Spong’s critical books on the meaning of the Bible; Marcus J. Borg’s books on the meaning of Christianity and Jesus after you have a rational awakening.

There are a lot of things out there for you to help in this process. Good luck!

17. Janine - 30 November 2009

I have a 17 year old son, who is the centre of my life. I was born a Christian and converted to Islam when I married his father in 1992. We divorced in 1997 (he had an affair) and I went back to my christian faith. As my son was born a Muslim, I enrolled him in an Islamic Educare Centre and when he went to school he attended moslem school in the afternoons, although his father and his family were never devout muslims and they had little contact with him.

I never forced this on my son and I always told him that he does not have to follow my faith, only if he wants to. He grew up to love his faith and he had freedom in our house to do his prayers and rituals as his faith expected of him. Through the years I made contact again with his father’s sister( we used to be quite close) who has two daughter almost the same age as my son and he started spending lots of weekend with them. They also came to my house for weekends as well and we used to do a lot of thing s together.
My son became more religious and was exposed to a lot of muslim people. I even paid a fee to a certain Imam ( muslim priest) at my son’s request for special classes after school. During the month of Ramadaan (the fasting period) I used to get up before my son (an hour before sunrise) to prepare him food and in the evening at sunset I would lay out the table for him like the tradition is. I would even invite his muslim family to come and break their fast with him and vice versa.

Through all this I attend my Church ( I am an Anglican), read my bible etc.

One weekend (06 Nov 09) my son went to visit his cousins for the weekend and never returned. He very politely told me that he was told by a Imam that he cannot live with me as I am not a Muslim. If I want to keep him I was told to embrace Islam. My ex husband;s sister, whom I thought was my friend, has been doctrinating my child along with other Muslim leaders and he is living with her right now. I was so dumbstruck as I did not see it coming. I thought I was doing everything right.
I am heartbroken, I cry myself to sleep every night. I cannot concentrate on my work as my mind is on my child. On 31 Oct it was my birthday, a week before he left. He wrote me the most beautifull message. Telling me that I am the most greatest mom and how much he loves me. Then snap, just like that, he ups and leaves. I am so confused. I don’t know what to do. He has made contact with me once to ask how I was doing and I cried so much over the phone that i sdidn’t say what I wanted to say.

Someone out there, if you have advice for me pleeeeease help me.

I have become unsure of myactions. Is it all my fault. Should I have kept him away from Islam and his muslim family? Would he have turned out different? I haven’t been to church since this happened. I am so confused and messed up right now. I feel my child has been brainwashed!! What responsible adult, no matter what religion, tells a child to leave his mother!! To me thats bad people.

Sally - 18 January 2010

What a terrible and very sad, tragic story. This is maddness. I feel so sorry for you.

Of course your child has been brainwashed – they love doing that in these religions.

It will be very very difficult to get him back now but why not join as many groups as possible to tell your story and urge people to take care when bringing up their children. So many yougsters have weak and unformed minds and opinions. You also should find an intermediary who is a moslem but sympathetic to you. Someone who will speak to him and put him right regarding this faith. He will not break away from it but if that person could explain that Islam welcomes everyone including christians or such words – I am not a Moslem myslelf but imagine that would be a good thing to say. Good Luck

18. steve - 3 February 2010

I’m just curious, for those who propose forbidding parents from “indoctrinating” their children, just who do you propose makes up the committee that gets to decide what they will be taught? And dont give me that lame “we’ll let them discover the world and make up their own mind” drivel, we both know that is intellectually dishonest. Someone must and will give them a worldview that frames what constitutes “truth” and how it can be discovered, tested, and accepted. Someone is going to lay that foundation, so at least be upfront and admit that you believe your “truth” is the ultimate guide and justifies your desire to suppress those who disagree with you.

Huskie - 1 January 2012

I agree. “Indoctrinating” your children into the “God is dead” bandwagon is still indoctrination.

19. Max - 13 April 2010

There IS hope people… Please just imagine what 10-20 years more of the internet will do to “religion” (read: brainwashing cults) The freedom of information exchange will not stop… (religions hate the truth) I expect many religious folks *know* that what they believe is total nonsense, but they “tow the line” and as everyone “believes” the same old crock, that somehow makes it OK.

Here in the UK, christianity has been on a steady decline for many decades, in my neck of the woods a religious person is more often than not seen to be “bloody stupid” for their ridiculous beliefs, try questioning them about it and you get more of the same predictable nonsensical brainwash about “you dont understand… bla, bla god, jesus, bla bla”

Eventually, i expect that professing to believe in a “god” will be a major embarrassment to any sane adults, just like it would be for a mature adult to claim that “Santa Claus does exist, my mum told me, so there.”

islam on the other hand is “apparently” gaining strength in the UK and Europe, however there is only so much of this medieval backward cult that we Europeans will tolerate. I expect in my lifetime there will civil wars breaking out across Europe as the “muzzies” are finally laid to rest and expelled from our great continent. (BTW. The Spanish drove the moors out of their lands back in 1492 and its likely to happen again across the whole of Europe, watch this space.)

Yes, Religion is one of the most vile constructs of man kind and it really does suck a** thats for sure.

20. Barry Daft (Mr. B. Daft) - 28 October 2010

Teaching a child to pray for things, such as a great strike at bowling is, I suppose quite a good thing. They will soon realise that a devine intervention is going to happen just because it was called for. Eventually the penny will drop and they realise they have been had.

21. Loren - 28 November 2010

It has taken me decades to crawl out from under my religious indoctrination. My father was a well-respected christian minister. My childhood was loving and stable. I was the youngest of five daughters. We marinated in religion from day one. My three oldest sisters, (who are perhaps more passive and obedient), are still firm believers attending church every sunday. They abhor that I dared to break rank and did not “honor” my father and mother. They pray for my return to faith. Although my parents instilled a strong work ethic and values that are important such as honesty, the focus was not on this life. I often wonder how different my trajectory would have been had there been no religious indoctrination. I raised my son without religion but it wasn’t easy since religion was our family’s deeply entrenched blueprint. We have very open communication on the subject which I never had with my family of origin. Being shunned by family is difficult. I’m grateful to Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and others who give clarification and support to my way of thinking.

22. pro-thought - 29 January 2011

It’s not too difficult to see why religion has the hold it does on so many, even setting aside the question of ‘brainwashing’.
What other insurance policy exists that promises you a reward at the end of a life of hardship and misery?
For many people there is no sense or purpose whatsoever to a life of difficulty or misery unless there is something to look forward at the end which is why heaven/paradise looks appealing. Without hope how do you go on?
This of course doesn’t make it real, no matter how many people want it to be or ‘believe’ it to be so – this is just hope, faith or misguided optimism.
People believe what they wish to and discount evidence to the contrary. This facilitates the paradox of why any god worth having allows terrible things to happen to good people and vice versa. There are endless numbers of cliche responses to serious questions which makes it almost impossible to have a discussion with anyone who has never considered why they believe in their particular faith, including one of the most insulting – that those of us who do not believe as they do have been sent by the devil.
It is this type of dogma which is so dangerous to minds which are discouraged from questioning, and who are consequently so willing to obey.
Given that religion is unlikely to disappear from the face of the earth and if there is any reasonable way at all to teach religion it is perhaps to teach comparative religion…in other words to teach the fundamentals of all the major religions along with the secularist, atheist, humanist etc points of view with the purpose of aiming to encourage people who do wish to have a faith to make an educated choice, rather than simply to have been born and brainwashed into it. Once comparisons are made perhaps the logical extension will be to question the entire concept of religion in the first place…..which is why many religions discourage such exercises.

Duncan Auditore - 25 June 2011

i truly admire what you have said here. so many people are brainwashed into believing that they are somehow special, which stems from some natural desire to BE special. While people are of course unique and special in their own way, those indoctrinated to believe that they are somehow superior to every person who thinks differently needs to be addressed. They need to realise that thinking that way is exactly how things such as WACO happen. These people need to be woken up, and taught that while everybody IS special, at the end of the day, we are all just one person in 5 billion.

23. Jessica Sideways - 15 March 2011

It’s unfortunate but religious indoctrination of children is the only acceptable form of child abuse and it should be stopped. I was raised as a fundamentalist Christian (while being transsexual) and I can honestly tell you that shit fucks with your head.

24. michelle edry - 20 March 2011

Sorry you had to go thru that abuse. If it’s any comfort, your experiences are helping me realize that there is a supportive community of healing abused people out there. I don’t feel like I’m the only one trying to flush my mind, my habits, my thoughts from the sickness and abuses of religious brainwashing. I grew up with tv (no internet then) being considered an abomination. Imagine that- a curious child cut off from the real world! to me, religious people who refuse to keep up with the times are like people who insist that records are the most efficient way to listen to music and an ipod will send you to hell. that’s only the beginning. but I think you get the picture.

25. michelle edry - 20 March 2011

pro-thought, you make a good suggestion. the problem is that the fanatics will not allow such courses for fear of being exposed and “exposing” their victims to reality. sure, the general public can benefit, but the ones who need it most will block it. i’ve been on the deep inside, so i know. nice try though. it would be nice for policy to protect us, but we have a constitution.

26. DougButcher - 27 July 2011

I have heard that drugs and religion are for those who can’t face reality. Personally I was brought up with usualy religous lies and it took years for me to realize what a scam religion is. The teachers of religion are an evil bunch. I wonder what a person feels who has been going to confession whose priest tells them they are forgiven who find out later that the priest was molesting their children. I recently found out that the age of sexual consent is 12 at the Vatican. hummm I think that the Catholic leaders are truly a bunch of very sick people.
The other day the Jehova witnesses came knocking with their watchtower and awake magazines in hand and wanted me to read the current watchtower so we could discuss it at a later date. LMAO
Anyway I agreed to this even thought it would only piss me off if I did indeed read their crap publication and I thought oh boy am I going to screw with you when you return,
I am going to tell them OK I will listen to you but you have to listen to my words as well.
I am going to use their own religion on them….
I am going to state…Didn’t Jesus preach that taxes were illegal and they will say…. does not the Bible say give unto Ceaser what is Ceaser and give unto God what is Gods…
I will answer Doesn’t it state They began to accuse him that it was illegal to pay Ceaser taxes, and does not the Bible state that Jesus precieved their wickness and answered …give unto Ceaser what is Ceasers ect then heres the real kicker LMAO
I will ask ….Did not God create the world and everything in it?
They will have to answer CERTAINLY!
Then I will state emphatically then the world and everything in it belongs to God not Ceaser and taxes are definately illegal and you have misundestood what the Bible teaches and then I will send them on their way so that they can get to reading their Bibles about this matter

27. Manisty Man - 5 October 2011

My own thoughts on religious child abuse in the form of a letter to a child:

http://bigricky.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/the-abused-child/

Kid Manisty - 15 November 2011

The link given in comment 27 has been changed to:

http://www.manistyman.com/blog/2011/09/27/the-abused-child/

28. Lois Miller - 15 November 2011

i am so glad for internet i found people that i can relate to regarding religion,branwashing.bottom line fear!

29. Brainwashing Children is Child Abuse - 15 December 2011

[…] Does no one have a problem with this? STOP RELIGIOUS BRAINWASHING on CHILDREN | Facebook Brainwashing: Children and Religion Todd’s Hammer Religion's Real Child Abuse – Richard Dawkins – […]

30. Huskie - 1 January 2012

First of all…I started reading your blog yesterday, and I’m not really a “blog” guy, but I have to say I find your posts muy interesante. That said, I’m going to have to disagree with just about every post here.

First of all, some perspective: Jesus Camp,and the folks who star in it, are lunatics, and while I feel worse for the children of the Westboro Baptist church, or say the Taliban’s sons and (especially) daughters, my heart still goes out for them. However, most religious people are not burning their kids with lit cigarettes when they use the Lord’s name in vain, or locking them in a basement and forcing them to say the Hail Mary for twelve hours a day, or praying to bowling balls. Those people aren’t “religious” so much as they are maniacs. I don’t have actual empirical data, but I’m going to confidently assert that raising your kids to believe in a higher power (I know “spiritual” is sort of in style these days), to teach them not only to have good intentions but to be good, and to learn from the religious philosophies of the great thinkers in this field (even if the concentration is on Jesus), are the goals of the majority of “religious” people.

As far as believing in a higher power…there is nothing wrong with believing in God. Every culture at the very least acknowledges God (if only to deny him…I’m looking at yous all). I married a Hindu, and have been going to temple, and the priest there told me it was scientifically proven that chanting and repeating mantras lowers stress and improves quality of life. I don’t know how to check if that’s true, but it makes sense…I know the Abrahamic traditions have this built into their systems, whether it’s the rosary or salat or [insert Jewish mantra]. I also find fasting to be spiritually rewarding. Whatever it is, there is an energy out there, and religion attempts to define that energy. Militantly abhorring religious teachings is the same as telling a kid he’s going to hell if he doesn’t accept Christ as his personal savior.

Of course there are the fringe groups that I mentioned above: the Taliban, the bowling-ball-whisperers, and Zach de la Rocha’s father. They and those like them serve to highlight the baggage of their particular religion…and there are definitely imperfections in the dogma. But there is a lot we can learn, as well. I believe that religion and philosophy at its core is a blueprint of how to rise above just good intentions, to being actually good, even in complex situations where the right choice is not obvious. I think that is seriously lacking, and I think that we do a disservice not teaching this…gasp…in public schools. I don’t mean indoctrinate kids into particular religions, but to reflect on teachings from a series of texts…at the least the Old and New Testament and the Koran. There is a lot of material in there that I bet the majority of us would agree, if we actually read it, gives us enough of a playbook to act at all times with humility, understanding, and fairness. At the very least, these texts would give quite a bit of insight into our government, and the perspectives of the people we’ve , as of late, taken a liking to killing, and that has got to be worth something.

There’s also the sense of community one gets. My parents have it in the Catholic Church. I now have it in the Bengali community. The best example that comes to my mind are the Black Churches. It feels good to be a part of something, and so long as you’re not pushing your beliefs (I’m looking at you, Hare Krishnas, you smug bastards), assaulting other’s traditions, or drinking arsenic koolaide, then what the hell…pray away.

I get that reconciling being a homosexual with religion may be impossible…as much as a straight guy *can* “get it”. So maybe religion isn’t for you, which is fine. I’m straight and I’d be able to get through life just fine never walking into a church again. I just don’t see the harm in most beliefs, see it as a waste if you can’t learn from them, and see it as another form of extremism when we call religion “child abuse”, practically on par with the George Bush Tongues scene.

And besides, the “intellectual-atheist” bit comes off a little childish.

31. Justin - 31 January 2012

As far as I’m concerned, nothing wrong with believing in a knowledgeable creator who was always there who started the complex creation process. It actually makes sense. However does that same creator still exists? None of us know; and we sure as hell don’t know what he likes or dislikes. To know what he wants or doesn’t is to be him.

That is why most religions who talk about God especially the Abrahamic religions actually make themselves God. The people who control these religions as oracles of God actually are the “God” of their specific cult.

Therefore an honest atheist can boldly and accurately say that based on observable facts, he does not believe that people’s idea of god exist. However, to bluntly say for a fact that there was never an intelligent creator in the beginning is to be narrow minded as religious people.

I believe the problem with us humans is that we can’t acknowledge that we don’t know everything. Therefore what we don’t know we use “faith” and believe certain aspects of the unknown. Problem is when the unknown is taking for absolute fact, differences in opinion occur without either party willing to change and seek truth.

I believe as we discover and test things through observable scientific evidences and draw conclusions, not through mere theory either scientific or religious, it is then we will be closer to the truth.

32. Carter - 21 February 2012

These are good questions. Should parents have the right to indoctrinate their children into a religion? The end result of early childhood religous training is the establishment of disparate cultures of mistrust. It appears that it will require a number of generations working together to eventually establish human rights for children, including the right to protection from religious information prior to having achieved the mental capacities and cultural and political freedom to question the concepts. I write more about this on the theamology blog at theamology.blogspot.com.


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