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Is Teaching Religion To Children A Form Of Child Abuse?

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#1 Okiefreak


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Posted March 20 2017 - 05:32 PM

This thread is a carry over from a thread in the Politics Forum entitled Ban All Abrahamic Religion". The OP, in her inimitable fashion, said of religion :"It is not a freedom, it is a brainwashing of babies to force them to believe a delusion. Saying religion is a freedom is like saying Nazi babies are free babies. The babies were brainwashed to be nazis, and the religious were brainwashed to be religious. The 10% of religious people who weren't brainwashed into it, are just idiots." I take issue with that, and am opening this thread in a more appropriate forum to continue the discussion. Dawkins, Kraus and other atheists have charged that religion is a form of child abuse. Is that true?


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#2 morrow


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Posted March 20 2017 - 05:58 PM

In some ways, yes it is!
I think of the Catholic religion, that insists their way, and nothing more..

I will give you an example!

My little granddaughter goes to a Catholic school, the one her mum and family went to, even though they hated it, it's the done thing!
My son, not a Catholic, refused to allow her baptism into the church, but the school, because of the good sat results!, was agreed to.

The priest is known as Father Ron.. he refuses to baptise the children at his school, if the parents are not married! Big problem these days!

But, the children are told, if your not well-behaved, you die and go in the ground, and that's it!

Little one was crying, panicking, all the things you don't expect from a six year old! Especially one as good, and nice as her, ( she really is a dream child,) so we gets it out of her, she is so scared of doing something wrong, at not being nice enough to go to heaven, she was scared of being put in the ground! I mean terrified!

She has a terminal illness! And became ill in church during prayer time, father Ron, ordered her out the lesson, stamped his feet and told her she will surely go to hell, as she was disrespecting god!
One of the teachers left with her...

I'm not going to tell you what my son said, and did, but let's say, he is expelled from school! Lol

No one at that school was surprised at the things they do, or say! But no one has the balls to complain! We did, i picked her up from school one day, father Ron, was balling his head at them all, home time bell went, he ordered them to sit still.. little ones were crying, mum's stood out side and watched! No fuckin way was i! I walked in the class, got hold of the little ones hand, gave him a piece of my mind! Little ugly shit, started spouting shit at me..I turned, walked up to him, and right up to his face, i said, it's you you child abuser, you bully, that's going to hell, now drop dead, you horrible man! Who do you think you are, fuckin god! I walked over to the coat rail, got her coat, bag, and med pack..He was lost for words, we went home!
Everything those kids do, they do in the name, and for the love of god!
But they are bullied into it..Yes, it's child abuse!
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#3 MeAgain


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Posted March 20 2017 - 06:38 PM

So when I was a kid I went to summer school to be taught by nuns. I don't know what kind of nuns, I was a kid. But they wore black robes and lived in a nunnery over there at the side of the church.


Even at that early age, what eight, nine, ten (this went on for some years) I couldn't figure out what they were talking about because it never made any sense....scared the hell of of me now and then but never made sense.

I'd ask stupid questions like, "But what about all the Chinese kids who were never baptized", and all those Romans and cave people, where'd they go when they died?

And when I found out about forgiveness, whoeee! I found out you could kill someone and then just "repent' and everything was okay.


So, I wasn't real popular with the nuns and I learned to keep my mouth shut until I was in college and then I stopped going to church.


It also saved me from getting my knuckles smacked.


And my wife, who was Protestant, lived at a Catholic convent and attended school there for a few years during her elementary schooling. She had a class of about 10 people. Don't get her started.


Here it is:




So you can draw your own conclusions from my little story.


"Oh, how sweet it is to hear one's own convictions from another's lips"

~ Goethe



#4 Meliai


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Posted March 20 2017 - 07:00 PM

All parents, whether they're religious or not, are going to raise their children to be little extensions of their own value system.
I personally would not call it child abuse unless it veers into more literal definitions of abuse; if, for example, your religion promotes a "spare the rod, spoil the child" philosophy which actively encourages parents to beat their children.
And there are some extreme religious philosophies out there that are so far removed from mainstream culture, I would find it difficult to categorize it as anything but child abuse. Westboro Church comes to mind

But barring any extremism, I think we're entering dangerous territory to label a religious upbringing as child abuse. The same logic could very easily be applied to the non religious by the religious as well. Better to allow parents the freedom to determine and teach their children their own values and beliefs.

Edited by Meliai, March 20 2017 - 07:01 PM.

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#5 Irminsul



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Posted March 20 2017 - 07:23 PM

If I had a little Irmi, she'd be just as influenced by the Norse as I was at her age and she'd be just as badass like her mamma is. :)

There's morals in religion, there's a lot of positivity in religion, it's a shame most of of the negative society tend to pick on whether god is real or not opposed to what the child is actually learning.

When I grew up going to church etc. I learned morals. What's right and what's wrong and in the end that's what I remember. I don't remember stories about God and Jesus, I remember how to treat somebody. :)

A lot of new parents don't know how to treat people yet alone their own children.

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For these colours we will fight!
Red, white, black will crush the enemy
And will bring back what is right!

#6 neonspectraltoast


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Posted March 20 2017 - 07:38 PM

I would say it is in the way it is carried out.  Religious people should be sensible.  I don't think there's anything wrong with teaching kids stories like the story of Jesus.  But instead of being like "Christ died for our sins" why not be like, "There is a legend that there was a man who had great powers..." or something like that?  That would be more honest and more caring.

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#7 guerillabedlam


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Posted March 20 2017 - 07:46 PM

I don't think Teaching a Child Religion is inherently Child Abuse, but I think child abuse is more permissible and acceptable under the guise of "Teaching" in religion, more so than any other established legal paradigm.



#8 Okiefreak


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Posted March 20 2017 - 09:29 PM

It's a complex topic. My take on it is that it's impossible to generalize about the effects of religion as a whole. Many people who had religious upbringings turn out to be normal, decent citizens, but some are damaged. Richard Dawkins, the atheist who is credited with the thesis that religious upbringing is inherently abusive, himself had what he calls "a normal Anglican upbringing." Most of the atheists I know came from religious backgrounds I'd consider abusive: strongly punitive, with a concept of God as punishing and vindictive. I can relate to the posts about Catholicism, although fundamentalist Protestants are sometimes worse. I vividly remember being sent to Catholic school and encountering the fearsome nuns with rulers at age five. I can remember sister Laurencia's lecture n original sin--quite dramatic, with an image of a person on the blackboard covered with chalk and then her eraser representing God's saving grace making it all clean. Quite a lot to lay on a five year old, I'd say. But it didn't last long. The nuns advised my Mom that I'd be better off in a public school  That's kind of like being kicked out of East Germany during the Cold War, when they were shooting everybody else who tried to escape.  I felt like the ultimate reject! But the public school experience taught me there were kids who worshiped differently, and my parents weren't exactly religious zealots. My mother taught me all religions were teaching the same thing in a different way. So I survived, And I don't believe in Hell or Original Sin. And I'm a pretty liberal Protestant.

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#9 BlackBillBlake


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Posted March 21 2017 - 04:09 AM

 I think it's inevitable where you have parents who believe in a particular religion that they will want their children to get educated in it. I'm not sure that should be done in schools, but I do think schools should teach about different religions in a context of cultural studies or something similar. Many people brought up as Christians of whatever complexion leave school fairly ignorant of other religions. That can lead to suspicion and fear of the other. How many who bitterly criticise Islam really know what it's about? Very few if they relied on school to inform them.


I went to a Catholic school when I was very young. I have to say that although the nuns were strange to me in some ways, I didn't get any abuse and my memories of it are quite good. Later I went to a state school where there was a fairly strong Anglican agenda, again, I don't think it did me much harm. At age 8 I was able to adapt to the differences pretty seamlessly. 


Not to educate children about religion at all would probably be a mistake.It would be like religious people denying their children any education in science. Like it or not, religion plays a big role in life for very large numbers of people, and I don't really see much advantage in ignorance. Without some knowledge of religion, how can you possibly teach history in any meaningful way? 

In an ideal world, children could be told about various religions and make their choice to follow one or not for themselves when they have enough maturity to decide. I don't think that's very likely to happen though.

'Delicacy and dignity are taught by the heart and not by the dancing master' - Dostoevsky.

#10 Okiefreak


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Posted March 21 2017 - 07:26 AM

It's often tempting, especially for people who feel passionately about their own opinions, to think that those who disagree with us are mentally damaged. I think Dawkins and others who regard religious teachings to children as inherently abusive may be guilty of that mode of thinking. He thinks that teaching children to accept their families' religion is more devastatingly and permanently harmful than sexual abuse because it impairs their ability to think correctly--like he does. I acknowledge at the outset that excessive physical violence against children is child abuse, and that religions that advocate that can be considered abusive. I say "excessive" because I'm not at the point where I condemn all spanking as abusive, although I personally don't believe in it. Certainly, sexual molestation of children is abusive, made worse when done by clerics. The major issue raised by Dawkins, though, is that teaching to children views that he considers to be wrong and detrimental to logical thought is inherently abusive. I see several problems with this. Does it apply only to religion, or would we throw other beliefs into the mix--like being raised Republican. That, as a matter of fact, that happened to me. My parents were pretty casual and open-minded when it came to religion, but Republican politics was another matter. It was like being raised by Fox News. Obviously it didn't work, which sometimes seems to be the case when indoctrination efforts are carried too far. Republicans seem to be anti-scientific when it comes to such matters as Climate Change--I think less for religious reasons than that it threatens the profit margins of the fossil fuel industry. Certainly voting for Trump has major adverse consequences  for the safety and well-being of the United States and the rest of our planet. Yet I think there are major practical problems in trying to ban even such irrational and odious views as Trumpism.


I think Dawkins is wrong because: (1) he adopts a simplistic distinction between truth and error; (2) he fails to discriminate among different kinds of religion; (3) he fails to put forward scientific (as opposed to anecdotal) evidence for his position; and (4) he does not consider possible adverse consequences of such a ban, especially getting the government involved in such an operation.


(1) Dawkins seems to view reality in terms of truth and error: his own view, scientism, being truth; any opposing views being error. Scientism is defined as "an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences  and the humanities)   https://www.merriam-...onary/scientism

According to Philopsher Tom Sorrell, “Scientism is a matter of putting too high a value on natural science in comparison with other branches of learning or culture.” http://www.aaas.org/.../what-scientism Dawkins is considered somewhat extreme on this by other natural scientists such as theoretical physicist Peter Higgs (of the Higgs Bosom theory), himself an atheist,  who considers Dawkins to be an atheist fundamentalist prone to criticize religious fundamentalists but exeplifying the same pattern of rigidity and dogmatism.

https://www.theguard...-fundamentalism. Democratic theory assumes that reasonable people can differ, and although some opinions are better grounded in the evidence than others,.

(3) Dawkins is prone to overgeneralize about religion on the basis of the most fundamentalist examples. Karen Armstrong's excellent historical studies of religion distinguish between logos and mythos. Logos is reason that helps us deal effectively with physical reality and must be closely in tune with science; mythos is about finding meaning and moral purpose in life and expression our sense of mystery and the transcendent through symbols and allegories. In practice, the two are easily confused, and when they encroach into each other's realms, it is important to slap them back.


(3) oddly for one so dedicated to science, Dawkins puts forward no systematic empirical evidence for his claims against religious upbringing, but relies mainly on anecdotes and conclusions based on what he figures stands to reason on the basis of his assumptions about religion. The most extensive social science study of the matter is by Smith and Farris, who surveyed some 2500 twelfth grade adolescents and found that adolescents who received frequent religious instruction . Those who attended regular worship services were less inclined to get into fights, get drunk, use or deal drugs, steal, engage in vandalism or arson , or hit their teachers; were more inclined to volunteer for community service, and reported being happier.  Christian Smith and Robert Faris. 2002. Religion and American Adolescient Delinquency, Risk Behaviorsm and Constructive Social Activities.The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Of course some might argue that these goody two shoe conformists are not really what we want in the world, but that would seem to be a personal value judgment.

Edited by Okiefreak, March 21 2017 - 01:20 PM.

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