Sunday, October 09, 2005

Religious indoctrination of children is nothing short of brainwashing

If I had a nickel for every time I have uttered that phrase. . .well, I say it a lot. It's frustrating how so few people understand what I mean.

Children are impressionable. If parents teach their children something when they're very young, it will stick. Look at Santa Clause: How many young children in America do you think are convinced that Santa exists?

The same goes for religion. Parents, for some strange reason, are allowed to teach their children that one religion is better than all others, and raise them with it. So many American children believe in a god simply because their parents do, and because their parents sent them to Sunday School, or Hebrew School, or whatever. When a three year old is brought to church and told that god loves him/her, he/she is going to get sucked in.

For example, I have a theist friend who said he started going to church at a young age. When I questioned him, he went on about his god's powers, and how much his god loves him. At one point he even admitted omnipotence is an illogical idea, but that doesn't matter if his god is omnipotent.

Similarly, I have a friend who told me she started going to church around the age of three, and is a rather firm Catholic. She says that indoctrination of kids is not brainwashing. . . "it's religion." Obviously, faith suspends normal social rules.

Sadly, it's going to be a looooong time before anyone in power recognizes that it is a bad thing for parents to raise their kids with a religion. The only thing children can do about this is spread the word themselves.


At 10/09/2005 3:42 PM, Blogger Enil Edam said...

It's not bad for parents to raise their kids with religion. I'm grateful for being raised with religion. What is important is for the parents to let the kids decide for themselves whether they want to accept the religion.

Example: I've talked with my dad about my atheism. He doesn't agree with me, but he lets me believe in it because he understands that I'm allowed to make these types of decisions for myself.

Just because kids have the same opinions as their parents. Sure, one can generalize that many kids don't bother disagreeing with their parents on a lot of things, but it is nothing more than a generalization.

In other words, some kids don't really consider their beliefs and take everything in blind faith. But others decide to accept their religion and therefore haven't been brainwashed.

At 10/09/2005 3:51 PM, Blogger seth said...

So is it okay for parents to raise their kids with a particular political affiliation?

At 10/09/2005 4:18 PM, Blogger Enil Edam said...


What isn't okay is to force your kids to agree with you on everything.

Like, I happen to agree with my parents on most political issues. That's because I've done the research myself and just happen to agree.

If my parents told me that what I believed was wrong, that would be wrong and inappropriate.

At 10/09/2005 5:44 PM, Blogger Aeger said...

But maddy, if you teach your kids something, they will believe you. Children at a young age are impressionable, they will believe anything their parents tell them, becuase their parents are infallable. It doesn't matter if they let you choose your beliefs if there's only one belief to choose.

And Seth, though I agree fully with you, I just want to put it on the record that being raised only atheist is just as bad as being raised only Catholic.

End Transmission.

At 10/09/2005 6:10 PM, Blogger seth said...

Why does this always come up? I do NOT support raising children with the ideal that all religions are false. I DO support raising children without any religious ideals whatsoever.

At 10/09/2005 6:18 PM, Blogger Aeger said...

I disagree with you. In order to create a free society, children need to be taught from the beginning that they have a choice. They need to be taught how to think, not what to think. That cannot be acheived by limiting their knowledge of the world in any way. If children are given a choice, and if they are intelligent, knowledge seeking individuals, they will find atheism the same way you and I did, by seeing everything and choosing the truth.

At 10/09/2005 6:22 PM, Blogger seth said...

…yes, that can be done without raising children with a religion.

At 10/09/2005 6:43 PM, Blogger Enil Edam said...

Of course it can Seth.

Aeger, I would like to believe that people are smart enough to make their own decisions regardless of parental influence. Of course, I wouldn't know, my parents were very open with me and I did in fact, understand that I could make my own choices in life.

Maybe you guys can speak more to actual reality of whether kids are that easily brainwashed. I don't believe they are.

At 10/09/2005 6:55 PM, Blogger Aeger said...

your not hearing me. I say all religions, and no religions, then, when kids are shown everything, with no bias towards anything, they will see that its all fake, and realize the truth. of course, that possibility is rather far off, but we can dream.

At 10/09/2005 6:58 PM, Blogger seth said...

Just like how kids should be brought up as Republicans and Democrats, right?

At 10/09/2005 7:01 PM, Blogger El Penguino said...

teaching kids about god isnt brainwashing, or at least not the bad kind, there are many religions that teach kids to tolerate and forgive, i was taught in such a way

At 10/10/2005 10:48 PM, Blogger mountmccabe said...

Wow. That's just scary. I don't want to live in a country where parents are that regulated as to what they are allowed to teach their children.

It doesn't matter, though, such a society would never survive... so it won't happen. And, while we're at it, Plato's Republic wasn't supposed to be practical.

I am, however, for teaching children about religions in public schools... even a limited and otherwise flawed short course would open up a lot of eyes and minds (this has been touched upon here; I'm just agreeing.)

At 10/19/2005 6:16 PM, Blogger Alan said...

I have a brother who was indoctrinated (yes indoctrinated is the same thing as 'taught' in the religious sense) from a very young age in a fundamentalist church. While I attended the same church, I did not succumb to the indoctrination. My brother is now a blathering creationist, racist, homophobic hypocrite whom I can hardly bear to be in the same room with. I wish he had not believed all that he heard when he was a child.

Plenty of fundamentalist nut jobs begin as children just being taught about their non-believing friends going to hell or the wonderful story of Abraham ready to murder his son because 'God' told him to. It must be wonderful for these fortunate children who are 'taught' these stories to wonder, as they go to sleep, if ‘God’ will tell daddy to kill them while they are asleep.

I personally think teaching kids from the bible, a book which has all the terrible things that we all know about, is tantamount to child abuse. It is particularly so if the whole hell doctrine is taught to them.

Is there anything we can do about how other people raise their kids concerning religion? No. But that doesn't mean that we can't say that it is, in our opinions, brainwashing or abuse.

At 10/22/2005 4:49 PM, Blogger smiterbob said...

Seth, look at yourself. You were taught at an earlier age to be Jewish and believed for a while until you came to realize that the idea of God is irrational and all that jazz.
What I'm trying to say is that as you grow up, even if you have been "brainwashed" as a kid, many people naturally have a revellation like you did. It's sorta apart of adolescence to go against what you've been taught to do. So technically the best thing to do is to nurture the idea of aethism into OLDER KIDS because they can actually make a choice about it.

At 10/22/2005 4:55 PM, Blogger seth said...

Hmm. The majority of America is religious. On what evidence do you base your claims that many people revert to atheism?

I only became an atheist because:
A) I have a parent who is an atheist
B) I happened to buy a book in Australia in which Douglas Adams discussed religion
C) In 6th grade, my hebrew school teachers sucked


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