Should teaching religion
be considered child abuse? This is a tough question. I remember reading “The God Delusion” and
Richard Dawkins brings up this point.
I think it was one of the– the mayor points people were talking about;
one of the more controversial things in his book. And he made this case that if you teach
your child religion, or certain aspects of religion, it ought to be considered
mental child abuse. And I remember reading that and I– I was thinking, you know, I was raised religious.
It wasn’t Christianity, it was Jainism, but I remember being raised religious. I don’t feel like it damaged me.
I think I learned a lot of things
that were untrue. I think a lot of Christians–
ex Christians would agree with that, too, but it didn’t hurt me. I felt good being religious
because I thought my values and morals
were in the right place. So, how could that be abusive
in any way? So, I think it’s important
to distinguish like, there are aspects of religion that
really should be considered abusive, like if you are teaching your child
that they should not go– they should not see the doctor, or you’re withholding medicine from them
when they’re really sick and on the verge of death. Yeah, I think that’s a form of child abuse. I think if you’re allowing your kids
to die because prayers are going to save them, that’s abuse.
And thankfully most states have laws that will prosecute the parents who let that happen.
That’s child abuse. I think if you’re like
a Jehovah’s Witness family, who will not let your child
receive a blood transfusion, and would rather let them die
in the case of an accident, because their religious beliefs
don’t allow for blood transfer like that, yeah, that’s child abuse.
I mean, we got to protect those children. But that’s not really what people are talking.
I think most people can get on board with that.
They would agree with me that, of course we don’t want
to let that happen. But what about teaching your child that God exists?
That’s what they’re really asking. Like, Is it okay if we teach kids that God exist?
That’s not abuse, is it? And I have to say like…
No, I don’t think it’s a wrong thing
to teach people to believe in heaven or God;
but I do draw the line at certain places.
I think if you teach your child that they are a sinner and that there’s something wrong with them
from the day they were born and they have to be saved or baptized, or you know,
they have to become believers to get out of that sinning stage, yeah, that’s a form of mental child abuse.
I think if you teach your child that
they have to be abstinent until they get married; and if they have sex
before they get married, there is something wrong and broken
about them and they will never be able to find true love and,
you know, God hates them for it, I’ve seen that.
I’ve seen Christian educators pass around like,
“Here’s a bottle of– “Here’s a glass and everyone
in the class needs to spit in it.” And at the very–
You know, when they pass it all around the classroom
and the teacher holds it up, “Who wants to take a drink
from this?” And no one does,
because that’s disgusting. And they’re like, “That’s what is like
when you have sex with people
before you’re married”. It’s like… That’s a form
of mental child abuse to me. That to me is not just miseducating them,
because I understand, people– people may have personal values that say,
you know, “Stay abstinent until marriage”, but to teach someone who decides that, that’s not for them?
To teach them that there’s something
wrong with them? That they’re hellbound or something? That to me is abusive. If you teach your child,
who’s gay or lesbian , that they’re broken,
that God disapproves of their you know, even monogamous, long term
relationships, if they’re gay or lesbian, yeah, that’s abusive too
and I have a problem with that. And religion even goes worst.
What if they teach you never to question authority figures? You know, if the pastor
says something, is true and you should accept it. That’s a problem. Or what about, you know, questioning what
the Bible says or questioning their faith? We ought to encourage children
to question their faith because if their faith is right, then there’s no problem with questioning it.
They’ll be led in the right direction. But if their faith is wrong, they ought
to be able to say, you know, “I don’t understand why the Bible says this
when it’s bad for us, when it’s patently untrue”. We should encourage that sort of thinking,
that sort of critical thinking. Some churches don’t do that. In some cases,
some religions teach you that you’re hellbound if you’re not baptized or saved.
And it teaches you that your way, your religion, is the only right way to live. So, you’re evangelical Christian,
but by the way, your Jewish best friend, that guy is going to hell.
And that Hindu over there, that person’s going to hell.
Atheists? Oh, my– Of course, they’re going to hell! Like that to me, that idea that you’re right
but everyone else– isn’t just wrong, because we can all have disagreements, but they’re going to suffer
for all of eternity? To put that thought into a child who doesn’t understand
that it’s all a fairy tale? That to me could be abusive. And then obviously,
if you’re teaching a child that evolution is wrong, or climate change
isn’t really happening, or things that are
scientifically verified. If you’re telling them
that all of that is a hoax, perpetrated by, I don’t know,
secular humanists or something, because we were all created
in the image of God, and because, of course, man-made climate change
isn’t a real thing because God will take care of us, or we’ll be raptured in the next,
you know, few years or something. When you’re teaching a child
that reality is untrue because our myth is real, that to me is also considered
abusive in a sense. And none of this is to equate
that stuff with physical child abuse.
I’m not saying they’re on
the same level or anything. But to me, if your religion is teaching you
things that are untrue and harmful because that’s what God wants us to believe, and that’s what God says is true
and don’t you dare question it, just be faithful, I think we ought to be worried. So, here’s what I’m say–
I’m not saying parents who teach their kids these things,
I’m not saying they should go to jail;
I’m not saying they should be prosecuted. But I know as a parent, when I have kids myself one day, I would not stand for anyone else telling my children that
that’s what’s actually true. I would not stand for that.
That person has no business
being around my child. Because I don’t want them to feel like there’s
something wrong with them because they don’t believe
in whatever that adult believes. And I feel sorry for the children of those
Christian parents, or religious parents, whose parents are teaching them those things.
What a horrible childhood to grow up fearing hell and learning things that are untrue. You know, hopefully you’re educated
about this stuff later. But to stay in that bubble,
a lot of those kids don’t get to understand
how life really works until much later in life,
if that. So, I feel bad for them. I think it is harmful.
I don’t think they’re getting the most out of life,
if they’ve been taught those things. And I do think
that’s a form of abuse. My name is Hemant Mehta.
I write at FriendlyAtheist.com If you’d like to leave a comment
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