I have had cause to consider how much of a link there is between religious evangelizing and 'grooming'. There appears to be a link to me and it makes me shudder to think of the same predatory tactics used by people with unsavoury intentions are to engage and manipulate young minds into behaviours which the children are unable to give full consensual permission.
People who evangelize to young children, i.e. those under the age of consent, say less than 18 years old, should be prosecuted as breaking the law. The damage they do is similar to the damage done by paedophiles who have violated their victims without their informed consent.
Let's take an anecdotal look at their similar modi operandi:
They present a friendly face to youngsters. Set up youth friendly facilities or activities which will enable them to get closer to their subjects. Become interested in the things that the young people are interested in. Make available items like chocolate, colouring books, sweeties/candy, etc. They introduce a topic that the predator has as a main focus , either sexual interest or their religion. They spend time making their subject feel comfortable. The groomer convinces themselves that they are doing what they do because they want to share the love they have.
Don't forget paedophiles sometimes abuse children in their own families - just like religious groomers. Those children are trapped and unable to remove themselves from their abusive homes and their abusers.
Any adult, whether part of a religious organisation or not, who grooms minors, whether knowingly or unknowingly, should be prosecuted. Laws should be created to protect minors from them.
It is the same as if a person had an inappropriate relationship with a minor - poisoning a child's mind with dogmatic fairy stories designed, essentially, to confuse and create long-term damage.
Children's minds are like sponges, they are receptive to all kinds of stimuli and experiences and especially dogma. We, as adults, have a responsibility to put aside our personal views and prejudices which could have a negative impact on children who come into contact with us.
I am not someone who believes that you should not talk to children about religion - it is important to inform children of the belief systems of the world we live in but we have a duty to do that responsibly. That means ensuring our responses to their questions are age-appropriate, relevant, unbiased and are based on facts as we know them. Let children decide what they want to know. Let them teach us how they want to be taught.
Do you know someone who is a religious 'groomer'? Are you comfortable with what they do?