14 March 2008

Religion and Child Abuse

Some people have taken issue with me due to my belief that teaching your child, indoctrinating your child into your religious belief system, is abuse.

Let me make it clear:
if you are part of a religious organisation or even if you believe in 'the Flying Teapot' the onus is on you to ensure that your child is brought up aware of the following:

1. Alternative views;
2. The pros and cons of your belief;
3. Critical thinking skills and how to apply them.

Now considering the above 3 points: How many people can honestly say that they have guardianship of a child, are believers in god/gods/universal spirits/or some such and have applied all of the above points throughout that child's life? Very few.

The damage inflicted on children exposed to irrational thinking lead to all the negative -isms we experience today.

Being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs there is. Not enough credit is given to those who care for and raise babies into adulthood. A child looks up to their parent or guardian for guidance, love, support and is hardwired to believe what the parent/guardian says is true. If you then follow belief systems based on fallacy which does not and will not stand up to critical analysis, then this is what the child will believe.

No one is born a 'believer' - we are like sponges at birth, ready to absorb all the influences and experiences around us. We are naturally curious about this strange environment we find ourselves in called 'the world'. Nature and nurture have a major impact on how we perceive the now and the future. If our parents enable us to explore and engage with the world critically we are not weighed down by excess baggage, which includes theism and all forms of the supernatural.

In the black communities I have experienced, religion is embedded within the cultures. Black people are not a homogenous group but disparate populations, varying in size from minute to gigantic, even so religion has become a deeply ingrained part of 'black life'. If you reject religion in its various forms then you are seen as outside of 'the black experience'. I have been accused of not 'being black enough' (whatever that means!). I am considered a pariah and often times black people have offered to pray for me to help me to see the light.

Why are these belief systems so much a part of the black experience? Anecdotal evidence suggests: slavery, control and systematic abuse, social cohesion, peer pressure, lack of quality scientific education and so on. None of these are exclusive to the black community - not even slavery.

I don't object to theists. My concern is the impact that theism has on the scientific and social advancements of human beings, the damage inflicted on those who have been conditioned to view alternative views as representing 'the devil' or some other negative entity - consequently these ideas are passed on, like a virus, to our children.
If we are concerned about providing future generations with tools to action the progressive changes which are sorely needed, then how can we inflict this form of abuse on them?

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