Thursday, May 10, 2007

Should Kids Be Classified Under Religious Sects?

When it comes to matters concerning religion, theists and religious groups tend to get away with many of our liberties, with blantant disregard to secular norms and human rights. Rationality and reason, it seems, are applicable to many issues, but when matters of religion are concerned, no amount of reasoning, it seems, can seep into the fabric of entrenched religious dogmas.

Altar boys of a Catholic Church: Catholic Children?

Muslim Children?

Or Just Simply Children?

The minds of children are, metaphorically speaking, untainted blank sheets of paper. They are not born with any inherent beliefs, nor do they have the slightest dogmatic thoughts of invisible deities. Because they are born as such, learning becomes paramount to their existence, for even in a civilized world, knowledge is necessary to keep the child away from harm's way, as well as equipping them with the basic necessary skills for communication and survival. Hence, the idea that children can be attached with any sort of religious identities is not only ludicrous, it inhibits and limits the child's niche to a very selective community.

Richard Dawkins, an eminent atheist and professor, opined that no sane parent would call their child a Tory child, a left-wing child or a liberal child, yet they have no qualms calling them Catholic, Protestant or Muslim children. Such a degree of biaseness, it seems, has nothing to do with the child's beliefs.

All too often, religion is forced and shoved down the throats of children who are barely old enough to discern and rationalize the tenets of various beliefs, and religious folks will tell you that indoctrinating young children is easiest, since their minds are the most pliable at ages below ten. As children, their minds are "programmed" by natural selection to take orders without question. This evolutionary trait of compliance, it seems, allows children to learn the necessary skills for survival within the shortest time frame.

Unfortunately, this very trait has become a form of exploitation by parents who unwittingly indoctrinate their children to obey their respective religions blindly, without seeking any forms of justification, logic and rationality behind their faiths.

By labelling kids in accordance to the religions of their parents, there is also this tendency to segregate these kids from other kids who do not share their parents' religious backgrounds and creeds. Children in a Catholic school, for example, would likely not mix around as much with Protestant children as their catholic counterparts.

Another form of segregation of a more sinister kind may be that parents tend to imprint on the impressionable minds of their children that their beliefs are right, and the rest are outright false, and those so-called "infidels" who do not believe in their exclusive religion would find themselves burning in the raging fires of hell. This abject exclusivity leads to condescension and leads to further arrogance and segregation, for the child who harbors such fire and brimestone beliefs will not see eye to eye with people, possibly showing scant (or worst, disdain) respect to people who do not share their creeds and beliefs. Chances are, such children will stick to their own niche, seldom or never venturing to mix around with friends outside their own little band of religious kids and folks.

While I am not suggesting that classifying kids in accordance to their respective faiths that they are brought up in constitute child abuse, it is important to realize that children are far to young to make up their minds with regards to certain creeds and philosophies, and to label them as religious only serves as just another dastardly means of segregating them from an ideological and religious level.

-"What can it mean to speak of a child's 'own' religion? Imagine a world in which it was normal to speak of a Keynesian child, a Hayekian child, or a Marxist child. Or imagine a proposal to pour government money into separate primary schools for Labour children, Tory children, LibDem children and Monster Raving Loony children? Everyone agrees that small children are too young to know whether they are Keynesian or Monetarist, Labour or Tory, too young to bear the burden of such labels. Why, then, is our entire society happy to slap a label like Catholic or Protestant, Muslim or Jew, on a tiny child? Isn't that, when you think about it, a kind of mental child abuse?"

-Richard Dawkins, "Imagine No Religion"


At 6:58 PM, May 14, 2007, Blogger Pandemonium said...

If you were to look from a religious parent's perspective, they would think that feeding their children with religion is correct because they are teaching them the "truth".

For me, I think it is okay for parents to indoctrinate their children with religious ideas, as long as they do not close the door or teach that other beliefs are wrong. There are just some things that a person has to learn to break out on his/her own.

At 1:48 PM, May 16, 2007, Anonymous YCK said...

A rather unique topic to be posting on :) Wonder how many people thought through things lke that?

Anyway, I read a book recently entitled Atheist: A groundbreaking study of America’s nonbelievers. Here is a short review I posted that you might find relevant.


At 11:53 AM, December 19, 2007, Anonymous rebel peasant said...

If anyone wants anymore evidence that religion can be harmful to children,I suggest you go watch Jesus Camp on youtube.
I guarantee that u will be shocked

At 11:24 AM, January 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done. I notice "yck" read the same book as I.

At 7:41 AM, February 04, 2008, Blogger Resilient Hawk said...

I agree. Religion should never be forced. I remember seeing atheist parents on the block not allowing their kids to attend different events at area churches, forcing their kids endure their bias. The opposite happended occasionally too.

Sad the way it sometimes is, believers and unbelievers dare think they should influence what their children believe.

At 4:00 PM, July 18, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you in that I feel it is child abuse, or at least as damaging psychologically as child abuse is. I am 22 and I am still hiding everything about myself from my judgemental fundamentalist family. My father has severe mental health issues, which I will not get into. He read the bible to me every single day until I was 16. He preaches to me every time I see him as if I have never heard the word of god before, as if I do not know already what he has to say. I smile and nod, and I even feel guilty for not answering his question: "Do you believe in god?" in an honest manner: "No, I choose to think for myself." You know, I can't tell him because I am one of the only two people he even SPEAKS to. He has me in a dogmatic cage, and as I grow and expand my views and pursue my own search for knowledge, I twist and contort against the sides of this cage that my father has made for me.

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