Christianity claims to be about the meaning of life. It claims a monopoly on telling you what life is for. For that reason the religion orders parents to preach the faith to children and to support the religious ethos in schools.  The parents are not teaching faith.  The religion is teaching by means of them.  The school is not teaching.  The school is the means used by the religion to teach.  If you are a parent are you sure you want all that?

Christianity claims a monopoly in particular for telling your child what life is for! It acts through parents and guardians. They cannot say they are acting for themselves. They are not. They baptise and allow and facilitate and agree to the indoctrination of the child.

It claims that it is to help you see that you do not give your life meaning. You need light to see what the meaning is.

In the light of such claims, indoctrination must be understood as particularly cruel - unless Christianity really is the true religion.

Even atheists who rail against child indoctrination worry about giving a person the right to sue those who indoctrinated him or her. They hold that atheist parents may end up in court as well accused of indoctrinating.

To protect against abuse, only a selection of cases should be allowed to go forward to avoid opening the floodgates.

And also, the allegation should be well supported by testimony and be of an unusually serious nature. For example, if a picture of Hell is put up in your bedroom to remind you that you must not question the Church despite the affect it has on you. Or if you are beaten up for not going to Mass.

Religion through and with parents claims that it is a duty to teach religion to children in such a way that the children are required and expected to believe the religion. With this, a religion is taught as true. It is not taught in a neutral and comparative way. It will be claimed that children will only be confused and think one religion is as good as another if it is. Teaching a religion as true and teaching about other religions in a neutral way could result in as much confusion if not more. Children will be confused if they are taught there is only one true religion and when they hear about several religions. The Church will have to assert that if confusion is to be avoided the child must be taught nothing about other religions at all and demand that only Catholicism must be taught.

If the children consider one religion as good as another they will tend to take on board teachings such as respect one another and do not steal and so on. Such ideas are common to all religions. They will not be confused in the matters that really count. My problem with some religions is that though they teach good things, they throw in ideas that destroy them. The good ends up warped.

Children will not be confused if they are taught to respect others and themselves. In fact Catholics telling children rubbish such as Mary having a baby without sex will be confusing for they know that sex is needed for babies. Can you imagine many kids caring how Mary had a baby? Or how Jesus can turn into a wafer? Or how a priest can take away sin in baptism? Kids see and hear magic when they hear such things. Then they are confused by being told that magic is nonsense and a sin. The Church does not care if children are confused. It pretends to worry about children being confused if they are taught religion in a neutral way only because it wants to have a hold over them. It is not confusing the children that bothers them but that the children might find a religion that suits them better and fulfils them better than Roman Catholicism.

Is it not worse to frighten a child by saying that he will go to Hell if he fails to believe or obey the Church than to confuse the child?

Lots of people claim that their religious upbringing never did them any harm and was good for them.  Are they not telling us the real truth?  It depends on how much the school and parents sheltered them from the dark side.  Many disparage their religious indoctrination. Also it depends on the religion. A Buddhist indoctrinating a child will not do the same harm as a Fundamentalist Christian or Muslim indoctrinating a child will. It also depends on what the child is being told. A heretical Christian who teaches the child that you pick and choose what makes you feel good seems not to be indoctrinating but they are. They are saying the faith is not worth taking seriously and you should lie that you can be a true Christian and that dishonest!

Religion whether cherrypicked or taken seriously is still being indoctrinated.  A liberal fundamentalist is still a bigot.

Indoctrination is bad. To say it is not as the dogmatists do, is simply to claim that the end justifies the means. The manipulation of children is wrong no matter how good the results are. The victims should be disturbed by it.

Can we suggest that religious indoctrination is acceptable for children are indoctrinated anyway - for example, in geography at school?  So I should hit my child because some other kid will hit her or him anyway?

Religious indoctrination is wrong for it cannot be verified as geography can. Claims that accidental indoctrination is one thing but deliberate is another and is unacceptable. Claims that religious belief depends on indoctrination more than any other kind of instruction given to the child. Claims that it depends on wilful and deliberate indoctrination.

We know there is such a thing as subtle abuse. If religious indoctrination, even in a mild form, doesn't qualify then what does?

Crosses and holy statues and prayer posters in schools amount to subtle evangelism.

Naturally secularists want such religious emblems removed from classrooms and want schools to have only the option of teaching religion in a neutral way or not teaching it at all and teaching ethics instead. They must aim to create a non-offensive environment for children from different faiths and none.  The message is not about promoting atheism but affirming atheist children if they emerge.

We need to be clear.  Removing crucifixes from classrooms and making religious teaching optional and only tolerating it if it is neutral and avoids indoctrination is not promoting atheism. It leaves the children free to make up their own minds. It is about being neutral and fair to all faiths and atheism deserves neutral and fair treatment too. A Catholic school that has no crucifix is not promoting atheism. It may be trying to promote an environment where all feel welcome. Yet the welcoming itself could be a tool for Catholic evangelism. If Muslims get a great impression of Catholics they might think about Catholic teaching and become interested in becoming Catholic.

Religion may say, "If a child grows up to reject the faith, we don't try to compel her or him to return. Therefore our evangelising children isn't wrong. We may baptise a child but the child can reject that baptism when he or she gets older."

Yes but what about now? You still take and seek an unfair advantage. The child can suffer grave trauma later in life as he or she tries to extricate himself or herself from the faith especially if that faith claims to be essential to genuine goodness and if it says people go to Hell if they leave it. Are you saying it is okay to do wrong to a child now for later he or she can get over it?

If you are really concerned about treating the child fairly, if you really believe the child should decide when old enough, then it must be wrong to impose a religion on that child to give that child the bother of perhaps renouncing the religion later on! You claim that baptism confers an obligation on the child to believe and obey the faith that baptises it. You are making out that if a child rejects the baptism or church membership that the child is letting you down and breaking loyalty and has no sense of duty to the faith. You are urging the child to live up to the baptism on pain of sin and everlasting torment in Hell. In other words, you are acting like a spiritual bully. You are a bigot.

There is no convincing argument for indoctrinating the child.  One this is for sure, you may mean to evangelise your child and make the child aware but given how vulnerable a child is this amounts to indoctrinating. That is what is going to happen whether you realise it or not.  The road to hell is paved with good intentions.


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