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Mon Apr 22, 2013, 10:36 AM

Christianity and the pressure to believe

My ten-year old son, Joey, announced to me a while back that he is atheist. When he said that, it made me a little uncomfortable. For some reason, it feels a little different to me to hear a kid say “I’m atheist” rather than just “I don’t believe in god.” I’m not exactly sure why; maybe it’s the applying a label to oneself. I really don’t believe that kids this young are old enough, mature enough, or worldly enough to apply any sort of label like that to themselves – mainly because I’m not convinced they really understand what it means.

--snip--

So when Joey recently confessed that talking about god makes him uncomfortable, I was curious. I asked him in what context – at home? At school? He said at school. Often his friends talk about god and church and it makes him uncomfortable. He feels like the odd man out, and suddenly he’s not sure what he believes. I’m glad he’s questioning things, I really am. But it’s made me realize that it’s possible that he (or any of my kids) might eventually adopt Christianity out of a sense of peer pressure – in order to fit in. Because we live in the Bible Belt of Southern California – it’s a very conservative, predominantly Christian, right wing community. At their tender young ages, a couple of my kids have already been told by their friends that it’s a sin to not believe in god, and that they will go to hell. That pisses me off.

--snip--

I think religion and matters of faith should be matters for adults to contemplate. Most adults wouldn’t think about inculcating their children with particular political party agendas, because we, for the most part, accept that political beliefs are beyond children’s understanding, and it would be ridiculous to pressure a child to identify him or herself as Republican or Democrat. And yet, it’s a completely different story with religion. I’ve never understood how Christian adults rejoice when a child “chooses” god, or “accepts” Jesus Christ. Those children have been spoon-fed those beliefs from the time they were babies; there was never any choice in the matter.

It’s a confusing time for Joey. He’s on the cusp of adolescence, so maybe his beginning to question a lot of things is to be expected. When we had this conversation with him recently, I told him that the things his friends say about god are only things their parents and their churches have told them to believe, and that doesn’t make them true. We told him that he doesn’t have to decide anything right now about god or anything else. We told him that he has his whole life to think about it, and he may never decide, and that’s okay.

http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/parents/?p=628


I urge the reader to follow the link and read the entire post for better context and understanding.

One part that stands out to me is this...

I’ve never understood how Christian adults rejoice when a child “chooses” god, or “accepts” Jesus Christ. Those children have been spoon-fed those beliefs from the time they were babies; there was never any choice in the matter.
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I told him that the things his friends say about god are only things their parents and their churches have told them to believe, and that doesn’t make them true.


...and drives home a point I frequently try to make; that children who are indoctrinated into religion and told to believe or they will be punished in some way, is child abuse.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 10:52 AM

1. What All These People Fail to Realize is They Pretty Much Get Their Religion by Birth

 

So the pressure to believe is usually the pressure to believe in whichever religion into which a person is born and these people pressuring others are ignorant of the fact they, themselves, never chose a religion. They were born into it.

It's pretty obvious that most children adopt the religion of their parents. Thus, a particular religion continues to be passed down through the family generations in most cases. It's part of the family DNA, if not the biological DNA.

Parents, peers, family all help with the indoctrination of a child into the same religion that has always been passed down through their family and their local community. Local community had a lot more impact back when we were a more agrarian and rural society.

The fervent believers in Christianity would be fervent believers in Islam if they were born in an country where Islam is the predominate religion and their family was Muslim. They would be Jewish if they were born into a Jewish family. They would be fervent believers of Hinduism if they were born into an Indian family that practices Hinduism and so on with other religions.

It so pains me to hear adults continuing to tell children they're going to burn in hell for sin and not believing in Jesus/God.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 05:51 PM

2. Spot on.

Now brace for the passive-aggressive, zero-content retorts.

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Response to 2ndAmForComputers (Reply #2)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 08:34 PM

4. Nah, those regulars don't have the substance or intestinal fortitude

IOW, they are cowards that are unable to support their assertions.


But open to what they may have say....

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 06:43 PM

3. One of the subtopics of last week's hubbub was that your last name often identifies your religion.

If you believe, as I do, that your last name isn't really very important and shouldn't be important, then you should believe that your religion isn't really very important and shouldn't be.

Of course first names are different. Those are important. At least the more abusive ones are.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 08:40 PM

5. this really resonates with me and not just as a parent.

 

i can still remember my own childhood and see how choices i've made in life have been in reaction to uncomfortable situations.. just in *general*. add in an all-seeing judgmental eye searing into the bubbling passionate juvenile soul?

it's almost as if the concept of god was invented to indoctrinate and brainwash children and bind them to the tribe, or something.

:mocksurprise:

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 09:23 PM

6. My kids already got to experience this in elementary school.

I told them just to avoid religious conversations once they were made to feel ashamed that they didn't go to church.

Thanks, Christianity.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 09:56 PM

7. One day childhood religious indoctrination will be seen as child abuse...

by most everyone, and I think that day is rapidly approaching, finally.

I'm through being "polite", what's impolite is not pointing out child abuse.

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