If you watched the previous video I posted you might have seen the mention of Hell House at the end. I found a video that continues where it left off and shows the horror of Hell House and how the idea of Hell is used to scare children and create hate. Once again we have fellow humans fabricating fear in order to keep people in line and fearful of not believing what they believe. This is what religion is really about and I think this time of year is the perfect time to think about the false fear of Hell and its use for control.
The video below is Richard Dawkins talking about religious education and explaining why children are particularly susceptible to being infected with religious faith. I believe this is why religion remains a potent force in the world even though the actual stories of religion are as fantastic and unbelievable as any of the ancient mythologies humanity has collectively rejected. We reject those so easily now because a parent or other authority figure does not support them. Modern religions remain hard to reject because of our parents and other people of importance to us that claim a belief in these ideas.
I am an outsider of belief now who finally sees the silliness of religion. At its core it is a nonexplanation for existence and reality that masquerades as the final answer. This core also serves as a tool for religious leaders to influence and control us. I was taught a religion as a child because within the viral idea of the religions is the embedded push that it is an idea that must be passed on to our children. I am still exposed to the virus because religion also teaches that you should try to convert others to your belief even though it only serves the needs of the religion and has no bearing on your own belief. Without that viral trait, if it were to be idealized as a personal truth to keep to yourself, then I don’t believe the ideas would survive as well as it does.
I know that in the past, some have suggested exposing our children to other peoples’ religions. I can see the benefits of this, especially when our kids are young and we are there with them to explain it the way we see it. But what about sending them with their friends? Cassandra is right that those formative teen years give the child a desperate need to find a cause that is separate from their parents’. They need to belong somewhere where they will feel accepted. The ‘acceptance’ they will encounter at churches will be alluring, but deceiving, because the acceptance comes with unrealistic and manipulative conditions.
I went to Wednesday classes at my Catholic church as a teenager for the very reason of acceptance and to be with my friends. Eventually one of the girls there became my girlfriend which continued my desire to attend. Fortunately for me they weren’t pushing an indoctrination that was irresistible. It was an odd group actually because the class leaders (or whatever they were called) and all of us “kids” were more about the fun and friendship and only really dealt with the instructional part of it all because we were supposed to. Nobody there defended the faith as a life or death matter and just sort of took it for granted as it all being true.
I learned a great deal from the class even though what I learned was the opposite of what they taught. Since they delved more into specifics of the bible, I started realizing the flaws of the whole idea and the obvious similarity to any other form of mythology I’d studied. I think people should be exposed as much as possible to their religion. It’s the people that haven’t truly read the book that believe the most in it.
When it finally came time for our Confirmation ceremony, I had to stop attending class because I couldn’t and wouldn’t go through with it. My mother brought me into the Catholic church but she knew I had the free will to walk away… and I did. I think I owe it to my children to make up their minds in the same way as long as they are the ones truly making the decision.
Do we outlaw all participation in church services and activities? Will that seem paranoid? Does that matter? Do we let them go and then talk about it with them afterwards?
After thinking about my experiences as a teen, I feel inclined to not allow it at all. But maybe I am reacting to the anger I am starting to feel at my memories.
What are your thoughts and experiences on the matter?
We let them go with people we trust and talk about it with them afterwards. If they begin to get lured into a cultish environment (Christianity does qualify as a cult in my viewpoint) then I would combat it with reason and exposure to even more conflicting varieties of religion. The most important lesson I can give them is that no human has a monopoly on the “one right path” in life and nobody has the big answers for life, not even their parents.
It wouldn’t bother me if either of my children gained a spirituality and belief in a god, as long as they do it with an open mind and the belief is truly of their own mind. If I ever thought a religious group was trying to control the mind of my children I would definitely have to counter that any way that I could. However, I do know that just forbidding certain things usually backfires with children, so outlawing religion won’t happen in my household.
I summoned up my courage, swallowed my fear of my father’s reaction, walked into the living room, “Dad, I’m not going to church with you this week, I uh, well I just don’t really, you know, uh, believe what the rest of you guys believe. So I’m not going to Church.” I waited for the reaction, but my dad calmly looked at me, smiled a bit and said, “Okay Jack, after all you are sixteen and you need to make your own choices.”
I couldn’t believe it, I was home free, I walked out of the room, lifted by my defiance of my parent’s values and ready to sleep in comfortably the next Sunday, when I heard my father’s voice again, still calm, but with a little more edge to it this time, “By the way Jack I was wondering something,” “What Dad?” “Where were you planning on living?” “Uhh, what do you mean, I’m living here?” His finger wagged back and forth, I don’t think so, you see Jack when you live in my house you play by my rules, and in my house we go to church, now it seems to me you have a choice to make.”
Some choice, I had thirty-seven dollars to my name and I had no place to go, I stayed home, I went to church, but I didn’t believe.
This is from a person that eventually went back to their faith because of their parents’ heavy-handed tactics. I just find it so unimaginable that religion can be such a life or death issue with some people that they’d rather throw their children out of their home than let them think for themselves.
The greatest thing about being a freethinker and an Agnostic for a parent is that I would never work to enslave my children’s mind to a concept that relies on faith alone. They can believe what they want to believe and that includes faith-based religions. I may disagree with such a belief, but there is no god of mine to anger that forces me to throw my children out if they don’t bow down to my god.
My freedom of thought and belief extends to becoming a freedom for my children, even if they don’t believe as I believe.
A person asks advice for what a niece should do about an Atheist father’s influence on her children. This is the reply from “The God Squad.”
You should give your niece the courage to raise her children with God for two reasons: 1) they are her kids, not her father’s, and 2) without God, most kids never learn that they have been put here to serve others, not just themselves.
There are many nonaggressive, morally distinguished atheists, but faith is a great help to all of us, particularly children, in creating a modest, compassionate and pious life. You say your niece’s children are young, implying that her father’s atheist beliefs won’t be a problem until they’re older, but he needs to be put in his place.”
I do agree with their first point that the kids are the niece’s and should be raised the way the niece wants. However, I disagree on trying to shield children from nonbelievers. I don’t overtly shield my children from believers. The more they hear the more they will be able to think for themselves and determine their own truths.
I find it ironic that they think God is needed to teach people they are here to serve others, because I’ve encountered many highly religious people that are completely self-serving, particularly when they view you as unreligious and undeserving of their “service.”
It is nice they admit that there are many “nonaggressive, morally distinguished atheists” even though they don’t admit that these are just human traits and have nothing to do with religious beliefs. Obviously if they can admit Atheists can have morality then it is not something exclusively derivable from religious teachings. I’ll admit some people do get their moral viewpoint from religious teachings, but can they admit that it is not required to define a person’s morality?
The final comment I’ve quoted is just downright rude: “he needs to be put in his place.” Hopefully they only mean that he’s not the parent, so if he’s asked to not interfere he should respect that request. Hopefully they don’t mean that he should keep quiet just because he’s an Atheist.
It makes me wonder if the religious views were reversed in the scenario, would they give the same advice? Would they say the Christian father should keep quiet and let his daughter raise Atheist children free from his contradictory teachings? Maybe I’ll write them and find out…