The indoctrination of children is done without their informed consent. How could a three year old child be informed? Forcing children into faith is ethically objectionable for that reason alone, but on top of this, the process deliberately:
- fosters an attitude of superiority, only one faith can be true (they are better than others)
- encourages solipsism (god loves me and created a universe just for me)
- creates enmity towards outsiders be they non-believers or members of a different faith
- plants an unrealistic, patently false view of reality (evolution is often targeted)
- stifles the mind and punishes curiosity which hampers full intellectual development
- creates fear of holy retribution, which can lead to mental stress or even breakdown
- creates guilt for infracting rules against unrealistic prohibitions (for example, masturbation)
- sets up impossible standards (critics would say this is to drive children to confession)
- infantilizes children and implants feelings of inferiority (god is great, I am unworthy)
- creates feelings of hopelessness (there is no escape from god)
- nourishes fear of human sexuality and creates neuroses about normal sexual feelings and sexual pleasure
These objections apply to religion without respect to creed or national boundaries. The worldwide acceptance of childhood religious grooming means the practice can be used to simultaneously pass on tribal feuds, racism, loyalty to patriarchy, mysogeny and distrust. Bear in mind that clerics are usually male and their loyalty is to men. There is usually a concerted effort to keep information about competing religions or sects from the child. The situation with Islam is the worst because Islamists do not separate religion and government. Accordingly, there is no check on the power of unscrupulous rogue imams.
Belief in the supernatural opens a child’s mind to all kinds of spurious unreal ideas and concepts. For example, the paranormal, quack medical remedies, astrology and so on. The philosophy of idealism is embraced instead of realism so you get people saying and believing that anything is possible. The laws of physics be damned.
Some institutions try to say they don’t introduce children to the barbaric practice of blood atonement until children are older. So called Sunday schools (indoctrination centers is more like it) focus on the story of Jesus and it is all coloring books, songs and cake and ice cream in the basement. Nevertheless children are exposed to the iconography of religion, things like angels and demons are all about them. Once a child is labeled and accepts the label it matters not what is conveyed inside the walls of their homes and institutions. The culture, at least in the USA is dripping with religious dogma and supernatural concepts. If you are raising a child in the bible belt you can be very sure they will be told about sin and redemption and some extreme right religious leaders, such as Franklin Graham, actually proposed training small children in how to proselytize their playground chums. He wanted at least one such trained child in every classroom in the USA. They are worried because so many young people are deserting the fold. Yet, old folks still have the disquieting habit of dying off.
Everything about the indoctrination process is predicated on a child becoming a life long member. Once the gate closes behind a child everything is done to insure they never leave until they croak. The die is cast, the decision is irrevocable.
Freeing oneself from the grip of religion is similar to the process of matrimonial divorce. It can be emotionally and financially painful, it can destroy long standing friendships and in the extreme cases lead to being shunned. Just read some of the personal narratives of exchristians posted on the web. Who knows how many people remain trapped in their religious closet because they fear the consequences of walking away.
- Faith-Healing Parents = Emotional and Physical Child Abuse (scotteriology.wordpress.com)
- The Process of Indoctrination (theperplexedobserver.blogspot.com)
- Religious education is not mindless indoctrination (thepunch.com.au)
- International Day of Protest Against Child Religious Grooming (atheistethicist.blogspot.com)