Director of Strategy and Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason
Sean Faircloth served five terms in the Maine Legislature. Faircloth served on the Judiciary and Appropriations Committees. In his last term Faircloth was elected Majority Whip by his colleagues.
An accomplished legislator, Faircloth successfully spearheaded over thirty laws, including the so-called Deadbeat Dad child support law which saved Maine taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and was later incorporated into federal law. Faircloth had numerous legislative successes in children’s issues and justice system reform.
In two years as Executive Director of Secular Coalition for America, Faircloth conceived and led the Secular Decade plan, a specific strategic vision for resecularizing American government. Faircloth writes about his ten point vision of a Secular American government in his book Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms Us All and What to Do About It.
Faircloth earned a reputation for strategic thinking, innovative ideas, and speaking to groups in a way that energized them to support the secular cause.
As Director of Strategy and Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason, Faircloth will expand his strategic efforts on behalf of the entire secular movement, speak regarding policy issues, discuss the ideas in his book, and seek innovative ways to improve the secular movement. Faircloth has spoken around the United States about separation of church and state, the Constitution, children’s policy, obesity policy, and sex crime law. Faircloth chaired a Commission on sex crime law reform which led to substantive improvement in that area of law. Faircloth chaired an early childhood commission, as well as a Commission regarding the citizen initiative process.
In Maine Faircloth also had the idea for the Maine Discovery Museum and led the four-year project from concept to completion in 2001. Maine Discovery Museum was then the second largest children’s museum outside Boston of the twenty-five children’s museums in New England. Faircloth graduated from the University of Notre Dame and has a law degree from University of California Hastings College of the Law. Faircloth served as a state Assistant Attorney General, and as a lobbyist for the state bar association.
- A New Way of Thinking — Faircloth Interview – - – Point of Inquiry (richarddawkins.net)
- Q&A, Sean Faircloth on Secular Strategy, Romney & the Religious Right – Sean Faircloth – RichardDawkins.net (richarddawkins.net)
- [UPDATE 10-Feb - video Chapter 7] Sean Faircloth discusses his new book Attack of the Theocrats – Sean Faircloth – Pitchstone Publishing (richarddawkins.net)
- Attack of the Theocrats!: A Review and an Interview with Author Sean Faircloth (patheos.com)
- Universal Tolerance (atheistethicist.blogspot.com)
- Religious Bias in Public Schools (atheistethicist.blogspot.com)
Imagine a new idea as vital as democracy.
Imagine a new idea as vital as democracy. Now imagine helping it spread quickly throughout the world! Child Honouring is one such idea, an idea whose time has come.
We invite you to be a part of the global movement that views honouring children as the best way to create sustainable, peacemaking societies.
The Centre for Child Honouring – on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada – is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing Child Honouring as a universal ethic, an organizing principle for societal transformation.
Child Honouring is a unique social change revolution, one with the child at its heart. It is a positive vision that stresses “the primacy of early years” as key to activating the powerful potential of our species.
Supporting the Earth Charter and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, A Covenant for Honouring Children is a poetic declaration of our duty to respect children, “to honour their caring ideals as the heart of being human”.
The Child Honouring principles offer a guide for living as conscious beings. They constitute the basis for a multi-faith consensus on societal renewal.
At this critical point in human history, we invite you to join the Centre’s work to co-create a vast change in the human paradigm.
Lebanese Youth to Bring Down Confessional System
Protests sweeping the Middle East have given new impetus to Lebanese youths who have launched their own revolt on Facebook in a bid — albeit improbable — to bring down Lebanon’s confessional system.
Using slogans popularized by protesters in Tunisia and Egypt, several pages urging the Lebanese to bring down the Mediterranean country’s confessional “regime” or calling for a “day of wrath” against confessionalism, corruption and poverty have appeared recently on the social networking site.
“Lebanese youths, rise up against the oppression of this regime,” writes Mahmoud al-Khatib on www.facebook.com/lebrevolution, which has attracted more than 10,000 friends.
But observers and those behind the initiative say they are well aware that changing the system, in which most government and other posts are attributed according to religion rather than merit, will be a hard-won battle.
“The Lebanese are always boasting about their freedom and democracy as compared to other Arab countries,” said Hassan Chouman, a 24-year-old computer analyst in favor of change.
“But Arab countries each have one dictator whereas we have at least seven or eight,” he added, referring to the political leaders that rule in Lebanon and who represent the country’s various Christian and Muslim communities.
Contrary to other countries in the Middle East, Lebanon’s system of government is rooted in a 1943 power-sharing agreement adopted after the country won its independence from France.
Aimed at maintaining a balance between the 18 religious sects, the agreement calls for the president to be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister to be a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of parliament a Shiite Muslim.
Other government jobs are also allocated according to religious affiliation.
“In Lebanon, competence doesn’t stand for much,” said Ghassan al-Azzi, political science professor at Lebanese University. “The leader of each community appoints members of his clan to top posts which renders our public administration rotten.”
And changing such a system is a bigger challenge than bringing down a dictator, he said.
“Here in Lebanon, if you hold street protests, it is not clear who it would target, which institution, which group. There is nothing tangible,” Azzi added.
Religion plays such a major part in all aspects of Lebanese society that even secular politicians are forced to join the system if they wish to survive, he noted.
One Facebook message put it bluntly: “This movement is bound to fail unless each confession brings down its own leader,” it said.
Antoine Messarra, a member of the Constitutional Council, said change will not come through a revolution in Lebanon but rather step by step, through education and better ties between the state and its citizens.
“We shouldn’t settle for promises but must address the problem methodically,” he said.
But for some, the current wave of upheaval in the Arab world is reason to hope that change is possible, despite deep divisions in the country pitting a pro-Western camp against a Hezbollah bloc backed by Iran and Syria.
“The lesson to be drawn from the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia is that we must put aside all our differences in favor of a common objective,” said Abu Reem, 39, administrator of the Facebook page titled “the Lebanese people want to bring down the confessional system.”
He said an open meeting would be held on March 6 in Beirut to plot out the next move after his page garnered more than 10,000 admirers.
“Nothing is impossible, even if it’s a long road ahead,” Abu Reem said.(AFP)
- Lebanese On Facebook Seek Change, Not Revolution (allfacebook.com)
- Hundreds protest Lebanon’s ‘sectarian’ government (sfgate.com)
- Hundreds protest Lebanon’s ‘sectarian’ government (foxnews.com)
- Hundreds protest Lebanon’s ‘sectarian’ government (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- “Beirut – Hundreds Protest Lebanon’s ‘sectarian’ Government” and related posts (vosizneias.com)
- A Tour of Lebanon: A Quick Overview of The Nation of Lebanon, Plus a Recipe for Hommus as Lagniappe (trifter.com)
Why people believe in evolution, *not*
Do you want to know why people believe in evolution? Read evolution denying Christian, Wayne Jackson. Here we have in one concise document all the contorted rationalizations you could possibly imagine for *not* believing in evolution.
Wayne Jackson, is an expert propagandist. What he churns out are classic pieces built around the strategy of “turnspeak”. Turnspeak is a technique of deliberately confusing issues by turning the truth upside down. Jackson attacks Darwinians, but then the claim is weirdly made that the Darwinians are actually the attackers. Black becomes white and white becomes black. Joseph Goebbels, the NAZI propaganda genius is credited with inventing the technique. A variation of turnspeak is the use of disingenuous descriptions that seem to conflate opposing positions into advocacy. It’s easier to persuade others to agree with an argument for something rather than against something. For example “pro marriage” and “protection of marriage” really mean anti-same-sex marriage. Pro life really means anti-abortion. Paranoid propagandists like Jackson seek to create their own version of reality so they can ward off the unwelcome truth of actual reality. Jackson’s Christian Courier web site is a monument to his delirium.
A facebook member, Prince St. Cyr follows the Christian zealots and is an expert in analyzing propaganda of practitioners like Wayne Jackson that are part of the assault on reason. St Cyr informs us:
“One of the impressive things about paranoid literature is the contrast between its fantasied conclusions and the almost touching concern with factuality it invariably shows. It produces heroic strivings for evidence to prove that the unbelievable is the only thing that can be believed. … Respectable paranoid literature not only starts from certain moral commitments that can indeed be justified but also carefully and all-but-obsessively accumulates “evidence.” The difference between this “evidence” and that commonly employed by others is that it seems less a means of entering into normal political controversy than a means of warding off the profane intrusion of the secular political world. The paranoid seems to have little expectation of actually convincing a hostile world, but he can accumulate evidence in order to protect his cherished convictions from it.”
Why should anyone care about Wayne Jackson and his writing? Isn’t he too far off the wall? Jackson matters because he has so many followers and they represent a dangerous segment of our population. The enemies of reason, which is what we are talking about here, are passionate about spreading their propaganda and they enjoy political power and have money funneled to them by wealthy patrons. They represent a malignancy in our collective body politic and they have succeeded in making ignorance fashionable and desirable. Recall Joe the plumber? Sarah Palin‘s preposterous candidacy for vice president revealed exactly how virulent the malignancy grew in the waning days of the Bush administration. We may have gone into remission, but the cancer is still there. Just tune to the Fox network or the many Christian zealots on radio and television.
We should care because as Charles Darwin said: “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” We care because the lies and half truths of Jackson’s propaganda are easily believed by people who have been systematically turned away from rationality and reason. They have been methodically robbed of the training they need to see through the lies. Worse yet, they can be influenced to vote and to support the systematic assault on reason. They disrupt public meetings, and divert public money into court battles such as the Dover case and the countless challenges that arise around Christian holidays that involve Christians openly challenging the separation of church and state.
In Texas, the State Board of Education is chaired by a radical literalist Christian who constantly seeks to introduce his flavor of religion into the science curriculum and now into the social studies curriculum.
The Texas Board of Education will vote this week on a new science curriculum designed to challenge the guiding principle of evolution, a step that could influence what is taught in biology classes across the nation.
The proposed curriculum change would prompt teachers to raise doubts that all life on Earth is descended from common ancestry. Texas is such a huge textbook market that many publishers write to the state’s standards, then market those books nationwide.
“This is the most specific assault I’ve seen against evolution and modern science,” said Steven Newton, a project director at the National Center for Science Education, which promotes teaching of evolution.
Christians are angered or distressed when anyone states the obvious: that they are deluded. But as a final example of turnspeak, here is Wayne Jackson concluding his article:
“People do not believe in evolution because they have been led there by solid evidence. They are stampeded into the Darwinian community by superficial, emotional, and personal factors. They only delude themselves when they think otherwise.” A golden nugget of turnspeak.
People believe evolution because it is based on solid evidence. They cannot be stampeded into the Darwinian community by superficial emotion and personal factors in the manner that Christians are stampeded into Christianity. Darwinians do not delude themselves like Christians delude themselves.
According to Gallup only about 12% of Americans accept the scientific arguments and mounds of data as proof that natural forces are sufficient to explain evolution. No supernatural intervention is required. The widespread acceptance that a supernatural force has to be behind evolution can only be regarded as a national disgrace because it exemplifies how willing people are to embrace the wild rationalizations of propagandists like Wayne Jackson. Charles Darwin gave humanity one of the most elegant and brilliant intellectual achievements ever created by a human and his theory is routinely and stupidly dragged through the mud and mire of Christian and Muslim propaganda.
American understanding of science and the scientific method is woefully lacking and the proximate cause is a deliberate program of propaganda directed towards intellectuals, the public schools, and in particular the appreciation of science and reason. The propaganda merchants are literalistic evangelicals that clearly understand the relationship between education level attained and the acceptance of fanciful supernatural beliefs. The more education you have, the less apt you are to accept dogma and superstition as guides to living. The problem is that people opposed to education and rationality indoctrinate their hapless children with their backward outlook and beliefs. You do not see such ignorance in Japan, Canada, or the secular democracies of the world. Unfortunately, the Muslims are just as adamantly opposed to evolution as our hillbilly theologists.
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- Texas board comes down on 2 sides of creationism debate (cnn.com)
- Science and faith: the conflict (telegraph.co.uk)
Patriotism for all
A Patriotic Activity for Every Student
It is a sad day in America when every child cannot join in a unified expression of patriotism, cannot stand with pride and declare, “I, too, am an American.”
In school districts across the nation, thousands of patriotic students are not only deprived of the opportunity to express and develop their patriotism, but are actively discouraged in their patriotism.
The standard options of remaining silent or waiting outside the classroom do not solve the blatant discrimination and hurtful exclusion in the current practice.
To correct this injustice, we are asking that a patriotic alternative be afforded to every child who, for reasons of conscience, must otherwise abstain from daily participation in the Pledge of Allegiance. It is through group participation with our community that we feel our bonds to our country. Patriotism is not something that can be taught only at home.
- We are not asking that “under God” be removed from the Pledge.
- We are not asking that the Pledge be removed from the school.
- We are asking that a patriotic exercise be afforded to every child.
For several solutions to this vexing issue, go here:
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- Pledge of Allegiance Becomes Pledge to Obama (usapartisan.blogspot.com)
Nate Phelps and Religious Abuse
I hope to post several blogs inspired by the American Atheists Conference, but for right now, I’m going to write about the experience that was the most meaningful to me. I mentioned before going that I was anxious to hear Nate Phelpsspeak, and I have to say that his speech was much more than I expected. For one thing, I learned afterwards that this was the first time he’s spoken publicly about his experiences. For another, in speaking with his wife, I learned that they had driven forty-one hours from British Columbia to Atlanta so that he could speak.
Nate’s speech, which lasted for around forty minutes, was sometimes painful to listen to. He spoke of horrible, despicable acts of abuse, both physical and mental, and of the tyrannical, sociopathic dictator of a father who literally made the lives of his wife and thirteen children a living hell. He read his speech, rather nervously, and it was obvious that he is still living with the mental scars of his upbringing. At one point, he showed us the kind of handle Fred used to beat his children — a four or five foot long piece of wood not unlike an axe-handle. He explained how his father learned the most effective ways of causing excruciating pain; for instance, he would hit his children in one particular spot enough that a bruise would raise up and blood would accumulate over the course of ten or fifteen minutes, and then he would hit them again in the same spot, causing the skin to break, and inflicting terrible pain. When he was particularly irate, he would hit them behind the knee, or on the small of the back, where the pain would be the most searing and brutal.
Like everyone else in the room, I listened with a mix of shock, rage, and pity. We all felt sympathy for him, and also pride and admiration at the physical bravery and mental courage he’s shown since deciding to leave the family. But I felt an additional emotion, and after the speech was over, I was lucky enough to be able to tell him personally what it had meant to me. In listening to Nate, I discovered something about myself that was deeply disturbing, but has instilled in me a new sense of determination to end the power of parents to indoctrinate their children into religion.
As I’ve said before, I don’t like talking much about my own life, but I must do so now to make my point clearly. I have nothing on Nate Phelps. I was mainly raised by my mother, who loved me and doted over me and never once, in my entire childhood, did anything with the intention of causing me pain. Though I was probably over-sheltered, anyone looking at my upbringing would probably say that it was about as good as anyone could expect.
However, I was indoctrinated into religion. We were in church every Sunday morning, and most Sunday nights, as well as Wednesdays at various points of my life. In many ways, church was my most frequent social activity, and though my indoctrination was not mean-spirited, it was thorough. By the time I was in high school, I was a full fledged born again Christian, and I thought quite poorly of everyone who was not (and many who were, but didn’t live up to my standards). I went to Vacation Bible School, and summer camps not unlike that in Jesus Camp. We went to healing services, prayer services, Bible studies, exorcisms, Christian Values seminars, Christian Finance seminars, evangelism crusades, and Christian music concerts. My mother and my grandmother, despite being warm, compassionate, loving people, brainwashed and indoctrinated me into not only the Christian faith, but also the Christian mindset — nonrational, repressive, patriarchal, divisive, and exclusionary.
Back to Nate Phelps. As I was listening to his speech, there were several moments when tears welled up in my eyes, my heart raced, and I felt as if I was having trouble breathing. At first I thought I was feeling sympathy for Nate, but I quickly realized that wasn’t the case. I wasn’t moved to tears at hearing about how Fred beat his children, or about how he made them run 20 miles a day after selling candy in strip clubs for seven hours. I was moved to tears when he spoke of the mental anguish he felt while his child brain tried to work through the cognitive dissonance, and the outright absurdity of the beliefs that his father had brainwashed him into accepting.
I was not feeling sympathy. I was reliving my own childhood.
That realization hit me like a ton of bricks, and brought a whole new set of emotions. Even after more than a decade of being an outspoken atheist activist, living hundreds of miles from home, and leaving my Christian life behind, I am still moved to tears when I remember how hard it was for me to break free from religion. My chest still constricts when I recall the cold sweats that came unbidden when I pondered the “reality” of hell as a true believer. I feel rage when I remember sitting on the toilet after masturbating, feeling intense guilt at having succumbed to weakness — again — and even more guilt for enjoying it, and even more guilt for not being good enough to remove myself from my own sexual desires. I remember the first girl who wanted to date me in high school. Mary. (I can’t recall her last name.) I was terrified of her, and even more terrified of holding hands with her or kissing her, because I had been taught in church and in Bible Camp that even such seemingly innocuous activities could lead to the fires of hell, since they were gateways into premarital sex. I held hands with Mary once, and then told her I couldn’t go out with her.
My mother didn’t intend to cause me mental distress. She had no idea that after hearing one particularly charismatic (and fundamentalist) preacher, I would — for nearly three weeks — keep myself awake at night for fear that as I drifted off to sleep, my thoughts would stray to something sexual (and therefore wrong) and I would be possessed by a demon. She had no idea that I would marry the first girl I dated seriously so that I wouldn’t feel guilty about having sex anymore. How could she possibly have known that even though her own views were substantially more moderate than many of our preachers, my vulnerable brain would soak in and accept the most draconian views with which I was presented?
The answer is that she couldn’t know. She is innocent of the charge Intent to Cause Mental Harm. Nevertheless, I was mentally harmed, and decades later, when I listened to someone who I should have almost nothing in common with, I felt the same emotions he was feeling, because I had experienced them, too. Make no mistake — Nate Phelps has been abused in far more ways than me. He was the victim of intentional, mean-spirited, sociopathic physical, mental, and emotional abuse. He was the victim of intentional brainwashing, fear-mongering, and vicious repression. His father is a horrible, horrible man who should be locked up.
Yet, as I sat there, I realized that I, too, was abused. My abuse was unintentional, but does that make the tears I shed yesterday any less real? Even as I type these words, I feel a pang of guilt. Even though I am emotionally distant from my mother, and have been so since leaving religion, it galls me at a very deep level to admit to myself, much less to thousands of readers, that my mother subjected me to brainwashing and emotional abuse. I want desperately to clear her of the charges, for she meant well. She never wanted anything but the best for me, but because she, too, was brainwashed, she unintentionally heaped on me the same baggage she has carried her whole life, and still carries to this day.
On one level, I can’t empathize with Nate Phelps. I have no frame of reference from which to try to imagine what he went through. On another level, I know precisely what he experienced because I went through it, too. Nate’s wife told me that he had been feeling as if he didn’t have anything meaningful to say to a bunch of atheists, but he couldn’t have been more wrong. He is a product of one of the worst kinds of religious abuse, but his story casts glaring light on the dirty fact that even the most well-intentioned religious indoctrination is still religious indoctrination — and therefore,still abuse.
I am now more firmly convinced than ever that any pretense of religious moderation is a lie. Religious indoctrination is child abuse. Religious indoctrination that includes lies about human sexuality is sexual abuse. Abuse committed by those who did not intend to abuse is still abuse. Those who would dismiss Nate Phelps as the product of a mentally ill extremist would be partially correct. Most theists love their children and try not to cause them harm. However, the stark clarity of Nate’s religious abuse cannot be so easily dismissed. If we are honest, I believe that most of us who grew up in a religiously indoctrinating environment would have to admit that we suffered. Perhaps not everyone was as sensitive as me, but does the sensitivity of the victim change the nature of the crime? Do we punish rapists based on how much mental trauma was suffered by the victim, or by the nature of the crime itself? We can no longer look at religious indoctrination and turn a blind eye. It is abuse, and if we are not standing firmly against it, we are silently condoning it.
UN Secretary General’s Report on Violence Against Children
Appendix: The 12 Overarching Study Recommendations
- Strengthen national and local commitment and action: This refers to establishing a national focal point on violence against children by the end of 2007, to coordinate actions, and especially to ensure that actions to stop violence against children are integrated into national planning processes by 2009.
- Prohibit all violence against children: This refers to legal reforms including implementation of laws to stop all forms of violence against children, in all settings, including all corporal punishment, harmful traditional practices, such as early and forced marriages, female genital mutilation and so-called honour crimes, sexual violence, and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as required by international treaties.
- Prioritize prevention: This refers to preventing all forms of violence against children in all settings by addressing underlying causes, as well as more immediate risk and protective factors.
- Promote non-violent values and awareness-raising: This refers to transforming attitudes that condone or normalize violence against children including via public information campaigns which promote non-violent values and protect children in all media coverage.
- Enhance the capacity of all who work with and for children: This refers to developing the capacity of all those who work with and for children to improve prevention, detection and responses.
- Provide recovery and social reintegration services: This refers providing accessible, child-sensitive and universal health and social services, including legal assistance to children and, where appropriate, their families.
- Ensure participation of children: This refers to States and their partners actively engaging with children and respecting their views.
- Create accessible and child-friendly reporting systems and services: This refers to establishing safe, well publicized, confidential and accessible mechanisms for children, their representatives and others to report violence against children.
- Ensure accountability and end impunity: This refers to building community confidence in the justice system by bringing all perpetrators of violence against children to justice.
- Address the gender dimension of violence against children: This refers to the integral role of gender biases in violence against children, and that States should promote and protect the rights of women and girls and address all forms of gender-based discrimination as part of a comprehensive violence-prevention strategy.
- Develop and implement systematic national data collection and research: This refers to the urgent need to improve data collection and information systems by 2009, in the context of a national research agenda and agreed international indicators, and with particular reference to vulnerable subgroups.
- Strengthen international commitment: This refers to States ratifying international treaties and implementing international standards agreed to.
Child soldiers root causes and UN initiatives
Let me begin my talk to you today with a description of my visit to a Maoist army cantonment site in eastern Nepal in December. The cantonment was set up after a peace agreement. In this cantonment were child soldiers recruited by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in their struggle against the Nepalese state. We had earlier met many young people who had been recruited by the Maoists with false promises, who had run away because of abuse. But these were another group, those who for some reason or another had chosen to remain. We were allowed to meet these children to have a discussion about their future. They were teenagers and about a third of them were female. Initially they were hostile. One of them told us to go away. “We are soldiers, we want to remain as soldiers, we want to be part of the armed forces, we do not need your help,” he said. We had come to rescue them they did not want to be rescued.
Then we began a conversation with them about the future. We spoke of the many opportunities that are available to young people, opportunities that could be provided to them if they came to a civilian environment. We spoke of computers, of technical skills, of entertainment; we spoke of other child soldiers around the world and what they had done with their lives. After awhile their eyes stopped having that glazed over expression. They began to listen. When we left, they remained sceptical but no longer hostile. This would then be the beginning of a long conversation.
THE CONSTRUCTION OF CHILDHOOD
Before we begin our discussion of child soldiers, we must first ask– what do we mean by childhood? A great deal of discussion among academics has focused on the construction of childhood in different societies. For the most part, international law, influenced by the research of Piaget and his followers, accepts the fact that there is a link between chronological age and cognitive development; that there are stages in the development of cognitive thinking, especially the ability to make moral judgments, and that eighteen is the age where such development is complete. For this reason, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other subsequent documents has stated the eighteen is the age of maturity.
Academics who are anthropologists, influenced by recent work by psychologists such as Lev Vygotsky and others who point to the influence of everyday life experience in the formation of moral judgment, argue that childhood is a construction that differs from place to place. As David Rosen, Professor of Anthropology as Pfarleigh Dickinson, writes “adopting a single universal definition ignore that childhood is understood and experienced in different societies in divergent ways”. He argues that straight 18 is part of the modern politics of age” and an aspect of “norm entrepreneurship” that characterize humanitarian advocacy. At a UN gathering he presented a slideshow of children that voluntarily joined and fought with the military both in the war of independence and in the civil war in the United States. He points to the fact with regard to initiation rites in most tribes and ethnic groups, the age varies from 14-16 thus recognizing an early end to childhood.
Susan Shepler, Professor of Anthropology at University of California at Berkeley also concurs with this approach of childhood as a construction of a particular community. Focusing on Sierra Leone, she has outlined how the prevalence of child labour along with child soldiers was an acceptance that children could work, accept responsibility and need not ber protected as expected in other societies. She also points to the initiation rituals in secret societies for young adolescents, both male and female. Joining an armed group was often seen as an extension of that ritual. These cultural factors, once understood in Sierra Leone, helps us understand how, when the social framework disintegrated due to war, these bizarre manifestations could take place. For both Rosen and Shepler, understanding the cultural context was an absolute precondition to understanding the phenomenon of child soldiers.
via The Island-Features.
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