Sham homeschools are fostering a radical right wing fifth column

Until the 1980s homeschooling was a benign activity that affected very few children. After homeschooling became dominated by right wing Christian theocrats, millions of vulnerable children (estimates are suspect because of poor reporting requirements) became virtual prisoners in their own homes, pawns in a scheme to overthrow the United States Government and replace it with a theocracy. The theocrats scheme includes lobbying state legislatures, pressing free exercise of religion cases in the courts and collusion with extreme right wing Republican officials. The result is an almost total lack of oversight by government officials. It will require dedication for the new administration to undo the Bush administration handiwork.

Legitimate homeschools are in league with the sham homeschools because they also want to prohibit any kind of oversight or control. Although the legitimate people have a small public voice, the radical right are loaded with resources and lobbyists.

The Supreme Court gave parents the right to teach children the tenets and the practices of their faith back in 1944. (Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, 164 (1944). The Prince decision, together with the Yoder vs Wisconsin decision inspired theocratic zealots to create a rebellious strain of home schooling. Lead by radicals, this movement is creating a virtual fifth column of ignorant children raised to hate democracy and to revile and distrust their government institutions. In this way, the theocrats are systematically grooming innocent children through a staged process involving homeschools, a project called Generation Joshua and the Patrick Henry College. Their aim is to quietly infiltrate, hamper, frustrate and then dismantle the government of the United States and establish a theocracy according to Dominionist theology. The theocrats plan seems to be working because the Bush administration opened the doors of government to Patrick Henry College graduates while the general public has taken little notice. But then, the devious theocrats are anything but honest and above board. They are like cockroaches, termites and other vermin that hide out of sight. They will not advocate a public position because they know they cannot win an honest public debate.

No one contemplated the political power extreme right wing Christians would usurp in the latter decades of the 20st century. Nor, how they would first systematically attack the public school system and then in frustration, how they would begin to withdraw their children from public schools in astonishing numbers. Able to mobilize thousands of parents to swamp legislatures with denial of service calls and emails, they steam rolled their agenda of removing truancy laws across the country. There was little or no opposition from the federal or state governments, who depend upon reliable telephone and Internet connections to operate. Denial of service attacks combined with bare knuckle political threats became weapons of choice and are still used today. HSLDA even brags about their success in hampering the functioning of government.

With sequestered children constantly supervised by zealous despotic parents, the indoctrination of a backward debauched religion can take place 24 hours a day seven days a week. Out of sight, the indoctrination goes unnoticed. The unfortunate children’s parents rigorously shield them from civilian authority, and they are not allowed to associate with anyone that has not been pre-approved. Parents heavily monitor and restrict radio, television, movies, the Internet and live entertainment events. When legal problems threaten, parents use the threadbare guise of sacrosanct religious liberty and call on well heeled advocacy groups like Michael Farris’s Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), Focus on the Family, The Pacific Justice Institute, and The Eagle Forum to name just a few far right heavily funded special interest groups of dubious character.

In these families, there will be no nonsense about Title 9 gender equality, or sex education or tolerance of other’s beliefs; parents are convinced they alone have the truth and all outsiders are Satan’s spawn that are going to hell. There is no effort to teach the children how to reason or make moral judgments based on logic; morality lessons consist of picked over biblical dogma.

This trend has been in place for nearly 20 years and has spawned a vast infrastructure of lobbyists, legal assistance groups, and purveyors of “approved” curriculum materials. Many curriculum materials advertise that they teach subjects in a “godly” way. Believe it or not there are even teaching materials that extend this pedagogy to mathematics!

Dr. Rob Reich (Professor of Political Science and Ethics at Stanford University ) explains what he considers is the major problem in terms of parents deliberately frustrating the development of autonomy in their children:

The problem with homeschooling and parental authority over education arises not out of conflicts over whether children should become independent adults. Few people wish to defend the authority of parents who plainly care too little. The problem arises over parents who, as it were, care too much in seeking to prevent the development of autonomy in their children. I mean to suggest that parents who wish to control the socialization of their children so completely as to instill inerrant beliefs in their own world view or unquestioning obedience to their own or others’ authority are motivated often by a fervent care for, not neglect of their children. Even when defined minimally, some parents may object to the idea that their children should receive an education that promotes their critical thinking and capacities for reflection on their own and other’s ends. Being minimally autonomous, I claimed, was in the interest of the child for personal and civic reasons. The fact that autonomy is necessary for citizenship makes education for autonomy an interest of the state as well. Thus, when parents reject the facilitation of autonomy in their children, they find themselves in conflict with both the interests of the child and of the state.

A measure of just how thoroughly the theocrats took control of the US Department of Education can be gained by the comments made by Jack Klenk, Director of the Office of Non Public Education at the U.S. Department of Education at a recent meeting sponsored by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA a vociferous foe of homeschool oversight ) and featuring eight congressional representatives . Here is part of the HSLDA report on their web site:

Mr. Klenk has served in the Department for over 20 years, and he talked about how he has seen homeschooling start and grow through the years. He also acknowledged that the Department of Education has heard the homeschool community’s message that the “federal government must leave homeschoolers alone,” and will honor that message. He closed by sharing his and the current administration’s belief that “homeschooling is good for children, good for families, and good for society.

Have we no right to expect impartial judgments emanating from such a high government official? Mr Klenk has hopefully departed to other pursuits by this time, if he has not been fired.

The corrupt Bush administration and his allied theocrats were determined to surreptitiously undermine and drag down the government of the United States. Accordingly, it should be obvious to Americans that the Obama administration must act decisively to regulate homeschools on an urgent basis.

Professor Rob Reich proposed the following provisional framework some years ago:

Recall that the purpose of these regulations is to help ensure that the state’s interest in providing a civic education for children is met, and to protect the independent interest of the child in developing into a free or autonomous adult. … I propose three minimal regulations. The results of the democratic process might yield additional regulations, which would not necessarily be inconsistent with my views, but these seem to me the bare minimum, as follows:

1. All parents who home school must register with a public official. The state needs to be able to distinguish between truants and home-schooled students, and it needs a record that specific children are being home schooled so that its other regulations can be enforced.

2. Parents must demonstrate to educational officials that their homeschool curriculum meets some minimal standard. The minimal standard will include academic benchmarks as well as an assurance that children are exposed to and engaged with ideas, values, and beliefs that are different from those of the parents. For instance, every home-school curriculum should include information about a variety of religious traditions (I believe this should be the case, as well, for public and private schools.) Parents are free to teach their children that their own religious faith is the truth, but they cannot shield children from the knowledge that other people have different convictions and that these people are, from the standpoint of citizenship, their equals.

3. Parents must permit their children to be tested periodically on some kind of basic skills exam. Should home-schooled children repeatedly fail to make progress on this exam, relative to their public or private school peers, then a case could be made to compel school attendance. Label this educational harm. (The same kind of educational harm surely exists in some public schools, of course. And this is one reason that I believe parents should have the authority to hold the state accountable for public schools by pulling their children from failing schools and enrolling them elsewhere.) In short, these regulations amount to the following:

• The state registers who is being home schooled.
• The state insists upon a curriculum that meets minimal academic standards and that introduces students to value pluralism.
• The state tests students periodically to ensure that minimal academic progress is being made.

Would many home schools be unable to meet these regulations? …. If creating and enforcing regulations would prevent even a few children from suffering educational harm or from receiving an education that stunted or disabled their freedom, the regulations would be worthwhile. Strictly enforced regulations ensure that parents do not wield total and unchecked authority over the education of their children. What is at stake here is not a question of social utility or stability, whether home schooling could threaten democracy. What is at stake is the justice that we owe children, that they receive an education that cultivates their future citizenship, their individual freedom, and that teaches them at least basic academic skills, skills that are necessary for ably exercising both their citizenship and their freedom.”

I wish I could be as sanguine as Rob Reich, because our democracy could clearly be at risk if millions of compromised children continue to go through this warped religious soaked system. In addition, why settle for minimum standards?
God’s Next Army
Documentary about Patrick Henry College for homeschooled evangelical children.{1F86E588-AA4A-43A1-998D-D9BF4FBE4D09} Michael Farris brags about denial of service attack.

About Michael Farris and sham home schools:

Purge of Professors at Patrick Henry

Reports on the web include:


American Fascists, The Christian Right and The War on America, by Chris Hedges

Kingdom Coming, The Rise of Christian Nationalism by Michelle Goldberg

American Theocracy, The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury by Kevin Philips

Write These Laws on Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling
Author: Robert Kunzman
Product Code: 3291 ISBN: 978-080703291-6
Copyright Date Ed: 08/01/2009

A compelling look at conservative Christian homeschooling families—and the worldview that could radically alter American political and intellectual life.

Reports on the web include:

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Religious objections to our laws

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I had the temerity to suggest on a public forum that male circumcision was a barbaric practice. That raised a lot of hackles and you cannot imagine how long that thread lasted and how hard it was to get people to stop posting and move on. I happen to earnestly believe that genital mutilation is barbaric for males and even more so for females, although far more males suffer at the present time. Now, many states have enacted laws with stiff punishments for those involved with female genital mutilation. People entering the country are warned about the law and given explicit information about what will happen to them if they disobey the law. Female genital mutilation cases open the opportunity to press equal protection claims in the courts because females are clearly being favored by such law. Such a legal shift might sidestep the contentious first amendment religious freedom claims that are at the heart of so much abuse of children by religious objectors and their defenders.

Hypocrites claim humans are the perfect creation of a god, then set about remodeling his handiwork. If I understand the religious justification, the Jews insist on this blood sacrifice rite to prove their fealty to god. The surprising thing is that even secular Jews insist on doing this because of tribal pressure to conform. It is clear that Jewish parents, who do not suffer, use there male children as instruments to maintain their standing in the tribe. Well, I say why not slice off one of your ear lobes instead? Why wouldn’t that work as a blood sacrifice rite? Find another way to please your god if you have to. Just leave your child out of it until he is old enough to make adult decisions for his own benefit.

Fortunately, the international trend seems to favor laws against circumcision of both males and females. The Canadian medical system will not pay for the procedure any longer and stricter laws apply. At least among civilized people attitudes are changing, and this is the first step in any civil rights campaign. The really good news is that as the religious justification is defeated in courts, the decisions will pile up and eventually legislatures and courts will strengthen the hand of child rights advocates in other areas where children are abused because of religious objections. Right now there is not enough momentum so we are still at the stage where education and persuasion are needed.

The only reason circumcision is not outlawed in the United States (either by law or by popular outcry) is because society defers to the religious sensibilities of Jews (and perhaps Muslims) because it is after all a religious rite. For generations, we have been taught not to question the religious rites of others lest they question ours (or worse question our lack of religion) and then we get into huge interminable non-productive fights. Over dogma. Looking at circumcision scientifically and dispassionately we can see there may be a case for male circumcision perhaps, perhaps in Africa and other parts of the world where men are not educated about personal hygiene and prevention of STDs and AIDS. Here in the US education, condoms, soap, and water is all that is required.

However, we have the Oregon Supreme Court case of a young 12 year old boy that was told by a lower court that his father could have him circumcised: I think four Jewish groups leaped to the defense of the father. Not the boy mind you − the father. The boy never appeared in court to testify. The lower court was completely disinterested in hearing what he had to say about his own penis. Such a stark example shows how absolutely stone deaf we are to the plight of children. Fortunately the Oregon Supreme Court issued a ruling that turned the case back to the lower court with instructions to question the boy. So far no final ruling on this so far as I know.

Abandonment of the child is the common thread that runs through all of the injustices heaped on helpless children. Jurisdictions permit practices for supposed noble religious freedom reasons, but in reality there are hidden and selfish parental motives if you dig deeply enough. In the case of the Amish you don’t have to dig that deep. Amish communities have been allowed to survive through statutory exceptions especially carved out for them in the law. If these exceptions were not granted do we really believe that a cultic group like this would still be functioning in our midst? Remember their history. The Anabaptists were violently suppressed at gunpoint by angry Swiss where they originated. They have had several hundred years to make their case for continuing to exist and that is long enough, in fact it is too long. So let’s revoke the statues that permit them to abuse their children and overturn the Yoder Supreme Court decision. If the Amish are on to something really great they will flourish and we will all be riding around in horse drawn carriages and reading our bibles by candlelight in a matter of years.

We must stop allowing religious objections to interfere with teaching about science, sexuality and human reproduction. Even the liberal state of California permits parents to shield their children from sex-ed and sex bias education which secular children are able to profit from to build better, healthier lives. Systemic inequalities are thus built in to state policies. If your parents are obstinate enough and stupid enough you get the shaft. Sorry kid. Furthermore, the Supreme Court ruled:

In essence, under the Constitution public schools are entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy. Diversity is a hallmark of our nation. It is increasingly evident that our diversity includes differences in sexual orientation. Our nation’s history includes a fundamental commitment to promoting mutual respect among citizens in our diverse nation that is manifest in the First Amendment’s prohibitions on establishing an official religion and restricting the free exercise of religious beliefs on which plaintiffs base some of their federal claims. Our history also includes instances of individual and official discrimination against gays and lesbians, among others. It is reasonable for public educators to each elementary school students about individuals with different sexual orientations and about various forms of families, including those with same-sex parents, in an effort to eradicate the effects of past discrimination, to reduce the risk of future discrimination and, in the process, to reaffirm our nation’s constitutional commitment to promoting mutual respect among members of our diverse society. In addition, it is reasonable for those educators to find that teaching young children to understand and respect differences in sexual orientation will contribute to an academic environment in which students who are gay, lesbian, or the children of same-sex parents will be comfortable and, therefore, better able to learn.

Case 1:06-cv-10751-MLW Document 36 Filed 02/23/2007 Page 4 of 38

Besides circumcision there are the other medical exemptions that are carved out for Jehovah’s Witnesses (12 million) and the Christian Scientists (estimated at 194,000 in 2001 but there is little confidence in the true number) on strictly free exercise of religion grounds. Many of these children suffer and die (statistics are difficult to locate). Do we have a constitutional form of government or a Christian theocracy? If we are a theocracy then we had better start following the Koran and all the other religious texts if we want to be fair. We are either neutral or we are not. Favoring Christian or Jewish bible texts doesn’t look neutral to me.

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An Ethical Dilemma: Childhood Conversion in Christian Fundamentalism

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University of Sydney
Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies
Masters Dissertation

This dissertation is submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for a Master of Peace and Conflict Studies by Melissa Ruth Juliet Bennett.

An Ethical Dilemma: Childhood Conversion in Christian Fundamentalism

I strongly recommend reading Ms. Bennett’s dissertation, but in the interests of brevity will simply reproduce her conclusion here.


The child is the forgotten citizen, and yet, if statesmen and educationists once came to realise the terrific force that is in childhood for good or for evil, I feel they would give it priority above everything else. All problems of humanity depend on man himself; if man is disregarded in his construction, the problems will never be solved. –235 Montessori, The Forgotten Citizen

In addressing the scenario posed in Huntington’s Clash of Civilisations of a war between cultures, the accepted practice of enculturation must be considered. Recognising that some enculturation is a necessary basis for education it is critical that it is combined with cultivating the student’s ability to question traditions and to challenge the status quo should it be required. A fundamentalist paradigm transmits beliefs without engaging in critical thinking, with priority placed on conforming to a state of mind that combines belief in a single absolute truth with a complete trust placed on an authoritative book or person. In the case of Christian fundamentalism, this paradigm translates to the conviction that there is one True God, the Bible contains His authoritative word, and of a single exclusive path to salvation found only by conforming one’s mind to the narrative the church prescribes. As a consequence any person who does not conform to this narrative is seen as having “rejected God”, choosing instead to live life by their own rules and worship “fake” gods. These are their beliefs and consequently they bring their children up to believe the same thing; creating a perpetuating cycle of violence.

Many fundamentalists are not aware that their unchanging truth is in fact a new interpretation of a truth shaped by theological debates and politics over the last two millennia. Most are unaware that their interpretation of the Bible has been distorted by the modern paradigm from which they see it. They do not realise that by adopting a simplistic literal interpretation, without regard for Jewish midrashim and the role of mythos, prevents fundamentalists from understanding the “more-than-literal” meaning that the authors embedded in their writings. When children are brought up with in a fused premodern-modern paradigm based on a single unchangeable truth, they struggle to interact with the postmodern world and its many truths and constant change.

Insecurities grow as the now adolescent or adult fundamentalist feels that the basis from which they understand reality is under threat. If there is no absolute truth then how is one to distinguish what is good from what is evil? How can one evaluate all the conflicting truths that surround them? These fears lead to an even more distorted version of their religion, one caught up in identity and ideology.

Note: Juliet Bennett is seeking advice concerning publishing her dissertation. You can forward information to me.

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Are you a critical thinker?

Quality thought is vital. So why don’t schools foster it?

By Linda Elder

From the March 12, 2009 edition of Christian Science Monitor

Dillon Beach, Calif. – How can we hope to thoughtfully address the economic issues, conflicts, world poverty, and many other pressing concerns that trouble our planet, if we don’t take the way we think seriously?

We can’t. To effectively deal with these issues, we must cultivate the spirit of critical thinking throughout human societies.

Right now we are not even teaching the skills and dispositions of the critical mind in our schools. We are not cultivating the intellect.

Everyone thinks; but we don’t always think well. In fact, much of our thinking, left to itself, is sloppy, distorted, partial, uninformed, or prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and all of the decisions we make depend precisely on the quality of our thought. At present, the act of thinking is virtually ignored.

Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking that aims to take the reasoning we all do naturally to a higher level. It is the art of analyzing and evaluating with the goal of improving thought. When making a decision, it is the difference between weighing information to come to a logical conclusion and making snap judgments without understanding the information.

Consider some of the great thinkers: H.L. Mencken, Tom Paine, Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Bertrand Russell, and Jane Austen. They became some of the greatest thinkers by not accepting information at face value, but by thinking deeply for themselves, asking questions, and refining their thinking over time. It wasn’t easy. Of his own thinking, Charles Darwin said: “I have as much difficulty as ever in expressing myself clearly and concisely; and this difficulty has caused me a very great loss of time, but it has had the compensating advantage of forcing me to think long and intently about every sentence, and thus I have been led to see errors in reasoning and in my own observations or those of others.”

His diligence paid off. Darwin’s critical thinking pushed the boundaries of science and society. And isn’t the purpose of education to give students the tools to thoughtfully contribute (on a small or large scale) to society? Right now we are not doing that. With few exceptions, we are not teaching them how to fully and deeply comprehend what they read or write with clarity, precision, and purpose. We are not teaching students to integrate ideas within and among subjects. We are not teaching them to entertain (in good faith) viewpoints with which with they disagree.

We are failing them at the most fundamental level.

Some believe that critical thinking was once cultivated in schooling. But it is fair to ask if it has ever really been fostered in a meaningful way in mainstream schooling (and the standardized testing movement is only making it worse). Teachers, like students, live in a nonintellectual culture, one that, for the most part, neither values fair-minded critical thinking nor encourages it.

If we want to effectively deal with the tremendous problems we now face, we must begin teaching students to discipline their own thinking. Teachers must move beyond rote and merely active engagement, and work toward transforming how students reason through complex issues, to look beyond easy answers.

We must teach students that the only way to learn a subject or discipline is to learn to think within the logic of it, to focus on its purposes, questions, information, to think within its concepts and assumptions.

It is true that some students learn some critical thinking implicitly along the way. But, as is evident in the dismal state of affairs, our collective thinking simply isn’t good enough.

There is some good news. Many global organizations such as the Peace Corps, UNICEF, and Amnesty International are promoting critical thinking within a particular area of importance. As part of their reaccreditations, the University of Louisville and Eastern Kentucky University are both making concerted efforts to bring critical thinking across the curriculum. But much work is still needed. William Graham Sumner, the Yale academic and essayist may have put it best when, in 1906, he said:

“The critical habit of thought, if usual in society, will pervade all its mores, because it is a way of taking up the problems of life. Men educated in it cannot be stampeded by stump orators…. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence, uninfluenced by the emphasis or confidence with which assertions are made on one side or the other. They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices and all kinds of cajolery. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens.”

His warning resonates today. Though there is no quick and easy fix, we can all start by beginning to think about how we think. We can question our purposes, our assumptions, our ideas, and our inferences. We can question whether we are considering the views of others to understand them, or to dismiss them. We can open our minds to the larger world with all of its complexities. If we are to reverse the downward spiral we are presently experiencing, we must begin to actively and deliberately foster fair-minded critical thinking in our schools, our homes, our social institutions, in government, and indeed, in every part of human life.

Linda Elder is the president of the Foundation for Critical Thinking, an education nonprofit organization concerned with fostering fair-minded critical societies. She is an educational psychologist who has co-written four books on critical thinking and 20 thinker’s guides.

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Child abuse

Never hit a child. Never humiliate a child. There are effective non violent ways to gain the willing cooperation of children. They don’t deserve to be abused. Love them and respect their dignity. Always.

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Genealogies of Ignorance: A Conversation on Childhood Indoctrination

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In a previous post, titled, “My children are currently being raised Roman Catholic”, I brought up the question of childhood indoctrination and examined a Catholic woman’s justification for requiring her children to be indoctrinated into the Catholic Church. If you have not read that post then I suggest that you take a quick look at it to understand what follows.

This post prompted an interesting written exchange elsewhere between myself and a reader. Below I am reproducing that conversation, at least up to the point upon which it stands now, because it allows me to further explicate my views on this subject within the context of a dialog. The other person’s name and identity will remain anonymous (”Reader” will suffice as a designation), but I suspect that many other people share the same or similar views as this Reader does.

The Reader’s statements are presented as Reader. My responses are presented as Me.

Reader: Are not parents care-takers of their children? If they think it is in their best interest to introduce them to religion, despite what someone outside of their family thinks, is that any of our business?

Couldn’t we apply this same logic to a child’s diet? Education? Residence? Political beliefs? Overall attitude? We do not want robots; we want developed children from a loving environment. What better way to bestow our love by teaching our experiences to our children, rather than throwing them to “the wolves” with no understanding of what’s to come.

It is our charge to equip our children for the world to the best of our abilities; whether that means imparting our spiritual experiences, or neglecting their spiritual man.

To each his own.

Me: This entry is questioning whether it really IS in a child’s best interest to be not just ‘introduced’ to religion, but thoroughly indoctrinated in a religion regardless of what the child’s wishes may be. This is a far more serious than simply teaching a child one’s life or spiritual experiences.


in·doc·tri·nate –verb

1. to instruct in a doctrine, principle, ideology, etc., esp. to imbue with a specific partisan or biased belief or point of view.
2. to teach or inculcate.
3. to imbue with learning.

Again: “It is our charge to equip our children for the world to the best of our abilities; whether that means imparting our spiritual experiences, or neglecting their spiritual man. To each his own.”

Please note that these are merely my opinions I’m expressing, so that perhaps you’ll understand a different perspective. I, in no way, want to provoke anyone or feel the need to be necessarily right or wrong in anyone’s eyes. I hope that was already understood.

Me: Okay…well, I understand your opinion but like I said earlier, my issue is with something that I see as far more serious than simply introducing children to religion or spiritual experiences. So, I’d be happy to hear your opinion on the specific issue of indoctrination.

Reader: Do you have children? If you think about it, on the converse–and btw, I am concluding that you are an atheist because of your name–what if your family was a family of atheists, but all of society believed in God and Christianity? Do you want us to shove our God down your children’s throats? And to tell you that you are not allowed to “indoctrinate” your children to believe there is no God?

Plus, in regards to your quote, “Essentially, the implication here is that children are not mature enough to make their own decisions when it comes to religion, so as a child that decision must be made for them. But if the decision is made for them throughout their childhood, how can one expect that same child to be fully equiped to make his or own decision once he or she is a full grown adult?”:

The fact of the matter is our children are not mature enough to make their own decisions. If my son made his own decisions, he would be playing all day instead of doing his homework. He would eat Gushers and Fruit Roll Ups and never any vegetables. He would spend his afternoons in swimming pools or at parks, instead of go to school. Our children need guidance from adults, not passive morons who think their children (or anyone’s children) should have the “right” to choose whatever they want. That’s why children do not vote until they are 18; that’s why they do not serve in the military until they’re 18 (unless they have permission); that’s why they don’t get tattoos, or piercings until 18. They are children and don’t know how to make decisions yet– but you said, how will they be fully equiped? They will be fully equiped if they are taught right from wrong. If they are shown what is overall good, and overall bad. Yes, some children are exposed to some religions that are bad for this country or bad for the world, but we do not have the right to be able to strip other people of their right to the first amendment– or do we? I am open to your opinion as well…

Me: To answer a couple of your points:

(1) I would never indoctrinate or approve of the indoctrination of children into believing there is no god. I am against any form of childhood indoctrination.

(2) The question regards whether child are mature enough to make their own decisions regarding religion, not everything in their daily life. This is different. This is telling a child what opinions he or she must hold. I doubt that many people would look approvingly on a set of parents that made their children swear to be Republicans. How is that different from making children swear that they believe Jesus rose from the dead and will punish unbelievers in hell?

(3) I am not interested in stripping people of any rights. And I am certainly not interested in passing laws against this. However, I do feel that it needs to be roundly and loudly criticized.

Reader: I do agree with you to a point. My parents taught me what they believed and I accepted it as a child. As an adult, I had the opportunity to reject what I was taught, and I did reject it for quite some time, until I decided that, after eight years of searching, it was right for me after all. I agree that it is wrong to tell someone what to believe, and to reject them if they do not believe it.

But it is not anyone’s right to tell anyone what they should be allowed to teach their children.

Just like it is wrong to go to Iraq and tell Iraqis how to believe or act, it is wrong for Americans to go into fellow Americans’ homes to tell them how to behave. Unfortunately, although these thoughts are “nice”, they are all quite moot points.

However, I appreciate how kind you’ve been while disagreeing with me. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to have differences in opinions, and I do respect that you are able to share your opinions without being patronizing.

Me: “But it is not anyone’s right to tell anyone what they should be allowed to teach their children.”

To an extent I would agree. However, surely we can imagine situations in which it is in the best interest of the child not to be taught certain things. Should parents be allowed to raise racist children? Maybe. How about teaching children that it is okay to perform acts of violence on another class of people? Some parents reject all medical science for religious reasons and force their children to reject medical treatment – even in life threatening situations.

The pertinent question, therefore, is not whether or not we can intervene on a child’s behalf but in what circumstances should we?

Reader: “The pertinent question, therefore, is not whether or not we can intervene on a child’s behalf but in what circumstances should we?”

Physical abuse. When a child’s life is in apparent danger, that is when someone else should step in. Otherwise, it is none of our business. Even if that’s annoying (which I know it is).

Me: I agree that physical abuse dictates that we must intervene on the child’s behalf. However, I do not agree that in cases of what I will call “mental abuse” that it is none of our business. It should be our business because this will have an affect on the child’s life and future. This is why Richard Dawkins calls childhood indoctrination a form of child abuse. Children are the future and it behooves us to know whether or not parents are teaching their children wrong, silly, stupid, or dangerous ideas.

I am not saying that in this case we have a right to physically intervene. I do believe in protecting certain freedoms. All that I am saying is that we should not shy away from criticizing such practices because we are afraid that it is none of our business.

Reader: I am not “afraid” that it is none of our business– it is none of our business. Who’s to say what’s right or wrong? Will it become a thing like in Germany when all Jews were wrong? When it was first only a mere hatred then hatred grown to genecide?

It is none of anyone’s business what religion I choose for myself or for my children– otherwise my rights are being tampered with.

Me: Your rights are only being tampered with if you are forced, through legislation or some other means, to do something contrary to what your stated rights are. I am not talking about forcing anything on anyone. However, watch a documentary like “Jesus Camp” and you might appreciate why I feel that how parents are indoctrinating their children should be, in general, society’s business.

Children that are taught to fear eternal hellfire or that the non-Christians will be tortured after death. Children that are taught to embrace the possibility that the end of the world may be at hand and that this is a good thing. This can and is in many cases traumatizing or has other negative psychological effects.

When ideas themselves being imposed on young and innocent children might constitute a form of mental child abuse then yes, it is our business to show concern and criticize the religious beliefs and institutions that encourage it.

Reader: No offense, but how do you know what will happen after death?

Me: I am not claiming to know what happens after death. But I do know that there is absolutely no evidence for any of the claims I mentioned in my previous note. None. Not even close. And that’s part of the problem. Children do not recognize this. And what results is a genealogy of ignorance and an inability to properly reason about the reality of religious claims.

You know, lost amid all this talk about parents rights is the even more obvious right of a child to a proper and beneficial education. There are thousands, if not millions, of children being taught right now that the Earth is only 6,000 years old and that scientific knowledge should be demonized. There are children being taught that homosexuality is a sin and abnormal. There are children that are being denied comprehensive sex-education because their parents fervently believe in abstinence only. Etc.


That is the where the conversation currently stands. Do you agree with Reader on any points? Would you have answered Reader differently than I did?

[Cross posted at AnAtheist.Net]

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