The Legality of Religious Indoctrination

Should religious indoctrination in children be illegal? Is it the equivalent of child abuse? Should a person not be allowed to choose what god they want to worship until they are an adult? A person most often becomes the religion of their parent for no other reason than that is the person who raised them. There was no conscious choice. There was no careful examination of the various religions and gods currently being worshiped and then whichever one they ‘connect’ with becomes their religion. Consider the following scenarios: A young child of 7 years-old is being raised by Christian parents, and during a camping trip in Utah, both parents are bitten by a poisonous snake and die. The child wonders off into the wilderness and is later found by another family who was also camping. The child is taken in by the family and raised by them. The family is Mormon. Will the child grow up to be a Christian or a Mormon like his ‘adopted’ family? How about if the Christian family is doing missionary work in Afghanistan and their vehicle hits an old landmine and everyone is killed but the child who wonders off into the desert and is found by an Afghani family. The child will grow up and be a Muslim not a Christian. How about if the Christian family is doing missionary work in the depths of the Amazon and is attacked by a Jaguar and the parents are killed. Say a local tribe finds the child and raises him amongst them. That child will grow up worshiping the river god Waesaritu. Why would God allow the innocent child to be misled this way, damning him to eternal hellfire?

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12 Responses to “The Legality of Religious Indoctrination”

  1. Another night I could not get any speep.

    Is is wrong to indoctrinate children in religion? Clearly yes, you pretty much made a grate point against it. Should it be illegal? Well that a tricky question. Should we give the government the power to tell people how raise there children? I don’t think so. What I do know they need to do allot more to protect children from religious abuse (forcing children in marriages, depriving children of medical care, and so on)

  2. One thing to notice is that when you see children of Muslims, Sikhs, Muslims, you automatically associate them with their parents’ beliefs.

    Yet, they are considered not old enough or mature enough to make up their mind about politics. You won’t see any 9 year olds yelling “I believe in a free-market economy with increased military spending, universal health care, reduced affirmative action, and stem cell research!”. Yet there are 9-10 year olds evangelizing in the Bible Belt.

    “depriving children of medical care”
    I read in some places in Europe, doctors can actually override Jehovah’s Witness’ decision to let their kids die due to their no blood transfusion thing. At least they have common sense in some places.

  3. No, religious indoctination should not be illegal. No, it is not the equivalent of child abuse. Yes, a person ought to be allowed to worship or not as they choose. God has allowed free will. That will answer most of the questions you pose on this site if you understand what that truly means. A parent sharing their faith is a loving act whether the parent is Christian, Mormon, Muslim or any other belief. Interesting in all your senarios you began with “Christian” parents, in those cases I would certainly see God working in that young child’s life by giving him a solid foundation and then the choice is up to the individual as they reach the age of acountability (which of course is individual). God’s working in our lives is a process. He does love us and His ways are higher than our own. I am not an “uneducated” person; I have spent 20 years of my 43 years in “school” and earned two college degrees, but these credentials are not important to God or to my eternal life. Ultimately, God has been calling out to me since birth. He has used each of my experiences to draw me toward Him. I was not raised in a “Christian” home, nor was it anti-Christain, and yet He has offered people and circumstances to show me who He is and let me know that I am His child and His friend.
    With all the questions you have on this site I have to ask, if I could answer all of them to your satisfaction would you then believe Him? My guess is no, you would not. The truth is that you are seeking, but you refuse to see the King. This is a choice you make and He lovingly allows you to make it, because He did not create a world of robots that would love Him without an option, that would be no love at all. Even as parents our desire for our children is that they make wise choices. If the parent were to control every step their offspring makes where is the love? Where is the individual? Where is the learning? Where is the growing? We are God’s children and He loves us enough to allow us our mistakes, our wrongs, our consequences etc.
    You bring up the World Trade Center, God did not do that, we did that. Marriage in heaven, the purpose of angel wings, the infallibility of the Bible, etc these are questions that while interesting to ponder will not save you. These are questions that your parents had the duty to impart to you, or at the very least discuss with you, and I am sorry if they did not, but you are now an adult and with a thinking mind and searching heart you will be instructed by God as He reveals them as necessary, if necessary, for a relationship with Him. If you have conflict within yourself, it is most likely because He is calling you as His child. My hope is that one day I can call you my brother.
    In Him . . .

  4. well well well lol, this free will conversation seems to come up in every post on this site. lol So i would like to redirect you to another post that is dealing with that very topic at the moment.

    https://doubtingthomas426.wordpress.com/2007/12/16/if-the-statement-is-true-your-religion-is-vile/#comment-385

    !)avid

  5. doubtingthomas426 Says:

    Five4Him, regarding whether or not Indoctrination in children is wrong or not, you state – “Yes, a person ought to be allowed to worship or not as they choose. God has allowed free will.” – Perhaps you missed my point, a CHILD doesn’t have free will. A child acts on impulse rather than thoughtful consideration. Any authority figure can influence a child’s behavior. If ANYONE teaches a child that a theory they believe to be true is actual fact they are doing irreparable harm to that child. Few children of religious parents are ‘allowed to worship or not as they choose’. There is no choice. Children believe what mommy and daddy tell them. And when theory is taught as fact to a child, regardless of the theory, it is VERY difficult to shake even as an adult with the gift of ‘free will’.

    Five4Him also stated – “A parent sharing their faith is a loving act whether the parent is Christian, Mormon, Muslim or any other belief. Interesting in all your senarios you began with “Christian” parents, in those cases.” — First, the reason why Christian is the main example I use is because that is the religion I was raised in and Christians are the main visitors to my site. Second, how can you believe it is a loving act if all those Mormon and Muslim children are doomed to burn in eternal hellfire, at least according to the Christian religion? So I repeat: If ANYONE teaches a child that a theory they believe to be true is actual fact they are doing irreparable harm to that child.

    Five4Him, you ask – “If I could answer all of them (my questions) to your satisfaction would you then believe Him (God)? My guess is no.” — You’re wrong, Five4Him. I WOULD BELIEVE! I would believe whole heartedly! You have my word. Now all you have to do is answer all my questions to my satisfaction. Good luck.

    And then you make this pathetic statement – “The truth is that you are seeking, but you refuse to see the King. This is a choice you make and He lovingly allows you to make it, because He did not create a world of robots that would love Him without an option, that would be no love at all.” — You’re right, Five4Him, we DO have an option; Love Him (God) or burn in eternal hellfire. And he ‘lovingly’ allows us to make it by ‘allowing’ hundreds of millions of people to die never even having heard the name Jesus. Hell is filled with all of those who were guilty of nothing more than being born in a culture that worshiped another man made god. Sorry Aztecs, Hindus, Egyptians, Greeks. But you’re correct about one thing, Five4Him; I Am seeking, but what I am seeking is the truth. All those years of church going and Private Christian School attending gave me nothing but pretty notions based on empty theories supported by nothing but hope (faith). What I refuse to see is my imaginary friend come to life. I refuse to see Santa Claus. I refuse to see the Tooth Fairy. I refuse to see the Easter Bunny. I refuse to see Baal. I refuse to see Zeus. I refuse to see Ra. If I am to believe in something, to dedicate my entire life to it, I simply require evidence. That’s all.

    Finally, you made this statement regarding the questions I pose on my site – “…these are questions that while interesting to ponder will not save you. These are questions that your parents had the duty to impart to you, or at the very least discuss with you, and I am sorry if they did not, but you are now an adult and with a thinking mind and searching heart you will be instructed by God as He reveals them as necessary, if necessary, for a relationship with Him. If you have conflict within yourself, it is most likely because He is calling you as His child. My hope is that one day I can call you my brother.” — You may call me your brother now, Five4Him, just not a brother in Christ. And I am not trying to save myself by asking these questions. I am trying to understand how people continue to believe the way I once did when confronted with these same questions. Remember, my parents raised me in the church. They were Christian. My father still is, my mother is on the fence. The questions I ask came only AFTER I was free of the suffocating hold of the church. Once the scales were lifted from my eyes and the clouds of constantly reinforced religious dogma cleared from my brain, I was able to see clearly and eventually I made the decision to reread the bible with this open mind. And as a result I became an Atheist. I am not confused or lost, Five4Him. I do not need you to save me. Feel free to continue to leave comments on my site, but PLEASE refrain from proselytizing(sp) on it.

    Take Care

    DoubtingThomas

  6. As parents, I think we all try to raise our children to the best of our abilities. Some do a great job, some fail horribly. Most of us fall in the middle. Whatever our religious beliefs, or non-beliefs, we are going to pass those on to our children because we think these beliefs are important to impart on them. I don’t think you can call that indoctrination or brainwashing. What’s the difference between a christian or an atheist passing on their beliefs to their children?

  7. doubtingthomas426 Says:

    Steph,

    Indoctrinate:
    1. To instruct in a body of doctrine or principles.
    2. To imbue with a partisan or ideological point of view
    So, yes, what you are doing is indoctrinating your child with your religious beliefs. In other words, you are teaching faith as an absolute. Once myth has been established as fact in a child’s mind it is EXTREMELY difficult, even as an adult, for that person to shake this belief. I find it unethical for ANYONE to teach a child that what you hope and pray to be true is in fact undeniably, unquestionably true. Teach a child what you BELIEVE to be true but also teach them that there are hundreds and hundreds of millions of other people who believe in something entirely different and that it is up to them to come to their own conclusions.

    Steph, you asked what the difference was between a Christian passing on their beliefs to their children and an Atheist passing on their beliefs. It’s rather simple, a Christian teaches theory as fact while an Atheist teaches theory as theory. An Atheist demands evidence before belief and teaches their children to do the same while a Christian requires nothing in order to believe in a thing and teaches their children to do the same. You are betraying your child’s trust by teaching them faith as fact.

    DoubtingThomas

  8. What about when the tactics are a bit more sinister in nature? When I was a small child, I was sent to a christian (southern baptist) summer camp and the morning ritual at this supposedly fun camp for kids was to have all the children kneel painfully on hard wood floors praying until one of the kids decided to proclaim they’d been “saved” and come forward to speak about it. No breakfast, no going to the bathroom and no getting up off your knees until someone came forward.

    This strikes me as all too similar to an interrogation tactic sometimes employed by the police which has been proven to elicit false confessions.

    My mother also has a similar story from her childhood attending a completely different church in a different state so this sort of thing has been going on in baptist churches (and probably others) for at least several decades.

  9. doubtingthomas426 you should provide references (preferably in APA and MLA format). I am using this article in an essay and it’s hard to properly cite it and give you full credit in the reference when all I can get for information is your blog name, post date, url, and article title.

    Please email me if you can with your first name initial and full last name if you want, I’d really appreciate it.

  10. *edit* sorry for the comment above, i accidentally pasted “doubtingthomas426” into the name field.

  11. doubtingthomas426 Says:

    Chris,

    I’m not sure what references you want. The post was a personal opinion, my only references were my sense of observation. However, I write under the pseudonym Thomas Keane, so you can use that if you like.

    And I must admit I was taken aback when I received an email letting me know that doubtingthomas426 had left a comment on my site :). I fixed it (changed the name to Chris).

    I’m curious to read your essay. Let me know when it’s finished.

    Take Care,

    DoubtingThomas

  12. DoubtingThomas,

    Would this apply to political indoctrination? What about economic indoctrination? I know some people who are staunch Democrats and Republicans because their parents were. They seem as blinded to the other sides’ views as some Christians and Atheists. If indoctrination were illegal, where would we draw the line? I find this conversation very interesting, especially in light of the recent LDS events, the recent decision by the courts in CA (I think a circuit court, but I can’t remember) about home schooling, and the whole issue of the separation of church and state (which by the way, as a Christian, I am not in favor of church run state). I think the argument is worth having, but where does one draw the line: Jason brings up the ugly side of Christianity. But does one throw the baby out with the bath water? Then, whose measuring stick do we use? I would think that most Christians would look at this and say: “No, not illegal, and not wrong.” I would also think most would be thinking about their particular family. But the examples you gave in the opening post might cause some of them great anguish. My hope is to instill my deep faith into the lives of my children through my actions and words. I also hope to teach them to never be afraid to ask questions. I would say that currently, they have my faith (they are all young). My hope is that they will at some age adopt it as their own.

    Thanks for the conversation,

    Michael

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