Religious Oppression and Indoctrination—Literally!

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Many atheists, freethinkers, psychologists, and others have written about how religion can be “viral” and “hereditary.” One of the central arguments Dawkins makes in The God Delusion (piggybacking off Bertrand Russell’s Celestial Teapot) is that the only way religion survives is because of the way it is passed on.  (The argument Dawkins makes against indoctrinating children is quite compelling.)

Even Dawkins discusses these ideas in somewhat apologetic ways. It’s the nature of the beast. Religion has these controls built in. People are just doing what they think is right (a consequence of religions hijacking of morality). It’s not like parents are maliciously indoctrinating their kids and forcing them against their will…

…until now.

I received an email from the crazies at World Net Daily with the subject “How to prevent your child from leaving the faith.”  The email is to promote a book called Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it. It’s kind of frightening at face value, but the contents of the email and book description only confirm these concerns.

The book is based on a study that found that young people leave the church. HOLY SMOKES! Check out these “surprising” and “shocking” revelations about “Sunday school syndrome”:

  • Those who faithfully attend Sunday School are more likely to leave the church than those who do not.
  • Those who regularly attend Sunday School are more likely to believe that the Bible is less true.
  • Those who regularly attend Sunday School are actually more likely to defend that abortion and gay marriage should be legal.
  • Those who regularly attend Sunday School are actually more likely to defend premarital sex.

Yikes! Consider me shocked.

Now what is this “Sunday school syndrome”? Tell us more about this mass exodus from the church!

Their research concludes that “Sunday school syndrome” is contributing to the epidemic rather than helping alleviate it. Sunday School tends to focus on inspiration and morality of Bible stories, rather than how to defend the authority of the Bible. The “Bible stories” told in Sunday school are separated from “hard facts.” As a result, children will turn to school books for facts and answers, instead of the Bible. Already Gone argues that if a child is unable to defend the historicity and fact of Genesis, then he or she will quickly be disillusioned with the church. “Ultimately, if we are unable to defend Genesis, we have allowed the enemy to attack our Christian faith and undermine the very first book of the Bible,” the book says.

T.A. McMahon, executive director of The Berean Call, believes the failure to keep evangelical youth interested in and excited about the Bible is a consequence of abandoning teaching them in favor of trying to entertain them. Already Gone shows how simply trying to entertain children with nice music and fun programs does not give a solid foundation for young Christians. What people need is good, sound teaching of the Bible.

How sad is that? I mean, on a basic intellectual level, it’s just pathetic. Allow me to paraphrase: Teaching them the Bible makes them turn away, so we need to teach the Bible more! I’ve written before about the self-fulfilling nature of beliefs and the books that defend them, and this is the perfect example. It’s pretty obvious when you have to use the subversive quotes around “hard facts” that you don’t have a leg to stand on.

And what are these hard facts that contradict the Bible? Well, the book description doesn’t specify, but it’s easy to guess. Look at who the author is!

Ken Ham. Remember him? He’s president of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum. Yeah, that’s right. We’re talking young-earth Creationism here.

And the answers to all your prayers are in this book!

This bestseller provides valid research on the issue, calls for a revolution in the church, and shows how to fight back to protect our families and churches.

When you have to use “valid” to describe your research, that’s scary. But the scarier notion is that there are so many people who see this as “protection” as opposed to the intellectual abuse it really is.

Ken Ham and World Net Daily represent extremists, I know. But they only become “extremists” by being extreme versions of values and practices that are already in place.

If you ever needed proof that religion depends on indoctrination to survive, I can’t think of a better example.

This is what I have nightmares about…

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There are 3 Comments to "Religious Oppression and Indoctrination—Literally!"

  • awfrick says:

    UGH.

    Indoctrination is really the best word for all of this, and this is even more evidence that free-inquiry is impossible within a religious context.

  • Jesse says:

    This pains me to read, especially since my family members are probably reading books like these to find out “what went wrong” with me.

  • Qohelet says:

    If this book scares you with its call to child indoctrination, then I urge you not to watch Jesus Camp. The camp counselor admits she is indoctrinating young minds for Jesus.

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