The human person's brain develops fastest during the first three years of life. Everything gets set then and it is hard to change. So any damage done to a child's development during this time will result in long term and short term mental health problems.  That is why we need to take a firm stand against religious indoctrination as being harmful in principle.  It treats the child as something to be hypnotised almost.  And then there is the matter of the religious doctrines having harmful content.


Whether you think it is hypnosis or not, parents seem to have that kind of effect on their children.  Children are prone to believing what their parents say. Parents wittingly or unwittingly will form their child's mind irreversibly in some way forever.  Religion knows this which is why it is so centred on the family.  Even parents sending their child to a religious school sends a message: "The school will tell you what you are to think about religion for us.  It has our stamp of approval." Religion says that even your secular dealings are to be offered to God so they are sacred and holy though not obviously so.  That is how it makes sure parents can unwittingly absorb the faith or a strong attachment to the religious structure.  It explains why atheists of a religious background often will not be true to atheist principles and have their child given to a religion for cultural reasons and for the ceremonies.  Child conditioning will lead to the child internalising the religious structure and then the faith.  Faith always comes second to the structure.  That is why Catholics who would not learn the faith or develop their faith will still run looking for baptism and confirmation and first communion ceremonies.


How dogmatic and fundamentalist Christians groom children and harm them:
"They are highly submissive to established authority, aggressive in the name of that authority, and conventional to the point of insisting everyone should behave as their authorities decide. They are fearful and self-righteous and have a lot of hostility in them that they readily direct toward various out-groups. They are easily incited, easily led, rather un-inclined to think for themselves, largely impervious to facts and reason, and rely instead on social support to maintain their beliefs. They bring strong loyalty to their in-groups, have thick-walled, highly compartmentalized minds, use a lot of double standards in their judgments, are surprisingly unprincipled at times, and are often hypocrites. But they are also Teflon-coated when it comes to guilt. They are blind to themselves, ethnocentric and prejudiced, and as closed-minded as they are narrow-minded. They can be woefully uninformed about things they oppose, but they prefer ignorance and want to make others become as ignorant as they. They are also surprisingly uninformed about the things they say they believe in, and deep, deep, deep down inside many of them have secret doubts about their core belief. But they are very happy, highly giving, and quite zealous"
"Over time, this authoritarian conditioning breeds a sense of personal inadequacy and endangerment. The traumatized self becomes angry, hostile, and resentful. However, because the religion that produces, legitimizes, and represses the trauma is beyond question, the traumatized individual remains blind to its causes. This leads to authoritarian aggression, that personality trait Dr. Altemeyer describes as a “little volcano of hostility bubbling away inside of them looking for a (safe, approved) way to erupt.”
 - See more at:

Many believe that a child being raised in a religious tradition encourages the child to learn from religion and hopefully commit to the religion. It is thought to be better than having the child see religion as a private matter which leads to people dropping out of the social side of religion and creating collections of individuals and not communities. The risk of indoctrination is thought to be worth it.

Many children are raised in terribly dysfunctional family setups whereby they are neglected and abused. A surprisingly high number grow up to be normal upstanding people. Some however do not. A religion often carries on like it is the child's real family and overrides the child's family. Many religions hurt children with their superstitions and their moral and tribal taboos. That a child can suffer terribly and still come through it well does not justify any of the harm done by dysfunctional families. And religion is the quintessential dysfunctional family and its speciality is lies. If the child grows up to become the adult from Hell, the blame may lie entirely with the religion.

This work explicates the mental, "spiritual" and emotional damage that the Christian faith can do to a child. Children who are spared this have been exposed to a Christianity that has not been implemented properly and which has been presented in a very sweetened up way. Self-esteem problems stem from childhood. Christianity is to blame for the biggest problems because it tells children it is their biggest thing. Even liberal versions of the faith teach things such as that God in the form of Jesus wants us to believe in what he has revealed in the Church and live it and that God by definition is the being who must be loved most of all. Any religion that seeks to be the dominant influence and value in the life of a child risks inflicting, directly or indirectly, psychological harm on them. Some therapists and parents believe that if a child does wrong, he or she should suffer low self-esteem as a consequence. Even that is okay, what is not okay is religion trying to give them something extra to dislike and hate themselves for. Consider how the child who tells a lie may suffer low self-esteem for it - that child will suffer more if she sees the lie as not only bad in itself but also as an affront to God!
I demand in the interest of the rights of the child that the deliberate exposure of children to Christian propaganda for recruitment purposes be made illegal.
Our children are the future of our world. It is important that if anything that exists that may or does damage them psychologically can be prohibited by the force of law that it be done. The rights of children come before their parents and priests and teachers in many respects for they are so young and are at their developmental stage mentally and emotionally. Parents have no right to determine the religious beliefs of the child for religion is a private matter.
We do not want our children exposed to excessive violence or pornography on television but we do nothing about the far more insidious and deadly spiritual pornography that is dished out by the Churches.
Remember faith and reason cannot be equal. Reason implies willingness to revise your views and correct them. So if it is wrong to denigrate faith it is even more wrong to denigrate reason. To indoctrinate children into a faith is denigrating reason.
Instilling humanistic or non-religious values in children is bad. But instilling religious values is worse. Both are forms of indoctrination and this is wrong for these things should be their decision and nobody else's. It is okay to help children find the values themselves.
A little religious knowledge or spiritual knowledge is worse than none at all. If people knew these things better they would not be taken in by religious and spiritual charlatans such as the Medjugorje visionaries and the local tarot reader. Children are usually fed enough religion or spirituality to try and get them hooked and they become easy fodder for their religion and maybe even another religion.
We take it for granted that a person should stand by his beliefs unless something turns up that shows them to be incorrect or wrong. Religion is taking advantage of that principle. If it is true that we are born programmed for religion, surely it is all the more reason for us NOT to be indoctrinated. There is a danger like most people that we will be drawn to feel that if we are going to err then we would rather err with the majority. That impulse helps explain how religion conditions people.
Children have alarmingly strong self-justifying tendencies. A child will bully a child and claim that she deserved it. Religion and the concept of deserving go together. There would be no need for religion unless it was thought people deserve bad things or good things. It is even based on the notion that God deserves service and love from us. Religion only makes the child a bigger self-justifier than he is and that leads to a boost in aggression and to sectarian devotion. A vicious circle appears. The more the child harms others the more self-justification is necessary. And if he cannot justify himself before parents and others he will turn to God for justification and feel he has got it. And the more self-justification then the more aggression appears. And when enough children go that way and grow up like that the more religious persecution they will foment.
When adults look back to their faith in Christ, will this bring back memories of hope, imagination and joy? Did Jesus give you magical moments in which you experience a perfect world just for a fleeting moment? This experience is considered so special for a child that it is reasoned that it Santa makes childhood special so parents lying that Santa exists is acceptable.
The recruitment of children to the following must be ceased immediately by legal force:
# To faiths that insist we must look after others because it pleases God - all our love must manifest our complete love of God. A child who struggles with self-esteem and depression and abuse does not need to hear her parents encouraged to see her just as a tool with which to please God.
# To forms of faith that see messages from angels and Heaven and God in virtually everything. One risk is that a child might jump off a cliff thinking he will be saved by an angel. Or a child might think she is getting warnings about a person. That can lead to an innocent person being hounded.
# To forms of faith that require you to approve of evil and murder - even if they are peaceful now. An example is children being told that the Bible is infallible despite its Jesus having demanded vengeance by the stoning to death of adulterers. If you do not engage in acts of violence you still revere them.
# Serious superstition is a great evil. You don't want to create a world where you hold that if somebody walks under a ladder and then dies horribly shortly after that they brought it on themselves by asking for bad luck.

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