A friend of ours recieved this book for Christmas, rather ironically!, and he and B stood discussing it in the kitchen on Monday evening. The girls bustled around the table serving black eyed peas, greens and cheese grits (our New Year's Day tradition) and I eavesdropped from the dining room, sipping my chardonnay and being a total chick who eavesdrops. I generally stay out of discussions about God and religion, but with an atheistic husband, I tune in and see if I can learn something new. The topic seemed to be about organized religion as child abuse, something I've never thought about. I'm from California! Eternal damnation is not discussed in the grocery lines as I imagine it might be elsewhere. And though I come from a line of quasi-baptisty-types, I've never actually been threatened with going to hell, even for the worst of my misdemeanors. So the idea is that when little children learn about Hell and how you can get in there and not get out, and how very, very hot it surely is, it can be very frightening for them. I reckon they might envision the judgy "Hangman God" as Elizabeth Gilbert describes Him, sitting up on an ornate throne beyond the gates personally deciding the fate of naughty little children and slashing the heads off of thieves and such. I'd never thought about it, but this sounds really fucking nightmarish! I've never thought about what a child must think when they are threatened with eternal damnation. Hmm. Another weird thing that I didn't know was that atheists or those who question religion (i don't think he meant spirituality, mind you) cannot be elected to public office. Is this true?? Maggie, I know you will be able to enlighten me here. (Please note that I would have linked Maggie, but I keep getting redirected to some weird page with a dog and a scanty Santa on it.) I'm on fire with the topics these days, but I'm just itching to see what you readers think. Could organized religion be considered child abuse? Go!


Blogger Goddess of Leonie said...

hey sister,

at one womens circle a few months ago we discussed our childhood religions.

some of the things my circle sisters had been through did sound quite unhealthy... not sure if i'd use the words child abuse, but it definitely wasn't nourishing to their spirits at the time.

i was relatively unscathed in my childhood religion. the most significant thing i can remember about my childhood religion was this:

my parents were fairly unbothered by religion, not atheists as such ~ they had their quiet beliefs, but always told us that we could believe whatever we wanted.

one day when i was about 13, at a religious education class at school (mandatory, which i find a bit offensive for a state school), the older lady told us that we were wrong if we thought there was 2 people in a relationship. there's actually 3, apparently: a man, a woman, and god.

i thought that was a pretty weird statement, so i went home and asked mum about it.

she replied with a serious face:
yes honey, that's very true.

i laughed: what mum? you really believe that?

still with the serious face, she replied:
yes honey, that's when you're having sex, and you call out "oh god, oh god"

if anything, i probably know way too much about my parents sex life.

but that's a whole other topic ;)

love ya for the questioning honey :)

1/03/2007 11:52:00 PM  
Blogger Ally Bean said...

I grew up going to a Presbyterian church which explained religion in a very practical sense. There was no judgemental God hovering around-- just a caring one.

I can imagine that my church experience would of been more intimidating if I thought that every thing that I did wrong could end me up in hell. I'd be afraid of trying anything new.

Whether that is child abuse, I don't know. But it doesn't sound like the way to raise healthy, balanced kids to me.

Very interesting topic.

1/04/2007 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Wow, some tasty fodder here. I hadn't heard that about Atheists not being allowed to hold public office, but I looked it up and it appears to be true in at least 7 states. http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/StateConstitutions.htm
Scary, eh?

I have sat with a number of clients who are healing from spiritual trauma as a result of their religious upbringings. They have usually been raised in Seventh-Day Adventist or secretive religion-cults such as Two-By-Twos, but Catholics and Lutherans have their share as well.

Hmmm...the more I think about this, I may be too biased against organized religion to make a statement here! I tend to feel they are unhealthy, promote dependence, and discourage thinking-for-oneself, in general. But that's just me - that's why I'm on the seeker path.

J and I have discussed at length how we want to raise our child spiritually, and we feel it will benefit our child to be raised in a family where there is no one right way to think or feel about God/Spirit/Creator/The One. We want our child to come to her/his own conclusions, to experience their own connection with the Divine.

Have I even answered your question!?!?!?

1/04/2007 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger pinkcoyote said...

thanks all and maggie for your comments and research. i think that i can't say that subjecting a child to organized religion is abusive, because there are so many many experiences to be had out there. i do think, in my never-ending interest in the very young, developing child that any threat to a child's security (this includes divorce) is going to come with consequences of a negative nature. (quick disclaimer: if a child is in physical, mental or emotional danger then seperation is absolutely necessary...wish i didn't have to say that, but feel i have to be extra clear here now!). i do think there are plenty of forms of organized religion that don't frighten children, but that there may equally be as many that are damaging to a young child's innocence and maybe oppressive to women, too. I want to think about this some more.

1/05/2007 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger celeste said...

i don't think that you can generalize organized religion anymore than you can generalize parents. some good, some bad, some should never have children near them. the key (imo) is for you to really have a clear sense of self, and if you get any "icky" feeling, on the church grounds, from their website, from their staff, from the pulpit, leave. and before you leave your children with any child education person at that church, you spend some time with those leaders and other staff at the church. there are tremendous numbers of *very* scarey churches out there. and fortunately...a lot of great churches with affirming communities and messages too. (even lots of churches were it's ok to question the existence of god)
(i don't mean to be anonymous, but it seems the only way to leave a msg today on blogspot...celestialspirit13@yahoo.com stonesoupart.blogspot.com)

1/06/2007 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger pinkcoyote said...

celeste, i totally agree. asking lots of questions and investigating before integrating a child's young mind into a community of any kind is the best idea. i wish there weren't so much evidence that people don't do this thoroughly enough. i'm getting ready to post about how children are sacraficed for their parents and this ties in nicely. thank you so much for your thoughts!

1/06/2007 05:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sad to think that an Atheist would not be electable in this country, but I had no idea that Atheists are NOT ALLOWED to hold office in 7 states (according to their constitutions)... That's scary and, ironically, completely un-constitutional!
I can't wait to read Richard Dawkin's new book. I've listened to some of his lectures and love what he has to say. Maggie, you're right about letting a child come to their own conclusions. Let them know what you believe and what others believe. One of the things Dawkins doesn't like is refering to children as 'Catholic children', 'Muslim children', or even 'Atheist children' as children haven't come to their conclusions on the cosmos yet and it should not be forced on them. Many Atheists are afraid to venture 'out-of-the-closet' and with good reason - check this out:

Dawkins encourages us to stop being afraid. Great topic!

1/08/2007 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Marilyn said...

I was raised Catholic and taught by nuns for 8 years. The theology meant nothing to me (even as a 1st grader it seemed nonsensical)...so I had no relationship with spirituality in any form until my mid-30's. Catholicism was ritual to me...memorizing words, events, motions. Although it didn't feel abusive in any way, there was one priest who'd come in to teach our religion class one day a week and he was quite sadistic...THAT felt abusive and scary. (Nothing untoward, just cruel.) And because it was a different era--and he was a priest--we never thought to tell our parents...we thought we just had to suffer through it. I had no idea that atheists are not ALLOWED to hold office. Wow.

1/11/2007 06:53:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home