Tonight starts another brand new series that I hope you will all enjoy. In Inoculation Against Indoctrination I will be speaking of what a religious upbringing does to the brain, and how it changes as a person grow older or when they enter the faith. I was raised in a fairly strict Pentecostal home, though I can say that I knew others who come from an even more strict family. Yet, I from what I’ve read of others stories and how religious faith works in general I think a person from any faith will see parallels to their own upbringing.
So you’ve just spent 9 months in the womb, you squeeze yourself into the world of the non umbilical connected entities and where do you find yourself. Well, outside of what I hope is a hospital, it’s a good chance that you were born to religious parents. You don’t even have control of your own head before they parade you to church, synagogue, or a mosque. Some of your very earliest memories will probably be within the walls of your own faiths version of a temple.
Before you are even able to talk you hear songs and see people acting in strange ways. Everyone wants to touch you while closing their eyes and mumbling a bunch of random sounds. If you are born with a penis, one of your first painful experiences was probably of someone lopping off a piece of it. Unfortunately in some parts of the world, if you are a female you may have to go through an even worse form of circumcision at some point in your life.
So you’re laying there in your mother or your fathers arms and you hear people sing the hymns, you hear the voice of the religious leader as they speak, you hear prayers and testimonies. All of these things are flowing into your infant mind and shaping how you view things that are normal, even though you might not be making many memories, what your mind does collect will have a great deal of influence over how you view faith as you grow older.
Once you’ve gained control of your head and your limbs, mastered standing and maybe walking around a bit, and begun talking a bit you find that people are trying to get you to say new words all the time. If you’re born into a fundamentalist Christian family, one of the words that people around you try to get you to say is “Jesus.” Aroud this time you are probably christened or “dedicated to god”, which is a ceremony that basically says you are owned by god and your parents are simply your guardians here on earth.
Around this time you begin mimicking your parents and those that you see in your religious environment. The more you mimic the adults the more praise you receive by those around you. Praise is good and it feels good and so you mimic more and more. Maybe your family sees your wonderful mimic skills as actual faith and so they post videos of you on YouTube like the one below.
You’re beginning to speak more and more. At around three years old you are taken from your parents when at church and placed in Sunday school with other children your age. Not much in the way of learning is done but their are games, toys, and songs. You really like the songs and they are easy to remember so you sing them throughout the day. Little do you know that you’ve spent your entire life, readying yourself for the next stage, when indoctrination truly begins in the minds of most children raised within the church. The only thing that you know is…
“Jesus loves me this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little Ones to him belong,
They are weak but he is strong.”
For the next article in this series, click here:Inoculation Against Indoctrination: Ages 4-6: Jesus Loves You