Bad Theism · Inoculation Against Indoctrination

Inoculation Against Indoctrination: Ages 7-12: Servant Mindset Begins

Good evening Heathens and Hell-Bound friends and foes alike! It’s time for another edition of the indoctrination series. For the last article in this series, click here: Inoculation Against Indoctrination: Ages 4-6: Jesus Loves You. If you’d like to start at the beginning of this series, click here:Inoculation Against Indoctrination: Ages 0-3: Sights and Sounds.

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So let’s get this out of the way…Did you know that you are trash? You’re garbage and there is absolutely nothing good about you. The only possible thing about you that could be good would be your love and adoration of god. Do you love god? But do you really love him? No, seriously, do you love him more than anything else in this world? Well you better because if not he’s going to hurt you.

hell

Ever fallen off your bike? Well imagine feeling that pain times 1 gazillion, now you know just how bad it’s going to hurt if you don’t love god more than anything else in this world. Now…how are you going to prove to god that you love him? Well, you’re going to volunteer in the church, you’ll collect the weekly offerings, sing songs to the lord, tell your friends about Jesus and definitely invite them to church so that they can be injected with the fear of hell as well.

santa

Ages 7-12 are crucial years when it comes to indoctrination. You’ve spent the majority of your life up until this point being told that god loves you, he wants you to be happy and you’ve heard all the fun stories about all the people who god loved in the past. Now it’s time to take on the next step because you are starting to ask actual questions. During this time you will stop believing in Santa, the Easter Bunny, Unicorns, and other mythical creatures….and so in the back of your mind you begin to question whether or not this god character is real too.

So how do you put an end to the doubts? You add a healthy dose of fear. Most churches believe that the age of accountability, or in other words the age that you know right from wrong begins somewhere between the ages of 7 and 12. It’s time to learn about hell. Hell is the opposite of everything that you have been told about god up to this point. It’s dark, painful, filled with evil people. Are you evil? If you don’t worship god perfectly then you most definitely are.

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You are also beginning to make friends between these ages that are more than simply the play dates that you may have had prior to this age. So the church puts a big ad on your forehead, in some denominations literally, and tells you that you must tell all your friends about Jesus so they don’t go to hell. Also, it’s very important to understand that any friend who scoffs at your witnessing is evil and you should cut ties as quickly as possible or else they may drag you to hell with them.

One of the things that bothered me the most, even when I was a minister is how few people ever advance past this stage of belief. They know just enough about the biblical stories to give a brief synopsis and faith statement and they fear hell just enough to keep them from leaving the faith. While this bothered me greatly it’s actually how it’s meant to be when it comes to the church, they don’t want you asking big questions, they want you dumb, gullible, and perfectly happy dropping loads of money into the offering plate.

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Two words that I never heard a minister ever preach about…”Critical Thinking.”

Soon you will be old enough to join the youth group and really start living in service to god, at the moment though your service will primarily be within the church. Putting on plays, skits for the adults, singing in the choir, and maybe acting as an usher in some churches. You won’t be given tough tasks but you will be given a ton of praise for those tasks you are given, even if you do poorly. The idea is to get the pleasure center of your brain associated with servitude and acceptance.

Bad Theism · Inoculation Against Indoctrination

Inoculation Against Indoctrination: Side Effects of Religious Indoctrination

Good Evening Heathens and Hell-Bound friends and foes alike. For the last article on this subject, click here: Inoculation Against Indoctrination: Atheists? Before I push forward in this series I thought there was another topic that I would touch upon. I think it’s necessary to understand how indoctrination affects the adult mind before we go into how someone can be indoctrinated.

I’m several years outside of the walls of religious faith and so I think it puts me in a position where I can discuss the side-effects that still cling around after someone leaves the faith. These things are going to be especially true the more fundamentalist you were in your former faith. If you were from one of the more liberal Christianities these issues are probably not as severe yet you may experience them to some degree, even if slightly. So without further ado, here are the side effects of religious indoctrination.

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Trust Issues

It is incredibly hard for me to trust someone at face value. After years of religious indoctrination, if you aren’t willing to show me some evidence for why I should trust you, it’s not going to happen. I realized after 30 years that my life was based on a lie, a lie that people might have told me with good intentions, but a lie nonetheless.

For years my life had been built around something that was doing deep harm to my mind. It was shaping the way I saw people, made me fear the outside world and cling to the faith harder and harder. I knew that if I strayed from the faith it would mean death and punishment so I clung even harder. Once I got away from it, I realized how deluded I had been and so today I still fear deluding myself again, or having someone else feed me their delusions.

anxiety

Severe Anxiety

So you are taught for years that everyone outside the faith wants to do you harm. They are after one thing only, to destroy your soul. You know that lady or man who smiled at you, she is going to lead you into temptation. Science spends billions of dollars per year with the sole purpose of causing you to believe in evolution and thus disbelieve in the bible.

This anxiety does not go away simply because you’ve realized it’s a lie. I still have great issues accepting invites from friends as well as a severe fear of meeting new people. My mind still instantly goes to how this person might try to get me to sin.

Bald Britney

Depression

Many people who come out of faith have issues with depression. This can come from a feeling of hopelessness, a loss of community, or being disowned by family and friends. Some people who leave the faith lose their jobs and have great financial struggles.

There are of course organizations that can help, for example I’m a member of The Clergy Project, a foundation set up to help former ministers find a community and new direction in life. Other organizations might provide financial support or counselling to those in need. However, depression is not something that you can really beat, at least not in my opinion. I still struggle with depression to this day and will more than likely struggle with depression the rest of my life. Religion was such a huge part of my life and now it’s gone, I realize that it was simply bells and whistles but they were bells and whistles that my entire life was centered around.

Bald Britney

Regret

This one is bigger with those who are former members of the Clergy. I have huge regrets over the things that I taught for many years.  I preached doctrine and dogma, and so I preached that homosexuality was a sin, that if you were a sinner you were going to hell, and that salvation could be found through a human sacrifice. Children sat in the front rows during my services and I warned them of the evils in the world that would constantly try to lead them away from the faith.

Proudly I can say that the majority of kids who were in my church are actually now atheists. I often wonder if they questioned their beliefs after finding out that their former minister had rejected his own. Even so that would do little to remove the regret that I feel for every single sermon I ever gave on and subject that I now think completely different about.

Bald Britney

The Fear of Hell

This one never goes away, it sits in the back of your mind like a time-bomb waiting to go off at any moment. I can be watching TV and all of a sudden have images of hell enter my mind.  I’ve awoken in the middle of the night in a cold sweat because I dreamed that I had gone to hell and was burning for all eternity.

The religious will try to use this fact as evidence for the existence of hell. They will say, how can you fear something that you don’t believe is going to happen.  Isn’t the fear of hell evidence that hell exists and that god must also exist? No, it simply means that I was taught to believe in hell from as young as I can remember and those lessons are still deep within my mind. It is just a sign of the indoctrination and not a sign of any truth to that indoctrination.

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In the End

It’s clear that the taint of faith will forever be on my mind. You cannot be taught something for nearly 30 years and then just believe it’s going to go away. The good news is that the longer that I am away from the faith, the less I experience these side-effects. Maybe one day they will cease to exist entirely but I doubt that. Something tells me that no matter how long I am away from the faith I will still have some issue that faith caused. My anxiety is getting better but it’s still there, my trust issues are lessened but still there, I still suffer from depression and regret, and I will never fully remove the fear that was driven into me as a child about hell.

Religious indoctrination is abuse, no question in my mind, and like any abuse I will always be tainted by the hand that beat me, that told me I couldn’t live without it, and that promised if I ever left I would be punished. That hand is religion, and it definitely poisons everything.

Bad Theism · Inoculation Against Indoctrination

Inoculation Against Indoctrination: Atheists?

For the last post in this series, click here: Inoculation Against Indoctrination: Ages 0-3: Sights and Sounds.

So I started this series with a basic idea to describe how religious faiths indoctrinate people into their beliefs. However, the very first comment that I received on this through my twitter account was: “Are atheists indoctrinated as well as theists?” So, obviously we need to touch on this idea a bit before moving on to any other age groups.

indoctrination

First let’s look at the definition of indoctrination.

Indoctrination – Noun

-the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.

So with that said can Atheists indoctrinate their children? The answer is of course yes, they could indoctrinate their children and probably some do, but I don’t see it as being as large of an issue as it is with religious faiths. In this article I will try to explain why?

First off, why would an atheist feel the need to indoctrinate their child? For example, when my daughter comes to me with a question, I don’t simply make things up, or go with what I have been told about something. If it’s something I am unsure of, the answer is as easy as, “I don’t know but let’s find out.” For the most part I try to raise my daughter to think critically, and to come to these answers on her own.

If she asks me what I believe about something I will be more than willing to tell her my own personal views on a topic and show her evidence to support those views, but I am not in the business of telling her this is how things are because I say this is how things are. Perhaps she will be religious when she grows older, so far she doesn’t show much interest in faith but there have been times that she has asked why we don’t go to church?

Her life is her life to live, it’s not my life. She is free to be an atheist, be religious, spiritual, gay, trans, straight, asexual, bisexual, her life choices are really none of my business as long as she isn’t hurting anyone or being hurt herself. My job is to keep her alive, make sure she gets an education, feed and cloth her, and then send her into the world with the tools that she will need in order to survive.

critical thinking

I’ve already touched on it, but the second reason that I don’t think atheists indoctrinate their children to the degree that theists do, that being critical thinking. I teach her to question what she is told, if she thinks what I said doesn’t quite make sense I always encourage her to look it up for herself. We had a discussion about evolution the other day and she wasn’t quite getting the connection between apes and humans, as best as I tried to answer her questions it just wasn’t quite enough. A few minutes doing her own research and she was able to claim for herself that she now knows why humans are considered apes.

Religions for the most part are fairly lacking in the area of critical thinking. My entire blog is devoted to exposing these illogical and irrational mindsets. God said it and so I believe it is the epitome of non-critical thought. If god said it why did he say it, and how do we know which god said it or if this god that supposedly said something even exists. Critical thinking leads you to asking these questions and many more.

As I stated before, my daughter is her own person. I’m not trying to shape her into anything or make her conform to any mindset. Sometimes I will agree with the choices that she makes and other times I will disagree. I made a lot of mistakes growing up and I’m sure she will make plenty of mistakes as well. It’s a part of life and one that it will be her responsibility to sort out.

Evolution

Lastly, lets talk about the fact that I was indoctrinated into religion. I was taught chapter and verse every single day of my life for nearly 20 years and then I followed the faith for another 10 years after that. No one indoctrinated me into atheism, I came to atheism when I began to think critically about my own beliefs and try to make sense of them in a world where they do not make sense.

  • Why did god have to die so that god could forgive us from god?
  • Why do creationists fight science so much?
  • Why is there absolutely no evidence of a global flood?
  • Why is there no evidence of an exodus?
  • How could Adam and Eve understand the concept of sin if they hadn’t ate the fruit yet?
  • Why is the evidence for Jesus so scarce outside the gospels?
  • Why did the gospel writers wait decades before writing anything down?

Once I started looking at these ideas in a truly critical way, they completely fell apart and I was left with the choice of continuing to pretend being a believer or simply accept the fact that I no longer had a belief in god.

My story is actually pretty common, the number of people born to atheist families is fairly low compared to those who become atheists at a later date.  This makes sense due to the fact that atheists make up a fairly small portion of the general populace. We aren’t indoctrinated, we freed ourselves from the chains of indoctrination.

So when you say that atheism is simply another form of indoctrination, you are really no better than stating that the act of being free from slavery is equitable to still being a slave. My mind is free, I have no belief in god. I might have people I enjoy listening to, reading their books, or watching their videos, but I do not worship these people, I don’t base my life on the religion of Dawkins, the philosophy of Hitchens, or the creeds of Harris. I am my own person who looks at the evidence and come to my own conclusions.

Bad Theism · Inoculation Against Indoctrination

Inoculation Against Indoctrination: Ages 0-3: Sights and Sounds

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.

birth

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.

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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.”

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For the next article in this series, click here:Inoculation Against Indoctrination: Ages 4-6: Jesus Loves You