Taking Children Seriously

“Gateway Religions”

Posted by Kevin Schoedel
on the TCS List on Mon, 17 Dec., 2001, at 10:55:00 -0801

Quoting Jeff Jacoby:

In their world, there were no absolutes, no fixed truths, no mandatory behavior, no thou-shalt-nots.

Actually, John Walker Lindh's father has publically confessed to exposing his young boy to Catholicism°. It comes as no surprise that in America today, nearly every convert to Islamic fundamentalism started out using a milder ‘gateway religion’ while still a child – often in the family home.¹ (Shocking as it may seem, some parents are so deeply enmeshed in what hard-core users often call “the life” or “the way” that they even take their children along to so-called “houses of God” where religion is openly practised, often dumping the young children in the basement where a teenager plies them with watered-down religion with the explicit intent to get them hooked.)

Many people assume that only the ‘hard’ religions like Islam, or the weird ‘designer religions’ like Heaven's Gate, are dangerous. This is a grave mistake! Even the now relatively mild Christianity once routinely led to violent aggression among many users, and many experts believe it would still be far more dangerous today if it were not routinely diluted with small quantities of reason. In the USA, a handful of users of ‘uncut’ Christianity have been responsible for a startling number of murders, bombings, and arsons in recent years².

Even for the lucky ones who never move beyond the ‘gateway religions’, the consequences are devastating. Some 41% of Americans use it each week, clearly psychologically if not physically addicted, and perhaps most shocking, 63% think it “can answer all or most of today's problems”³.

What can a worried parent do? Look for the following DANGER SIGNS that may indicate your child has been using religion:

On the other hand, parents should take care not to over-react to their children's language. Many slang terms, such as “damn” and “Jesus H Christ”, while clearly originating in the religious subculture, are now widely used by young people from all walks of life, many of whom have no idea of their origins. Good parents might understandably be concerned to hear their daughter shout “Oh God oh God OH GOD” from her locked bedroom, but in the absence of the DANGER SIGNS listed above, she is probably just fucking.

0: http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0112/03/lkl.00.html
1: Even a former President has admitted to praying in his youth, although he claims he never believed.
2: http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_viol.htm
3: http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr010413.asp

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