Friday, June 26, 2009

Björn from ABBA: You shouldn't religiously indoctrinate kids


Nobody should have to form an opinion on matters of such weight before they are ready to size up the arguments. Above all, children should be kept away from anything that bears even the slightest whiff of indoctrination. In fact, freedom from indoctrination ought to be a basic human right for all children.

A religious education makes it more difficult for children to form their own views on the world. It puts obstacles in their way that not all are capable of overcoming.

What a boneheaded and prejudiced opinion.

If children could not have an opinion on things before they were able to size up arguments, they wouldn't have an opinion on anything.

I remember when I was ten years old, I had a lot of opinions on politics. In fact, at that age, I engaged in my first act of activism. I wrote to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to tell him not to de-index old-age pensions. I knew what inflation was. And I knew what de-index meant. And I knew what the consequences would be-- old people would get an increase less than the rate of inflation and become relatively poorer, when they were already hard up to begin with.

But I didn't have all the facts. I knew nothing about the debt or the deficit. Or fiscal solvency. Or paying taxes or CPP contributions. I just knew the "right result".

So. Should kids stop having opinions because they don't have the means to understand the facts or learn the arguments?

I don't think so.

Should their parents stop telling them what they think is right?

Wouldn't the parents be negligent in their duties if they did?

Here's the truth.

Kids are immature and ignorant.

For that reason they sometimes need to be told what to think. And parents should tell them.

(That's not to say that there is no room for some independent thought, but independent thought does not preclude being told.)

The real objection to indoctrination is that believers treat religion as if it is as true as math and science when humanists feel that it is not as true.

They don't care if you indoctrinate your kids with their doctrines, because they're true (in their eyes).

Indoctrination for me and not for thee. That's what it amounts to.

A religious education makes it more difficult for children to form their own views on the world. It puts obstacles in their way that not all are capable of overcoming.

As if his worldview is not subject to the same weakness!

One of the school system's most important functions is to create a feeling of community, where all are treated on equal terms regardless of race, class or creed. Society's way of treating children with the respect they deserve is to combat by all available means any sense of an "us against them" divide.


Religions by their nature always run the risk of creating an "us against them" scenario. However tolerant we believe ourselves to be, there is always a reason people consider their own religion superior to all others.

But Humanists are a special breed of people who think more clearly than the rest of us. Since their opinions are the fruit of reason, not faith, their derision and marginalization of religion is enlightening and liberating, not divisive. If only the poor benighted fundamentalists could overcome their indoctrination and their silly fairytale beliefs, they could see the error of their ways and we could all be as one and they could finally stop fomenting that "us against them" mentality. Religion is a plague on society. Humanism unites people under all one creed-- that of reason.

There is no sense of superiority in humanism whatsoever.