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← Some things children should not be taught

Some things children should not be taught - Comments

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 1 by Mark Jones

This strikes me as a modest proposal from Thomas Prosser:

I believe a public commission should be established that issues non-legally binding guidelines on the forms of doctrines that it is desirable that children are taught. The preaching of hellfire or of divine faith healings to children could form part of such guidelines. Non-compliers could be "named and shamed" by such a commission.

Predictably religion's defenders squeal in the comments at such a suggestion:

This article is filled with unfounded assertions, scare-mongering and anti-Christian hysteria. Not, of course, unusual on the pages of the Guardian. And let's not pretend that your view is morally neutral or somehow "rational" and evidence-based. It is as bigotted and prejudiced as you imagine Christians to be.

...

Theologically speaking, the article is utter bollocks. And the idea lurking below the surface, that the state should act as moderators of Christian doctrine, is the kind of fascistic shite typical of the control freakery found here on a regular basis. Won't anybody think of the children? Liars. None of you are.

The problem is that the notion of a 'commission' like this is bound to attract opprobrium, and the febrile warblings of the apologists. But we already have de facto commissions in Government and Parliament deciding what should be taught in school, and no-one descends to calling that fascistic. It's just Government in action, but for some reason when extended to the doctrines beloved of the religious, it is suddenly the actions of the devil. Hey ho; more religious privilege in evidence.

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 15:25:30 UTC | #543083

Axeman33's Avatar Comment 2 by Axeman33

It's difficult to really do anything about it when the parents are on board with this kind of indoctrination. At what point and to what extent are we ever going to be able to hold parents accountable?

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 15:26:37 UTC | #543085

hitchens_jnr's Avatar Comment 3 by hitchens_jnr

The "Soul Survivor" video (can such abuse committed in the name of a Rolling Stones song ever be pardoned?) is the most worrying thing about this. It shows the crimes against the gag reflex committed when Christians try to be "down with the kids".

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 15:55:18 UTC | #543093

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 4 by God fearing Atheist

Was this article published in the hardcopy of the Guardian? If so, it stokes the fire. If only on Cif, then it does the same to a lesser extent. All good stuff.

As for the suggestion of a public commission to issue voluntary guidelines - the commission might raise awareness, but voluntary guidelines are useless.

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 16:03:21 UTC | #543098

Dr. monster's Avatar Comment 5 by Dr. monster

stopping genital mutilation in children is surely a call to arms that no reasonable minded person can ignore. we should start there

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 16:27:20 UTC | #543109

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 6 by Stafford Gordon

Perhap Save The Children could set up a specialist section.

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 17:13:18 UTC | #543124

PERSON's Avatar Comment 7 by PERSON

Oh yeah. An unenforced "name and shame" list of organizations and their activities, independently verified for veracity. That was totally how Hitler got into power. Fetch the fainting couches!

Only totally evil people would do any such thing.

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 18:00:08 UTC | #543135

kev_s's Avatar Comment 8 by kev_s

The religious would interpret "highly questionable religious doctrines" as meaning the doctrines of some other religion, not their own.

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 18:22:38 UTC | #543138

The Plc's Avatar Comment 9 by The Plc

In other news the Sky is blue and the grass is green...

One of the criticisms Richard Dawkins received from religious apologists over the God Delusion was that he misunderstood how believers 'came to god', Alister McGrath for one made the claim that most religious believers,religious in their adulthood and that indoctrination when they were young had nothing to do with it. Once again the evidence shows that this claim to be bunk.

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 18:26:11 UTC | #543141

TreenonPoet's Avatar Comment 10 by TreenonPoet

This article is very supportive of religious indoctrination. It suggests that we create a toothless committee to wag their fingers at the wackiest religious ideas in order to reassure the public that the other religious ideas are OK. Note, near the end of the article "the advantage of leaving intact the parental right to educate children in their faith tradition", and earlier "The state placing limits upon children's attendance of religious services with their parents is clearly unacceptable". (My emphasis.)

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 18:43:37 UTC | #543146

Richard L's Avatar Comment 11 by Richard L

Sort of like the guidelines offered in other areas: "you ought not breathe asbestos", "you ought to have a varied diet, and not eat more than what you need" and "you ought not smoke." I think it is a great idea to add "you ought not lie to your child" and "you ought not threaten you child with fire" to the list! It seems like good moral guidelines to me, and the state is in the business of morality - add one-and-one together and you get...

A Great Suggestion!

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 18:55:56 UTC | #543151

katt33's Avatar Comment 12 by katt33

As much as I am against any indoctrination of any kind and believe religion should be taught as culture, with adults making such decision when they are older after critical analysis and thinking, if you live in a constitutional republic then the parents make the decision. If they wish to send their children to such camps and schools, well it is their choice.

That is why I believe that all schools should be secular and any faith stuff, should be kept out of education. To teach religion as sociology and as culture, that is one thing and later on if a young or older adult chooses to explore and belong to a particular faith, fine, let them.

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 19:27:34 UTC | #543159

Rodger T's Avatar Comment 13 by Rodger T

Religion should have an R18 rating and the bible/koran/talmud should have health warning stickers and some pictures depicting extreme mental health conditions, just like a packet of cigarettes.

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 20:08:23 UTC | #543174

Stonyground's Avatar Comment 14 by Stonyground

When reading the phrase 'highly questionable religious doctrines' my first thought was what other kind is there?

More than 150 years ago Bob Ingersoll pointed out that ideas that had to be pumped into children before they reached the age of reason did not inspire much confidence. If the religiots really believed that their ideas could stand up to critical examination they would be happy to have children protected from such ideas until they were sixteen and then allowed to make their own minds up. Sixteen year olds could be presented with the tenets of all of the mainstream religions, including godless humanism, and allowed to make a choice. The fact that religious people think that this is a bad idea proves that they know that their beliefs are nonsense but they still want such nonsense ideas presented to children as if they were true.

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 20:11:57 UTC | #543178

Ungodly1's Avatar Comment 15 by Ungodly1

As a child growing up in the 50s and 60s, it was considered the law for all fathers to drag their children off to church 3 times each Sunday, to be made to sit through boring dissertations by old men. Resistance was, in a word, futile, and such resistance by the child was met with severe punishment. My indoctrination was 100% successful by the time I was 6 years old. So what happened to open my eyes to the deception? No one particular thing, I was just a very curious and rebellious child, and eventually I reached the "age of reason", and decided the whole thing was a crock of shit. My family was devastated, and they are premourning my eventual and necessary descent into hell. I have had to come to the conclusion that they have their own 'crosses' to bear, and in this case, their sorrow is not my sorrow. Life is like that.

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 20:24:57 UTC | #543183

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 16 by Stevehill

@TreenonPoet

This article is very supportive of religious indoctrination. It suggests that we create a toothless committee to wag their fingers at the wackiest religious ideas in order to reassure the public that the other religious ideas are OK. Note, near the end of the article "the advantage of leaving intact the parental right to educate children in their faith tradition", and earlier "The state placing limits upon children's attendance of religious services with their parents is clearly unacceptable". (My emphasis.)

He's a bit of an accommodationist, but writing for a Guardian audience (nuff said). I think his heart is in the right place.

I've already posted there that unfettered access to hate sermons just got someone a life sentence for the attempted murder of a British Minister, and presumably everyone agrees we should not show those 120 sermons (now removed from YouTube) to primary school kids as a useful example of multiculturalism.

So what's left is where to draw the line.

UK law is, currently, bonkers. There must be compulsory worship, every day, unless the parents opt the child out (and thereby get the child bullied for "difference"). What gets taught in state-funded RE classes is exempt from government inspection (faith schools are allowed to let faiths audit this). For the remaining schools, each education authority has its own religion-dominated SACRE who decide what's OK. There is absolutely no good reason to suppose that what is taught in one school is the same as in the next. Faithheads in my local SACRE outnumber the rest 12:2.

It is at least legitimate to discuss where to draw the line.

Most of the posters over at CiF seem to think it's heresy, and you should be burned for even entertaining the thought. Fuck knows what a Daily Mail readership would think.

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 20:28:23 UTC | #543188

aliensmack's Avatar Comment 17 by aliensmack

What always gets me about the indoctrination of children is that children are too young to fully comprehend and are guided by fear mostly but are expected to take on the full weight of their parents religion and accept it and like it and defend it. But when I watch debates with theologians I often hear them remark that so and so cannot question or denounce religion because so and so is not an expert on religion but is in fact specialized in some other field or area of study that does not pertain to religion and that somehow this disqualifies the arguments. So by that definition are the children , they are not experts on religion and are in fact experts in another area of study completely , that of being children. Therefore by there own arguments children should be disqualified from indoctrination , and so should anybody who is not an expert on religion ,child or adult.

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 23:25:15 UTC | #543216

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 18 by Carl Sai Baba

I think this effort will ultimately fail, even if it manages to get on the books.

Religion has the handy trick of not having to make statements in your own voice. You can just say "I didn't tell my kids this stuff, I just told them that I believe that god said those things."

The Fred Phelps gang already uses this excuse. They say that they don't hate gay people, but they are merely informing people that god hates them.

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 23:39:34 UTC | #543220

aliensmack's Avatar Comment 19 by aliensmack

Comment 11 by Richard L :

Sort of like the guidelines offered in other areas: "you ought not breathe asbestos", "you ought to have a varied diet, and not eat more than what you need" and "you ought not smoke." I think it is a great idea to add "you ought not lie to your child" and "you ought not threaten you child with fire" to the list! It seems like good moral guidelines to me, and the state is in the business of morality - add one-and-one together and you get...

A Great Suggestion!

I like that idea , a "Guidelines For Good Psychological Health"

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 23:42:13 UTC | #543223

El Bastardo's Avatar Comment 20 by El Bastardo

Again, it's the special privilege afforded to religion and religion only.

Can't bring kids into a strip club, cause tittes are bad for you. Can't bring them into a casino, cause seeing grown ups ruin their lives, might put them off going when they're older.

As for church, synagogue or the local mosque, get 'em young, keep 'em for life, no matter how warped it makes 'em.

Sat, 06 Nov 2010 00:01:07 UTC | #543229

natscan's Avatar Comment 21 by natscan

I said this on the guardian article as well.

I don't think we can build commissions or have overseeing bodies, this sort of thing will only be undone by evolution, education and a few strategic policies. I think we should unpick the religious grip on our children in the following ways:

Religion must be taught in schools! As an atheist, the thing that annoys me the most is that most people bleating on about their religion don't know what they are talking about. I usually know more than them.

Bear with me:

My parents sent me to a faith school, not because they wanted me to have a religious education but because they wanted me to have good education and they thought the education at a public school would be better. So the first step in my bold and cunning plan is: cut ALL taxpayer funding to these faith schools, they can't have it both ways. If they accept fees, there should be no government funding. If they want government funding then they have to become part of the state school system

The Second is: Make Religious education compulsory. Now I'm talking about critical comparison of religion, study of religious texts in context, discussion with ministers and believers from all faiths, along with atheists and ethicists. I think the classes should be taught by people who have degrees in Theology, Anthropology, Ethics, Social Sciences and Literature, but not people who have a religious barrow to push. Understanding of where religion comes from and tolerance of other religions is key here along with the ability to critically analyse any belief system being put to them. This class should be examined and graded just like every other class is e.g. English, maths, science etc.

Faith schools can teach their own religious doctrine, but it must be taught in a separate class from "religious education".

Ban all confirming of children into religions. Children must wait until they are adults to say that they chose a particular religion. They must wait until they legally have free will

Religious bodies who do charitable works must set up a separate body to administer those charities. Only the charitable arms will be tax free. Never should someone in need HAVE to listen to doctrine to receive help. If asked by the recipient of the charity what they believe in they may answer.

Sat, 06 Nov 2010 03:08:58 UTC | #543290

Flapjack's Avatar Comment 22 by Flapjack

Speaking from personal experience, the religious singalongs started aged four at nursery school, the doctrine of original sin and that we're not '...worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table' was well and truly drummed into me by age 7. At seven I learned to grovel to imaginary beings and that I had zero control over my life. And this was the C of E. Took me until 21 to shake off the dogma, by which time it had done lasting damage to my self-esteem and ability to function as an independent adult.

Sat, 06 Nov 2010 08:09:57 UTC | #543333

Tethloach's Avatar Comment 23 by Tethloach

Theirs many rules we must make to make our world a better place because we don't want it looking like Iraq and we don not want anyone mucking up the education system.

Sat, 06 Nov 2010 10:46:54 UTC | #543351

YouBetYourLifeIDontNeedReligion's Avatar Comment 24 by YouBetYourLifeIDontNeedReligion

I find it very odd that 15 is the average age of conversion. I am 15 and I have 2 properly religious friends and 1 who recently declared himself a christian. However the rest of my friends are all atheists and usually have rational, normal reasons not to beleive in god e.g too much suffering. But in my school I do tend to find the "religious studies" textbooks see most religions through rose-tinted glasses.

Sat, 06 Nov 2010 11:22:38 UTC | #543357

natscan's Avatar Comment 25 by natscan

Comment 14 by Stonyground :

When reading the phrase 'highly questionable religious doctrines' my first thought was what other kind is there?

More than 150 years ago Bob Ingersoll pointed out that ideas that had to be pumped into children before they reached the age of reason did not inspire much confidence. If the religiots really believed that their ideas could stand up to critical examination they would be happy to have children protected from such ideas until they were sixteen and then allowed to make their own minds up. Sixteen year olds could be presented with the tenets of all of the mainstream religions, including godless humanism, and allowed to make a choice. The fact that religious people think that this is a bad idea proves that they know that their beliefs are nonsense but they still want such nonsense ideas presented to children as if they were true.

I mostly agree with you, except I think that the idea of keeping religion away from children is kinda like keeping alcohol or sex away from them. If you ban it they will want it. Better yet to have all religions objectively discussed and graded at school along with ethics and atheism. Great point

Sat, 06 Nov 2010 11:26:47 UTC | #543358

TheLordHumungus's Avatar Comment 26 by TheLordHumungus

It is illegal to have sex with a child under 18 even if they consent to it. Why is that? the answer will always be something along the lines of, "They don't know better." Or... "They are too young and inexperienced to make those decisions for themselves." Why then is it okay to force beliefs on them and play it off as if they themselves have made this decision on the state of the universe... and it is a sound decision?

Sat, 06 Nov 2010 16:29:21 UTC | #543440

Ali Duncan's Avatar Comment 27 by Ali Duncan

Kids in this country go to war for the government at an age when in other places they are still considered minors. They go to war before they're allowed to drink alcohol, for they are too young.

I saw his round mouths crimson deepen as it fell

Like a sun in his last deep hour

Watched the magnificent recession of farewell

Clouding, half gleam, half glower

And a final splendour burn the heaven of his cheek

And in his eyes,

the cold stars lighting

Very old and bleak

In different skies.

WIlfred Owen

We teach crap to children. Fact. It needs to stop.

Sun, 07 Nov 2010 05:28:32 UTC | #543604

Capt. Bloodeye's Avatar Comment 28 by Capt. Bloodeye

Watching the 'hardcore Xian' band on the god channel video link, I came close to pissing in my pantaloons. Simply hilarious.

Sun, 07 Nov 2010 11:13:52 UTC | #543649

DanDare's Avatar Comment 29 by DanDare

Batter start than a stupid commission. Remove all faith schools. Teach about religions and their history in schools but do not allow indoctrination or religious functionaries in schools. That would be a big start.

Sun, 07 Nov 2010 13:19:48 UTC | #543684

thomasprosser's Avatar Comment 30 by thomasprosser

hi thomas prosser here, author of the article, thanks for all the comments. In response to one or two comments earlier, one thing I can definitely assure you is that we are batting on the same team! It's just that to implement political change things have to be done moderately and slowly. I have just given my fuller thoughts on responses to the article on the Guardian comment stream if you are interested.

As I said there, if anyone has any questions please email me on prossert@tcd.ie and I will definitely respond to you. I’m developing a project in this area and would be particularly interested in hearing from people who have good or bad experiences of going to events like Soul Survivor or to other youth or childrens camps. I’d also be very interested in hearing accounts from Christians, lapsed Christians and ex-Christians with regard to the psychological benefits or damage of the Christian faith in their experience. I’ll also share more information on the project with people who are interested and email me.

Sun, 07 Nov 2010 13:46:45 UTC | #543689