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Featured Why might religious teaching of the young be classed as abuse?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Mock Turtle, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. Mock Turtle

    Mock Turtle Respect, compassion, and understanding.
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    The main reason why I oppose the religious teaching of young children (and just the young), especially in faith schools, is because, to me at least, it is a denial of their basic human rights - to grow up free from any particular bias or influence that is not proven to be based in reality or that has rather dubious claims to authority. I think few would not see that things like denying a child an adequate education (although poverty often prevents this), child marriage, FGM and perhaps male circumcision, child prostitution, child workers (although mostly done because of the poverty aspect again, so I could exclude this), and paedophilia, were negations of the basic human rights of any child when they are just not in a position usually to combat such situations. I would propose that religious teaching - although this will vary enormously on a spectrum from mild to obvious abuse (as in strict indoctrination) - falls into this same class of abuses, even if done for quite positive reasons. The main difference being that religious teaching exploits the ability of a child to comprehend and/or combat the ideas and concepts put forward, whereas the others usually do this but also abuse various essential freedoms too - usually of bodily integrity or inappropriate behaviour for their age, amongst others. And of course I do know that much religious teaching would hardly be seen as such and mainly being about giving a historical context for such things as moral behaviour for example.

    The obvious complaint might be made that it is a parent's right to educate their child as they see fit, and that what is imbued in the child will usually enhance their life - even just by way of the moral values usually attached to any particular religious belief. But this latter can be done without recourse to religion - as my mother did, setting the perfect example without hardly a mention of religion if she actually had any religious belief, which I'm not really sure she ever did have (never really discussed). It is quite possible to introduce religions later in life when any child will have sufficient ability to comprehend any teaching and to assess it appropriately, so why do it when a child is much more vulnerable to such ideas? I think many will know one reason at least. It is usually so because unless they are captured when young it is highly likely that they might not take to any such belief - ever - judging by the current decline in religious beliefs all around the world. It's still a deceptive practice though.

    I know many will be outraged that religious teaching could in any way be included in a list alongside paedophilia, child marriage, or child prostitution, but the first is often done (by the more thinking types at least) because of some belief that children are born naturally sexual and/or that the love between a paedophile and a child is just as legitimate as any other love - delusional as this might be. Similarly, child marriage is often done in the belief that the parent is looking towards the future welfare of the child. I actually came across one person insisting it was his right to arrange child marriage for his eight-year-old daughter - with him possibly being a paedophile actually - since he insisted she was his property. Child prostitution often occurs for the same reason - although again, poverty is often a factor - in that any care-giver(?) perhaps sees the child as a resource to be exploited, particularly when the child might make more money than any employment by the adult. All three generally involve a delusional belief as to what is appropriate for a young child.

    Apart from where cultural inertia is an issue or where religious enforcement is the norm, it seems that in many countries (usually the more technologically advanced and/or educated) religious beliefs are declining by at least 1% per year, so one can see that if this carries on, religions might just fade out of existence quite naturally anyway.

    Do any here feel they have a right to dictate what their child should believe concerning such matters - leaving out any teaching of morality, since I think mostly a consensus view on this tends to prevail anyway? I mean, many will have some doubts about their belief with many having no doubts at all, but do you think you have the right to usurp the choices of your child in such matters when they are essentially not capable of doing so if religions are taught at such a young age?
     
    #1 Mock Turtle, Apr 9, 2018
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  2. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    Though I agree to an extent, I do not see how it would be enforced. And having the government take over such early education may be far worse than the religious beliefs instilled by a child's parents. I would rather stick with the evil that we are familiar with than to try to strike out on a rather risky venture.
     
  3. Nous

    Nous Well-Known Member
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    So, what subject matters or propositions do you approve of exposing children to, that have been “proven to be based in reality” and therefore that you do not consider to be not examples of “abuse”? Has mathematics been “proven to be based in reality”? A lot of people claim that mathematics is just something humans have made up.

    I take it you agree that exposing children to claims that mental disorders are due to “biochemical imbalances” would constitute “abuse,”

    I take it you agree that no interpretation of quantum mechanics has been “proven to be based in reality,” and therefore teaching children about these would be “abuse”.

    Has Newtonian mechanics been “proven to be based in reality”?
     
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  4. Stevicus

    Stevicus Veteran Member
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    I've often thought along the same lines, especially when I look back on my own upbringing and the religious concepts I was initiated to at a very early age.

    I respect parental rights, but then again, some parents can be complete loons or even totally evil and malicious towards their children (such as that couple in California which kept their children as prisoners). Children have rights, too.

    I do find it interesting that many parents decide that a child is too young to learn about some things, such as sex or any number of worldly topics which might be too disturbing, graphic, or complicated for a child to understand. When you think about it, religion is a rather complex and often mysterious topic to introduce at an early age, at least when compared with other subject matter that parents often want to shelter their children from having to deal with.

    That may be part of the problem. Teaching religion, in and of itself, may not be child abuse, but the problem may come in if/when parents refuse to teach their children about other things in life and keep them ignorant because of the religion.

    I don't know it qualifies as abuse, but it might be doing a disservice to their children if they are kept in the dark about too many things and find themselves inadequately prepared to go out into the world.
     
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  5. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    You mean like the unproven and rather dubious claim that there exists such a basic human right?
     
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  6. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    If you think there is any child that learns from their parents or relative caregiver where they are absolutely free of bias, then you're delusional. Everyone has some sort of bias, that's human nature. Parents all have their own biases and will inevitably impart that to their progeny. To varying degrees. I know honest to god educators who know how to teach children objectively. They know the techniques and do it for a living and even they impart some small bias when teaching their young. Probably better than many, admittedly. But still.

    Religion. Well that's where things get tricky. If you're not Abrahamic and living in the post colonial hangover, chances are your family's religious teachings is something of a matter of pride. A sense of identity to cling to in rebellion and disgust at how it was beaten out of us generations ago. A way to hold onto our cultural heritage.

    I guess it's all relative.
    If you're teaching a kid to blindly obey you, then I question the motives. But I can't really rally against teaching children religion altogether. That is a large part of my racial identity. A culture I can still lean on despite the efforts of a monarchy who sought to eradicate it as it was seen as subpar. A way to identify with my family.
    Of course I was never taught to just blindly heed the teachings. I was encouraged to question and rebel against them. To take them to task and figure things out for myself. (Though it should be noted that I was also encouraged not to disparage my family's choices as well. I take issue with my ma's philosophies and the religous leaders she obeys. But her choice is her choice.) If you encourage critical thinking and questioning alongside the religious aspect, then I fail to see the issue. But blind faith is at the very least a questionable lesson to impart to our youth.
     
    #6 SomeRandom, Apr 9, 2018
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  7. Truly Enlightened

    Truly Enlightened Well-Known Member

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    Mathematics is a provable scientific method of inquiry, that is based in reality, and is used to explain and verify natural phenomena. Any subject matter that can be explained and verified, that can develop and cultivate the child's natural curiosity and critical thinking, would not be considered child abuse. Quantum Theory and Quantum Mechanics are the most provable theories in science today, but its concepts alone are hard enough for adults to conceptualize, let alone a child. Therefore teaching a child the principles of QM would be irrelevant not abusive. Newtonian physics are also based in reality. They are not based in fantasy.
     
  8. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    No, because there are several problems with the argumentation:
    • "Religious teaching" is an extremely heterogenous category. There are tens and thousands of different religious traditions with various teachings. When we get right down to it, anything can be a "religious teaching" if it is taught within the context of a religion. In order for the argument to have traction, specific teachings need to be named and identified.
    • Defining "reality" is a philosophical question. While it helps to clarify you're interested in teachings regarding "reality," it also introduces this secondary problem. Nobody has the right or authority to decide what "reality" is for everyone, and attempting to do so creates the same kinds of biases you're concerned about from "religious teachings."
    • Who and what is an authority is a cultural or personal matter. You also clarify you're concerned about claims from dubious authorities. As with the above, the trouble is nobody gets to decide who or what is an authority for everyone, and doing so is also inevitably as biased as "religious teachings."
    • There is no such thing as bias-free. To cut to the chase, let's just acknowledge that bias-free scenarios are not really a thing.
    For an argument like this to have any traction, it needs to get specific with what teachings it's talking about, and how they are delivered. I'm aware of a court case where a gentleman was sued for indoctrinating a youth into a cult of one, which produced diagnosable mental illnesses that significantly disrupted that person's life. Things like that are abusive. But blanket statements targeting "religious teachings" are not only useless, they're counterproductive and needlessly hostile. Whether a teaching is "religious" or not is entirely irrelevant. They key factor is whether or not the indoctrination results in clinical mental health conditions.
     
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  9. Mock Turtle

    Mock Turtle Respect, compassion, and understanding.
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    Why not. You tell me any mathematics (arithmetic) that you have a bone to pick with that was taught at primary/elementary school.

    Isn't that a bit advanced for young children?

    Ditto with these. Stop being silly. :D :D :D
     
  10. Mock Turtle

    Mock Turtle Respect, compassion, and understanding.
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    Quite fair comments. I'm not sure it does constitute abuse but it looks rather close to it - to me at least - when usually the kids don't really have a voice as to consent.
     
  11. Mock Turtle

    Mock Turtle Respect, compassion, and understanding.
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    I think it is certainly something to aim for even if it isn't exactly enshrined in any law or code. I suspect children will be gaining more rights in the future so why not this one?
     
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  12. Mock Turtle

    Mock Turtle Respect, compassion, and understanding.
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    We can ignore all that since the post is all about religious teaching only.

    OK but can't the religious bit just wait until they are older - not sure exactly what age would be appropriate really - not being a teacher and all. And the worst for me are the faith schools where the kids will hardly get a smattering of any other religions to compare with the one drummed into them.
     
  13. Mock Turtle

    Mock Turtle Respect, compassion, and understanding.
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    So you are just ignoring the rights of the child to not have some religion imbued into them regardless of whether they might want it or not - looking back that is. The same argument has been made concerning paedophilia and consent - that is, would the child later on, and looking back, have consented, knowing the outcome might be damaging. Perhaps this argument could be made against religious teaching, in that the child later might not have wanted to be taught such things. Plenty seem to give up their child-taught faiths when they find reasons to do so. I was lucky - no indoctrination, no religion, no bother.
     
  14. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    But that is not at all what you said. You simply asserted something without basis and with an almost religious fervor. :D
     
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  15. Truly Enlightened

    Truly Enlightened Well-Known Member

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    A child is genetically hardwired to follow and trust adults. This is one of the inherited instincts that is necessary for improving the child's chances of survival. Taking advantage of the child's inability of discern real from imaginary, truth from fiction, and trust from distrust, is in my opinion "child abuse". We already have child abuse and child protection laws already on the books. Children are already restricted on what they can watch, where they can go, what they can do, and how long they can do it(curfew laws). I know that children will always find a way around them, but that is not the point. It would be no great stretch to amend these laws to include the minimum age, when a child can legally attend any facilities that exclusively indoctrinate children with beliefs in any category of fantasy. These would include bible schools and colleges, religious camps and retreats, or any backyard, basement, or cultist temples, that teach exclusively any unfalsifiable dogma. If the age of consent was legally set as 17, then any complaints could be actioned by the proper authorities.

    The real problem is where we are. When over 3/4 of the adult population believes in talking animals, man from dust, woman from a rib, wine from water, an all-powerful supernatural father figure, an afterlife, miracles, heaven and hell, a flat earth, or a universe that is 10,000 years old, just how do we circumvent this cognitive dissonance? I guess "baby steps".
     
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  16. Mock Turtle

    Mock Turtle Respect, compassion, and understanding.
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    I can't see that. From what I said it obviously implies that children should have such rights - not to have things done to them, and should have much the same rights as adults. Any adult would hardly think anything imposed upon them would be right - but that happens too in some countries where one religion seems to dominate - so why should children?
     
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  17. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Well-Known Member
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    There is no such right for reasons already explained. Religion isn't monolithic so anything can be part of religious belief. Nothing would get done because anything we teach a child, including helpful things as 'don't murder', could be construed as 'religious' even though the same belief is present in non-religioud. Further...
    That's not why we don't allow sexual assault on children. It's because we have tangible evidence that it causes severe injury to the child. There is no such evidence that religious teachings, as a whole, do that. Trying to just get rid of all religious influence in children's life is specious and unconstructive. Instead, focus on the things that have been shown to cause severe injury to children. Such as mistreatment of homosexuality and transgender in some religions.
     
    #17 ADigitalArtist, Apr 9, 2018
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  18. Mock Turtle

    Mock Turtle Respect, compassion, and understanding.
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    Nah. Surely we can tell what is religious teaching and what isn't. The title refers to the young, so it is mainly about deferring such teaching until they are old enough to be capable of questioning such things - whatever that teaching might be, and most of us can recognise religion when it appears - not you?

    I didn't say it was. I gave one reason against paedophilia - there are many more and I know this. All I'm asking is that the teaching of such be deferred until they are capable of understanding and/or resisting (where necessary). Why oppose that? As I mentioned, it is more like deception than anything else. What exactly is the hurry?
     
  19. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    @ADigitalArtist got to most of what I was going to respond with before I did. :D

    But to add another layer, say we do what you want and prohibit any religious teaching of children. Let me give you a few examples of what that would look like in the context of my household, @Mostly Harmless too -

    • No Science Allowed! The sciences are a religious teaching in my tradition. When your gods are everything, learning about the gods includes learning from the discipline that studies them through methodological naturalism. None of that is acceptable.
    • No Art Allowed! The arts are important component of my religious teachings too. There will be no mythology, no fiction of any sort allowed. They will not be taught how to sing or dance. Nor can they be taught how to draw and paint.
    • No Relationships Allowed! There are also religious teachings emphasizing the importance of cultivating relationships. The child can't have any relationships. They must be kept in a barren room devoid of any contact with anything.
    Yup. Sounds like a great idea.
     
  20. Mock Turtle

    Mock Turtle Respect, compassion, and understanding.
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    Yeah, isn't it a shame how religions just take over so much of our (not mine) lives. No wonder we have so many conflicts when they are so integrated in some so as to affect virtually all their life. I believe many Muslims feel the same way.
     
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