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Author Topic: Persecution of Atheists
Gaoics79
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quote:
For true faith to thrive, I think that people should be able to disbelieve without having their moral integrity challenged. And I think people need to realize that this new brand of fundamentalist atheism that Dawkins is touting is intellectual poison.

I'm not saying that Dawkins is creating a religion. I'm starting to think that fundamentalism isn't religion at all. We're talking about a mythically re-imagined past, and a messianic future that requires your followers to overcome others.

I don't think what you're saying is justified. In my view, Dawkins raises alot of very good points. One idea I like, in particular, is his point about "Jewish Children" and "Muslim Children" and how branding infants without even the ability to speak as a certain religion, merely because their parents happen to be a certain religion, is at the very least, brainwashing, and depending on how you look at it, an act of child abuse.

This is extreme, but it's fair. Our society holds up religious freedom as one of its core values, yet turns a blind eye to the antithesis of religious freedom. Is it a cooincidence that 99.999% of the Christians out there were born to Christian parents? Or that 99.9999% of Muslims out there were born to Muslim parents? I'd say "choice" and "freedom" are meaningless in a society that clearly permits neither.

I also respect Dawkins for not cowtowing to intellectual blackmail by religion. He refuses to coddle religious people or to speak in euphemism. He thinks religion is nonsense, and isn't afraid to say it.

Personally, I agree with him. I have no respect whatsoever for religion or religious beliefs of any religious group. Make no mistake, I may have plenty of respect for a given religious person, depending on their qualities as a person, but I consider religion and the core beliefs of all religions to be superstitious trash. My respect for religion is less than 0. I essentially agree with Dawkins's characterization of religion as an intellectual virus.

Do I want the government to come in and arrest people for taking their kids to church or mosque? Do I want formal mandatory atheist education in school? No. That would be a cure worse than the disease. And I am not convinced that Dawkins wants that either.

But saying that what Dawkins believes is some kind of "poison" as if he were advocating beheading of infidels or putting Christians in concentration camps... well that's a bit of evidence, in my view, of some of the anti-atheist bias even some reasonable and open-minded people have. You can be an atheist, so long as you keep quiet about it and speak about the religious views of others in euphemisms with phony reverence for their beliefs.

Of course, the hypocrisy of it is that religions seldom, treat the other guy's religion with much more respect than that. I wouldn't say that your average southern baptist holds muslims in much better regard than Dawkins holds religious people. In the history of Christianity, disdain of other religions, both implicit and explicit, was nearly universal. But only Dawkins is preaching "poison".

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
The "under god" court cases that I'm familiar with are a result of Christians compelling non-Christians to recite the pledge. Compulsion of sectarian religious activity should never be allowed.

Newdow sued just because his daughter had to hear the pledge, not participate. The Supreme Court found that he lacked standing, and as far as I know left the pledge question unresolved as a result.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
1. The practice of my religion is very important to me and I wanted to marry someone who shared my faith. Therefore I decided, once I was ready to date seriously, that I would not date someone who didn't share my faith. I had good friend that everyone was sure I would date, but we stayed friends, partly because we didn't share religious beliefs. I wouldn't say this is discrimination, though, would you?
Discrimination literally means "making a distinction," and in that sense, yes, it is. In our society, through sloppy legal abbreviation, "discrimination" has basically come to mean making a legally or socially unacceptable distinction. Legally you're obviously OK. Socially, well, that depends on who is passing judgment. I don't think you should turn to the judgment of society when it comes to the personal decision of who you should date or form a lifelong union with.


quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
What about when the discrimination is enforced by the parents? When I lived in San Diego I dated a Mormon girl in high school....

Sounds like they made a decision they thought was best for their daughter, and sounds like they made the wrong choice.
quote:
My ex-girlfriend became very sexually active and stopped going to church because of the guilt. She did pot at college and has taken up smoking and drinking and has not produced any grandkids. She's been married to another non-Mormon guy for several years now.
Some members of my ward in Mexico City did the same thing to their son my age who was dating a non-LDS girl, and he ended up similarly messed up. When I spoke to him he was finally getting his life together and he strongly defended his parents' actions, and I probably should not gainsay him since it was his life ... but my instinct tells me that he's wrong; that sending him away messed him up. (His parents were really controlling; would not let or other kids in the ward write him.

quote:
The irony here is that I later ended up with another Mormon girl (go figure) and we've been married for 13 years. I go to church with her every week and have allowed her to raise our six kids in her church.
I didn't know that you went to church with her every week. You're wife's lucky to have such a supportive husband.

quote:
Everything has worked out fine for me in the end, but this particular act of discrimination was very painful to all involved.
From where I stand, the problem isn't the discrimination, but the coercion. If one of my kids started getting sexually involved (not making inferences from your story but rather looking at my friend's story), I'd probably try very hard to persuade them to end the relationship. But I'd not resort to something that coercive unless they were getting onto hard drugs, or being brutalized, or if I thought that a lover was going to try to kidnap them (as occurred with my wife's sister ... coercion runs the other way too [Frown] ).

quote:
A common phenomenon at Testimony Meetings is for the person who has come up to bear their testimony will end up telling a story about their recent summer vacation or how thankful they are for their family and they don't ever actually ended up testifying of anything about the church, itself.
I HATE that! [Mad] Bloody narcissistic hijackers!

quote:
During one of these non-testimony testimonies a woman started going on about how great this country was and that atheists represented a greater threat to this nation from within than any terrorists could from without.
Oh, political jackers are the worst. Matt, that breaks my heart. I guess the bishop didn't know you're atheist, so he just let her rant ... but you'd probably not be comfortable telling him.

quote:
I know if she had said "jews" or "blacks" instead of "atheists" that she would have quickly been asked to sit down or a member of the bishopric (presiding priesthood) would have spoken after her to indicate that her ideas were not consistent with the position of the Church. Atheists, however, are fair game. It's OK to complain out loud about them.
You've been attending church for a while. Has this happened before? I haven't heard anything like that in my wards and if I do I assure you I'll speak up. I suspect that it isn't "fair game" so much as we've been trained to respond knee-jerk to attacks on blacks & Jews & other religions. I respect if you wish to keep your privacy, but I really believe that if you expressed your concern to the Bishop, that he'd apologize to you and add atheist to the watch-list.

Matt, I want you to know how much I admire you for the way you speak about your family. I hope saying this does not impose on your convictions, but I can't keep silent on this anymore. I believe that God sees and recognizes what you've done for your family. I don't know why he hasn't made himself known to you yet, but I'm not worried for you or your family. My great-great grandfather was a man like you; I'm named after him. He never joined the church, but when his wife joined the LDS church, he gave up his pension and sacrificed everything to follow her across the plains.

quote:
At that time I didn't consider myself an atheist. I honestly didn't think of myself as any kind of "ist." As far as my life now, I wouldn't dare to announce to anyone aside from my wife and one or two close friends that I'm an atheist. That term has connotations to it that go well beyond the rather limited dictionary definition.
In the old days, before the term started to mean something else, we'd have called you a "jack-mormon." Unfortunately that now means an innactive mormon, but it used to mean a friend to LDS people, someone who tolerated us and our quirky ways, a nonmormon who had earned our trust. It's always sad when a powerful word like that loses its meaning. I wish we still had a word for people like you. It takes a special kind of hero to marry into a peculiar people like the mormons and make it work for thirteen years.
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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
Personally, I agree with him. I have no respect whatsoever for religion or religious beliefs of any religious group. Make no mistake, I may have plenty of respect for a given religious person, depending on their qualities as a person, but I consider religion and the core beliefs of all religions to be superstitious trash. My respect for religion is less than 0.

That's throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Religion is inextricably tied up with culture, art, philosophy. This is what the "flying spaghetti monster" crowd fail to comprehend. Religion can inspire people to think in the big picture, about ethics and morals. This has value to society. Too many atheists toss morality aside in their embrace of existentialism.

I have no doubt that most atheists declaring such views probably would feel persecuted by the people they offend. And, perhaps rightly so. That sort of atheism leads to the destruction of temples, making us all poorer for it.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
But saying that what Dawkins believes is some kind of "poison" as if he were advocating beheading of infidels or putting Christians in concentration camps...

... or taking away our children.

quote:
well that's a bit of evidence, in my view, of some of the anti-atheist bias even some reasonable and open-minded people have. You can be an atheist, so long as you keep quiet about it and speak about the religious views of others in euphemisms with phony reverence for their beliefs.

I'm specifically responding to Dawkins' "child abuse" statement. Maybe you're right that in context that I'll see that this was overblown. But instead of trying to persuade me with context, you've chosen to just assume that I'm showing bias against atheists. With all due respect, Jason, you obviously don't like me, but you know me well enough to have no excuse for making that unreasonable inference. If someone that he'd read a book where a mormon said that atheist's children should be taken away, I'd have the same reaction: "that's POISON." If you don't know that about me, and my personal crusade to get Christians to stop alienating atheists, then you're willfully blind.

Now I could respond now by returning your unkind shot and saying that your assumption about me shows "typical atheist bias against religion," but I don't believe it, and even if I did believe it, I would not paint with such a grossly broad brush.

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hobsen
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Carlotta, another reason you might not have an atheist as a godparent to one of your children is that you cannot. A godparent in the Roman Catholic Church must be a "practicing" Catholic at least - I have been told - sixteen years of age. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
quote:
1255 For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents' help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized - child or adult on the road of Christian life.55 Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium).56 The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism.
Of course an atheist could baptise a child of yours, in case of emergency; but he could not appoint an atheist godparent.
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Carlotta
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I heard this idea of Dawkins' too - I've watched several video google films of him. I thought about it, and I concluded that saying someone is a "muslim child" or a "jewish child" isn't much different from saying "an American child" or "A chinese child", referring to the country where they were born and currently live. 99% of American children will remain American children, but this doesn't mean that the name American is what makes them stay American. It's the fact that it would take a signifcant reason for them to move once they grew up and had the freedom to do so. To advocate raising children without a religion in order to give them an equal playing field to choose their own when they get older sounds reasonable at first, but religion is just one of many worldviews, or one aspect of many worldviews. It is not possible to raise a child without influencing their worldview in any way.

I find a lot of value in other religions and philosophies. I think we would be greatly impoverished if we forgot about all but one or two of them.

Oh, yeah, and the question about splitting up a teenage couple because the parents didn't like the non-Mormon boyfriend: that's a question of whether parents have the right to determine their minor children's dating lives and to what extent. Luckily I still have at least 10 more years to figure that one out.

edit: hobsen, you are right. I forgot about that. [Smile]

[ February 23, 2007, 08:31 PM: Message edited by: Carlotta ]

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hobsen
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I was just a little amused by the lapse. You seem very well informed, Carlotta.
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Carlotta
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Thanks. Actually I think it came into my mind, but I was trying to do a quick post while the kids were quiet, so I dismissed it as irrelevant to my argument. Every time I think of that though, I remember the Q&A packet the parish where we had our daughter baptized sent out. Right after the part about how the godparents have to be Catholic (or you can have one Catholic godparent and a non-Catholic baptized Christian as a "christian witness"), there was a section on whether it is required to name your child after a saint. It explained, while not necessary, is recommended, but it is not allowed to baptize your child with a frivolous name "such as E.T." or after an infamous person, like Adolph Hitler. I thought E.T. was a great example. [Smile]
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MattP
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quote:
Oh, yeah, and the question about splitting up a teenage couple because the parents didn't like the non-Mormon boyfriend: that's a question of whether parents have the right to determine their minor children's dating lives and to what extent.
On such matters, I just suggest that you tread very lightly. I'm still bitter about what her parents did - not in a personal way, but in the same way that I'm bitter about any unnecessary pain inflicted on any children by any adults. I'm not that boy anymore and she's not that girl, but I'm still angry about what happened to that boy and that girl. Poor kids. [Frown]
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Carlotta
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I appreciate the input. It's nice to have other people's experiences to help guide me rather than just my own.
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Pete at Home
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Matt, I do know what it's like to have someone I love torn away from me because some self-righteous mormon parents didn't think I was good enough for their family. But my case involved incredible dishonesty and trickery on the part of the parents, luring her back from college for a family reunion and then canceling her trip back until they could talk her out of marrying me. Nothing like the violence of sheer parental coercion. At least in my case she did have some choice in the matter, so it's a lot less than what you probably went through, but it really devastated me. I really identify with what you said here: "I'm not that boy anymore and she's not that girl, but I'm still angry about what happened to that boy and that girl."
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hobsen
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The subject of whether and to what extent parents can and should interfere with their children's dating lives deserves another thread. My impression is that by the time they are dating it is far too late; you have to hope they follow values acceptable to you. Meddling is like juggling bottles of nitroglycerine; they may still hate you fifty years later, or they may marry someone worse on the rebound. But it is fair to point out that people from similar backgrounds have a greater chance of a successful marriage, that someone may have a hard time earning a good living, or whatever. If a child chooses to go ahead anyway, that is his decision; and you will just have to help him handle the consequences.

Anyway this topic covers a lot more than discrimination against atheists.

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MattP
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I don't believe Dawkins has ever advocated for children being removed from their parents custody based on their religious instruction. Such a position would be inconsistent with his recent refusal to endorse a petition that could be interpreted as forbidding religious education at home in England.

Dawkins' objection to applying religious labels to children is that they are not generally accurate labels in that their meaning changes when applied to children without that fact being acknowledged.

When adult says that they are Mormon, Catholic, or Muslim, that indicates their acceptance of a certain body of doctrine. When that same adult says that their 6-year-old is a Mormon, Catholic, or Muslim, they are essentially saying "I am a <religion>, and I am teaching the principles of that religion to my child so by adulthood they will also accept that body doctrine represented by that religion." It's a statement of intent of an entirely different person, rather than an accurate description of the person being described.

"American" doesn't suffer the same problem - an American citizen is an American citizen, regardless of age with many legal rights that are not dependent on that persons acceptance or rejection of particular beliefs.

That said, I don't see a big problem with referring to a child of Mormons as a Mormon, since we all understand that this change of meaning occurs, even if it's not explicit. It's also highly likely that children of Mormons will become Mormons.

Dawkins' real problem is not the labeling, but that children are indoctrinated in the belief set of their parents long before they gain the critical thinking skills or awareness of other views which might cause them to exercise skepticism. My kids learned that God answers prayers and that Jesus atoned for their sins at the same age that they learned that the tooth fairy leaves them money, the Easter Bunny leaves them candy, and that Santa leaves them presents.

I don't present that as evidence that the stories of God and Jesus are incorrect; but I believe there is a legitimate concern that children are engineered to uncritically accept information provided by their parents and other trusted adults. Of the three children of mine that have so far been baptized in the LDS church, two of them still believed in Santa Clause at the time of their baptism (they were eight years old). I was not terribly impressed with their testimonies of the truth of the Church given at that time.

I do want my children to make their own choices about matters of faith. When I talk to them about religious matters, I speak in terms of "I believe", "your mother believes" and "the Church says." My wife and other members of the relgious community speak in terms of what is - "God did this", "Jesus does that", "this happened to Joseph Smith". This has, of course, resulted in the children accepting these statements as being incontestable facts about the world.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Religion is inextricably tied up with culture, art, philosophy.
I reject this claim (and am certain Dawkins does as well). I believe religion is and has been tied up with these things, but believe it can be -- and in many cases should be -- extricated from them.
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Carlotta
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hobsen, see "8 Simple Rules" thread, I copied your post there.
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Carlotta
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MattP,
let me know if this changes your argument:
Catholic teaching on infant baptism is very similar to how you describe American citizenship. Catholics believe that when a baby is baptized Catholic, that person remains Catholic until they formally renounce the Catholic faith or begin to identify themselves as a non-Catholic. Also the CC teaches that baptism leaves an indelible mark on the soul.
It may not change your argument since I assume you don't accept these teachings as true. But I"m curious.

I would think that at some point a child will learn (for me it was in 6th grade) that when someone says "this IS" they are really saying "I believe this to be true", and their beliefs may or may not be correct. What do you say when you say "the church teaches..." and your kids ask you, "but is it really true?"

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TomDavidson
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Heck, Jews have you beat. If your mother is Jewish, you are considered by them to be a Jew even if you worship someone else. Even if you were raised your entire life in another faith. Even if you're a Catholic bishop. It's not a matter of race; Orthodox Jews will simply believe you to be a bad, disobedient Jew for the rest of your life. They'll consider you a walking tragedy.

quote:

I would think that at some point a child will learn (for me it was in 6th grade) that when someone says "this IS" they are really saying "I believe this to be true", and their beliefs may or may not be correct.

By the time most kids hit sixth grade, their religious premises have already been established. And I don't entirely agree with that statement in general, either; I think many people say "2 + 2 = 4" and mean "whether or not I believe it, this thing is absolutely true," and I wonder whether you really want to relegate statements of religious belief to the realm of other subjective truths.
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The Drake
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I wonder how many atheists prevent their kids from dating religious ones.

DO NOT read anything into that statement, it is an open, honest question.

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Carlotta
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But I know many people who have changed religion after 6th grade. Maybe I'm not the norm. Really, if you ask me, there's always an "unless" when we're talking my perception of the truth. 2+2=4 unless I'm delusional and none of you really exist, or unless there is a meaning of 2, 4, +, or = I haven't thought of. Now I'm getting into that philosophy I said I didn't get, sorry if I"m not making sense, but I'd like to hear your response.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
don't believe Dawkins has ever advocated for children being removed from their parents custody based on their religious instruction. Such a position would be inconsistent with his recent refusal to endorse a petition that could be interpreted as forbidding religious education at home in England.

Thank you for that bit of information. I'm glad to hear that the previous information didn't paint a complete picture.

quote:
Dawkins' objection to applying religious labels to children is that they are not generally accurate labels in that their meaning changes when applied to children without that fact being acknowledged...
That's a reasonable argument. Refering to premature identity as "brainwashing" is less reasonable, but I'll defer judgment until I see more context, or even if that earlier quote is correct.

quote:
"American" doesn't suffer the same problem - an American citizen is an American citizen, regardless of age with many legal rights that are not dependent on that persons acceptance or rejection of particular beliefs.
What about "Jewish," though?

quote:
That said, I don't see a big problem with referring to a child of Mormons as a Mormon, since we all understand that this change of meaning occurs, even if it's not explicit. It's also highly likely that children of Mormons will become Mormons.
Statistically, it's also highly likely that a husband who ramains with his mormon wife will become mormon, but that doesn't infringe on your ability to choose for yourself, nor for my grandfather. Culture itself, and tradition, has considerable staying power. I know plenty of mormons who I suspect don't really believe in the religious teachings, even though they were born in the church and go through all the motions.

quote:
Dawkins' real problem is not the labeling, but that children are indoctrinated in the belief set of their parents long before they gain the critical thinking skills or awareness of other views which might cause them to exercise skepticism. My kids learned that God answers prayers and that Jesus atoned for their sins at the same age that they learned that the tooth fairy leaves them money, the Easter Bunny leaves them candy, and that Santa leaves them presents.

I don't present that as evidence that the stories of God and Jesus are incorrect; but I believe there is a legitimate concern that children are engineered to uncritically accept information provided by their parents and other trusted adults

Seems to me that the eventual denoument our stories about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, etc, would cause children to go back and question their belief in God. It did at least for me.

quote:
Of the three children of mine that have so far been baptized in the LDS church, two of them still believed in Santa Clause at the time of their baptism (they were eight years old). I was not terribly impressed with their testimonies of the truth of the Church given at that time.

Testimonies? The church had them go through the whole "I know the church is true" stuff? I really don't like making kids parrot that. I personally refused to until I was 18 and actually gained a testimony. I told the Bishop I *believed,* and I did, but I certainly had my doubts.

quote:
I do want my children to make their own choices about matters of faith. When I talk to them about religious matters, I speak in terms of "I believe", "your mother believes" and "the Church says."
Good for you and good for your children.

quote:
My wife and other members of the relgious community speak in terms of what is - "God did this", "Jesus does that", "this happened to Joseph Smith". This has, of course, resulted in the children accepting these statements as being incontestable facts about the world.
How is that different from assertions of political opinion? Should we be concerned about parents that say "George Bush lied and people died"?
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MattP
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quote:
Catholic teaching on infant baptism is very similar to how you describe American citizenship. Catholics believe that when a baby is baptized Catholic, that person remains Catholic until they formally renounce the Catholic faith or begin to identify themselves as a non-Catholic. Also the CC teaches that baptism leaves an indelible mark on the soul.
It may not change your argument since I assume you don't accept these teachings as true. But I"m curious.

That definition only has meaning for practicing Catholics. Indeed, by that definition I'm a Catholic as well. I doubt there are many people who have converted from Catholicism that still refer to themselves as Catholic, much less their children.

Even given the particular technical meaning you describe, it's still not an objectively meaningful description for most people.

quote:
I would think that at some point a child will learn (for me it was in 6th grade) that when someone says "this IS" they are really saying "I believe this to be true",
Absolutely. Just like we don't have to prefix every post here with "In my opinion," you eventually come to understand what is said in the context of who is saying and where it's being said. But 6th grade is awfully late, in my opinion [Wink] , to develop that skill.
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The Drake
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Let's not turn this into a math thread, the previous one about multiplication made me angry. [Big Grin]
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Also the CC teaches that baptism leaves an indelible mark on the soul.
It may not change your argument ..

Hehe. I first read this as "it may not change your alignment ... big double take
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The Drake
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I think raising a child into your traditions can hardly be construed as child abuse, if and until a parent presses back on a child who can articulate their objections to the family religion. I'm not talking about just "I don't want to go to church.", I'm talking about, "I just don't think God exists."

I think there's a serious problem if, at that point, a parent threatens a punishment for the child.

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Carlotta
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quote:
6th grade is awfully late, in my opinion , to develop that skill
[Smile] Well, in 4th grade I was sent to the teachers lounge about 4 times a day to get a Diet Coke for my teacher and spent the rest of the time reading fiction under my desk. The teacher didn't care b/c I was quiet. In 5th grade my teacher actually took me aside and explained that she wasn't going to call on me in class anymore because she knew I knew the answers and needed to see if everyone else knew them. So I read library books all day long, made a note of what pages we covered during class, and did all the schoolwork in about 2-3 hours every night.

Then my parents switched me to a different school. I had a young, new teacher in a class of 10, all girls. She talked to us like we were adults, encouraging us to think critically and pushing me to my limits, not just to complete the assignments. She was the best teacher I ever had and 6th grade really changed the direction of my education. From that point on I realized that I could learn things that I wanted to learn and it wasn't just about doing what was required for a good grade. She was amazing.

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MattP
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quote:
I think raising a child into your traditions can hardly be construed as child abuse
Dawkins' justification for this claim is that children are emotionally harmed as a consequence of dealing with feelings of guilt for their own behavior or fear for what will happen to their "unsaved" friends. In the God Delusion, he cites a few stories from people that suffered substantial emotional turmoil over fear for their eternal souls or their discovery that an unbaptized friend had died in a car accident and would now go to hell.
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Carlotta
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But this isn't religion in general, only some religions. Does he address that?
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The Drake
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So? We all experience emotional turmoil when we challenge the beliefs that are held by our parents. Turmoil isn't bad in that context. Caring about what happens to one's non-religious friends is perfectly acceptable, as is the turmoil that a child of an atheist family might feel that their friends are being duped into a superstition.

Turmoil leads to examination, thought, and introspection.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
I think raising a child into your traditions can hardly be construed as child abuse, if and until a parent presses back on a child who can articulate their objections to the family religion. I'm not talking about just "I don't want to go to church.", I'm talking about, "I just don't think God exists."

I think there's a serious problem if, at that point, a parent threatens a punishment for the child.

I agree, Drake. Punishing a child for the child's religious beliefs would be child abuse.
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kenmeer livermaile
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Jim Morrison:

"There are no glass houses. The shades are drawn and "real" life begins. Some activities are impossible in the open. And these secret events are the voyeur's game. He seeks them out with his myriad eyes -- like the child's notion of a Deity who sees everything. 'Everything?' asks the child. 'Yes, everything,' they answer, and the child is left to cope with this divine intrusion."

He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake.

Children stop believing in Santa by the time they're 10 or so. This is why masturbation is readily practiced and Santa receives so few requests for lifetime subscriptions to Playboy.

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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
So? We all experience emotional turmoil when we challenge the beliefs that are held by our parents. Turmoil isn't bad in that context. Caring about what happens to one's non-religious friends is perfectly acceptable, as is the turmoil that a child of an atheist family might feel that their friends are being duped into a superstition.

Turmoil leads to examination, thought, and introspection.

Well, if you believe that these beliefs are false, then it's unnecessary infliction of turmoil. Telling your kid that their best friend is going to burn in hell for eternity is just fine if that's really what's going to happen - sometimes there are truly horrible things that don't go away just because we don't mention them. But if you think that belief is wrong then it's in the same class as the sect of Muslims that slices open their children's heads to remember the decapitation of the 7th century Muslim leader Saint Imam Hussein. It's not going to kill them, but it could leave a scar.
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The Drake
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MattP, should we declare that circumcision is child abuse also?

We were talking about pressure about beliefs, and now you're talking about physical damage. Both worth talking about, but not in the same breath.

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Pete at Home
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I can't get enough of the clowns that say that LDS folks "abuse" our children by teaching them that sex outside of marriage is a sin. In order to construct that idiotic argument, they have to splice beliefs and practices from other religions into the LDS religion.

Pyro: but it's natural for kids to want to have sex.

Mormon: so?

Pyro: and if they do have sex, you say it's a sin.

Mormon: So?

Pyro: It's child abuse.

Mormon: Why?

Pyro: sinners are sent to a fiery hell to burn forever.

Mormon. We don't teach our kids that. It's not true.

Pyro: Yes, but if they won't stop fornicating, they can get disfellowshipped or even excommunicated.

Mormon: Eventually, I suppose, although very few teens end up getting excommunicated.

Pyro: well that's child abuse.

Mormon: why?

Pyro: How could you reject your own children, throw them out of their homes and communities, just for doing what comes natural to them?

Mormon: We don't reject people who are excommunicated, or throw them out of their homes or communities?

Pyro: Nonsense. What does excommunicated mean?

Mormon: It means you can't take the sacrament that some other religions call communion. You also aren't aren't given service assignments in church, and you are not allowed to pay tithing.

Pyro: Oh yeah? Well Joseph Smith was a con man. [deftly switches subject]

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MattP
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quote:
MattP, should we declare that circumcision is child abuse also?
I don't see why. There is relatively little discomfort involved and the child is too young to have much cognition about what's going on. He just knows that something hurts and that only lasts few for a few days.

quote:
We were talking about pressure about beliefs, and now you're talking about physical damage. Both worth talking about, but not in the same breath.
I see overlap between physical and mental abuse. There least of physical abuse is preferable to the worst of emotional abuse. Someone brought up the "indoctrination = child abuse" subject and I used the reference to the Muslims as a reductio ad absurdium to show that it could, in some cases, be abusive.

I think it is valid, in some cases, to call religious indoctrination of children abusive. Where I differ from Dawkins is that he seems considers all religious indoctrination of children to be a form of abuse. I don't really think the emotional abuse angle is all that important to him. I think he considers the real abuse to be what he perceives as the destruction of a child's capability for rational thought through religious education.

[ February 23, 2007, 11:57 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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The Drake
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A valuable illustration is that of the Amish. They indoctrinate, then allow children to experience Rumspriga. They get to choose for themselves, essentially. Consequences can include banishment from the family.

Is that abuse or persecution for secular belief? I don't see it as such, while still empathizing with the young adults who have to make that choice.

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MattP
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The Amish are a completely different world to me. Everyone Amish children really knows is Amish until they are old enough to have responsibilities that require interaction with the outside world.

I think there's a greater potential for harm within families who's religious beliefs are not pervasive in their community.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
I'm specifically responding to Dawkins' "child abuse" statement. Maybe you're right that in context that I'll see that this was overblown. But instead of trying to persuade me with context, you've chosen to just assume that I'm showing bias against atheists. With all due respect, Jason, you obviously don't like me, but you know me well enough to have no excuse for making that unreasonable inference.
Sorry, I have a tendancy to be very intense when I debate, and the internet exacerbates that by removing the human element. In point of fact, I actually do like you (as much as I can like someone I have never met) and agree with alot of what you say on this board.

quote:
If someone that he'd read a book where a mormon said that atheist's children should be taken away, I'd have the same reaction: "that's POISON." If you don't know that about me, and my personal crusade to get Christians to stop alienating atheists, then you're willfully blind.

Now I could respond now by returning your unkind shot and saying that your assumption about me shows "typical atheist bias against religion," but I don't believe it, and even if I did believe it, I would not paint with such a grossly broad brush.

Pete, these are the facts as I see them. We have a situation where with almost no exception, every single person in the world who is a certain religion, just so happens to have been born to parents who also happen to be that religion. There are thousands of religions out there, probably hundreds of thousands, past, present and future. And all of them have embraced every conceivable fantastical belief, a dizzying array of monsters and demons and ghosts with almost nothing in common with one another. The only constant, the only point of commonality that you can find between them, the only recognizable pattern is that when a person believes in a certain religion, any religion, he always just happens to have parents who believed in it too. Not intelligence, not temperment, not philosophical disposition, not skin colour, not even country of origin seem to matter: it's all about the parents. And no one chooses their parents.

I don't look at this and see coincidence. I see the simple truth that religion is not a choice. If you are like 99.999% of Mormons, you didn't choose to be a Mormon, and aren't choosing to be one now. Your mother and father didn't choose it, and so on. Your religion is little more than an accident of birth. Had your parents worshipped the Dark Lord Satan, there is virtually a 100% chance that you would be Satan worshipper today, and the same could be said of Zeus, Odin, and one of hundreds of thousands of other religions that have existed through human history, cooincidentally, 99% of which you would probably find to be without any basis in reality.

The above may not, strictly speaking, speak to the truth or untruth of any given religious belief, but it does lend credence to Dawkins's hypothesis that children are being brainwashed, wholesale. That is the very definition of brainwashing, isn't it? You literally force your beliefs on another person, mold them to suit you. In this case, since the parents didn't choose their religion either, the children are being molded, not by a person or persons, but by an idea , a self-perpetuating idea that has gotten out of control and assumed a life of its own.

Dawkins's virus analogy is entirely apt. The genius of religion is that a person's intellect, no matter how great, is helpless against religion's influence. That's why I don't look down on religious peeople, or think I'm better than them; a religious person is just as likely to be a smart person, an artistic person, a kind person, etc... And a religious person has no choice, and was never given one at all. From the moment of his birth, before he even knew how to talk, odds are his parents and community drilled his religion into his head. The religion enters the host's mind, and then teaches the host that to question the religion is wrong, to think critically about the religion is evil, if you question it you are evil, you can never question it.

This doesn't mean that the host can't think critically; he just can't think critically with respect to one particular strain of the virus. It's why you see people of religion X easily seeing through and disbelieving the ridiculous fantasies concocted by religion B, labelling them as superstition, but meanwhile being completely blind to his own religion's ridiculous fantasies.

[ February 24, 2007, 12:31 AM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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The Drake
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The percentages here are all made up. How about some real data? I think you would find that there are far more Mormon converts than you allow for, and far more ex-Mormons. Same goes for any other religion.
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The Drake
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Would you approach this question the same way if we were talking about a belief in democracy?

Are we all brainwashed into thinking that voting for a leader is a good way to run our state?

I was brainwashed. My mother brainwashed me into thinking that effort is rewarded with hard work, that honesty was important, and also that God existed.

Am I abused?

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