Religion is a touchy subject in America. Despite what both sides of the argument would like to think, it always has been. The first European immigrants slipped away to America to escape religious persecution only to think up even more horrific dogma to enslave themselves with years later. The burning of witches happened only 300 years ago. More recently, African Americans were lynched in the American South based on interpretations of the old testament. My parents were both alive when that happened, it wasn’t that long ago. Terrifying events inspired by God aren’t a relic of our distant past. 9/11, anyone?
The confusing thing for agnostics and atheists is that the very beliefs that lead to such gross acts are prospering even in a society that is more literate and has more access to scientific knowledge than ever before.
So how does this happen? “Get em’ young!“
As I was scrolling through the detritus on facebook one Sunday morning I happened to see a startling headline from a high school classmate. Usually a phrase like “gave her life to the lord” is used to denote an untimely death. Obviously upon a second look I realized she meant “pledged her life.” However, the fact that pledging and giving life are interchangeable in the christian context is a transparent display of the control cults have over their members. I don’t give my life to my boss, I pledge to work for him in exchange for money. We don’t even give our lives to our spouses, we vow to honor our commitment to them. But when it comes to the LORD, we have to GIVE our lives away. We are no longer independent, we are God’s property, and that means by proxy, the church’s.
Do you think that is a concept that a five year old girl can even accurately acknowledge, much less understand? Either God is an abstract concept that seems to make mommy and daddy happy, or God is as real as Santa Claus. I certainly doubt Little Angel was given the bible, the quran, the talmud and a copy of God is Not Great and asked to choose for herself before “deciding” to “give her life to the LORD.”
Think about the value this woman puts on her daughter giving her life to God and ask yourself if she’s paused to explain that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren’t real yet. To her daughter they are one and the same. Won’t this cause some cognitive dissonance later on? Of course not, because Jesus is real, and we’re not raising some devil-worshiping atheist here.
These same parents will probably get uncomfortable in about seven years when the middle school starts testing Little Angel and asking her what colleges and careers she’d like to explore. Or, better yet, when the 6th grade science teacher attempts to obtain parental permission to teach basic knowledge of human sexual reproduction. “Isn’t she a little young for that?!”
Too young to learn about how her life was created, not too young to give it.
It would all be a harmless exercise if it wasn’t perfectly clear that indoctrination when young leads people back when they’re older and need something to guide them. It works really well, and I’d be really happy that those people found their feet again no matter what method they used to get there; except that the religious method enables those to escape their problems by ignoring them instead of confronting them.
I’m depressed because I’m going to die –> Don’t worry, keep working at taco bell and stay married to that wife-beater and when you die you’ll go to heaven and it’ll be awesome!
Even worse, instead of embracing others, religion subtly nudges its most vulnerable to become the most bigoted.
Why is the world messed up? –> It’s those gays everywhere, god doesn’t like them – and it’s your job to tell them!
Having gone through a minor bout of depression myself years ago I can say that religion isn’t a necessary fall-back to dig yourself out. Escape just comes slower when you have to work for it. My family and friends were there for me because they love me – not because we’re in the same special little club that loves something ELSE.
I know this sounds highly critical of my facebook “friend” (and it is), but I’d like to make clear that I know she isn’t doing this to her daughter out of malice. In fact, I have a few good memories of this particular woman being nice to me even though we existed in separate social circles that intentionally rarely overlapped. This hasn’t been a critique of this one well-meaning, but misguided, woman. It’s a rant about how prevelant this sort of thing is in our society and the long lasting damages this behavior produces.
In 1986 some little girl with blond hair and blue eyes just like Little Angel gave her life to the lord. When she needed an escape from her problems in 2005 she “turned to the lord” and the lord delivered her. In 2008 she voted yes on Proposition 8 and told homosexuals they were lesser human beings than she was. It wasn’t her choice, though. She gave that to the LORD. We have a mixed up world where corporations are fighting for rights of personhood, and religious Americans push hard to take rights away.
If they can’t have them, nobody can.