Indoctrination
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14-01-2013, 05:28 PM
Thumbs Down Indoctrination
I'm sure there's another thread like this somewhere but I couldn't find one so fuck it...

I come from a christian family, and my parents are very religious. Like most parents who have a strong opinion about their particular god, they've decided to force their beliefs onto me and my siblings. Luckily, I've grown out of it, but my young siblings (aged 6 and 10) are even more sheltered than I ever was, are forced to go to church/sunday school nearly every week, and are even going to a christian school. It's fucked up to hear my little sister talking about how she hates anybody who doesn't love Jesus. If I bring up religion to my parents (especially around my brother and sister) they respond with nothing but anger and my mom says she's "just doing what's best for them" in her heart. I don't live at home anymore so I don't know what to do, or if there is anything I can do. I don't want them to grow up only to realize late in their lives that it was all bullshit. I know there really isn't an easy way to go about this and that in the end it's their choice what they grow up to believe, but I have a feeling that until they're out on their own they won't really have a choice. My fucking ignorant parents can't see that all I am is a concerned brother.

Any thoughts, ideas, or similar experiences? What are your opinions on religious indoctrination?
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14-01-2013, 05:39 PM
RE: Indoctrination
Your parents have a right to raise and teach your siblings however/whatever they wish. Interfering with that is only going to hurt relationships. Right now, I think your siblings are too young for you to be doing anything. Later on in life, ask them questions, and, if you feel inclined, share your atheism with them.

Do not berate them with your atheism and do not condemn their religion. This will only breed discontent.

On a side note, it is disconcerting that your sister is saying that she hates anyone who doesn't believe in God. That's a bad teaching...

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14-01-2013, 05:44 PM
RE: Indoctrination
(14-01-2013 05:28 PM)sliceoflife Wrote:  I'm sure there's another thread like this somewhere but I couldn't find one so fuck it...

I come from a christian family, and my parents are very religious. Like most parents who have a strong opinion about their particular god, they've decided to force their beliefs onto me and my siblings. Luckily, I've grown out of it, but my young siblings (aged 6 and 10) are even more sheltered than I ever was, are forced to go to church/sunday school nearly every week, and are even going to a christian school. It's fucked up to hear my little sister talking about how she hates anybody who doesn't love Jesus. If I bring up religion to my parents (especially around my brother and sister) they respond with nothing but anger and my mom says she's "just doing what's best for them" in her heart. I don't live at home anymore so I don't know what to do, or if there is anything I can do. I don't want them to grow up only to realize late in their lives that it was all bullshit. I know there really isn't an easy way to go about this and that in the end it's their choice what they grow up to believe, but I have a feeling that until they're out on their own they won't really have a choice. My fucking ignorant parents can't see that all I am is a concerned brother.

Any thoughts, ideas, or similar experiences? What are your opinions on religious indoctrination?


Get them a copy of The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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14-01-2013, 06:11 PM
RE: Indoctrination
Your parents are doing your brothers and sisters harm and I vehemently disagree with the notion that they have a right to do so. Religion is a poisonous mindcrime that steals a child's sense of privacy, terrifies him/her with threats of hell and damnation and plants bigotries in them that will alter how they view and interact with others, as is already evidenced in the hateful things your sister says about atheists. About you. Religion is not some inert fantasy story that kids simply forget when they become adults.

With that rant out of the way... I understand that you're in a precarious situation but you can inform their minds with some truth in such a way as not to cause any trouble. You can respond to statements such that your sister makes with Socratic reasoning in the form of questions that will force her to think about the content of what she says without actually telling her that she is wrong. In fact, that's the only real way you can help change the mind of anyone. They have to come to the conclusions on their own. We all do.

For instance:

Sis: I just hate people who don't love Jesus.
You: What about people who've never heard of Jesus?
or: Does not loving Jesus make a person bad? If yes, then: What do people who don't love Jesus do that makes them bad? or... If they don't hurt others, how can they be bad?

As for your parents, if your relationship with them is good enough you can approach religion in the same manner. And if not, stand your ground where truth is concerned but be civil because if you anger them too much they will likely taint your relationship with your siblings.

In the end, you were smart enough to overcome their indoctrination, so there's no reason to believe your siblings can't as well. Just be patient and offer them some information you never had and chances are your siblings will be able to become rational earlier than you did.

Good Luck!
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14-01-2013, 08:02 PM
RE: Indoctrination
Thank you all for your responses.

I also decided to take a look through my brother's science textbook. Like I said, he goes to a christian school. On nearly every page the book mentions how God makes everything work the way it does. For the most part, the book describes fairly well how things actually work (evolution, plate tectonics, the big bang theory, etc.) but also adds that nothing would work without God. It also words things in a way that the bible is absolute truth and scientific theories are just opinions of scientists (like the big bang theory). It also said something like "scientists are always changing their ideas, but God will never change because he's perfect and bla bla bla..." I looked up from the book to my mom and told her "this is bullshit." She instantly pushed the conversation under the rug, distracting herself with anything she could, making phonecalls to people, basically just ignoring every word and telling me "we're just going to have to agree to disagree." This is what my parents are like when it comes to religion. They know it's all fairy tale bullshit, they just won't admit it.
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14-01-2013, 08:10 PM
RE: Indoctrination
"this is bullshit."

Given your approach, I'm not surprised she reacted in the manner you described. The last thing anyone wants to hear is that the ideas that inform their very way of life are bullshit. Even if they know they're bullshit.
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14-01-2013, 09:56 PM
RE: Indoctrination
(14-01-2013 08:10 PM)bbeljefe Wrote:  "this is bullshit."

Given your approach, I'm not surprised she reacted in the manner you described. The last thing anyone wants to hear is that the ideas that inform their very way of life are bullshit. Even if they know they're bullshit.
I've approached the subject before, without calling it bullshit. Maybe it wasn't the right approach but to know that this is what my brother is being taught at school by his teachers, who he looks up to and believes that what they're telling him is the truth, I can't help but be a little pissed. I don't try to pick fights, I usually approach it in the calmest most reasonable way possible, but there are times when my face hits my palm with such force that I can't help but tell them like it is. The bible is utterly false and it's ridiculous that any sane adult can believe a single word in it, when the knowledge is EVERYWHERE.
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14-01-2013, 10:12 PM
RE: Indoctrination
(14-01-2013 08:02 PM)sliceoflife Wrote:  Thank you all for your responses.

I also decided to take a look through my brother's science textbook. Like I said, he goes to a christian school. On nearly every page the book mentions how God makes everything work the way it does. For the most part, the book describes fairly well how things actually work (evolution, plate tectonics, the big bang theory, etc.) but also adds that nothing would work without God. It also words things in a way that the bible is absolute truth and scientific theories are just opinions of scientists (like the big bang theory). It also said something like "scientists are always changing their ideas, but God will never change because he's perfect and bla bla bla..." I looked up from the book to my mom and told her "this is bullshit." She instantly pushed the conversation under the rug, distracting herself with anything she could, making phonecalls to people, basically just ignoring every word and telling me "we're just going to have to agree to disagree." This is what my parents are like when it comes to religion. They know it's all fairy tale bullshit, they just won't admit it.

Don't hide your atheism, don't use it to pick fights tho either. Do good works, help people, not for the glory of an afterlife, but because it makes you feel good. In other words set a good example. Your siblings will see it....

That you're good without god.


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Wind's in the east, a mist coming in
Like something is brewing and about to begin
Can't put my finger on what lies in store
but I feel what's to happen has happened before...


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15-01-2013, 08:54 AM
RE: Indoctrination
The most compelling argument for someone to question their assumptions is sometimes just knowing a good atheist. "They'll know we are Christian by our love" doesn't work so well when someone realises that the atheist is the one staying calm and building community. Theism isn't something you can always argue against rationally - sometimes it just takes the right words at the right time. Be yourself, be honest, expose contradictions within arguments and between arguments and reality.

I think that deconversion as a process is much like conversion and Christian evangelism. Sometimes you have to "let the holy spirit work on someone". Stay part of their lives, and let them be part of your life. In the mean time continue to be who you are and show them that you are good. Ask questions that make them stop and think now and then.

Try to avoid outright saying "your beliefs are wrong" or "you're lying". Prefer instead to ask "What would Jesus say if he heard you talking about hating non-believers" (dealing with contradictions within the person's belief system) or "Do you think I'm a good person? What do you think of a God who plans to send me to hell just because I don't believe in him? A big part of the reason I don't believe is that I can't believe that a good God would send a person to hell for that reason. Is that significant?" (dealing with contradictions between their belief system and reality - in this case with their moral reasoning processes).

This is a video I've enjoyed rewatching this week that deals with some of the issues around families and beliefs. Perhaps it will be useful to you:



Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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15-01-2013, 10:05 AM
RE: Indoctrination
Interesting video. A bit abstract.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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