Religion as child abuse

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Discussion by: FredSki
I live in the Netherlands and many many years ago I had a coworker who was deeply religious. I used to have long discussions with him about religion. One day I told him children should be raised without any religion at all. They should of course be taught in schools about all the big religions in the world, but they should not be raised within a religion. That would give the child free choice by the time it has grown up to an age where he or she is able to make a real choice. You should not force a believe system to your own child.

His counter argument was, and I still remember it because it was such a strong argument, that I made the mistake into assuming that his religion was something he believed in. For him it was not believing. He was simply convinced that it was the only possible truth. As such, he must raise his children according to his truths, there is simply no other way.

I see religion as a viral meme and this is a perfect example. People who are completely convinced of a religion cannot help but pass it on to there children. So, saying that forcing a religion onto 5 year old’s is a from of child abuse is incorrect. The parents have no choice in the matter. This is exactly why viral memes are so dangerous. It’s brainwashing in optima forma.

25 COMMENTS

  1. “I still remember it because it was such a strong argument, that I made the mistake into assuming that his religion was something he believed in. For him it was not believing. He was simply convinced that it was the only possible truth”

    Really? That’s a strong argument to you? To me it sounds like semantic word-play. When you believe something you *are* convinced it is the truth. It’s the same thing essentially.

    “saying that forcing a religion onto 5 year old’s is a from of child abuse is incorrect. The parents have no choice in the matter”

    Well they do have a choice, they can expose themselves to all the counter arguments for the validity of their religion and evaluate them honestly. It’s unlikely this person bothered to do so, preferring instead to cling to what he thinks he “knows”.

  2.  “Well they do have a choice, they can expose themselves to all the
    counter arguments for the validity of their religion and evaluate them
    honestly”

    No one has a choice about anything until they have an opportunity.  Someone who has not been “exposed” themselves can hardly expose their children.  Not everyone on this planet is aware of all the different ideas on religion out there.  And even fewer are cognizant of the basic procedures of scientific inquiry.

    Secondly, the idea that people who ‘believe’ could be convinced to keep their children from being members of what is essentially their community seems to me to be somewhat unproductive.  Do you not allow children to sit at the table when the father blesses the meal?

    Parents raising children in accordance with their own ideas is not abuse in itself.  How would someone raise children in accordance with ‘not their ideas?’ 

    I believe abuse occurs when children are isolated from opposing views, or when those who hold opposing views are demonized.  When children are taught to hate and loath others because of their ideas, that is abuse!

  3. “No one has a choice about anything until they have an opportunity.  Someone who has not been ‘exposed’ themselves can hardly expose their children”

    They presumably have access to the internet and libraries do they not? I would call those opportunities. Which is why I said they can expose *themselves* to this information. Whether they have the motivation to, given their upbringing and community ties is a another topic. A parent with an enquiring mind might investigate alternatives, even if only to strengthen their own beliefs. Atheism is not some esoteric idea they will never have heard of, pretty much all theists are aware of it to some degree.

    “Parents raising children in accordance with their own ideas is not abuse in itself.  How would someone raise children in accordance with ‘not their ideas?’”

    Obviously someone is not going to raise their children contrary to their values but doesn’t it depend on the ideas? For example, if you were to teach your child that if they do certain things or leave the faith they will burn for eternity etc etc. then I think that may qualify as abuse, even if the parent genuinely believes these things are true and morally correct. 

    “When children are taught to hate and loath others because of their ideas, that is abuse!”

    I agree. So what do holy books and their believers have to say about gays for instance? I realise that not all Christians & Muslims loathe gays, but it’s certainly something that’s within the religious remit and possibly a sincerely held idea of the parents. By your stated definition would this not constitute abuse? This is just one of several examples I can give, but I think it illustrates the point I’m making.

  4.  You presume everyone has access to internet!  That’s not true.

    Would you say the mother of 3 starving children is a child abuser if she allows a priest to feed her children if they go to church and are baptized, if she doesn’t then manage to obtain internet access?

    My point below was parents instilling their beliefs in their children is one thing, parents isolating children from other beliefs is something else.  If you teach your child all you believe, and allow them the freedom to explore other views, then I do not see that as child abuse.  If you want to start adding things like tormenting children with tales of hell then of course that would change the situation.

    Your post below made no distinction in exposing children religion to the parents religion, and torturing children with their religion.  Your argument as far as I can make out is “If parents are religious, they are child molesters unless they either 1) don’t allow their children access to their own beliefs, or 2) fail to ensure the children understand every other view point.  If this is not an approximation of you opinion then I misunderstand.

    The first would seem unworkable in that a family can not live together without sharing their lives. The second just as unworkable in that it requires a parent to impart understanding of things the parent has little or no understanding of themselves.

    “Obviously someone is not going to raise their children contrary to their values but doesn’t it depend on the ideas?” 

    I’m not sure what you mean here.  If it’s obvious, then on what does it depend?

  5. This is a complex issue.  As you guys have already mentioned, people don’t know what they don’t know – if they are involved in a religion and don’t realise there’s another way, then how can they possibly be expected to know any different?  We’re all lost in our own ‘Matrix’ of culture and beliefs.

    And even if they do live in a free-thinking society, they may be so entrenched in their beliefs that they sincerely believe that they’re protecting their child by teaching them the dogma of their religion.  Parents, in general, just want to do the best for their children. 

    My (Buddhist) meditation teacher is an educated, artculate person, who has been exposed to many scientific teachings and books by Hitchens and Dawkins, yet he still genuinely believes in karma and reincarnation.  He says he’s checked for himself and those things seem more true and likely to him (even though they seem utterly implausible to me, and all the evidence). 

    I don’t think we consciously choose our beliefs.  Instead, it’s like something happens in our brain, and things click into place, and then we say that’s what we believe.  I don’t have any evidence to back up this claim, though, so perhaps someone in the know can guide me on that point. 

    Saying all that, I would love it if all children could be protected from religious indoctrination – leaving them to make up their own minds as adults.  I think the only solution is education in rational thinking, outside of the home.  Religion certainly shouldn’t be taught as fact in schools, and instead, science and questioning should be.  

  6. ” You presume everyone has access to internet!  That’s not true.”

    I was referring chiefly to the kind of person mentioned by Fredski the OP, since it was his friend’s argument about his personal circumstance that the OP found compelling. It’s a good chance this person had access to the internet, being a resident of the Netherlands where 90+% of people are online. Regardless of this, specialist knowledge is not even a pre-requisite of considering the alternative to theism. One can look at their holy book and ask questions of the kind, “how do I know this is true?”, “is this really a good way to behave?”.

    “Would you say the mother of 3 starving children is a child abuser if she allows a priest to feed her children if they go to church and are baptized, if she doesn’t then manage to obtain internet access?”

    I’m sorry but you are creating a straw-man argument here. Not only is this a highly fictional scenario but I don’t think it’s generally church policy to withhold aid from non-Christians, not if they claim to truly follow Christ-like behaviour. That aside, while we are discussing this hypothetical situation, what is stopping the mother from going along with the priest’s extortion and and still presenting the religion as one of many possible belief systems to her child? (She might not be motivated to do so, but she still has a choice).

    “If you teach your child all you believe, and allow them the freedom to explore other views, then I do not see that as child abuse”

    I agree to an extent but with caveats.  Firstly, a young child is not equipped to make these judgements, it is biologically hard-wired to believe what adults tell it. It’s only when they are older that they can have the same critical faculties as their parents. Therefore, if the parent doesn’t present their religion as one of several possible truths they are doing their child a disservice at the very least and depending on their particular beliefs, emotionally abusing them.

    “If you want to start adding things like tormenting children with tales of hell then of course that would change the situation”

    Well, again going back to the OP’s Dutch friend, the majority religions there are Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, both of which generally subscribe to the concept of eternal punishment. The concept of homosexuality as morally deviant and inferior is also a common theme. Both of these are abusive IMO. I think it is certainly likely, though not confirmed I grant, that these are concepts he is teaching his child.

    “Your post below made no distinction in exposing children religion to the parents religion, and torturing children with their religion.  Your argument as far as I can make out is “If parents are religious, they are child molesters unless they either 1) don’t allow their children access to their own beliefs, or 2) fail to ensure the children understand every other view point.  If this is not an approximation of you opinion then I misunderstand.”

    Then you have misunderstood. I think  you have read an entirely different message to the one I stated and intended, I hope the content of this post has clarified my position for you. Re #2, presenting every other viewpoint is not necessary, only presenting your own as a personal truth not an absolute one. Informing oneself about evidence and reason (or lack thereof) for ones beliefs can help to teach a child honestly.

    You and I both appear to agree that without specifics about the beliefs which are being taught we  cannot make a determination of abuse and that teaching *some* beliefs is abusive. This is something I’ve acknowledged from the very start so I think we are on common ground here. 

    “”Obviously someone is not going to raise their children contrary to their values but doesn’t it depend on the ideas?” “

    “I’m not sure what you mean here.  If it’s obvious, then on what does it depend?”

    I could have said this better – let me rephrase:

    It is obvious that a parent is not going to raise their child contrary to their values. But doesn’t the concept of teaching an idea as being abuse depend on the specific content of that idea? That’s all I was saying here and I think you have already implied that you think it does. 

    Hopefully we understand each other better now and have perhaps agreed on some things at least.

  7. I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said. The only thing I would add is that I think the parent has arguably the biggest role to play in what a child is taught. Whether the intentions of the parents are good, it’s still at least possible they are teaching their child destructive ideas and stifling their intellectual growth. Along with your solution of external education for the child I’d suggest promoting change in parents also, like the OP attempted with his friend. Perhaps I’m too optimistic but if we just accept that a parent’s beliefs will always remain fixed and unyielding then it’s almost like giving up on one of the battlefronts against indoctrination.

  8. That’s a good point.

    I’m optimistic that after  few generations of rational-thinking education in schools, the parents of the future will bring up their children in this new way of thinking, and the cycle will be broken.  We humans will always have superstition and irrationality as our ‘default setting’, but education helps us to look at our instinctive thoughts and feelings, and question them.  Education is the key :o)

  9. Mister T 
    Well they do have a choice, they can expose themselves to all the counter arguments for the validity of their religion and evaluate them honestly. It’s unlikely this person bothered to do so,  preferring instead to cling to what he thinks he “knows”.

    The problem is, that if they themselves, have never learned rational thinking or the value of the scientific method, they will simply be incapable of doing so.

    I explained aspects of this here:-

    http://richarddawkins.net/disc

    Those taught “theistic reasoning” (not to be confused with logical deduction) which is a rationalisation process validating ideas by checking them against  dogmatic preconceptions, are dogmatically disabled.

    This anti-science failed thinking, is promoted as “virtuous” by various religions.  Here is the linked RCC version

    http://richarddawkins.net/disc

  10. B.C. man who botched son’s home-circumcision guilty of criminal negligence, top court rules By Brigitte Pellerin, Parliamentary BureauFriday, November 16, 20129:41:31 MST AMThe Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on July 21, 2011. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY)

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    Related StoriesGerman cabinet approves circumcision billJewish groups sue NYC over circumcision rule
    OTTAWA — The Supreme Court has ruled that a British Columbia man who tried to circumcise his 4-year-old son on the kitchen floor of his house is guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.The top court was asked to hear whether his attempt was allowed under freedom of religion provisions.The botched surgery happened in April 2007. He used a carpet blade that he purchased at Home Depot earlier that day and sterilized. He didn’t give his son any anesthetic, just four ounces of homemade honey wine.According to the Crown, the father lacked the medical skills to perform a circumcision. He tried to circumcise himself in 2005 using a Zhenxi ring, or circumcision ring. It wasn’t successful and the father had to be rushed to a hospital.The circumcision he performed on his son two years later wasn’t successful either and there was significant bleeding, which the father stopped with the help of a veterinary blood-stopping agent and paper towels. “The result,” according to court documents submitted by the Crown, was “the foreskin on D.J.’s penis stuck out like two arms. D.J. was not circumcised. He was disfigured.”The pair cannot be named.In 2009 the man was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. He was convicted of criminal negligence causing bodily harm but acquitted of the other two charges. The B.C. Court of Appeal found him guilty on all counts, and he appealed to the Supreme Court.The father, as a Jehovah’s Witness, said he believes circumcision is necessary to “make things right with God.”The Jehovah’s Witness church does not condone or forbid circumcision.The man also argues he didn’t intend to hurt his son and took many safety precautions including consulting doctors (who advised him against it) and reading about circumcision online. PollShould circumcision of infants be banned?Friday, November 16, 2012Yes, at least let the child decide when they are older.Depends who does it.No, it’s a religious custom practiced for thousands of years.Not sure.
    Vote orview results32%
    11 votesYes, at least let the child decide when they are older.15%
    5 votesDepends who does it.29%
    10 votesNo, it’s a religious custom practiced for thousands of years.24%
    8 votesNot sure.

  11. I have to disagree with you that the father is abusing his child.  Indoctrinating him into his faith yes, but at most, he could be accused of bad parenting by not providing his child with the ability to choose, to believe or not to beleive.  A religious person may say that I abuse my child by not teaching him to believe in a deity.  They would of course be wrong but you get my point. 

    Religious people believe as they do (as a general rule of course) purely as an accident of where they are born and the families into which they were born, and like every other cultural belief system, they pass this on to their children.  It is why cycles of crime, abuse, religiosity, war among others, exist in a society. As one poster indicated, education truly is the key.

    There are for sure instances were children suffer abuse at the hands of religion.  When I was a child, in grade 3 or 4, my father discovered that we were forced to recite the lords prayer and do an hour of bible study every day.  This was in a PUBLIC school system on the east coast of Canada.  This would have been in the mid 1970′s.  When he expressed that this should not be permitted, my brother, myself and my cousin were relegated to the hallway for the first hour of the day.  We were given no chair, no supervision, and nothing to do but stand, seemingly as punishment for having no religious belief.  My younger brother by a year, bored at standing in a hallway, began to pick at the paint of a door frame.  When he was caught doing so he received corporal punishment by hand strap.  I sometimes think back to this period and wonder how it occurred in a “modern” society!  But I think this form of abuse continues with children world wide.  I, and my family members were outcast from our classmates, segregated for our lack of religious beliefs, although admittedly it was by the teachers and not so much the other children.  However, I have never to this day forgotten that treatment and how it made me feel.  Granted it is not as severe as some have experienced, but I would wager that there are many more instances like mine which are considered to be “benign” but truly affect the psyche of the children being exposed to it.

    As an atheist, I think it is a crime to indoctrinate children into a religious belief, to isolate them so that they are unable to think and decide for themselves when the time is right for them to do so. But that is my personal view and not necessarily my view as a parent that feels I have the right to raise my child as a rational thinker.  I’m sure religious zealots would love nothing more than to dictate to me that my child must attend a religious school.

  12. The notion of religious doctrine as “truth” among the educated and intelligent believers of the world is quite strange. I have had MANY conversations about the nature of scientific truth, conjectures, and theorems with religious friends of mine. From my point of view, their position is indefensible-little to no evidence, no legitimate sources, etc. But from their point of view (they are mostly victims of religious child abuse, as RD aptly describes it) they just can’t accept something that breaks the mold of their misinformed upbringing. it disturbs them, confuses them, and doesn’t make sense to them, so they dive for the religious “security blanket”. My parents (one atheist and one Catholic-who-doesn’t-really-believe-it-or-observe-at-all) raised me with knowledge of major religions (and science) but forced nothing on me. I chose the only option with evidence to back it up (atheism) because even as a young child, it was the only thing that made sense. I firmly believe that children should have a choice in what they believe in (or don’t) but this idea of religious “truth” as an excuse is troubling. How does one argue against someone so set in their ways? I’ve tried it by logically explaining how the scientific method works… But it hasn’t been too effective. After a lifetime of indoctrination, it’s incredibly hard for somebody turn their back on the beliefs they were raised with.

  13. I would argue that atheist parents are identical with the upbringing of their children; that the children will be nurtured in an environment were the parents opposition to religion is imposed onto the children. It would be extremely difficult not to (in some small or large way) influence the spiritual (or lack of) beliefs in developing children.

    I was brought up in a Christian family; I didn’t think much about religion as a child and I consequently didn’t care unless I had to wake up early on a Sunday :(. However, my parents also gave me a good education. As time went on, I was able to make different assumptions and connections based on the behaviors of others around me. Due to childhood problems of never truly fitting in, I began to disconnect myself from my inner emotions and viewed my observations as being fairly objective so I began to trust my inner thoughts more than the teachings of anything that could not be proven to me. After my mother’s mother died, we went to church ‘every’ Sunday as opposed to intermittently attending. The more and more I went to this place, I connected religion to a fear of death. 

    My point is, don’t worry what religious environment children grow up. Sure it would be nice to give them a fair choice, but in terms of serious realism it is almost impossible to achieve without imposing your own or someone else’s beliefs on them. I think the real key is in the education system to teach critical thinking. So many religious folk are against having the children taught science. I would propose a sort of new subject that didn’t seem as threatening to the parents of these children; a mixture of ancient philosophy and modern psychology. Teaching children to ask questions about the world around them and how the human brain does what it does and is susceptible to certain phenomena. A long shot mostly fantasy but at least it would reduce some of the anxiety around the subject of science which threatens the belief system of religious people. Just as science and religion refuse to get along in most forms, maybe it would be best to find mutual respect for one another through a medium of compromise.

  14. I believe it depends on the parent. Each situation is different. I am an agnostic. My wife is a devout theist. My 13 year old son is seeing both views and is handling it well. She is not pushing it on him like she use to. Not all religious people are trying to force their beliefs on their kids. If a parent goes to church and their child is 5 years old you can’t just leave the kid home alone. That would be neglect. However if you beat the kid either physically or emotionally about it especially when it is clear he doesn’t want to go and he is old enough to stay home alone then I feel it is abuse. If  my 13 year old says he doesn’t want to go I usually step in and insist she allow him to make his own desision. Forcing a 5 year old to go to church is different than forcing a religion on him. Most normal loving parents whether they are theists or atheists use common sense. However their are fanatics on all sides.

  15.  Athoco,

     “My point is, don’t worry what religious environment children grow up.”

    While I think this statement is admirable, and I stated above that I don’t think the father in the OP was abusing his child, I do believe that we have to be concerned about the types of religious environments in which children are raised.

    I’m quite happy that your experience with religion was somewhat benign and you were able to leave it behind in favour of rational thinking. 

    Unfortunately, there are many, many children who are not so fortunate.  Many suffer abuse because of religous beliefs.  I viewed a TED talk last night by Sam Harris (sorry but I don’t think I’m supposed to post the link? Google it though, it’s AWESOME!) who pointed out that in the bible belt of the U.S. (something like 30 states)corporal punishment is still practiced in their schools based on the religious dogma of  “spare the rod, spoil the child” !  And that’s just the tip of it.  A man in a who believes in Islam, according to Mr. Harris, is compelled to murder a daughter who has been raped!

    I feel strongly, as rational thinking human beings that share this planet with people who behave this way, that we should be VERY concerned about the religious environments in which children grow up.

  16. I agree 100% with you. But how would you change your concern into action? Too many religious populations are quite happy to turn their ‘concern’ into action (i.e. the examples you listed above).

    I’m pessimistic about what (if anything could be done). To approach a family to actively change their beliefs/habits would be met with aggression. A promising approach I assume would be through the education system. But when the education system is filled with staff that share the same beliefs it becomes even harder. Maybe time could help, as countries develop into higher world nations things like living conditions, education etc improve; but that’s not really the case for the deep south.

     I agree it’s very concerning. But I don’t think there is a practical application for it. Humanity has been susceptible to believing in scientifically unsupported phenomena for thousands of years. Even though the world knows more than it did back then, nothing much seems to have changed of man’s habits. (I only just joined this website but already i’m feeling out of my league :S)

  17.  ” (I only just joined this website but already i’m feeling out of my league :S)”

    I’m in the same boat and share your feelings! ;)

    I also completely understand your skepticism based on exactly what you said; religion has been around for Milena, why should it change now?  And how can we possibly affect change and the impact it has on children?

    The answer of course is exactly what we are doing now and the purpose I feel of this forum.  Discourse, discussion and open dialogue leading to evolved ways of thinking and educating the masses.  And I believe NOW, at this point in time of history, there has never been a better time for this discourse.

    We are the most technologically advanced that we have ever been in the world.   Social and mass media have given us incredible tools to reach out to the masses and become a global community of rational thinkers!  Okay, maybe I’m being overly optomistic.  But if Twitter and Facebook can be responsible for sowing a revolution, then why not start a “rationalusion”!  Ok..bad made up word but why not?  I love that Mr. Dawkins is encouraging more atheists to speak out. The anonymity of the internet allows people who may not otherwise do so, to post their thoughts and views without fear of reprisals…which is why we all use pseudonyms on websites (although I’m not really a fan of this).  This in turn allows people to perhaps express views and think openly for the first time in their lives and just maybe realize that their indoctrination has been flawed.

    THIS I believe is where change can be made and a byproduct of this will end up being the protection of children. 

  18. I have thought about this for a while and I just can’t see how teaching the religion in which you believe could be considered child abuse?! My parents were religious and I grew up believing in the same religion but my parents didn’t brainwash me or indoctrinate me and so maybe that is the reason that I find it hard to imagine that it would be a form of child abuse. I think that parents have the right to raise their children in the religion in which they are a part of and unless they are physically abusing them then leave them alone.

  19. After reading the initial post and the comments following the post I have a couple of questions that I hope someone can help me with. First, how do you define child abuse? Second, what do you consider a religion? Finally, in several comments individuals made a distinction between sharing beliefs and withholding a child from access to other information (presumably about other religions, atheism, and so forth); does this concern also apply towards atheist parents who withhold children back from learning about religion? Would you say that an atheist is being abusive by only raising their child in the context of “atheism?” Thanks for your help.

  20. I’ve just found this thread, after only just starting one myself on the same subject. I think the general concencus is that parents “forcing” their beliefs on children is not child abuse, by the very nature that good intention is the bottom line.

    However my view is that this is where the problem with the continuation of religion lies. All religious facets rely on the parents to indoctrinate the child – If this were ended and the child was not exposed to anything related to religion when they are a young adult then they have a free choice to consider their own beliefs and options in an unbiased free mind.

    I want all religion banned to anyone who is under 18 – same as sex, smoking and drinking (depending from which country your preside)

    Any suggestions on my course of action – does anyone have the pope’s number, so I can call him for a chat??
     

  21. I think part of the problem is separating the concept of “religion” in general from the specific ideas that are being taught to a child. Only then can a determination of abuse be made IMO. In earlier posts I gave some examples of what I would consider to be an abusive concept to teach a child. For instance, the idea that homosexuals are inferior and loathsome or the idea that women are subordinate to men. Then you have the kind of ideas which are contrary to reality, such as Genesis. It would perhaps be a stretch to call instilling the latter type of idea as child abuse, but it is in my view a great disservice to do so. Another potential problem here is the concept of abuse being mutually exclusive to a parent’s good intentions. They may be promoting a belief which they believe to be 100% morally justified, but it can still be abusive. In other ways, a parent telling a child that their religion is the One True Way could be seen perhaps not as abuse per se, but as neglect. The tenets of the religion may contain viewpoints that seek to marginalise and demonize particular groups (e.g gays, blacks, women etc). If a parent insists to the child that there is no viable alternative, even if a parent doesn’t ever mention these ideas directly its not really a good thing in my view. Whether this is abuse, neglect or merely a disservice it’s still bad parenting as far as I’m concerned. Note that I do not say they are bad parents or bad people, as there is obviously a whole lot more to take into account than this one issue and nobody’s parents are perfect after all.

  22. Christianity was invented by the educated elite to subjugate the masses. They sought to maintain their position by refusing the majority an education, as this could result in people asking awkward questions. The unthinking, unquestioning automata religious instruction creates are pre-programmed to inflict their religious views on the next generation. For them the question of whether or not to provide a religious upbringing to their children never arises as their pre-programming is so ingrained that they simply can’t help themselves. Like AIDS, religion is an infection that is unwittingly passed onto children. Unlike AIDS, religion can be cured by regularly encouraging people to think, to ask questions.

    A short while ago there was a documentary on SKY showing the archaeological evidence supporting the evolution of man (in the form of a series of skulls) to a small number Christians and Muslims. One of them had only recently converted to Christianity, and when confronted with the evidence, she admitted a desire not to think about it as it made a nonsense of her newly adopted Christian beliefs!

  23. I used to feel that calling religion child abuse was a bit a extreme but now I’m not so sure. I know Catholic school children who’ve been told that touching parts of their own bodies in the privacy of their own room is a sin. They’ve also been told that God is watching them and that they must confess their sin. It’s hard to believe that anyone can believe this a good thing.

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