International Online event protests hereditary religion – today Jan 20

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Parents worldwide routinely commit their children to religious organizations to be groomed as members of the faith. Though the practice is widely accepted, a growing number of people around the world believe the practice violates the children’s human rights. In order to voice this concern, the second annual Day of Protest Against Hereditary Religion is scheduled for January 20, 2013.

Some children suffer emotional harm from their confrontation with fearful dogma and superstition at an early age. Although civil libertarians have long objected to this practice, clergy in most faiths argue that a child is always free to chose a different faith waen they reach their majority—usually 18 years of age—and leave the family home. The protest organizers feel this argument is disingenuous because every effort is made during the child’s formative years to insure they will never leave the faith, including the inculcation of fear and the threat of ostracizing by family and community.

Recent neuroscience research strongly supports the idea that early religious inculcation is difficult to escape. Constant repetition of inputs to the brain have been shown to create permanent neuronal configurations that can be nearly impervious to change.

The international Day of Protest Against Hereditary Religion on January 20 is being staged in cyberspace and will feature a virtual rally stage with nationally recognized experts exploring the protest themes and leading real-time discussions. The event announcement is on Facebook.

For more information, contact event spokesperson Richard Collins
 at
(628) 328-9862 or librehombre@yahoo.com, or visit http://www.endhereditaryreligion.com
Event announcement: https://www.facebook.com/events/297429563701513/

Written By: Maryam Namazie
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19 COMMENTS

  1. I found it strange that athough I grew up with “jewish” friends, and we were secular at the time and 30 years later, those friends have become more “jewish” than before. For instance, a close friend who is is white, jewish, married a lady who is secular and has a white mother and black father. His kids apparently have problems at school for “being half jewish”. I had a conversation with their father the other day, where I suggested that being “jewish” was not a religion (unless you follow it), but a culture or even blood-line. He insisted it was a religion, but he eats bacon, and is certainly not orthodox. His attitude surprised me, after all these years.

    I stopped short of asking him why his kids should be seen as “jewish”. They do nothing in that respect, so is it because their dad is jewish (and secular), but not their mum? Do his kids have any say in this, or do they just accept they are “half jewish”.

    I don’t get it at all, and I don’t really get why my otherwise secular friends from long ago have embraced “jewishness”, whatever that may mean.

  2. There are several reasons I think, and they pertain to me as well. When someone asks me, or my kids, what they are, the first answer that comes to mind is Homo Sapien, but I really don’t always feel like arguing. But my, and two of my sons’ answers are, “We are culturally Jewish,” which, at least in the US, is a pretty good answer. Memories of family and life cycle events are Jewish in nature (but don’t expect me to give up bacon or shrimp). If they want an expanded answer, I will say I’m an atheist as well. My middle son simply says he’s of no religion at all. Of course, when I say culturally Jewish, that generally means North American United States leaning culture. I have more in common culturally with a Italian New York family than those of Yemeni Jews, as do New York Italians with me over a Sicilian farmer family. So there is no simple answer.

  3. In reply to #1 by bootjangler:

    I found it strange that athough I grew up with “jewish” friends, and we were secular at the time and 30 years later, those friends have become more “jewish” than before. For instance, a close friend who is is white, jewish, married a lady who is secular and has a white mother and black father. His kids apparently have problems at school for “being half jewish”. I had a conversation with their father the other day, where I suggested that being “jewish” was not a religion (unless you follow it), but a culture or even blood-line. He insisted it was a religion, but he eats bacon, and is certainly not orthodox. His attitude surprised me, after all these years.I stopped short of asking him why his kids should be seen as “jewish”. They do nothing in that respect, so is it because their dad is jewish (and secular), but not their mum? Do his kids have any say in this, or do they just accept they are “half jewish”.I don’t get it at all, and I don’t really get why my otherwise secular friends from long ago have embraced “jewishness”, whatever that may mean.

    I find what you say interesting, because I had a Jewish friend with whose family I lived for a while, and they were very relaxed about the religious aspect of their tradition, but he married a woman whose father was a Jew who had tried for decades to distance himself from “Jewishness”, but whose mother was not a Jew.

    So, she went on a crash course to be converted to the faith, with the result that my friend became what I termed “A professional Jew”, laying it on with a trowel at every opportunity, until I began to feel distinctly like a Goy Boy.

    For instance, whilst at tea with them on one occasion, without saying anything to yours truly, they suddenly crossed to the far corner of the room with their young daughters and started praying, leaving me, lemon like, looking on.

    I decided to call it a day at that point.

    How does it go? Oh yes, “Religion poisons everything.”

  4. In reply to #2 by Daryl:

    There are several reasons I think, and they pertain to me as well. When someone asks me, or my kids, what they are, the first answer that comes to mind is Homo Sapien, but I really don’t always feel like arguing. But my, and two of my sons’ answers are, “We are culturally Jewish,” which, at least in the US, is a pretty good answer. Memories of family and life cycle events are Jewish in nature (but don’t expect me to give up bacon or shrimp). If they want an expanded answer, I will say I’m an atheist as well. My middle son simply says he’s of no religion at all. Of course, when I say culturally Jewish, that generally means North American United States leaning culture. I have more in common culturally with a Italian New York family than those of Yemeni Jews, as do New York Italians with me over a Sicilian farmer family. So there is no simple answer.

    Well the only correct answer for such a question is complete silence, it deserves no acknowledgement. Over the last 40 years or so it has become fashionable for people to ask questions of other people that they have no business whatsoever asking. The most common impertinent question I get is “Why are you doing that”, almost always asked by somebody with no connection to me whatsoever. The simple fact of the matter is people think they have a right to judge other people and those people being judged have to explain themselves. I had one guy come fairly close to assaulting me because I refused to answer him. He even called me a bully for remaining silent. It’s a crazy stupid time we live in.

  5. Early brainwashing must reconfigure neural circuits, otherwise why would intelligent people support such silliness. I normally suggest looking at what they believe…I mean “talking snakes and magic trees!!! Really?”
    The usual response is that they just “believe”. Enough said.

  6. I watched “The Devil’s Playground” just last week.

    What struck me was that most of the kids who were trying to decide if they would join the Amish church or not really had no chance but to chose Amish.
    They might move out of the house, but they would only go to the other side of town. They might watch TV, but it was pointless shit that they get on cable. They might speak English instead of PensylvaniaDutch, but mostly they just peppered their sentences with foul language. They did drugs, and slept around and had lots of fun, but they always saw the world from an Amish perspective.

    They willingly and consciously lived a life of “sin”, and the whole time they were afraid that they would die and burn for ever in Hell. It’s almost as if they were dipping their toes in the fire so that later they could say, “I have lived and rejected that life.”

    The decision was whether to live in sin and debauchery, destined for eternal hellfire, or come back to the loving arms of the church to be with family, friends, and God.

    I so much want to help them see the world through a truly different perspective.

  7. By coincidence ~ this morning I was driving around town – at a red light I looked in the rear view
    mirror and saw a few kids in a van. I could just tell by the look on their bleak faces that they were
    being shuttled to church services. Sure enough, it was a church van.

    I felt really bad for them. Somewhere is a cartoon of unhappy kids in a dark church looking
    outside to kids playing in sunshine and color.

  8. I wouldn’t want the government telling me what -not- to teach my children, but I think that all children should be given the choice between different points of view. A lot of things learned at home can be destructive, such as racism, and the acceptance of violence as “the norm”. It creates the next generation’s culture. Telling children that people who don’t believe in god are infidels who deserve to die will certainly produce an ugly future generation. It’s a problem that certainly needs a solution, but there’s so much room for abuse when you take away the parent’s right to teach children their understanding of reality.

    • That’s why teaching Mythology, (including religion/s) should be a mandatory class, maybe even starting in primary school. IMO

      In reply to #9 by mmarieden:

      I wouldn’t want the government telling me what -not- to teach my children, but I think that all children should be given the choice between different points of view. A lot of things learned at home can be destructive, such as racism, and the acceptance of violence as “the norm”. It creates the next generation’s culture. Telling children that people who don’t believe in god are infidels who deserve to die will certainly produce an ugly future generation. It’s a problem that certainly needs a solution, but there’s so much room for abuse when you take away the parent’s right to teach children their understanding of reality.

  9. This is a wonderful initiative. Thanks for promoting it, Maryam. I think this is the single most important political issue to tackle in the war on institutionalised sexism and racism and all the other myriad harms and degradations richly dogmatic religions help foist upon the world.

    The Jesuits were right and the following is the evidence I re-post on a regular basis. The astonishing richness of our culture(s) is because kids are born with less committed wiring than chimps and have an order of magnitude more mirror neurons that facilitate accurate ritualistic copying and a trust in authority above the evidence of their own eyes and intuitions.

    Your monthly posting of Victoria Horner.

    This high fidelity copying that goes on at these ages is going on at a time when the brain is being wired at a rate and to an extent that will never be seen again. (The second wave of wiring/rewiring that goes on through adolescence, as we experienced parents know, does not come with the automatic trust of authority….peer pressure serves as the new model.) This first wave of wiring and its accurate enough copying of cultural attributes is exactly why we have an evolving culture at all. But it is exquisitely vulnerable to mind viruses.

    Culture cannot be trusted to run its course unscrutinised any longer. The hands-off mentality of multiculturalism in the UK is being replaced slowly with a more cautious and considered approach, and perhaps a growing understanding, by some at least, that early education is a critical period that must be got right to allow a child the greatest opportunity to make the broadest range of choices about her life.

    I have challenged one (almost on our side) CoE vicar to not allow children under say ten into church services but instead to run parallel Sunday school classes following the strict UK National Curriculum RE teaching all faiths and some moral philosophy. They could then join their folks for a final sing song, after the preaching is done. Sadly I was declined, though funding could be found for such an excercise. Challenging churches to take this high moral ground of not brainwashing their kids could yet be an approach though. Yes it would not have any great effect per se but it could stand as a challenge to the more distasteful churches and perhaps flag up to concerned parents that they have a less abusive choice.

    What else could we do to raise awareness about this vulnerable period in a child’s life and its inappropriate exploitation?

    Richard’s choice of “abuse” Maryam’s of “grooming” are entirely the kind of vocabulary we should be adopting for this.

  10. In reply to #9 by mmarieden:

    I wouldn’t want the government telling me what -not- to teach my children…… there’s so much room for abuse when you take away the parent’s right to teach children their understanding of reality.

    If you live in a theocracy or a proto-theocracy like parts of the US I can see your concern, but

    But you will never see the ability of parents to teach their kids legislated away, though home-schooling may become more formalised with higher content standards imposed.

    Kids will have to face rubbish from their parents, their teachers and the TV. It is not what is attempted to be removed from their syllabus that is important it is the addition only of one thing that must end up there- Critical Thinking skills and the use of evidence. Were that written into a country’s constitution as an educational right to be enjoyed by all children then the rest would be easy and our job here would be done.

    This can be done at a surprisingly early age through the use of schemes like P4C (Philosophy for Children), but it doesn’t yet get as low as seven. The development of courses to achieve this could be very valuable.

  11. In reply to #9 by mmarieden:

    I’m just springboarding off your choice of words (bit out of context), not objecting to your overall point, just exploring mine.

    I wouldn’t want the government telling me what -not- to teach my children,…

    What about people who isolate their children from society to instill values such as racism, or other beliefs that will certainly handicap a child? What if I isolated a child (that I made) in order to teach them absurdities that assured their future dysfunction in society, emotional suffering, and made them suicidal? What if these beliefs have nothing to do with any religion but are just the product the product of a drug addled or sadistic mind? Can I raise a kid to believe they are the Messiah? They are immune to poisons? Nothing is real and when they die they will wake up? The virtues of rape and murder? Animals can’t feel pain but just act like it, and this includes women? The government is the Beast and we must fight it by killing postal workers? Medicine is evil?

    Are children property that parents have the right to experiment on, or do they have rights as members of the species? Can we tattoo their faces as babies? Surgically alter their bodies for non-medical reasons? Can I disallow my children from socializing with others? Teach them only to speak Klingon and isolate them from any other language?

    ….but I think that all children should be given the choice between different points of view.

    How do we assure that? Currently, no such protections exist for children.

  12. Recent neuroscience research strongly supports the idea that early religious inculcation is difficult to escape. Constant repetition of inputs to the brain have been shown to create permanent neuronal configurations that can be nearly impervious to change.

    I think that this really highlights the depth of this problem. I assume that most of the inculcation of the current generation of children is being perpetrated by adults who have been previously inculcated themselves. Adults in whose brains’, permanent neuronal configurations have been established which may be almost impervious to change. Obviously they are going to want to pass it all on because it’s part of what they have been conditioned to do and really, how can we blame them if the neuroscience is correct. It is a truly thorny problem.

    I’m very pleased that initiatives such as this are keeping the issue live and on the table. I hope that, despite many peoples inability to break the chains of their own indoctrination, some doubts will be sown and children will benefit.

  13. a child is always free to chose a different faith [when]they reach their majority … The protest organizers feel this argument is disingenuous because every effort is made during the child’s formative years to insure they will never leave the faith, including the inculcation of fear and the threat of ostracizing by family and community.

    not to mention death for apostacy!

  14. A feature of government even today is that they still allow sectarian education.
    Surely the elimination of such ,carried out in Northern Ireland,would be an interesting experiment?
    Religious apartheid is almost clearly socially backward ?

  15. There must be an ingroup cognitive bias behind this. Believers think their belief brings them benefits, afterlife, privileged access to an omnipotence that might grant their wishes, protection from disaster and bogey men. It is natural enough for the parents to want their children to have the same benefits.

    Religions highjack this because they know that they have to indoctrinate from infancy. Introduce fear of terrible doom for those who don’t believe, reinforce it with threats of excommunication. It means F all now but hundreds of years ago it meant being cast out and with the very real threat of reprisals for heresy.

    Educate to reduce the grip religions exert on families and particularly those families in poor and uneducated regions would bring the whole lot down. They know it that’s why they have to cosy up to politicians and other state figure heads and interfere in law making an deducation systems.

  16. How could we promote Dawkins’ idea about the wrongness of labeling children? For instance, would it ever be possible to remove boxes from children’s forms (in schools and in hospitals and in relation to social services etc.) that so label children?

    We could replace them with things like preferred diet or even just a “parental preferred id”, but never unqualified like a fact, and anyway one that would lapse at 18.

    Come 18 the unqualified box appears on forms and the adult fills it in as she wishes.

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