ways to indoctrinate our children

That certainly does explain my atheist parents! Actually, their indoctrination was based on knee jerk emotionalism, politics, and personal wounds and rebellion from their own past.

I can hear the same anger and hostility right here in this thread, it echos back to those days of indoctrination and you better believe your kids will sense it and come to know it well. It’s really an unpleasant form of psychological abuse. A child raised to believe they are being encouraged to think freely when they are clearly getting the message that to believe differently from their own parents is delusional, illogical, irrational, will at times come to doubt the very nature of reality itself. (Insanitybytes)

I think it’s obvious that any person from any background, faith or culture can place uncomfortable psychological burdens on their children, in an attempt to force them to do and think as they are told. There are harmful parenting approaches that both religious and atheist parents can be guilty of.

Let’s look at a few:

  • threats: making it clear that if the parental line on some kind of belief is not followed, there will be negative consequences, including punishment, disapproval, mocking or even shunning
  • quashing diversity: teaching the idea ‘we’ have all the answers, there is one correct way to live, and those not living in our manner are wrong/foolish/evil
  • promoting ignorance/categorically denying human knowledge: teaching acceptance of stories that fly in the face of current scientific understanding and historical evidence about the world e.g. creation stories, worldwide floods, ghosts, curses etc

However, religion (and Christianity specifically) has additional ways of reinforcing adherence from children, ways that families with no particular faith cannot replicate.

Let’s look at a few:

  • rituals: ensuring at least weekly attendance at formalised group rituals that present the religious belief as fact and involve repetitive chanting or singing on key messages
  • regular teaching: ensuring frequent lessons on the correct things to believe and a correct way to behave
  • daily home mentions: reinforcing rituals and teaching with daily prayers and discussions to and about the god
  • invisible threats: if the god is not followed, there will be negative consequences ranging from the god being disappointed and sad, to the god tormenting you (the level of cotton wool wrapping varies from church to church, but the threat is ubiquitous)

While we all to some extent will present our own point of view on life at the expense of other outlooks, it seem clear that religious parents have more of a tendency to employ the first set of indoctrination techniques, while having a whole section of additional indoctrination techniques at their disposal.

Christians are keen to suggest that atheist parents indoctrinate their children in the same manner. But even the most blinkered, preachy atheist parents can’t resort to the reinforcing ritualistic, daily brainwashing wrapped up in invisible threats that Christianity most assuredly relies on.