November 27, 2012

Ending Hereditary Religion

Religious indoctrination
Richard Collins (End Hereditary Religion) has announced that January 20 will be the second annual day of protest against hereditary religion. "Hereditary religion" refers to the extremely common practice among religious believers of indoctrinating their children with their religious beliefs. Richard notes:
The decision to join a religion is a decision best left until a child is a mature adult. But, institutionalized religion has been unwilling to acknowledge that children have religious freedom rights. The institutions depend upon a steady stream of new adherents to maintain their flocks as older members fall into sickness and death due to aging. Until recently no one has mounted any serious challenges to hereditary religion.
Readers familiar with Richard Dawkins may recall that he was one of the most prominent atheists to suggest that hereditary religion was a form of child abuse. Regardless of whether one accepts Dawkins' characterization of religious indoctrination as abusive, I suspect we can agree that children should have religious freedom.

Collins hopes that what has started as a shared online effort to raise awareness about the problems associated with denying religious freedom to our children will eventually grow into a more visible movement offline. I think this goal is as worthy as it is ambitious. It certainly would be nice if parents would allow their children to explore various religious belief systems and decide for themselves instead of being subjected to indoctrination. Naturally, I expect many religious parents to resist this more than virtually anything else. But that does not make it any less important.

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