11 Nov 2010

British humanist campaign challenges state-funded religious schools

Examiner.com November 20, 2009

British humanist campaign questions religious indoctrination of children

by Micha J. Stone | Portland Humanist Examiner

A British humanist campaign is questioning the morality of the religious indoctrination of children. Should children be given the freedom to decide which religion they want to belong to, if any? Is it ethical to force a religion, and a religious label, upon a child?

In the UK, a final phase of a much publicized and imitated atheist campaign is asking these kinds of questions, forcing the public to reconsider long standing prejudice and bias around a parent's supposed right to force religious indoctrination upon their children.

The ad reads: "Please don't label me. Let me grow up and choose for myself."

The sentiment is simple and straight forward. If the slogan was not directed at religious superstitions, it would be taken as an uncontroversial truism. However, given that it does take aim at a sacred cow, (so to speak), it has generated some consternation in the British press.

The advertisements are part of a campaign to challenge state-funded religious schools. The ads show one or two young children surrounded by religious labels, such as Catholic, Muslim and Hindu, mixed with secular descriptions including Marxist and anarchist. The point being, if it is silly and wrong to label a child as an anarchist, a Democrat, a Republican, a communist, a socialist, a Marxist, etc; than it is equally wrong to label a child a Catholic, a Mormon, a Muslim or a Sikh.

Labeling children as "religious" is a form of brainwashing. Each one of us must make up our own minds about such matters. Indoctrinating children, forcing them to parrot ideas and beliefs that they do not understand or accept, is wrong.

Just as corporeal punishment is rejected and shunned by the enlightened, so it will go with religious indoctrination. Often such indoctrination is child abuse, plain and simple. The fact that parents, suffering from their own religious delusions, are often in favor of such abuse, does not change the fact that it is, indeed, abuse.

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