If you ask Dawkins, Hitchens and others, childhood indoctrination in any religion is a form of child abuse. By pushing a religious ideology on a child, while their brains are rapidly developing, you cause children to ignore logic and critical thinking. I don't see this as much of a problem today as it probably once was, because we are living in the information age. At one point, everything you knew came from your parents, teachers and pastors. There really wasn't any way to get information other than through authoritative figures in your immediate circle. Today, however, information is available to us at the push of a button. Any questions you have about your religion have been discussed thousands of times on the internet with perspectives from all walks of life. Getting answers is easy. Perhaps asking questions might be the hard part? If you are indoctrinated early in life, what would cause you to want to go outside of your circle to seek answers? I mean, if you have a problem with your religion you should just ask your pastor, right? What made me (and many of us) lucky enough to see through the bullshit answers and go look for answers on our own?
Perhaps it is a form of child abuse, but as with all generalizations, some forms of religions are worse than others when it comes to affecting the way a child develops reason and logical thinking.

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I disagree with your glib assessment of the inherent equality of children as nothing more than bullshit, but, I agree that declaring any form of indoctrination even in its widest possible definition constituting child abuse is a slippery slope.
Then you should study genetics. It doesn't play "fair", or "equal", or whatever other term for trying to making every human equal/social label/conformist idiocy.

No one actually is "equal". Anti-competitive dialogs/indoctrination stands in the face of what is known from empiricism, especially concerning education: children succeed more under competition, work harder and gain higher personal rewards.

Everyone cannot succeed, genetics simply makes that impossible; and in the larger scope of society, the power brokers and power handlers, well, those of power do not easily relinquish their grasp of it.
Of course there's a difference between different religious groups. I think some of them are clearly child abuse. Think about the ones who home school their children to teach them all the arguments about evolution without actually teaching them evolution. Or those who teach their kids about abortion from a very young age. It's unconscionable and abusive. Some clearly want to use their children to promote their fairy tales and political agendas.

The Jesus Camp documentary is an excellent example of Christian child abuse in the United States. I could also point to the indoctrination of children by muslims in the Middle East. Some sects are taught from a very young age that those who are not Muslim are fit for slaughter. It's child abuse.

Denominations like Quakers, on the other hand, have claims that are just as false but that are less harmful to others and less closed to letting their children ask questions and disagree.
Dawkins does nobody any favours by using loaded terms like "child abuse". I totally agree with the sentiment - that indoctrination is wrong. However, the common use of the term child abuse carries with it a heavy payload.

Exposure to any ideology can be inappropriate when applied to children - it depends on how that ideology is applied and enforced. By pointing the finger at theists and saying "child abuse" is just the inverse of the theist argument that, as atheists we have no morals, are depraved etc etc etc. It doesn't help anything.

By Dawkins definition, the theist counter argument could be just as valid. That by being atheists with children we are child abusers as we are indoctrinating our children with our atheist beliefs.
I agree, this was one of the parts of his book where I thought he was going a bit off the rails. I also thought that with his "alien intervention" stuff. Totally unnecessary musings that only serve to discredit and diffuse his argument and audience respectively. He probably should have listened to his editors a bit more in those instances, but I cant imagine a person in his position is always the most "humble".
Hang on, doesn't this depend on your definition/understanding of 'child abuse'? Not all that long ago it was entirely acceptable to punish children by physical force, now it is less so (I'd like to say 'it's not' - but it still happens all over the world, quite a lot...), the same goes for all sorts of things that were once normal, and that we would now consider awful ('marital rights', anyone?). I can imagine a perfect world in which indoctrinating children with the often horrible teachings of Christianity would be considered abuse...
I'd agree that it does depend on your definition of child abuse. I think religious indoctrination gets to that level when it instills in children the desire to hate/kill/hurt others.
Well, yes, but doesn't it go a bit further than that? If you repeatedly tell a child something untrue, that will hinder their view of reality and ability to think clearly (because they have to wade through all the false assumptions first) and as a result may, intellectually, be damaging, surely that's abuse.
Obviously it's not intended as such by their parents - who believe what they say - but the same goes for my point above. Not so long ago, parents didn't think there was anything wrong with hitting their children. Now we understand that it has a negative psychological impact. I contend that religious indoctrination may also have a negative influence on a child. Yes, the degree is important - the same goes for physical abuse: the worse a child is beaten, the greater the negative effect will be. But we consider it child abuse regardless of degree. It is a negative influence, hence it is abuse...
Strictly speaking, yes it is child abuse in my opinion. If we are being honest, though, we heap abuse on our children in many forms and yet they manage to grow up into reasonably well adjusted adults for the most part.

Instead of latching onto buzz phrases like child abuse we ought to discuss how indoctrination (with religion or perhaps other ideologies) of children affects the individual and society. If we are agreed that religion is detrimental to society then it should be obvious that religious indoctrination is harmful to the child. It seems we cannot agree on that point though.
Yes, that's an excellent point!
"Getting answers is easy."

With the internet one might even say that getting answers is too easy. Biased answers are plentiful for just about any question you might have. The problem isn't access to information but that humans have a tendency to look for answers that confirm what they already believe and avoid answers which challenge their beliefs.
I was reading Stenger's "The New Atheism" last week, while on a long flight from the West Coast to the East Coast. He had a nice explanation of how religions can start and grow by explaining the details of the LDS's. In thinking about the Mormons, it made me realize that you can't really blame the parents for raising their children in that crazy cult (or any religion for that matter). We parents teach our children what we think is the truth about everything in life, including religion. That's exactly what we are supposed to do...pass our wisdom on to our children. If people think they have the right believe system about god, why wouldn't they pass it on to their children as soon as possible? Can it be abusive? Sure it can. But in general, I guess I couldn't understand a Christian home where the parents didn't pass on their religious ideologies to their kids. The same goes for any and every religion.


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