From Not My God

Here in the Not My God penthouse, I focus on stories of atheists that are particularly difficult and moving for the purposes of illustration and because this obviously makes for a more interesting book. So if anyone out there thinks I cherry-pick the extremes, yes, I am, but that’s sort of the point.

I found this story on Dawkins’s Converts Corner.

“For many years I was a victim of religious child abuse without realizing and it took me a long time to be able to escape from the psychological terrorism of the Catholic church.

“Nowadays I’m an animation filmmaker and visual storyteller. Recently I started to work on a little personal project about overcoming the fear of hell. It evolved into a sweet non-religious book about tolerance and more than anything it helped me heal some scars from my childhood days.

“I thought I would keep that little project to myself but all that changed after reading ‘The God Delusion.’ The moment I read the chapter on child abuse I became determined to share the little fable to the world. The book is ‘I’m Not a Little Devil,’ part of what I hope will become a storytelling movement that explores the negative consequences that religion has on young kids. So far the response has been very positive. I wanted to thank you guys for inspiring me to put this tale out to the world and I hope you help me spread the word of it. A future world with no religion is in the hands of children. I definitely hope this book contributes to that change.

I’m hearing a lot about how the Catholic priests “only” abuse children as often as anyone else. Whether that is true or not, and I tend to doubt this because of the vow to celibacy required, the church’s greater sin in sheltering child rapists is almost as bad as the rape itself.

Even if the priests are no more likely to abuse children than anyone else, for such a thing to happen in the realm of religion somehow makes this a much worse crime. Survivors could easily think god sanctioned this abuse, for example.

As to Hell, it’s at times like this I’m glad I was raised Jewish: no hell. No fear of hell.

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Comment by matt m on November 28, 2009 at 11:45am
Hello Sarah,

I think there is an evolutionary explaination for children being rebellious, natural selection hardwires the child's mind to believe everything (his/her) parents tell them(sort of rule of thumb).In the Darwinian world this is quite important as the child might not fully understand the world around them they would have to "trust" their parents on a number of things as they would know whats best for the child.Religious upbringing exploits (like a computer virus) this vunerability but this rule begins to dissolve more or less, possibly from early teenage years onwards because the child needs develop its own faculties of judgement ,this might be natural selections way of building in a survival mechanism for the individual .Perhaps, this rebellion might be the chaos that takes place in the brain to unwire/rewire the neurons so as to accomplish this goal.Another factor also plays an important role (media,books,other people) since our world is ever more so interconnected today than it was ever in the history of our species,the child comes across people with other ideologies/ memes which resonates with the ongoing process of rewiring within their brains and latches on to it as a valid paradigm.This would explain why some kids from fundementalist christian religious families favor athiesm, while there are pastor's kids that also convert to Islam or become agnostic.On a much grander scale there is the evolution of memes(think of ideas as parasites which need hosts to survive and they can jump from host to host) and religion was the most dominant one until 100 years ago and then it started being replaced by stronger fitter ideas such as evolution,big bang etc..
I might also add that memetic evolution exploits the fact that we are pattern seeking mammals,so as long as that stands ,both religion and counter ideas are going to survive.The only question is which one would be most prevelant in our society.

Have a good one,
Comment by Sarah Trachtenberg on November 6, 2009 at 9:43am
Hold on-- your husband sexually abused you? Or do you mean that your husband was somehow involved through his minister status?
Either way, I'm really sorry.
Comment by Laura on November 5, 2009 at 10:53pm
I can't even imagine that. I went through a hell of a time in the Baptist church, including sexual abuse, but it was through my minister husband, not a trusted minister like that. That must be scarring to the nth degree.



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