While nosing about YouTube earlier today, I stumbled on a segment of The Atheist Experience, a public access show from Austin, Texas. This show frequently features Matt Dillahunty, a former divinity student turned atheist and activist who comments on atheist-related issues and answers telephone calls and emails on the show.
As a part of a discussion regarding the indoctrination of children in this particular segment, Matt cites an email he has received from a 15-year-old. This person wrote expressing doubts about his/her beliefs, yet did not research further into those doubts, saying that s/he was "scared out of my mind that there's a possibility that I'm wrong, and I feel like a heretic just thinking about it."
I heard that line and just shook my head in wonder and disgust ... that a CHILD was so frightened by a threat taught to him or her at a young and impressionable age that the idea of questioning something was unthinkable, as though that person were stranded in a minefield and one wrong move would result in an eternity of torture. No one ... NO ONE should EVER have to live like that.
If I sound as though I'm a bit stressed about this business, it's largely because of an ongoing argument I'm involved in on another board with a theist. This person seems to think this is all a joke, that atheists needn't be taken seriously when they sound concerns about religious indoctrination of unsophisticated children, and that indeed, religious teaching is a harmless method of raising moral children. I wonder ... I do truly wonder if he has sufficient cojones to imagine how that 15-year-old kid who at least had sufficient bravery to write Matt was feeling, how scared, how conflicted ... and that it was those like this theist who were directly responsible for creating that condition, regardless of their intent. [sigh]
Anyhow ... the section I referred to in this video starts at approximately 2:06, but I strongly feel that the entire segment is worthy of your time and consideration.