Before I get started on this topic let me apologize in advance. I am posting for the first time using the WordPress app on my smartphone. I am attempting to shed my Luddite persona. This may be a mistake, but I’m not really known for good judgment so here goes nothing.
I’m sure if you have spent any time on any of the atheism websites or read the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins you have come across this notion of religious indoctrination as a form of child abuse. I, like many agnostics and atheists, grew up in a church. I was baptized, confirmed, and married in a church. Granted it was a moderate mainstream church (ELCA Lutheran), but I don’t feel like the teachings of that church somehow scarred me for life. Things are probably different in a more fundamentalist tradition to be sure, but I think its unfair to paint all religions with the same broad brush strokes.
How many people are actually scarred by the teaching that if you sin (whatever that is) you go to hell? What is hell anyway? Is it really like it was portrayed on the South park movie? Doesn’t even matter? I tend to think of hell as a metaphor or little white lie adults use to get kids to behave and do the right thing. Hell is kinda like Santa only without presents and a little hotter. But hell is eternal…. Sure, but can a child wrap his head around eternal? Most adults can’t even grasp the 4.6 billion year history of the Earth, yet we expect a child to grasp forever? Think about it.
For most, when they shed the idea of God, the notion of Hell goes with it. I suppose you could argue that the very idea of hell would prevent someone from considering the absence of God. But I would argue the two are so tightly linked that questions about one lead to questions about the other. And again, I’ve never experienced the intense indoctrination of a fundamentalist faith so I could be full of ¢®@¶.
I personally don’t think the ideas of hell and eternal damnation are as damaging to a kids psyche as many people want to think. But I may be wrong. And if I am, I guess I’ll see you in Hell (metaphorically, of course)