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Just Won’t Go Away

The subject of religious instruction in schools has been discussed on several occasions in the past in this blog, but it just won’t go away. That might be because it is an interesting moral and social dilemma with no obvious answer, or it could be that it is a subject where my opinion is changing, or maybe it’s because of the shifting attitude of society in general. In fact, a recent interview on the subject from Australia was the reason I started this post, but maybe I’ll post something on that specifically in the future.

My original post on the subject was titled “Bible in Schools” and it was written way back in 2005. In that I said “…surprisingly to many people who know me as an opinionated atheist, I actually support Bible in schools.”

The next major post on the subject was from 2010 and was titled “Bible in Schools Revisited”. In that I said: “My thoughts on this subject have hardened somewhat. In fact I don’t think the Bible should be taught in schools any longer.”

Most recently, in 2013 in a post “More Bible in Schools” I said: “…religion has clearly showed us that it cannot be trusted to act reasonably. In previous blog entries I have argued for allowing religion in schools because I thought kids would be able to disentangle fact from fiction. But I’m beginning to change my mind. Religion is totally oriented towards propagandising the masses, especially the young and impressionable.”

It seems that the change in my attitude is obvious: I am realising that religion in schools isn’t an honest attempt at introducing an interesting belief system to people, along with its well recognised positive philosophical points. In fact (with some possible exceptions, although I’ve never heard of any) it is a dishonest and cynical attempt at capturing the minds of young people through insidious propaganda.

I think it has always been well known that capturing a person’s mind while they are young is an effective way to control them for life. Vladimir Lenin said “give me a child for the first 5 years of his life and he will be mine forever.” It seems to me that this is nothing new because surely this is a principle the churches have known for thousands of years!

Admittedly indoctrinating kids at school is leaving it a little bit late according to Lenin, but as they say: better late than never.

The supporters of religious teaching would probably counter my arguments by saying that Christianity has been (and some will say still is) an important part of our culture. It’s impossible to deny that it has been important in the past although I would say that significance has had both positive and negative aspects. And it does still have some limited significance today as well, but that can be taught in a neutral and factual way in history and social studies classes so no special “instruction” is needed.

Another argument might be that it’s important to introduce the ideas of religion to kids so they can make their own decisions. Again, that is fair enough, but indoctrination in just one possible option doesn’t really encourage good decision making. If you really want to encourage kids to make good decisions then give them all the facts and not just one version of the fiction.

So it is an interesting question and one where my opinion is becoming more hardened against religion (surprisingly to some, it has moderated in many other areas). But society does seem to be turning against religious indoctrination so maybe I’m just reflecting what society is already thinking.

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