So my younger sister happens to be Catholic, she is 8 years old and goes to a catholic school. I really don't know what to tell her I mean she is a sweetheart and is always looking out for me and my other sister but she keep asking me questions about Jesus and where he is and about the Eucharist and she gets really happy when Jesus is brought up at the dinner table.

It's almost as she is obsessed with Jesus. The other day she asked me why I don't go to church, I told her "Well I mean I don't really believe in God or Jesus", she said "Why not? You're going to hell if you don't believe" this made my mouth drop. I couldn't believe my sister would say that, I'm not sure if this is the kind of stuff they teach her at her school, if so this is child abuse. Fear mongering and threatening children with hell if they don't believe.

After I told her this she has brought up God more often and is really starting to get annoying and I as a 16 year old can't tell her God doesn't exist because I want her to think for herself but I don't know what to tell her. My other sister whom is 12 is agnostic, she was a moderate Catholic but became agnostic 3 months ago when she asked me about my opinion of God and religion. I explained the whole thing to her and looked into her faith and eventually became agnostic after realizing for herself (with my help) that the belief in a god(Judeo-Christian sense) isn't rational. Keep in mind I'm not the type of atheist to tell people that God isn't real but to have them think for themselves and evaluate the evidence and decide for themselves, but if they still come to believe to not go out and tell people to believe in their god.

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LOL.  That's good, @Gregg.   I wouldn't have it any other way!

I know many get upset by that sort of broad brush even though they're quite happy to broad brush others, as I have pointed out.

Yeah...the only difference being you are on a atheist website with some atheists venting...being people who live daily with religious harassment...and so brushing with a broad stroke may be unfair...but not unreasonable. You on the other hand are a friendly visitor as you claim so I cannot comprehend why you'd do that...even if you are lampooning us. You respond to users here who talk about first hand experience of daily opression and harassment and being shut up...with zero sympathy and then defending this by denying any of it through your strawman religion, your strawman god and your strawman catholicism that most religious people would never recognise. I don't think it is in the slightly friendly advice to respond to users who vent about these problems by claiming they are non-problems, trivialising them as though they don't really exist and then disagreeing with our interpretation of what christians literally say to us...by quoting your own strawman religion. 

You've at least got a good imagination. "Threatening with torture?" Really?

Again you are trivialising the problems atheists face and pretending they are non-problems with a bad analogy. You live in a fantasy land Dr. Bob which you've enveloped yourself in a large buble of strawman God-filler. You show no emapthy for this because you don't believe or want to believe that these kinds of threats and insults and badgering is a big deal or as hurtful as people say it is...probably never experienced the shrill and mean insults by christians telling you you'll burn in hell and deserve it for not believing something. A brother complains that his sister badgers him about hell threatening him fire for eternity if he doesn't believe what she says. Your response is...well you're crazy to take that as a threat or it's not really like that or she's just a kid so it's okay and zero empathy as always for people facing real and serious problems from christians and (at least in earlier threads) a presentation of a strawman christianity where hell isn't really an eternity of fire and those who threaten you with hell aren't really threatening you at all. If I asked 100 christians what hell as like and 100 christians what they meant when they threatened non-believers with burning agony for eternity what they meant...they would nearly unanimously paint a very grim dark and scary picture...it would be nothing like your fantasy land and straw-everything.
If anything...if I recounted the kind of problems that some users here face in daily life...most people would show deep sympathy and empathy and uncategorically denounce it and explain why they think those people are doing it...even if they disagree with it.

@ Dr. Bob

So do you believe in hell, @Jake?...

I am sure Jake will answer for himself. It is not whether he believes in the devil or not but the fact that children are being told that Satan is real and is going to set fire to their brother.

Those of us who are theists teach kids religion the way we teach kids science or history…

No you don’t. Catholic schools in particular engage in the “faith formation” of children. That is not teaching. It is indoctrination. If you teach children about the history of all religions rather than just one religion then you point would stand.

Maybe I missed the point of mentioning Dante’s work. I am not sure of how many 8 years old have read it or been scared by it. “We atheists” are not upset by fictional stuff. We are annoyed that adults are allowed to indoctrinate their children with this “knowledge”. It adds no value to their childhood. It does not enrich their developing minds.  Christians tell children that the devil is real. They tell them that God is real. They do so when they are young because no adult could believe such a fantasy if they grew up learning critical thinking skills and how to reason ideas through instead.

I can recount hundreds of stories from parents whose have chosen to opt their children out of religion classes but whose children come home talking about what the teacher told them about Jesus. Some Catholic teachers are so perverse that they even introduce it in other subjects so that the children hear about it.

I know of priests admonishing parents on the street or even at a funeral for opting their children out of indoctrination classes. I am talking about the USA too. I have first-hand experience of it and I work with people there trying to do what we are doing in Ireland.

I know several atheists teachers, some of whom have PhD’s in child psychology or degrees in Science as well as their standard teaching qualifications but who can be sacked for not engaging in the “faith formation” of their pupils. They could teach in Universities with their experience of the business world and the standard of the qualifications they hold. But because they are so dedicated to the welfare of children they take a much lower salary because they care for “their” children.

In art class they are given pictures of the Ark to color in or in English they are asked to write about their guardian angel. Even in one math class 7 year olds were asked to do sums with Biblical references. In Muslim schools children are being rewarded for reciting the Koran, another book of terrible fiction, while at the same time told that atheists are going to burn in hell with the Jews.

Atheist Ireland has had to go to the United Nation Human Rights Council to demand that the rights of children are acknowledged. Is it too much to ask schools to “Teach don’t Preach”.

@Reg and little bobby:

"...being told that Satan is real..."

Satan's not REAL???

doG Dammit, the pagans and I just slaughtered a young lamb last night to HIM!

That was prime New Zealand lamb, DAMMIT...DAMMIT...DAMMIT...I could of had Rack-of-Lamb.

I wish someone would tell me this fictional stuff sooner. :)

No you don’t. Catholic schools in particular engage in the “faith formation” of children. That is not teaching. It is indoctrination. If you teach children about the history of all religions rather than just one religion then you point would stand.

Don't be silly.

We choose to teach kids Western science in schools because we believe Western science has value.  Call it "scientific formation" if you like.  

There's no requirement that we teach children about the history of all different competing interpretations of the physical world.  Such an approach would require us to teach homeopathic medicine and creation science alongside regular science as being equally valid.  In fact, some creationists make the same argument you do, claiming that teaching traditional western science is "indoctrination".

Maybe that's "indoctrination"; I suppose in some ways it is.   The point is that I think it's fine, and so do you.  We teach our children what we find most valuable.   Because time and childhood attention spans are limited, we make some choices.

That's both rational and human.

You are so wrong Bob. You seem to have a very narrow view of what your Catholic Church preaches.  It insists on the “faith formation” of children into the Catholic faith. That is indoctrination.

Again, I am not talking about different interpretations of the physical world. I am talking about telling children that the devil actually exists and will burn their brothers or sisters if they do not believe this. This is a fact Dr. Bob. This IS what they are doing.  I have argued with Catholic clergy about this. The instructions come down directly from Rome. I have proof of this. I have given you video evidence of it and linked you to the most recent school books introduced by them.

Having two children depicted as being crucified on the cover of it is not a laughing matter. I did not miss any implied humor earlier in this thread as there was none there. Don’t try to do a Donald Trump reversal. The Catholic Church is telling young girls that it is ok to “Say Yes” to an older man (he has a beard in the publication) – even when they are afraid.

That is the choice the Catholic Church is making. They are indoctrinating children. They have to do this because if they don’t their religion will die out. You might think it is both rational and human. I think it is indoctrination and vulgar.

Speaking of rational – do you think I was irrational today when I told a child that Mother Theresa is not alive? Do you think she exists in space and time (or Heaven) to some extent? Or would you have a different interpretation than the Catholic Church I know of?

No analogies please. I am asking for a simple “Yes” or “No”.

What was the question?  Whether you were irrational or whether Mother Theresa still exists?

I would say that Mother Theresa still exists.  I would at the same time probably not consider you irrational, at least not without exploring your thinking.  People can get things wrong without being irrational.  Students do it all the time.  Professors probably even more!

Now, depending on the age of the child, how close you are to the family, and your own intent, it may well be that you were being an ass.  That's different.

For the rest...

"Faith formation" is just a buzz phrase.  Don't let it get your knickers in a twist.  It means going to Sunday School (not your version, alas) ;-)

In the Catholic Church, instructions don't come down directly from Rome, especially not for the things you describe.  That's just not the way the organization works.  We were built in feudal times, remember?  Every bishop is the lord of his own domain, every pastor the ruler of his ecclesial territory.

For the rest, we've got over a billion people and the promise of Christ to St. Peter.  We're not at all worried about "dying out".  

If "indoctrinating children" means that we teach them what we think is important, then we're guilty.  So am I as a physics professor.  So are my colleagues in the next building over who teach chemistry, and really everyone else on campus.  That's what people who care about others do.  We teach what we feel is important.

Now, as far as some guy in a red suit burning their siblings or girls saying "Yes" to an older man, I honestly don't know what to say.  Insufficient data, I suppose, or ridiculousness on too many levels to fathom.  

Now, depending on the age of the child, how close you are to the family, and your own intent, it may well be that you were being an ass.  That's different.

I was asked by the child if people can talk to the dead and if the dead can hear us.It sounded like a rhetorical question as if she did not believe it and just wanted my opinion.

This was during a conversation I was having with her father who was telling me how wonderful it was that Mother Theresa was being canonised.

I told him I did not understand how the Pope could say that some dead people were already in Heaven when there still has not been a “Day of Judgement”. I said I thought Catholics believed that on that day their God would raise up the dead and then decide who was going to become immortal in Heaven or in Hell. I did not understand how it was decided that some dead people could be made Saints (i.e. that they are already in Heaven) because that would mean that they had been judged by man and not by their God which is against His teachings. I could not get a meaningful answer from him. He had no idea of how any off it works. I can’t get a Catholic to explain it to me so I still don’t believe it.

It was a little later that the child - a highly intelligent 10 year old (Young Mensa member) asked me about Catholics being able to communicate with their dead.

My answer was that I did not believe a word of it but that did not mean I was correct. It was the conclusion I had reached by thinking about it. I said I believed that when we die our capacity to experience anything else stops. I suggested to her that she should question everything she is told is the truth, no matter who tells it to her. We talked about other faiths and what they believed and ended up talking about the idea of how we all probably have inhaled some of the same oxygen molecules that the Apostles did or that J.C. himself did. Julius Caesar, that is.

She started to laugh and corrected me that I should have said “Caesars’ last breath” and that the math is “too fussy” for her”. I was glad she did not tell me she thought I was going to be set on fire.

It is interesting that you believe Mother Theresa still exists. I don’t believe it though.

"Faith formation" is just a buzz phrase.  Don't let it get your knickers in a twist.  It means going to Sunday School (not your version, alas) ;-)

No Dr. Bob, “Faith Formation” is not just a buzz phrase. It is part of Catholic Church dialogue. They coined the phrase. They use the phrase. I have had several Catholic priests and Catholic teachers use the phrase while they are speaking to me. These are the same people that use the term “Category 2” child when referring to children who are not Catholics. I have no doubt about this.

I have had parents tell me that their 7 year old child came home in tears because she would not get Heaven to see her dead friend because she was a Hindu. This was told to her by an ultra-Catholic teacher who hated the idea of not being able to engage in the “faith formation” of all of her class.

I have had a mother tell me that the local priest wanted her son taken out of the school because he was never baptised, even though he had already been attending the school for 5 years. This was said to her by the priest on the main street of the town on a Saturday while she was out shopping. He was almost spitting the words at her.

I know of numerous (documented) cases where parents and sometimes young adults have told me of similar experiences. Many of them involved their children having nightmares or needing some remedial intervention to undo this indoctrination.

Now, as far as some guy in a red suit burning their siblings or girls saying "Yes" to an older man, I honestly don't know what to say.  Insufficient data, I suppose, or ridiculousness on too many levels to fathom. 

Maybe you live in the ivory towers of Catholic academia where all of this passes you by. I don’t know what more data I can give you. I linked you to the actual booklet. It was created by the Catholic Church and approved by it for primary school teaching. Could it be that the Catholic Church in Ireland works without the approval of Rome? I think we both know the answer to that.

Once again, I am emphatically saying that the Catholic Church is telling children that their siblings will burn forever if they do not accept Jesus. They are even telling this to children of non-Catholics who have opted their children out of religious indoctrination classes.  They are not implying this idea. They are saying a sentence similar to “Your brother will burn in Hell” or “You will burn in Hell” to young children. They are saying it with a malicious and matter of fact tone. They are regularly repeating the same lines to them. The young children are believing them. This is indoctrination. This is child abuse. It is not educating anyone.

To add some more clarity, I am not saying this is central policy and being applied ubiquitously within the education system. But it is a common occurrence.

Yes, is it ridiculous and on all levels. But it is the reality of Catholic education in Ireland and in many places within the USA.

Your reply seems like a satire written by an atheist to lampoon a theist.

I would feel like an idiot critiquing it.

Excellent.  Glad someone got the point.

My work here is done. ;-)

@Dr. Bobby:

"You atheists seem to get all upset about fictional stuff."

Hahahahahahaha...that has to be one of the most nonsensical things a Theist could say...fictional stuff.

If it wasn't for fictional stuff believers would have nothing to believe in. :)

Tell her there isn't any evidence for heaven and so you don't believe in it. If she keeps getting angry at you, tell her she is being disrespectful and she should respect your position. You can only be nice to our loved ones up to a point. You have to give them a little bit of tough love if they are being rude. 

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