where I come from, teaching faith is nothing unique to 'faith schools' all secondary schools have compulsory R.E. class (religious education) with primary and secondary schools having religious based assembly's in the mornings.  Also, special assembly's for religious holidays are a given before time off for such events.  

I also have the memory of having to re sight the 'lords prayer' before lunch in primary school.  Hearing, what must have been well over 100 young people drone out the words robotically before being able to eat, lead by the head master.  (I really think that was the start of my more militant anti indoctrination views, so well done to them, you created an enemy.)

Since I have left school, I have had a growing anger to what I was subjected to and also what young people are still having forced on them today.

This is something I still feel passionate about.  I'm an informal educator and as such, I feel that young people should be allowed space to come to their own thoughts on this.  And to respect others views regardless of their own.  I keep my atheist views at home, and when asked, I encourage young people to think for them selves, to always ask questions and never be afraid to change their minds.  To this end, I regularly butcher the quote “Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.”― Voltaire 

I leave my secular views at home, listen to the views of others and ensure a space where exploration of beliefs and views can be done in safety and without persecution.  I find it more than sickening then, that while I'm doing this, government funded school systems are teaching "religious education" which in fact turns out to be Christian education.  (I wouldn't even mind so much if the curriculum of this class was divided explore all beliefs and to also include the arguments against them)

The Questions I would like to put to the Think Atheist Community-

  1. I Would like to know what people think about this in general? 
  2. Is this regular in most of the world, and if so, is this a more extreme case or less so?
  3. is there anything that can be done to help stop this type indoctrination? 

I would also like to hear, if that's possible, from -

  1. Someone who supports this type of thing, regardless of religion and country.  Please, with details of why it should be one religion over another? why it should be compulsory for young people of a secular nature? is church not enough without this kind of teaching?
  2. Someone who Shares my view, and is also in education on any level.  How have you managed to deal with conflicting views? Have you ever found you views to get in the way of being neutral? What is your worst moment when dealing with parents on beliefs? Have you ever been forced to teach material that you view as 'wrong' because of you beliefs, or lack of?

I do respect that I have any conflict of interests in this matter, I really think that no one could claim not to, as anyone in a position of trust also has their own beliefs.  I would like to say, however, that I manage them by continually reflecting on how I react to particular subjects and questions.  by tying to never tie my own values up with how I treat any of the people I work with.

Thank you to the Think Atheist community who took the time to read this.  I hope it was, at the least, an easy read and interesting.  I hope that I can find people who feel strongly about this subject, I know that if I can, I'l find them here.

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Thank you for the link to your group! I will join and link this conversation here.  It truly is a cause that affects us all, after all, the young people in the schools system are our future in the most literal sense.

I think a religious person may attack this type of motion by saying that its secular indoctrination,  I would counter argue that insuring freedom of choice and promoting critical thinking is never indoctrination.

we know that, but some religious people think of 'science' as our deity.  They think we have profits, biologists and physicists and such.  They think we have our churches, collage lecture halls and science departments in schools.  many scientific papers on evolution and astrophysics would probably be our bible and our doctrine in their eyes.

in a world where people view science as an opposing religion, its no wonder that people are scared of knowledge.  I can fully understand their points of view in fact.  they don't understand because to let the knowledge that would bring the understanding in would invite the devil in with it.

“Science doesn't make it impossible to believe in God, it just makes it possible not to believe in God” - Steven Weinberg

You're thinking of "prophets" if you mean those people who allegedly speak the word of God. I would assume some atheist groups have had profits in the last year, but nothing on the same scale as those mega-churches with millionaire pastors.

lol, pick on the dyslexic guy :P but yea, i'd imagine religious churches to be more profitable.  after all, the product your paying for doesn't really exist.

The “Educate Together” schools in Ireland have a new “learning together” curriculum. This has been called “teaching Atheism” to children by some Christians as it has been driven by the secular and Atheist communities. It is such a good system of education that even some British schools are now looking at it with interest.

“There is in every village a torch - the teacher; and an extinguisher - the priest.” Victor Hugo.

I was in the local Educate Together School, to vote in a recent election, and immediately removed an advert from the noticeboard within 5 seconds of it being put up. The poster gave me a furious look and said I had no manners. He put up another one and his angry expression was daring me to do it again. So I immediately tore it down. He was from the local Mosque and his notice was for his after school classes lessons in “Teaching you child the wonders of the Quran”. I explained to him that this was a “religious indoctrination free zone” and that I do not tolerate child abuse. I told him to feel free to put them up in his Mosque. I was hoping to have the situation escalated by getting the police or school board involved to make it hit the news but he just retreated swearing at me in Arabic. I told him I would  forgive him this time as he got into his car.

I would love to have been a fly on the wall during the encounter you had with the person pasting  propaganda around that school.  I think a lot of people who would confront Christian propaganda may shy away from doing the same with Muslim propaganda.  There has been a lot of attention drawn to people who demonise the quran as insane Christian fundamentalists.

In my mind, there's one thing that each of these religions do correctly, understand that the other is non sense.  now if only they could just take that last step.

I was born and raised in the midwest of the U.S. I went to public schools. Religion was taught at parochial schools (i.e. church-sponsored schools). Some of my cousins attended the Catholic parochial school. Religion was also taught at home and via special religious classes (of which I was forced to attend by my mother) through the church.

I don't think religion indoctrination belongs in the public school at all unless they are teaching about all religions and presenting the information as it really is: "Religious-theory". (I think I just coined that phrase). Presenting information on all the major belief systems without indicating what they think is the "truth" would be beneficial to many young kids who too often reach adulthood with very little real knowledge of their parents religion that was forced into their brains and almost know perception that there are myriad other belief systems out in the world. Just knowing about other religions and their beliefs leads to some interesting questions and puzzles to be solved.

Here in the U.S. we atheists/critical thinkers are fighting the ignorance of the Christians over what will be taught as science in publicly-funded schools. The main battle is (and has been for some time) evolution vs. creation. Christians believe that, if they can disprove (even a tiny bit) the theory of evolution that the only alternative is biblical literalism. It is an opaque tactics planned by the Christians and discussed in the Wedge Document (google it if you don't know what it is). There are many dedicated people on both sides fighting this battle and the Christians are losing except in a few places in the south well known for their Christian ferver. I feel confident that they will lose the battle in these places as well as more an more rational people join the discussion.

If there is one thing I respect about the US, its the secular nature of its school system.  The thought raised by your experience though, is young people forced into religious learning by their parents.  Now this is a tricky one, but I do think parents have to many 'religious rights' when it comes to even their own children.  

I don't know how I would look at those 'religious rights' of a parent when it comes to education, but I would take all rights off them when it comes to health care.  In my mind, if a parent kills their child by disallowing them life saving procedures, blood transfusions or medication, they should be tried for murder as if they had used any other weapon.

You have clearly given thins consideration.  I think it would be good if someone did research on this to, I think you'd get a few surprises along the way.

"I think a good way to hasten the process is continuing to raise public awareness, particularly with young people" Defiantly the way, If you can help young people to understand that they don't have to buy into everything they are told before finding out the different viewpoints, I think you'b be a long way to helping the problem.

Religion needs to indoctrinate, we only need to plant the seeds of criticle thought.  when the 'debate' of belief is viewed like that, it's clear which is the strongest argument.

I think this is an interesting topic. My own perspective is one where my son came from a public school, and, when we moved, wanted to go to a private Catholic college prep high school (we are not religious at all), simply because of the size of the school-he was terrified at the size of the public high school, coming from a fairly small town in Montana. In the public school, they had a small section in their sociology class on religion-more of a comparative religion primer, and I have heard of classes at other public schools teaching classes on the bible as literature. 

I think this is the type of thing he thought he would be learning in the high school.  We had a few discussions about what would be required of him-theology class, compulsory mass and compulsory prayer at the beginning of each class. He made an informed decision and enrolled at the school. Of course, within the first week he was raging at his theology homework-"I can't even bring myself to write down the answer they want for this question!" So I think in some ways it has made him more conscious of what religious doctrine actually says, as opposed to what people believe. I think it has made him more aware that most people espousing some form of religion have no idea what their church actually stands for. 

I do take issue with the people who want to teach creationism or abstinence only curricula in the public schools here, which is how religion tries to get its foot in the door in the public schools here. I would much rather it be out in the open as a part of a comparative religions or literature class (the value of the bible as a piece of literature is debatable-badly written, gaping plot holes, etc), than trying to sneak it in as science. 


"He made an informed decision and enrolled at the school." wow, well done.  I love to see a parent that's not so involved with their own beliefs to allow their child to make their own choice.  You should really be proud of that, and of your child for being confident to make decisions, weigh view points and think critically.

You can never do wrong by your child by giving them the space to do right by themselves.  if they make a couple of mistakes that's fine, that will happen either way.  I find that the parents that can have most positive influence on their children are the ones that are there for support but leave as many personal choices up to the young person.  

By contrast, the parents who try to micro manage every aspect of their childs life, will eventually be cut out, and not be there to help when the child does need them.  Of course the child in this case will have less confidence leaving them more prone to mistakes and less able to manage problems.

Living in the U.S., I find the religious nature of other countries' school systems fascinating, particularly when you compare what are schools are like vs. what people say about our schools.

Too many Christians in this country are convinced we are a Christian nation. We used to have Christian prayers in schools, and most of them think we still should. To hear them talk, you might believe we have God and the Bible in our founding documents, and that they should return to the school where they rightfully belong.

On the other hand, atheist student groups are making strides constantly in this country. They are fighting against student prayer in schools, creationism being taught, the occasional teacher who thinks they should proselytize. They are slowly winning, it seems. But to hear them talk you'd think there was a huge battle, when in fact the things they are fighting are so small compared to what you have. They're worried about a student praying to Jesus in an assembly here; there you have the teachers compulsorily leading children in a prayer to Jesus, apparently?

I personally have a hard time understanding why a government would still allow Christian education in a public school. Having not grown up with it, it makes no sense at all to me. I would think it may have made sense long ago, but it's beyond time now for people to give that up.


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