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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Why inflict her with the idea in the first place? She is only a child.

It's not @Marino's choice.  That's the choice of his parents, so it's not something he has any control over.  The only thing he has control over is how he chooses to respond. 

@Dr. Bob - I was directing the question to you. Why tell children about Hell in the first place. Why not wait until they reach the age of reason or until their mid-teen?

I agree with you.   Growing up in a Catholic family and attending a Catholic school I'm quite sure hell was never mentioned until well past the age of reason.  I honestly have no memory of that sort of discussion until high school, though I suppose it must have come up as part of confirmation preparation.  

I do remember it was never a big thing, and it was never directed at individuals "Joe will go to hell because...".  That strikes me as foul now, and I'm quite sure it would have struck me as foul then.  We would talk about mortal sin as being serious, but even that didn't imply hell.  

Actual Catholic doctrine is that we can't make those sorts of judgments.  I think perhaps the nuns of my era were actually better at religious instruction than I think many of our lay teachers are now (and some of the Benedict-era priests and bishops, sadly).  

I wish all the Catholics had closer to your version, it sounds more sane than the versions I grew up with....and which are part of what drove me away with the unreasonable demands and expectations, etc.

I was indoctrinated with Santa + Coal = Jesus + Hell type analogies, and eternal damnation was always a step away...right after "This will go on your permanent record" Kindergarten.

In nursury school I was already in trouble for telling the other tikes that their parents were the tooth fairy, easter bunny and santa, etc....but to play along because adults need us to for some reason.

The teacher said I had to apologize to the kids FOR LYING TO THEM.

I refused, and, it got ugly....and to hush the arguments I was making to prove my point, I was sent home.

I think its still on my permanent record.


In retrospect/flip side consideration, my kids were ALSO told to put the teeth under the pillow/look for the eggs and to wake up and see what Santa got them, etc.

The difference is that they were congratulated on figuring out it was a trick adults play on kids....and, frankly, I perpetuated the lies because I DID have fond memories of that stuff, and, it seemed to be part of growing up/ how to was all I knew.

If I were to raise kids NOW instead of when I was ~ 20 myself, I would skip the lies, but, that's with 20/20 hind sight.

LOL.  Oh, no!  Not the Permanent Record!!

I wouldn't worry about it, @TJ.  My mother used to tell a tale about how she had decided to be honest and tell me there wasn't a Santa, and that people just gave gifts to each other.

Then I went off to kindergarten (a public school, actually) and came home one day and announced "Mommy, you LIED to me!  There is a Santa Claus!"

Kids are kids.  Expecting them to give up fantasy and imagination is probably real child abuse.


You did have a different kind of upbringing.

There is a huge difference though, between telling a child to give up fantasy and imagination, and telling him WHAT TO FANTASIZE or IMAGINE.

So, yes, not allowing imagination or fantasy would be cruel, but, its also cruel to tell them what they have to imagine or fantasize about, if it came down to those two choices...both are bad.

If the choice made FOR THEM is to push an agenda, as it is for Christian and most religion-based versions, well, that's manipulative/abusive compared to letting them make up their own imaginary friends and fantasies.

Of course, most kids are free to ADD their own fantasies (unless "sinful") or imagination (unless "sinful") to the religion's mandatory issued fantasy and imagination - as a long as they are not in conflict with the issued imaginary/fantasy versions.

Essentially, dropping the restrictions frees up the imagination and fantasies from the religious constraints...and allows true freedom.


Nah, I think you're imagining boogeymen that aren't really there.

I didn't dream up Santa Claus on my own.  That was a part of my imagination that I got from the general culture (meaning adults).  Probably a book my kindergarten teacher read us. ;-)

Kids imagine themselves being superheroes, thanks to DC and Marvel.  Kids imagine ghosts are real, thanks to Casper and campfire yarns.  

To not expect kids' imaginations to be fueled by the stories around them isn't realistic.  To deprive kids of stories that fuel their imaginations isn't giving them "true freedom", it's leaving them impoverished.

Now, we can argue about whether corporations like Marvel should make huge profits off of kids' stories, or whether NFPs like parks should advance an agenda with characters like Smokey the Bear.  Kids are going to listen to stories, though, and any caring adult is going to tell them.... and pick the ones that they think are good, for whatever reason.

Bob, I think you slightly missed TJs point. He didn't say deprive them of fantasy stories, just don't tell them they HAVE to believe it. I've got no problem telling my son the Jesus story. I just tell him it's a story - like all his other books. If it takes his fancy I'm sure he'll make up games about it (maybe he'll pretend he is Jesus!)

I know what you mean Dr. Bob. When I was about 9 years old we were having one of our daily lessons about Superman. We were being told about how his father was not of this planet and how he was brought up by a stepfather who was some kind of tradesman if I recall.  I asked the teacher some questions about his ability to move so quickly through the air. He insisted that he could because he was Superman and that was all I needed to know. I shrugged and rolled my eyes and he got so annoyed that I was summoned to see the headmaster who had apparently studied all the comic books about Superman. He also seemed very annoyed as I was apparently a “very precocious” boy, at least according to some of the men who were always dressed in comic hero costumes.

I was not sure if that was good or bad but I decided that they were wrong and I was right.

When I was about 15 I asked another comic book instructor some questions about that evil genius Aquinas and his “Summa Theologica” which is I believe is a five volume set of old comic books. I did not like it because there was only one action figure to collect and he just lay there looking down at his navel. However this time my parents were called to the comic convention because I had by now become a “very obstreperous” young man. Everyone seemed confused as I was scoring very highly in the tests they gave me about the Comic book.

One was furious with me when I corrected him when he badly misspelt the word “Pentateuch” which is a manual on how a superhero creates new worlds. He tried to hit me but I used my superpower words of “Piss off you creepy sheep shagger” and that was like using Superman’s “Freezing Ice” power. He never spoke to me again so I don’t think he really had any powers in the first place. He was just pretending because he was a weak adult. That was because he still believed in a superman with extraordinary powers. His only superpower was his ability to be great at pretending. Mine was that I could see right through him.

LOL @Reg.  Exactly.  Or whatever!

The point is that the OP should let his little sister be a kid. 

Yes Dr. Bob and I'm sure you'd stand by and do nothing if your little sister went around warning cousins and schoolmates to believe in her creepy bizarre imaginary friend called Bobo or they would pay a price.

Is going around and threatening people with torture if they don't believe what you believe in a wonderful part of just being a little girl?

@Dr. Bob – No, the point is that the young girl should not be indoctrinated by adults that are in a position of authority over her. She is eight years old. I am calling it child abuse to have her obsessed with Jesus and convinced that her brother is going to hell. It is not the same as believing in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. They are not comparable beliefs. There may be overlaps because of their supernatural premise but only one of them leaves little girls imagining that their brother is going to be set on fire.

Adults who reinforce such delusions in young minds are doing children an injustice. At least coming to terms with the reality of life without the tooth fairy will engage a form of critical thinking in a young mind but the whole point of Catholic indoctrination is to keep them ensnared for life. That is how it works. I am sure you know the famous Jesuit quote about it. So again, if your God is real why not wait until the child is 16 years old to start telling them. Again I am sure you know the answer to that too. Is it because by then they will be too old to be moulded by the faith formation machinery? 


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