Image via WikipediaMy most recent "Letter to the Editor" for one of our local weekly newspapers was published a few days ago. I wanted to share its message with you and again encourage you all to become active in the cause of reason in your own cities and towns. Together, we are many voices and we can make a difference. And, besides, it's fun!
An Entreaty to Parents
I am writing in response to “A Challenge to Parents,” by Judy Howlett, published in the September 10 edition of this newspaper. Ms. Howlett wrote, “I am going to make arguments for church school attendance. See if you can make as many valid arguments against church school attendance.”
Ms. Howlett stresses the positive, community aspects of church, with which I have no problem. When people work together to improve their own and others’ well being, that is laudable. But, of course, that happens outside of church, too.
In contrast to Ms. Howlett, I would say to parents, “Please, please, DO NOT send your children to church school!” Let’s face it, church school exists for the purpose of indoctrinating children into a specific, Bible-based worldview. It is a perversion of real education since it has nothing to do with teaching children how to think; its purpose is to teach them what to think. The teachers in these schools are intent on convincing the children that the Bible has all the answers, that the Bible is truth incarnate. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. According to Matthew 21:21, “Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.” But we all know that no one can actually command a mountain to throw itself into the sea. This is nonsense. All we have learned through science about how the world really works has begun with doubt. According to the Bible, disease is caused by demons. Had no one doubted this, we would never have learned that disease is caused by microorganisms, toxic chemicals, and genetic accidents. According to church schools, doubt is the greatest error and often the devious, undermining work of Satan. In the real world, doubt is the first step to discovery and true understanding of the world as it is.
If you send your child to church school, her teachers will fill her head with superstitious nonsense. Do you really want her to believe in talking snakes, magical fruit trees, witches, ghosts, demons, dragons, and 900 year-old men? They are all in the Bible. These stories were made up thousands of years ago by primitive, superstitious barbarians who knew next to nothing about how the world really works. Do you really want her to believe that this God she is being taught to worship has created a hell for those who doubt the dogma or otherwise displease him? There is a WEB site, exchristian.net, which regularly publishes the testimonies of people who suffered for decades with the agonizing fear that they or their friends and family might end up in hell because of their doubts or minor ‘sins.’ Some of these people were severely damaged, emotionally and intellectually, by these Biblical teachings.
Ms. Howlett implies that without church school your children are likely to grow up without morals. But in order to teach them morality from the Bible you must deceive them about much of what is in that book; you must carefully hide from the children those passages which command the execution of disobedient sons (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13), and anyone who works on the Sabbath (Exodus 25:2). Even little children today would not accept such a repugnant ‘morality.’ And, I would argue that none of us really learned morality from the Bible anyway; we learned all the essentials from our parents and other caretakers as tots, before we knew anything about theology. Remember the book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?” It was in kindergarten, and before, that we learned never to hurt others on purpose, to not take others’ toys, to clean up after ourselves, and all of the other really important stuff. Nobody needs church school for this.
Please, don’t send your children to church school! Why not take them to the Rachel Carson tidal pool in Bristol instead, and help them to begin discovering how the world really works. Or, get them a small microscope and let them see some of those amazing microorganisms for themselves. The real world is filled with wonders; to fill children’s eager young minds with superstition is a shame. The future belongs to those who accept reality and seek to understand it. Superstition should always be aggressively discouraged and shown for what it is – a damaging wound to individual human minds and a destructive impediment to the progress of mankind.