Home > Child Abuse, Mental Abuse, Religion > Religious indoctrination of my children is child abuse.

Religious indoctrination of my children is child abuse.

First, some background about me to give this post context. I am an atheist, though was raised as a catholic. I have two children who attend primary school, aged five and eight. I separated from my wife about 18 months ago, one of the many reasons for this being her increasingly fanatical fixation with her religion.

OK. Recently, to my complete surprise I discovered my children’s (supposedly secular) primary school was hosting religious instruction classes during school hours, with attendance by all students mandatory unless opted out.

I had no knowledge of the classes for two reasons, one – all communications from the school are addressed to my wife, who does not pass any of it to me unless it involves paying money to the school, and two – there is no mention of the school holding religious instruction classes either in their charter, on their website, or in any of their newsletters.

Apparantly the only notification parents receive from the school regarding religious instruction classes is a form sent home with the children at the start of the school year, which the parents can fill in if they wish to opt their children out of the classes. Naturally my wife did not see fit to pass this information on to me, I only found out about it when my 8-year-old mentioned it in passing.

Let me be clear that the classes are not for the purpose of education, where children are taught about various religions as part of a wider social studies lesson, rather the classes are pure evangalism from untrained religious volunteers, who indoctrinate the children with christian myths as if they are fact.

When I asked my wife about it she pretended to be surprised that I didn’t know, and being a religious nut asked what the harm was in the children attending the classes as they are fun, involving singing, story telling, drawing and watching videos.

My reasoning was that the children are much too young and gullible to be taught religious myths as fact in a school setting, and the time would be better spent learning reading, writing, or maths etc. It all fell on deaf ears. My wife’s counter arguement was that the children should be ‘taught’ religion so they can decide for themselves what to believe, and she refused to be swayed from that belief (pun intended).

With that kind of thinking you can probably tell my wife is not the smartest person in the world, and the more religious she becomes, the more irrational and stubborn she becomes.

It disturbs me greatly to see my children also becoming like this, they are both intelligent and inquisitive and love anything to do with science and nature. The times I have brought up the subject of religion and tried to explain that not everyone believes in the same god(s), or in fact any god(s), and what their mother believes is not necessarily true, they screw up their faces as if they are hearing an unpleasant sound.

I’m a pretty easy-going father, I try to parent by example and earn my children’s repect rather than brow-beat them into submission and demand repect and unquestioning obediance, so have decided to leave pretty much alone. I have bought many children’s books and videos on science and evolution etc, which my children enjoy reading and watching.

Hopefully when they are older they will come to see religion for what it is, and make the right decision about what they believe. After all, if I could do it then so can they, since they are much smarter than I was at their age. I was about 14 when I decided once and for all that religion was bullshit and not to waste any more of my life believing in rubbish.

In conclusion after a bit of goolging I discovered the Secular Education Network group on facebook, followed some links and read up on what my rights as a parent are regarding religious instruction in schools. Turns out all that’s required to opt my children out of the classes is a letter to the school principal, which I duly sent and have since received a reply confirming they will no longer attend the classes.

Each school differs on how they deal with the opted out children. My children’s school has them go to the library, where they read under supervision, which is fine with me. I have heard stories of other schools where the opted out children are made to sit at the back of the classroom or hall, facing the back wall! Yep they are being punished, pure and simple because their parents choose not to have them brainwashed with childish fairytales.

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  1. March 24, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story Mike. I have had a similar experience with Religious Instruction in our child’s school. It should be illegal for our public schools to used for evangelising. That is what church is for.

    • March 25, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      Thanks Lisa for reading my rant. I agree that RI in schools should not be allowed, RE is fine but not RI.

  2. March 25, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Hi Mike. Not sure if you’re reading the SEN FB page but I wrote this there:
    “He did say he’d tried talking to his kids about other beliefs but that “they screw up their faces as if they are hearing an unpleasant sound.” [that was in response to a comment by Jon above in the thread] I wouldn’t touch on what they or their mother believe at all. I’d just talk about other religions, perhaps humanism and origins of secular morality. They are obviously inoculated against having their beliefs challenged and reacting defensively. When they are older they will get to chose. The important thing for this Dad to do is give them the information to allow an actual choice when the time comes. And accept that they might stay Christian, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing in that, hopefully, he can steer them away from some harmful attitudes (such as against LGBT people, that atheists have no morals etc). To me, that is so much more important than whether they believe in god or not.”

    Feel free to disagree! 🙂 And good luck.

    • March 25, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      Thanks for your comment Alicia. I like the idea of them knowing about other religions and humanism etc. First I need to get to the bottom of why they are so averse to me talking about religion full stop.

  3. March 25, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Just wondering ‘aloud’.
    This highlights why schools need to stay out of grooming children for religious belief, especially where parents disagree about belief. If the school teaches children that disbelief is negative, or separates (and thereby discriminates) on the basis of belief, then it is actively complicit in encouraging separation, stigmatization and ostracism.
    I think that you may have a case against the school, or BOT, itself if the RI lessons have encouraged your children toward a position of contempt for one of their parent’s belief systems. By inciting your children to hold an attitude of antipathy for non-belief, then there may be a case to take a complaint to the HRC the grounds of inciting contempt on the basis of belief. (But not if the indoctrination comes from the other parent).

    • March 25, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      Hi John, thanks for your comment. I suspect my wife has instructed my children not to listen to me if I talk about religion rather then them having learned it in the RI classes.

  4. May 18, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    I am a Christian, and my views are different to the writer.

    Interestingly, this article was mentioned in the Pastoral Chat of

    at http://www.bpcwa.org.au/images/2014%20Weekly/E-2014-04-20.pdf.

    Please read the full article in context.

    The writer states “I have bought many children’s books and videos on science and evolution etc, which my children enjoy reading and watching.” so it appears as though the children appear to be getting both sides of the story.

    However, I would appreciate it when another peoples beliefs are disparaged by saying that they are “… are not the smartest person in the world”

  5. May 18, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Thanks for you comment Gregory. As adults we are entitled to believe whatever we want, no matter how illogical or nonsensical those beliefs may be.

  1. January 4, 2017 at 10:43 pm

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