Teaching children not to learn

Watching a movie yesterday, the score had five notes in a row that matched a melody I hadn't heard in many, many years — a hymn. Everything else about the music was different, and those five notes were played in succession only a few times, but immediately each time, the hymn was in my head.

The next morning I sang that hymn in the shower, and pondered the remarkable power of music, and memory, and indoctrination.

The hymn is "I Believe in Miracles," a dumb ditty I hadn't heard in at least fifty years. And yet the chorus came easily, with no pauses for head-scratchin' except to rinse lather and repeat the suds in my hair. Most of the first verse came quickly, too. Had to Google to get the second and third verses, but the entire hymn is horrible, and the worst is this part, which was the very first part I remembered, word-for-word:

I've seen the lily push its way
Up through the stubborn sod
I believe in miracles
For I believe in God

That's an anthem for not thinking. A plant growing is no miracle; it's simply springtime and sunshine and science. Telling children that every flower sprouting from dirt proves God's existence is teaching kids to say "praise God!" instead of asking, "I wonder why that is?"

It's teaching children not to learn, and judging from the headlines every day, it's a lesson lots of kids learn very, very well.

I've never questioned freedom of religion — your right to worship whatever foolishness you choose, so long as you don't force your silly beliefs onto others. It's that last part, about forcing your beliefs onto others, that I'm meditating on this morning.

Indoctrinating children into a religion is forcing your beliefs onto others. It comes close to child abuse. Adults are usually able to spot bullshit, unless it's bullshit they were taught as children, before they were capable of critical thought.

You could argue that religion should be for adults only, same as pornography and hard liquor and drugs, and I'm about to.

Maybe I'll regret saying this after you explain how wrong it is, but as an atheist who just dried off from a shower where I sang a damned hymn, I have to write this next paragraph, just to cleanse the stupid from me:

Children should be banned from any and all religious training — church, mosque, synagogue, temple, Sunday School, all of it — unless they're also enrolled and attending public, absolutely secular schools.



  1. The Republican jihad has outlawed abortion and drag queen story time, so the panic would be nuclear if anyone tried this.

    Take it farther though. Make sure there's no prayer at school board meetings, and anyone who tries even quoting scripture gets fired.

  2. No prayer and no bible quotes at any meeting of any form of government. Make it so.

    Of course nobody making the decisions is listening to anything you or I or any of us say.


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