I think I may have written about this before, but from a slightly different angle, and anyway, this was on my mind.
The other day, someone reminded me that I used to feel differently about my son’s upbringing. When I went to rehab back at the end of 2009 after helping arrange his care in the hands of others who would do a better job of parenting than I could at the time, I was happy for him to be brought up Roman Catholic, just like I was. But between then and now, my views changed drastically and the other day he caused issues when arguing with this person’s children, because he doesn’t believe in god. (Thanks to me taking him out of Sunday school in 2015 and thanks to my influence on him since then. To be clear, I don’t tell him what to think, but I do encourage him to think critically, and I don’t hold back on what I think of beliefs in gods.)
So I changed my mind. I do that. I don’t do it as often anymore, and the funny thing is, around twenty years ago I used to think I was really bad at debating, because I’d get into a debate with somebody, hear their argument, and immediately change my view, thus losing the debate. These days I consider it a strength. If I find my position is based on ignorance or that I am otherwise misinformed, I change my position. It doesn’t happen so much any more because most of my views are based either on direct evidence or on relevant authorities whom I trust.
I see it like this: In the past, my view was wrong. Now, my view may not be perfect but it’s a lot better than it used to be. There are many reasons I can be wrong. One of them is confusion. Being a meth-head for around eight years left me pretty fucking confused.
My error was that I attributed my morals, my values, incorrectly to my Catholic upbringing. I figured, incorrectly, that what was best for my son would be for him to be brought up with the same religion as myself. But I was wrong. Very fucking wrong.
- My morals, my sense of right and wrong, were already as they are now at around the age of six years. I learned them from my parents, and later, those same values would be reinforced by my peers, first in nursery school, then school.
- At Sunday School, I learned a bunch of Bible stories, myths, prayers, and other nonsense.
- Christianity taught me I was born in sin. In shame. That’s the lesson of Christianity – that you are born a sinner and that you need Christ to be saved.
- Christianity taught me a fear of suffering for all eternity based on arbitrary rules that made no sense to me, but they would keep me awake at night anyway, in my late childhood and early teens.
- Christianity taught me that everybody who didn’t accept Christ would be punished for all eternity, even if they believed just as sincerely in some other religion, when the only difference between them and me was that they were born into a different religion. This kept me awake at night in my mid teens.
- Christianity taught me to be guilty for my mere existence.
- Christianity taught me to pray every night, and left me feeling guilty if I didn’t, to such an extent that I still prayed for ten years or so after I stopped believing in god, because I could not fall asleep if I didn’t do it.
To summarize, Christianity was traumatic for me. It provided zero good. I realized this when thinking more clearly after a couple of years of recovery from my addiction. And as the years have passed, I have come to see it as more and more harmful.
I’m an antitheist. I see only harm in the indoctrination of a child. If my son finds religion in his adult life, good for him, but to impose that on a child, I believe, is a grave mistake a parent can make. Religion is toxic. Brainwashing a child is flat-out wrong and the fact that most people are religious and are utterly incapable of seeing how absurd their beliefs are, and that most Christians do not even acknowledge the harm in the message of shame that comes with Christianity, are indications of just how harmful religion is.