Religious
Peer-Group Pressure
In The Schoolyard
Tracy Welch

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Tracy Welch"
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: December 28, 2001 11:38 AM

The only two people who have the right to teach religious values to your child are you and the child's father. This may extend to whomever you delagate the responsibility, such as a youth pastor and the other children in his class, for example. The parents of these kids are exploiting their own children -- Why? -- to market an ideology! These religious ideas aren't even their own ideas, either, but are the dogmata of a highly organized sect of religion!

I just don't see people doing this of their own accord: they need to be coerced or enticed before they'll become willing to do such a thing to their own children and to the children of their neighbors!

Your daughter needs some non-Christians to hang with (or at least communicate with). She needs to get in touch with kids who hold a similar disdain toward these Christian organizations. Learning to identify the behavior is the first crucial step, but then they need to develop an appropriate response. It's not right to hold the religious kids in contempt, because they're just obeying their parents; your daughter and her non-Christian associates need to learn, instead, to exercize patience toward these kids, and to recognize that the true villains are the religious leaders who coerce the parents who then exploit their own kids. And the parenets do this for one reason: they are frightened -- they are terrified because the realigious group (and most of the other similar groups) all teach that dire consequences await those who do not obey the dictates of the religious leaders.

You and your child can do wonders toward countering this problem by forming a group of like-minded youngsters who are in a similar bind, kids who have been made the marketing targets of powerful religious interestesl. The sects want only to increase their numbers, and this so the groups might gain political power and their leaders, personal wealth! The religions have been studying their craft for thousands of years, throwing out what doesn't work and perfecting what does.

For this, the best suggestion I can offer is to help your child open up an online forum for like-minded youngsters.
 

Wow, an online forum for youngsters! What a concept! I've always tried to learn how to solve my own problems, even as a kid. Now, with the advent of the Internet, hosting an online forum is an easy way to bring together a group of youngsters to work on a project. In this case, the kids you both meet on the Internet would learn to address the peer-group pressure and other forms of coerciveness that kids use to persuade other kids to become religious.

Some religious parents teach their own kids various techniques and arguments and encourage them to use these methods to bring other parents' children into the religious sects to which their families belong.

If your daughter is mature and literate enough to call the shots on a forum project and do a little of the work, this could be the start of something good.

What this would do is focus her (and the others who get involved) on solving their own problems and digging up their own answers to the questions they raise. If they take a critical look at each of the challenges raised by the Christian youngsters, your daughter and her friends will quickly learn the tricky arguments that the church leadership has foisted on the Christian youngsters.

Activist work such as this immediately brings the activist "out of the problem and into the solution," as they say. The child who learns early to work toward making our World a better place for all quickly develops strong habits that focus on solving the challenges that the others present to her, ultimately learning to address the problems that life itself presents.
 

Since this would be a forum, she is not responsible for coming up with the answers, only to field the e-mail and from that, cull out various thought-provoking questions that she can pose to the forum list By starting out with a stock of questions, she would start the forum off already focused toward a question-and-answer format: this would, among other things, work against the boards becoming a "chat" area that has no purpose other than to socialize (which itself would be good in certain contexts).

My personal favorite forum piece in Positive Atheism's collection was put together by a teenager: "Moving Beyond Just A Polite Response?" If you wanted to do this as a project, I'd offer whatever I could to help it come to pass.

The generally accepted "Internet Age of Consent" appears to be 13 years old: this seems to be the age at which teens are allowed to make posts, join chat rooms, and the like. Kids younger than this usually need the supervision of a parent or guardian, according to the web sites I've seen.
 

I wish you the best with whatever you come up with (or don't come up with, in this respect, as this might not be something she ends up wanting to do). Again, thanks for writing and thanks for the opportunity to do some free-form pondering along these lines. Most of all, thanks for the opportunity to spread this idea to others who also might want to do something like this.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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