Theists Have the Best P.R. Machine Ever III

Part I and Part II are also posted on this blog.

P.R. Claim: Religion fosters family closeness and family values.


Last night I watched “Polygamy USA.” I am aware that polygamous LDS is not standard LDS. And, further, LDS isn’t standard “Christian.” But what I saw that disturbed me, had nothing to do with the differences in these religious cultures, and represented, rather, obvious similarities. It had nothing at all to do with the polygamous aspect of the environment, and everything to do with how religion can strain ties between parents and children—putting distance between them by fostering irrational intolerance.

What I see over and over again, is that religion damages some aspect-X of society, but then successfully spins itself as beneficial to aspect-X. A commonly observed example would be religious groups that promote restricting access to both contraception and comprehensive sex education, as a means to reduce unwanted pregnancy. But sometimes the instances are not so obvious, even if they are just as common. Repeatedly, I see the P.R. claims slide through society unquestioned and unexamined. It appears that all religion has to do is continue claiming it’s good for aspect-X, and after a time, the claim, “it’s good for aspect-X,” takes hold, even among nonadherents.

What I’m about to discuss is not a problem restricted to religion, but rather a problem that religion compounds. In other words, without religion, there would be one less cause for this harm. Additionally, being a massive and well regarded institution, it has the potential to continue causing extensive damage, more than other ideologies that are not so socially far reaching, nor as lauded.

A person entering into an interracial relationship might encounter friction from racist parents. And such situations do strain family ties. However, “racism,” even for the many complex forms and social issues it raises, is broadly regarded as a negative social influence. When we think of racism, we think of negative things, negative people, negative histories—something we struggle against. But when we think of “religion,” and “church,” and “god,” most of our population still gets a warm fuzzy. And this protects it from examination and criticism. If racism included children’s classes, where the little ones got together with their little friends to sing songs, eat cookies and hear stories, people might be hard-pressed to attack it, as well. “Aw, but I remember all that fun? It was a good time. What sort of malcontent are you to crap upon such good fun? What is wrong with children singing songs? Who has a problem with cookies?” Well, nobody—but are cookies and sing-songs worth the cost to society to continue propagating something like “racism” in our society? Racism isn’t, at least any more, lauded by most people. It’s regarded as an ugly word. But “theistic religion” still sports a halo—without having earned it, and without, far too often, very many people stopping to consider whether it’s deserved. But that’s religion’s main defense: The hope that nobody will focus too closely on what is actually being promoted—the religion, itself. The hope we will be distracted by the red herring claims of all the “good” it does. And make no mistake; it need only toss out a “good” bone that isn’t really that impressive, every once in a blue moon, for people to forgive any atrocity it perpetrates, or any social harm it generates. After all, what is losing your family compared to the comforting memory of a soft cookie? What are 3,000 deaths compared to fun children’s songs with friends? What is threatening children with existential horrors for all eternity to a nice Bible Story Hour?

In sum, then, unlike other issues that strain families, religion is insulated and praised. This is why it is the hydra’s head I tend to focus on the most when it comes to my attempts to dismantle socially harmful institutions and ideologies. Rather than religion promoting family closeness, I see religion actually abusing the family as a mechanism to ensure its own, continued existence. It hijacks family bonds to use as leverage in ways that demonstrate the underlying dishonesty of what it’s actually claiming to accomplish—as I will discuss later, below, in a letter to a viewer.

But back to the television program. The episode I watched highlighted a father and son. It had nothing to do with polygamous aspects of their beliefs. The father wanted his son to go on a mission trip. The son had no interested in doing mission work. For most of us, that would be a small thing. The child isn’t interested in taking the trip. He’s nearly an adult. And there are many other opportunities for a bright, young person to pursue in life. Not going on a temporary mission adventure—well, what does it amount to in the end, really, compared to a father’s love for his son?

Apparently, it amounts to quite a lot. The father was relentless in his nagging about this mission trip, and obvious in his excessive time spent with his “mission boys”—young men who were not his son, who had decided to go do mission trips. The father made it clear to his son that the mission work was necessary to gain his love, acceptance and approval.

This represents emotional blackmail. Aimed at one’s own minor child, over a small matter, it amounts to emotional cruelty.

Don’t get me wrong. I realize it’s no “small matter” to the father—and that’s the religion’s doing, making a mountain of a molehill. Any reasonable person, and loving parent, should be able to see this is a nonissue when it comes to “do I love and accept my child?” and “Is my child a good person, of whom I should still approve and be proud?” A father’s love and acceptance should be light years beyond “I want my child to go on a trip.” It certainly should, by no means, hinge on it. And yet this religion has this father, punitively, spending more time with his “mission boys,” than his own son—constantly showing his son that the only way to earn his love and approval is to conform to his every minor whim. You want dad’s attention? Dad’s approval? Dad’s love? The family’s acceptance? Then you’d better get in line and get with the program and start buying into this religion, because until you start acting like these wonderful other mission boys, you’re stuck squarely on the outside of my love, acceptance and approval.

If this were one stranger to another, I wouldn’t think twice. But when it’s a parent to their minor child—an understanding of human development and social species should make it clear why this is grossly unacceptable parental behavior. Love, acceptance and approval are required by developing human beings who are solely reliant upon parents as their caregivers. It’s very important that children understand these things are secure. Withholding these things from a child and demanding compliance as ransom—in areas that are of little matter—constitutes abuse of parental power and resources. Parents who do this are severely in the wrong. And religion cannot begin to justify such irresponsible parenting.

As I said earlier—this is not restricted to some small LDS cultish outlying ideology. And it just so happened that the same evening I watched the program, I also answered an e-mail from a young woman who is trying to figure out how to come out to her religious mother as an atheist. Like so many young people who write to us, she has similar concerns. She had written in one of her responses that her mother did not ask if she was participating in church while she is away at college, and she speculated that her mother likely was afraid of the possible answer. Here is part of what I offered to her, just before she replied that I had described her situation exactly. And this is, as well, where I note the obvious dishonesty involved in what the adherents claim to be doing, versus what they’re actually doing:

This is extremely common and so weird to me. A Christian parent, specifically, often seems more concerned about how things look, than how things *are*. Often in these homes corporal punishments are used—basically artificial, exaggerated consequence, to control the child through fear. I’m not saying *your* parents hit you. I’m just saying that many Christian parents do, because the Bible endorses hitting kids as “loving” and “teaching.” Anyway, when a parent has a kid come out as atheist, very often, they put huge pressure on the kid to just stop being atheist and come back to church. They treat the child in such a way that it almost seems like you can “punish” someone into believing something; but in reality, you can’t—and who doesn’t know that? Certainly you can be punished into ACTING in accordance with what they want—like going to church and shutting up about your lack of belief. But you can’t control someone else’s actual beliefs using social pressure or threats.

So, it seems clear they’re mainly interested in controlling behavior, and not beliefs. And this is really odd, because the core of Christianity is that it’s all about what you *believe*. What you *do* is not totally irrelevant, but certainly useless if you don’t believe. And it’s interesting that these parents would be quite content to have their kids attend church and keep their mouths shut–and end up in hell, than be honest to them and end up in hell. Basically, they’re saying:

“I don’t care if you lie to me. I don’t care if you go to Hell. Just don’t make me look bad or have to cope with what is really going on.”

I find it disturbing. And I wish I could say that you’re likely misjudging your mom. But you’re likely not. This is probably exactly how she views it. Even if you don’t believe [and will suffer eternity in hell]–it’s all good as long as she doesn’t have to deal with it and can go on pretending that nothing has changed.

Later that night, I posted a blurb about Polygamy USA on a social networking site. And someone posted back to say add this:

I’m an ex-Mormon of 20 years, and I’ll tell you it’s social suicide for a male to decline a calling for a mission. Parents refuse to allow their daughters to date a non-Elder, friends no longer speak to you. Mind you, it gets worse depending on how big the LDS community is around your ward. My friend in Salt Lake City was shamed out of his job for a refusal. I won’t even go there if you decide to leave the church…That’s just the main stream LDS church. The fundamentalist compounds are much, much worse.

Bear in mind that the Mormons, specifically, promote themselves as extremely family-centric.

But it’s so easy to see, it’s not the religion keeping the family maintained. It’s the family keeping the religion maintained. It’s not the family using religion as a tool to stay close. It’s religion using the family ties as tools to control each of the members, and keep them conforming, so much so that even if they no longer accept the beliefs, they will stay in line out of pure fear. Religion isn’t helping families—it’s using and abusing them as leverage. It’s not concerned about family welfare, it’s completely self-concerned.

“Ask not what religion can do for you—ask rather what you can do for religion.” That’s what he religion is all about here.

So, we’re left with this question: How does an ideology that so often abuses family members as weapons against each other, to selfishly thrive, get a reputation of being beneficial to families?

Answer: The best damn P.R. machine you’ve ever seen.


  1. Alverant says

    Hey, it helps to realize that the abrahmic religions are a marketing campaigns. They have their slogans, mascots, products, etc. Once you realize that, it becomes much easier to understand why they do things.

  2. says

    I hear you on that. I have seen strife occur in numeorus families over religion, and in particualr when a kid or spouse says, “Yah know, nah, have at it but I don’t think I believe this any more.” Or heaven forbid someone chooses a different denomination. Dah Horror. Hey, not to deviate too far from topic but, the whole polygomy arrangement is a bit of a head scatcher to me for two reaons. 1) Why can’t a woman, let’s say, have ten husbands and 2) why would a man want more that one wife–jeez louise it’s bad enough with one of my kind naggin at yah–is the chance to have sex with different chicks worth dealing with PMS times 6 (women in the same household tend to start reulating around the same time, or so I have heard) LOL…just kidding largely, but yeah, the Christian PR machine is a Monster. I think this is largely due to the fact that it offers hope to those who have nothing else to look forward to in life. I recall a TAE episode where a caller noted that states that had high religious factors were also the poorest and most uneductaed…things that make you go hummm.

  3. says

    I always found the latter day saint (Mormon) ones commericlal to be the most hilarious (the fake sincerity that is always just so over the top)–especially the ones on Youtube. And does anyone else think that Jospeh Smith choosing to name the angel that appeared to him Moroni was no accident ( a bit tongue in cheek perhaps?) The first time I heard the name I literally Lol’d–to the chagrin of my LDS friends…I didn’t mean to–just slipped out.

  4. Llama Herder says

    I’m an ex-Mormon myself, living in Salt Lake City. My mom and dad are/were extremely religious, but three out of the five children in my family are atheists.

    There’s been no shaming or alienation from my mom, and no active pressure from her to change my ways. The only tension between us is political, and that’s more for sport anyway.

    Living in the Salt Lake City area, the majority of my friends are ex-Mormons as well. I’m not aware of anyone I know having been estranged from their families over it.

    I’ve heard a lot of horror stories. The worst, of course, are parents disowning their gay children. I’ve heard of Bishops pressuring wives to leave their apostate husbands, too. These sorts of things are the exception, though.

    For most people I know of, the most traumatic thing is realizing most of your old friends are only interested in you if you’re planning on going back to church. You’re seen as a “project,” and every interaction with you has the ulterior motive of bringing you back into the fold. It’s extremely alienating.

  5. says

    I know exactly how this feels. My family is passive aggressive about everything they do, and that goes extra for religion. My brother has always been the favorite child for going along with everything they say. Whenever I fought with my family I was the one who was pressured to apologize or give in for the sake of keeping things peaceful.

    When I stopped going to church, and considered myself non-denominational, my parents kept trying to get me to come back to church because they thought it would be better for me. Once I finally came out as an atheist they were upset, but since then they just avoid the conversation altogether. They act like I am not atheist to the point where they still want to know if I will be joining them for church holiday functions.

    It is funny that I sometimes feel like I am the only person who deals with stuff like this, and while it sucks, it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  6. Raymond says

    Yes, but be very careful of causality in that instance. The correlation is there; but, so far as I know, no studies have illustrated whether religions prey on the poor, or the religion causes the poor..

  7. Raymond says

    I just wanted to throw this out there. You mentioned about the fact that these instances are the exception, not the rule. I can only speculate, since I am unaware of any good research on the subject, that, while these terrible devices are used by the population at large, a higher percentage of religious families utilize these practices.
    My family was Roman Catholic. I dealt with this very situation growing up (it was scary close. change a few words and you nailed it perfectly). But it was not the religion that caused the strife. My parents were wealthy and snobby. They used all these same practices, except in terms of career path. I was clearly not deserving of acknowledgement unless I was going into the medical field (and I do mean acknowledgement. They haven’t initiated contact with me for 25 years. and any contact we do have is not unlike your conversation with the checkout person at the supermarket, a brief filler and on your way). Now that’s not to say that the fact they were raised Roman Catholic didn’t cause them to act in this manner to their children, but I must reserve judgement on causality here.

  8. Lord Narf says

    Speaking of family values, I love the way that religious types bring a term to prominence, then bastardize the term for their own purposes. I’ve never had it sufficiently explained to me how it’s good family values to deny legal rights to families with two parents of the same sex. For some funny reason, I just can’t get my head wrapped around that one … although I’m sure it has something to do with the Jesus-sized hole in my heart.

  9. kagekiri says

    @4 Joshua Pierce:

    Are…are you my brother? 😛 This situation sounds ridiculously similar to my own.

    I also have an extremely passive aggressive family, except that I’m the relative favorite for going along with what my mother says more often than the others, who instead reject her ideas wholesale. Which is basically cravenly appeasing her even when she has terrible ideas or opinions (yay, my self-guilt-tripping from childhood isn’t gone yet! /GAH).

    And my parents also ignore my atheism now (though upon my admission of it, they were….hurtful, to say the least), and sometimes ask if I want to go to church or scold me for not closing my eyes during prayer for a meal.

  10. Raymond says

    I would like to note up front that I have no citations for my comment, so take it as strict opinion.

    While few theists would ever come up with this as lucidly as I will explain it, I think that in the case of family values vs homosexuality, many people believe that children need the kind, caring “motherly” influence and the strict, demanding “fatherly” influence to push the child to greater heights. You would think that everyone in the world know that it doesn’t work like that, even in conventional family structures. And for some reason, they feel that the child will get an unbalanced upbringing with either too much testosterone or too much estrogen for healthy growth. This, of course, completely ignores the interpersonal dynamics in practically every relationship, while supplanting the structure with an idealized stereotype. All the other crap they complain about has little to do with why they think it’s wrong, IMHO.

  11. says

    Literally, as I’m opening the TAE mail, I just opened this one:

    Hi, my name is J, im 13 from MN and I love the show.. Watching it has made me question things that before I saw as rock solid truth. My mom and dad make me go to church every week with them, and while the people i meet there are nice, after watching a few episodes of the show i just cant shake the feeling that im talking to a crazy person.

    Last week I told my parents that I didn’t believe in god and they grounded me for a week. After that i realized that Religion for my mom and dad was like a game that they never won. My two older sisters are both atheists and thats still a touchy subject for them and my parents. So here is my question, How do i explain to my parents that not believing in god isn’t something im going to grow out of. How do I explain to them that its not like a phase that will pass in time. That grounding me wont make me change my mind about how the world works?



    J is right–grounding him won’t make him believe–only make him shut up. And that’s what is required. Conform to the behavior, we don’t really care if you believe it–so long as you don’t act in ways that might demonstrate your nonbelief. I think this is because religion, as a meme, understands that nonbelievers seeing other nonbelievers, bolsters their feeling of “it’s OK to not believe this. I’m not crazy.” If you allow open dissent, it’s dangerous. That’s no different than governments that silence dissension in order to maintain the status quo. It’s fine for the kid to go to hell–as long as he doesn’t step out of line. That’s loving parents for you.

  12. says

    It could be both depending on circumstances and regions, school systems, economic and employment factors of certain states etc., etc, yes I would love to see a study done on this.

  13. says

    It was a long time Mormon friend who said I was an atheist because I wanted to sin wihtout guilt ( right after saying “Love you!” I will admit it did hurt my feeligns. Been toying with talking to her about it. Meh. Anyhoos. Have you gotten that at all?

  14. says

    It appears Christians want you to respect their belief systems and care very little about your ideas on the matter. “We’re praying Atheist so at least close yoru eyes!” Uhm. No….Have you gotten the “It’s a Christian Nation so you must do as I say” spiel yet?

  15. Llama Herder says

    Oh yes.

    It’s either, as you say, “It’s because you want to be able to sin!”, or it’s, “Just because someone in the church offended you doesn’t mean it’s not true.”

    It can’t possibly be a problem with the church, so people always assume that the reason for apostasy is because of something wrong with the apostate.

  16. Llama Herder says

    I haven’t seen good research on the subject either, so I should probably walk back my statement by appending, “in my experience” to it.

    That is, “In my experience, these sorts of things are the exception.” As I said, most of my friends are ex-Mormon, so I do have a fair amount of experience with this. I don’t, however, have nearly enough to say so definitively.

    When this sort of thing does occur, however, I have little doubt that they’re motivated by religion in the vast majority of cases.

  17. Monocle Smile says

    This reminds of Greta Christina’s article years ago (found it recently) about “Shut up, that’s why” arguments. The emphasis is on “shut up.” Maintaining decorum is more important than facing reality.

  18. Llama Herder says

    Just as a bit more anecdotal evidence: Everyone always hopes they’ll get called to Europe for their LDS missions. They all end up in third-world countries instead.

    I’m pretty sure they’re intentionally targeting the poor because they’re more likely to convert.

  19. Llama Herder says

    Either that, or they just feel helpless and don’t know what else they can do to “fix” the problem.

  20. says

    Precisley, I think I stayed “agnostic” for so long for this very reason. Agnostic is apparently less offensive to religious people. Today, I recognize the fact that I am agnostic but also an ATHEIST. Speaking of family values BS. I recently took to task a local Reporter who was crowing about what an open Christian Teevo ( a football palyer of some sort–not sure if I got the name spelled right) was, and gee ain’t that so grand in our immoral world. Would have been cool if she had just left it there but nooo. She even went so far to say that his talent (his abilities appeared to be up for some debate and even she admitted this) did not matter as much as his open Christianiy, what a great role model he would make, Ohhhh, he should be “REWARDED” for this with praise, fame and a foot ball contact. I am not kidding. She ended her editorial segment by stating that the fact he has 2 million twitter followers indicates that, in spite of him beiing apparently teased for his open Christianity, that people were behind god fearing folk and our core American values were still important to “some Celebrities.” I was breathe fire furious, so much so that I had ten times more misspellings and typos than I do here when repsonidng to her on facebook ( she invited comments at the end of the show–so yeah–I went there). In essence I told her that the attitude she expressed was socially irresponsible at best and horridly hypocritical at worst. I pointed out that she wouldn’t think it was so kewl if an Atheist stood up proudly and stated his or her non belief, nor would she think they should be awarded with adulation, praise and football contracts. I went on to say that the “us against them” “Christians are the fiber of Amerukah” stance is among the many reasons why Atheists have become so vocal in the last decade or so (and what has also kept many of us in the closet). Attidudes like her makes Atheist feel like second class citizen, especially when it is “implied” that we lack core American values and are causing the USA to fall into moral decay and debauchery. I was suprised too because I normally like this partuclar anchor as she had always appeared unbiased in her reporting (her name is Brenda Woods, not sure if you all would have heard of her), I don’t even watch her news program anymore I am so incensed.

  21. says

    Ohhhh, I so hate that attitude. Whenever, I tell a Theist I don’t believe, they often ask why but apparently the fact that I feel there isn’t suficent proof is enough–they go on and on to tell me about how great god is and how wonderful church folks are. Not to tar and feather god fearing folk but I’d be lying if I said many of my experiences were less than favorable. When I reveal this, they almost have this ” ah-ha” moment and reply, “You can’t let what man does seperate you from god.” Good thing it’s against the law to strangle people…lol

  22. otrame says

    I do believe that religion puts terrific pressure on families to conform and when any member of the family fails to do so the pressure becomes damaging. A lot of misery is in store unless everyone toes the line.

    But the part about completely rejecting a kid who doesn’t toe that line, I really don’t think this is about religion, as Raymond noted. What it is about is parental ego. This subject came up recently on another blog, and I said then what I say now. It is very very difficult to accept that to your parents your only importance in their lives is to be something they can brag about. To these parents, if you do something that will embarrass them with whatever group or society they consider important, then you are worthless to them. They do not love you. You are a decoration, a bit of glitter and that is all.

    I’m not talking about the agony that the fear that their child is going to hell must be for many religious parents. I’m not talking about angry words at the time, with an unspoken agreement to not mention it later. I’m talking about those parents that reject a child, disown a child, literally or figuratively, who has embarrassed them.

    I told my son a while back that if I were to find out he was a serial rapist/murderer, I would turn his ass in in a split second and testify against him at his trial. But I would never claim he was not my son and I would visit him in prison every week. Because he is my son, for good or bad, good man (as he is) or evil monster. People can think less of me if they like.

    But then, I love my kids.

  23. escuerd says

    I don’t think the word “moron” entered the English language until the early 20th century as a term meaning “mildly mentally retarded” (it was based, I think, on Alfred Binet’s “mental age” notion).

    I think there’s a decent chance he got the name from one of the “major” cities (currently, and originally the capital) of the island nation of Comoros, i.e. Moroni. Part of the reason for this suspicion is the fact that Smith claimed that Moroni buried the plates in a hill called “Cumorah”, which bears a striking resemblance to the apparent name of the islands (“Camora”) on lots of 19th century maps.

    Not definitive and might well be coincidence, but I’dn’t be surprised if Smith just thought it was obscure enough that no one would notice (or that if some did, it wouldn’t matter).

  24. says

    Huuump, well now, learn something new everyday–still can’t help but giggle–like fate’s cosmic ha, or sorts.

  25. says

    Awww, I just love that! Same here–my daughter asked me tonight if all people grow up, get married and have kids. I told her some do, some don’t, but whatever she chooses to do with her own life, Mommy will always love her…

    I can’t imagine what goes on in the mind of a parent who feels as if manipuation and control of another human being, espeically one under their care, is a great way to raise a well adjusted human.

  26. mvemjsun says

    My mom is bent on making me Xian: first religious books left in my house, then offering to send me videos and offering her version of proofs. She threw pascals wager at me. When I offered naturalistic explanations for her proofs she responded with a statement similar to *too bad you are going to hell. I had hoped my whole family would be in heaven with me* I took that to mean I am inconveniencing her by not going to heaven. She also implied I am stupid to not believe in the supernatural and I should stop reading stuff written by people who *believe* in evolution. Needless to say I do not take kindly to her believing I belong in hell or that I am stupid or that my future should conform to her desires or else. Religion is absolute poison to family. If I believed Jesus existed, I would say he would be proud of her. After all he reportedly told people to hate their families and follow him.

  27. grumpyoldfart says

    Your story about the father wanting his son to become a missionary reminded me of a TV documentary I saw years ago. An itinerant fundie preacher had taken his two sons on the road with him and he had them preaching the gospel at every opportunity. Eventually he decided to get the younger son (about eight years old) ordained as a Christian pastor. As they drove towards the church where the ordination was to take place, the father asked the son,

    “Are you excited about getting ordained?”

    “Oo yeah,” the boy replied.

    And then: “What’s ‘ordained’ again Dad?”

    Does anyone know the name of the documentary? I would buy it if only I could remember what it was called.

  28. says

    I would agree that religious parents don’t always do this. And I would agree that nonreligious parents do this. I would question this:

    “But the part about completely rejecting a kid who doesn’t toe that line, I really don’t think this is about religion, as Raymond noted. What it is about is parental ego.”

    I don’t think it’s fair to say that religion does nothing to foster an idea of extreme parental privilege. Christianity specifically teaches that parents not only *can* hit their children, but that not doing so is detrimental and a disservice to the child. This puts the child into the realm of “property of the parent” and not “ward of the parent.”

    Also, the Bible is clear on honoring/respecting the parents. And to dishonor one’s parents is punishable by death, according to The Law.

    The idea of the parents being responsible for what the children ultimately believe and do after they leave home, is clear. There are passages stating that if you raise the child up in the way it should be raised (in the religion), then it won’t stray when it’s grown.

    I watched a documentary about a girl who was an adult and engaged. Her family was Mormon. Her husband-to-be was Mormon. But an issue arose when the mother and daughter disagreed on where the wedding would take place. The daughter and her fiance wanted to be married at the Mormon Tabernacle. The mother preferred their local facility. Since the daughter defied the mother, the mother decided the fiance was no good anymore, and had too much influence/control over the daughter. The mother and father kidnapped their daughter (on her wedding day) and drove her across state lines, refusing to bring her back until she agreed to their demands. When they got back to their town, the fiance had already called the police when the bride didn’t show up and was missing. The parents were arrested and went to trial–facing federal kidnapping charges for crossing state lines. Their other children, all boys, felt the daughter was behaving disrespectfully and should honor the parents. I have heard from other ex-Mormons on my list who describe similar teachings toward parents/children in their homes that were re-inforced by the church.

    The courts gave the parents probation. I suppose they were granting that if your own family violates your rights and civil liberties, that’s not a big deal…Uh, I hope I’m never raped by my own brother, because, hey, he’s family so, couple months probation and it’s all good…? To me, people who stand before a judge without remorse, expressing it’s their right to break the law because situation-X means they’re immune to state and federal laws–literally above such authority–should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, in order to demonstrate to them that not only is everyone subject to the law, but that people who fail to grasp the laws apply to them, TOO, need to learn that all the more. I don’t know whether or not these same people, if not raised in a church that teaches they own their kids, would have developed the same attitudes about child rearing; but it seems that having an institution that encourages such ideas is not healthy.

    Again, the fact parents are part of that institution does not mean they will automatically adopt the view. And some people adopt the view who are not part of that institution; but I can’t help but think that growing up within an environment that holds that children belong to you and owe you respect, fosters this unhealthy attitude in some people.

  29. Raymond says

    I would like to stress a part of my previous statement that might have seemed like a throwaway comment. “Now that’s not to say that the fact they were raised Roman Catholic didn’t cause them to act in this manner to their children, but I must reserve judgement on causality here.” I do believe that the fact they were raised roman catholic did cause them to treat their children like property; but with only anecdotal evidence, my skeptical mind insists that causality has yet to be established.
    This would, I think be incredibly hard to establish at this point in history. The previous generations are so saturated with “god-fearing people,” anyone trying to perform this study would be hard-pressed to get a large enough non-religious group to study. We live in a fun time, though, and we will likely be in a situation where we can study this before I die. The kids of today will be the first generation, maybe ever, to have a large enough and public enough contingent to allow studies to be done. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if humanity could positively correlate religion with familial dysfunction? That fact alone should cause an exodus from the church.

  30. says

    I wonder, is there a difference in culture between Salt Lake City and the smaller towns? Often, big cities have more diverse communities and as a result, the religious communities are also more open-minded. Maybe you get more of the abusive behavior in smaller, insular communities? What’s your thinking on this?

  31. says

    >I do not take kindly to her believing I belong in hell or that I am stupid or that my future should conform to her desires or else.

    No doubt! “Thanks mom for loving and worshiping a god who you believe is going to torture your child forever, for no good reason. If I were raped as a child, would you be BFF with the offender, too?”

    It seriously messes people up.

  32. yasunori says

    “It appears that all religion has to do is continue claiming it’s good for aspect-X, and after a time, the claim, “it’s good for aspect-X,” takes hold, even among nonadherents”

    The problem might be broader then that – any dogmatic system that exists for the benefit of some group (and what is religion if not that) tries to do exactly that.
    There is an interesting study that examines whether the claims of a dogmatic system (namely, the institute of monogamy and “nuclear family”) can be backed with any empirical data, and find that there is actually no reason to believe that current model of “traditional” (it’s anything but, but nonetheless) relationship and marriage is beneficial to any of the aspects it claims to be beneficial to and considers it’s own values and “selling points”.
    It’s just another instance of perpetuated misconception, that is so integrated into our culture, it doesn’t get questioned.

    Just thought i’d share that

  33. says

    You are correct, Christianity also propagates the institution of the nuclear family. Luckily, as gay marriage has become more of an issue, the question of marriage in the traditional form HAS been questioned more. Religion propagates dehumanizing forms of marriage–the “mate for life” couple being extremely damaging. Having done a paper on marriage when I was taking anthropology in college, I learned that there is not any “model” that is standard for human beings. The diversity of human mating, social structures, and socially sanctioned family bonds is endless and complex. While I understand a state making a quick and easy form of family bond available through law for convenience, the idea of people being disallowed to create their own unions, break those unions, or punished legally for failing to withhold these unions, is dehumanizing damage to people, society and humanity.

    On Godless Bitches, this is often discussed and denounced as one of the many harms that religion has saddled society with. What started out as simple family bonds and unions for property, became itself a monster that ended up hurting more people than it helped. And the church today, promoting it as unquestionable (again, as we saw from just trying to extend it to same-sex couples–not even to drastically deviate from the ‘mom/dad/baby’ model), is ravenous.

  34. Jessica Mokrzycki says

    It’s very sad to see how religion can have the potential to divide and be destructive towards relationships that should endure a lifetime. I am a parent of two small children and I can not fathom rejecting or shunning my child because their beliefs differ with my own. In fact, when it comes to questions like God, I tell my children what others believe, what I believe, but ultimately I tell them that it is up to them, after they think about it and get older, to decide for themselves. I didn’t always believe this way or have this approach. My daughter’s early years started out in church and I used to teach her and her peers in Sunday school at a fundamentalist church.

    I cringe at thinking of how black/white my views were back then and can emphasize to some degree the perspective that some of these parents have. They truly think it’s in their child’s best interest. To them, tough love is better, if successful, than doing nothing and watching their children pave a pathway to hell..for to them hell is very much real.

    “But it’s so easy to see, it’s not the religion keeping the family maintained. It’s the family keeping the religion maintained.”

    Such a good point! My first time at your blog..Looking forward to reading future posts. 🙂