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An excellent point

September 19, 2011

In New Jersey a seven-year-old girl was subject of a religious ritual in which she watched a goat get decapitated and was fed a chicken heart. She reported nightmares of the experience to her teacher. The mother is now in prison for cruelty to a child. The author asks,

What if a 7-year-old child told her teacher that she got nightmares after going to church and hearing about Hell? What is the likelihood that the teacher would notify the state Division of Youth and Family Services? I’m thinking it would fall somewhere between less-than-zero to zero. In this country we should not elevate one religious belief/ritual over another religious belief/ritual.

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  1. Erp permalink

    I wonder how many 7 year olds were taken to see Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”

  2. Jonathan permalink

    Yes, threatening or frightening a child with a horrific afterlife is completely inappropriate and emotionally abusive. Won’t disagree there. Food for thought: if it is abusive to threaten a child with a “made-up hell” (which I agree is abusive), is it wrong for atheists to threaten children about the dangers of behaviors that lead to non-existence? For example, “You better stop running in the street or else you will get killed by a car. You will cease to exist. You will be forever gone!” Many people, adults and children, are afraid of the lack of an afterlife. Is it not abusive because it’s “not made-up”?

  3. Jonathan permalink

    As for sacrifices animal hearts and stuff, that is clearly wrong, at least in our culture. Children are not mentally prepared for that sort of thing. However, cultures in the past (and some remain in the present) where death and blood are commonplace and not anything to be feared: children take part in the slaughter of animals regularly.

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