Pushing Christianity Onto Children is Emotional Child Abuse
First round is for acceptance only.
Emotional Child Abuse:
Any attitude or behavior which interferes with a child’s mental health or social development. This includes yelling, screaming, name-calling, shaming, negative comparisons to others, telling them they are “bad, no good, worthless” or “a mistake.” It also includes the failure to provide the affection and support necessary for the development of a child’s emotional, social, physical and intellectual well-being. This includes ignoring, lack of appropriate physical affection (hugs), not saying “I love you,” withdrawal of attention, lack of praise and lack of positive reinforcement.
I kindly ask "Roylatham", and "Mikal" to refrain from voting.
Since Christianity means different things to different people I feel it should also be defined. I'll define it simply as belief in the Holy Trinity: The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and belief in the necessary miracles including the creation of Adam and Eve and the original sin, virgin birth, and the crucifixion & resurrection & following ascension into heaven. Since some people argue for Christianity being literally true and others argue for the Bible as a book of mere metaphorical fictitious stories, I'm choosing to go with defining Christianity by just the core beliefs (because "is the bible literal/metaphor is a debate in itself albeit one easily settled via the scientific method).
Under Christianity, children are taught that they were born with "original sin" and that they need to be "saved".
This is the equivalent to telling them they are “bad, no good and, worthless”. It is also a form of shaming.
Christian children are also taught that they deserve to burn in hell for those sins, which is also the equivalent to telling them they are “bad, no good and, worthless”.
Not only that, but they are taught that Jesus is to be loved first and most over anybody else which is a negative comparison to others. Christian children must compete with "Jesus" for the love and affection of their parents, which often results in lack of appropriate physical affection (hugs), not saying “I love you,” withdrawal of attention, lack of praise and lack of positive reinforcement.
All this is constantly re-enforced on a daily basis.
Before a Christian child can think for themselves, they have already been convinced, through indoctrination, that they are worthless and deserving of eternal torture. This destroys their self esteem and confidence as a human being, while supplying severe fear of something they can't even see or prove exists.
Such abuse follows them into adulthood and very few are able to rid themselves of this type of brainwashing, so that they must live believing this their entire lives.
Two of your points can be combatted right off the bat.
1 - "Before a Christian child can think for themselves, they have already been convinced, through indoctrination, that they are worthless and deserving of eternal torture."
`2 - "...they must live believing this their entire lives."
In response to 1, Christianity teaches people that they are not worthless. They are actually taught that they are created in God's image, and Christianity also teaches that God (the most important being ever) takes personal interest in letting a person have free will to see how they will pass the test of judgment. Christianity offers meaning to a person's life, by explaining where they came from, why they were put on earth, and where they will go where they die. I would argue that pure atheism-nihilism is the view that supplies no meaning to one's life in juxtaposition (the meaning instead comes from one"s own personal conclusions). A purely scientific and materialistic contemporary view of the world tells us that we are nothing more than atoms bound together in a pattern was basically an accident of evolution and entropy. Compared to getting meaning of life from a higher power, the meaning of life that comes from materialism/atheism/nihilism is very shallow (right now we aren't concerned with whether or not Heaven is real, the point is that the idea itself, no matter how outlandish, gives people meaning to their lives). Christianity does not try to shame kids by telling them they deserve Hell, it tries to deter them from ending up in Hell.
In response to 2, being an exchristian atheist who as a child who did believe punishment in Hell was possible, I'm a living counterexample. I no longer believe I will be punished in Hell for not "accepting Jesus' sacrifice to pay for mankind's sins". I'm over it, and so are a lot of other people.
Yes, it is a fact that children are taught that Hell is for the sinners and a sinner is he who forsaketh God. Children are not taught that they will be sent to Hell with 100% certainty though. They are taught that good people go to Heaven and bad people go to Hell. As long as the children know they can be good and thus get into Heaven for sure, Hell isn't a threat to them. All you need to do to be "good" is to accept and love God and Jesus' sacrifice. Again I would like to point out that Christianity is not shaming kids by sending their worthless souls to Hell, it's attempting to deter them from being sent there. Christians think Hell is real and they are doing what"s best for their children, in their minds.
Are you saying that children have to compete with Jesus for parental affection? This seems unlikely because Jesus died 2000 years ago and at most the parents can talk about how much they love the historical character that they treat like an invisible, undetectable but real spirit. The parents can't do anything more than that. However since the children are real and right there in front of them, the parents can have bonding time / physical affection / etc. I don't see how the undetectable hypothetical spirit of a dead man prevents any of the things you listed. I also think it preposterous to assume Jesus is the "favourite child".
Now that I've responded to your key points, here is the guts of my argument: Christianity isn't the source of spiritual and emotional abuse, it's the afterbirth of an enlightening spiritual paradigm. Christianity answers questions like "why am I here? For whom am I here?". The answers that people came up with 2000 years ago turned out to be wrong, but you have to start somewhere.
If a child is not taught to use their introverted thinking, that's the real problem. If a child is not taught to question "is there a Heaven? Is there a Hell? Is God real? Was Jesus a Lich?", then that's the problem. If a child is not taught to question things they are told, and to seek verification of everything before they believe it, they end up believing myths and superstitions. Christianity is not the only source of myth and superstition (like Hellfire), so are Islam and Judaism. If you are pointing fingers, you should point some of them at the other religions that Christianity plagiarized too, and you should be claiming that all religions with a Hell are emotionally abusive to children.
Abuse is abuse whether it's intentional abuse or not. A parent may give a child a spanking thinking it will do them good, but it's still abuse.
Of course Christianity teaches people that they are worthless without god. That's the whole point of Christianity.
How does one have free will if they are dictated where they came from, why they were put on earth, and where they will go when they die? Sounds like it's all planned out already. Some free will.
Atheism has nothing to do with nihilism, and even if you could somehow make a point that atheism was a form of abuse (which would be impossible), that still doesn't prove Christianity is not abusive.
My opponent is just using atheism as a straw man.
You can have meaning in your life without a god.
Just because some people are able to get away from the brainwashing of Christianity, doesn't mean they all will. Most don't.
My opponent says "They (Christian children) are taught that good people go to Heaven and bad people go to Hell."
Yeah, and they are also taught that they are bad, born with sin and will go to hell unless they are "saved".
There's no way of getting around it.
"Hell isn't a threat to them." LOL...then what do you call it? A reward?
"Christians think Hell is real and they are doing what"s best for their children, in their minds."
Doesn't matter...it's still abuse.
"Are you saying that children have to compete with Jesus for parental affection?"
Matthew 10:37 says ""Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."
Christians think Jesus is REAL and they can talk and interact with him because they are in a RELATIONSHIP with him.
They are taught that Jesus comes FIRST. So, yeah, children have to compete with Jesus for parental affection.
Children are taught to NEVER question their faith.
And just because Christianity isn't the only religion, still doesn't prove it's not abusive. Bringing up Islam and Judaism is just another straw man argument.
Thanks for the debate
There is free will in Christianity; you get a choice - Heaven or Hell. Your life is not planned out, and it's up to you to write the final chapter (clouds or fire) based on your actions as you willfully perform them.
I am in agreement with you that atheism supplies no meaning to one's life. However, it forces a person to find their own meaning. I will forgive you for not noticing this point in round 2. And of course, if you can find meaning in your life without God, then abandoning one's faith need not leave an emotional void.
Claiming that most people don"t leave Christianity or escape the "brainwashing" is a steep claim. With the rise of atheism in the past decade or so, and the epidemic of "empty pew syndrome", I am not confident to state whether the majority or minority of children raised Christian have reversed the brainwashing or not. I would like to see some sort of public statistical count before either of us uses this to support our arguments.
No one is teaching children that Hell is inescapable. Baptism, the cleansing of original sin, happens before an infant even grows out of childhood amnesia. The earliest memory a child will have will be from a time in their life after they have already had their original sin removed. From the child's point of view, they are on the path to heaven from the earliest moment they can remember, and all they have to do to maintain this path is to be a good person who accepts that Jesus sacrificed himself for original sin. Hell is never inescapable.
We aren't debating over whether or not Hell is a reward or a threat. Hell is a threat and a punishment, period, we agree on this. However it's not a concern for someone who lives a life believing in Christianity and following it as best they can (according to Christianity). That's what I'm getting at; we aren't disputing the nature of Hell. It's avoidable in the same way all dangers are.
Even if children are competing with Jesus for their parents" love, that actually supports my main argument about the need to make children independent thinkers. This sort of contradiction forces a child to ask questions. A child knows that they love their mother and their father and vice versa, but why should either of them love an invisible man even more? The invisible man hasn't done anything measurably, physically or practically helpful for the child (unlike the parents who fill the child's basic needs), so it makes no sense that the child should love the invisible man more than their parents. And likewise the child would be prompted to ask "Do you love Jesus more than you love me?". This kind of confusion could lead a child to question Christianity, which is the first step in losing faith.
This debate has nothing to do with whether abuse is "intended" or not.
The debate is whether pushing Christianity onto children is emotional child abuse (intended or not).
My opponent claims you get to choose Heaven or Hell. That's laughable. You don't get to make a free will choice with the threat of eternal torture for the wrong choice.
As of Dec, 2012, 77% of Americans identify themselves as Christian. I would call that "most" who don't escape the brainwashing.
My opponent claims that "No one is teaching children that Hell is inescapable"
Maybe, but they are being taught that hell is the default position. Unless they do "good" and "believe", they will go to hell.
That's a constant burden the child has to deal with.
Again, my opponent claims that hell is "not a concern for someone who lives a life believing in Christianity and following it as best they can". In other words, a child must maintain the pressure of Christian rituals and beliefs. The moment they give up and become atheists, they are on the path to hell.
This constitutes emotional child abuse.
My opponent asks, "why should either of them love an invisible man even more?" I already answered that. The Bible says so. In order to avoid hell, one must obey the Bible. Questioning faith is also not permitted. Yes, it leads to confusion which is, again, a form of emotional child abuse.
Thanks for the debate.
Often children are taught not to question their faith however. And as we agree in this debate, abuse is abuse whether it's intentional or not. If children DO think all of the Christian Heaven and Hell mythology is true, they can escape Hell by doing what the religion says. It's not easy to do everything the religion says is necessary to avoid Hell, but the religion doesn't want it to be easy. Christianity wants people to work for their reward in Heaven. I see what you are getting at, when you say "You don't get to make a free will choice with the threat of eternal torture for the wrong choice"; you are saying "who in their right mind would choose Hell? Since no one would, there's really not a choice." There IS a choice, it's just a no-brainer - eternal punishment or eternal bliss. We all know what one we'd choose; being a "God-fearing Christian" is the hard part.
It would seem a valid conclusion that if a child is taught traumatizing beliefs, they are being abused. However, if the child doesn't fully understand what's going on, it might not be abusive. Children can be naive. They may hear about Hell but they might not come to the realization that they could actually burn alive for all eternity there; they might not put it together that Hell is for literally every person. For all they know, it could be something the grown-ups talk about but it isn't actually real. I'd argue that the children smart enough to put together the religion and see the big picture (and realize that the religion says if they have disbelief, they burn in Hell), are the ones smart enough to figure out it isn't real.
Maybe the child is smart enough to realize that the religion says they are literally going to burn in Hell if they don't believe it, and they do not drop their religion. They would also be smart enough to figure out how to be a good "God-fearing Christian".
So to summarize this, Christianity teaches children confusing and messed up beliefs. You see this kind of teaching as abusive, and I see it as a doorway for children to question their faith and write off the religion as a fairytale. If children do believe it, then they know how to avoid Hell by following the commandments and fearing God.
And thank you for the debate.