Why Should We End Hereditary Religion?

January 20, 2014 is the 3rd Annual International Day of Protest Against Hereditary Religion.  It's a movement that was started to advocate children's quest for achieving personal autonomy without parents indoctrinating them into a particular religion or religious belief.  Diverse groups have joined in the discussions and protest in the live 24-hour online event that can be found in Youtube, which are not only composed of atheist groups, but secular humanists and freethinking groups.

The Philippines is a country where almost every child is taught at an early age to embrace the religious beliefs of his parents and elders.  It is common to have a whole clan claim that they're "saradong (insert religion of choice here)" (which means that the members of the family share just one particular religious belief).  For most, it is unthinkable to even change religious beliefs, let alone forego or disavow any belief in a god, for fear of losing support (monetary, emotional, and/or moral) from their loved ones and friends.  Some religious groups even publicly shame those members who do not commit themselves to regular practice of their religion.  Filipinos also consider attending religious functions or mass weekly as a family bonding activity and any member of the family who shall not observe this is, at least, reprimanded.  For some, even religious belief matters much to families when it comes to a choice of mate.

It is hard to escape religious indoctrination in this country.  Kids as young as a year old (some even younger) are already brought by their parents to attend religious services, even if they do not understand any of it.  Toddlers have been brought up on their daddy's arms to touch the statues found in churches, instructed to wipe the faces with handkerchiefs and then to bring the cloth to their own faces to be "blessed".  Children in grade schools have participated in the annual school presentation of the nativity without ever understanding why should they rejoice in someone's birth in a manger.  Children have seen how adults flagellate themselves with spikes and wood under the intense heat of the sun, yet they never understood why they must hurt themselves in order to be redeemed.  And would any child understand redemption?  Why would a child need redemption?  And yet their parents would bring them there on the street to witness such violence with that calm resolute that they're actually educating their children to be moral beings.  And when children ask the many whys of the youth, their questions are set aside with a firm reprimand that they should not even ask the questions, but only believe because they, their parents, say so.  That because their religious belief say so.  That their holy book says so.

This is the situation in the Philippines.

Imagine a child being born and raised in that kind of situation of which children are forced to follow what is imposed on them by their elders, out of fear of losing the community that can give him support in many aspects of their lives.  Imagine how can a child think of breaking free from that kind of situation when he run the risk of being alienated, or, worst, disowned by his own group.  And remember, these are choices (and consequences) faced by young persons who may not even be capable yet of making a choice.

We should bring an end to hereditary religion because we, the adults, the supposed guides of these children, will fail at bringing forth better generation of people by putting children in boxes that we have made for them.  Instead of these children having the opportunity to explore and learn what they needed to know to develop their own personal perspective, they are forcibly put in a box and tools that should have furnished them the capability to think out of the box, such as reason and logic, are taken away from them by the very same adults who should have been there to nurture these skills.  How can these children be the next generation of better adults if they shall also inherit only the very knowledge that their elders have, without the ability to improve upon it?

By indoctrinating children to a particular religious belief, adults have effectively taken away their right to seek the truth on their own.

I am not saying that the right of parents to teach their children about religion should be taken away from them.  But it should just be fair to both parents and children that children should be exposed to different religious beliefs and nonbelief at the age of reason.  They should not be force-fed what they should believe in, but rather, encouraged to see different beliefs, learn from it, and make their own choices.

However, this cycle of indoctrination cannot be broken so easily.  It has been going on for centuries, perhaps since Catholicism has taken root in the land.  We are up against a very huge wall of religious and cultural tradition, deception, and ignorance that separates Filipinos from enlightenment brought about by reason and logic.  But for how long should we even tolerate this?

The changes have to be made starting today, for a more open-minded and tolerant generation of adults in the future.  The end has to start now.

Join in the discussions on ending hereditary religion at the IDPAHR Youtube Channel and the FB event page of the 3rd Annual International Day of Protest Against Hereditary Religion.  See more related articles at the End Hereditary Religion website.

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