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Monday, January 30, 2006

 Is religion the root of all evil?

If a social engineer set out to devise a system for perpetuating our most vicious enmities, he could find no better formula than sectarian education. The main point of faith schools is that the children of 'our' tribe must be taught 'their own' religion. Since the children of the other tribe are simultaneously being taught the rival religion with, of course, the rival version of the vendetta-riven history, the prognosis is all too predictable.

But what can it mean to speak of a child's 'own' religion? Imagine a world in which it was normal to speak of a Keynesian child, a Hayekian child, or a Marxist child. Or imagine a proposal to pour government money into separate primary schools for Republican children and Democrat children. Everyone agrees that small children are too young to know whether they are Keynesian or monetarist, Democrat or Republican, too young to bear the burden of heavy parental labels. Why, then, is almost our entire society happy to privilege religion, and slap a label like Catholic or Protestant, Muslim or Jew, on a tiny child? Isn't that a form of mental child abuse?


Blogger Matt M said...

Religion isn't at the root of the problem, it's the fact that we encourage people to define themselves and others on the basis of a single aspect of their identity. Defining someone as "a Muslim", "a Christian" or "a Hindu" makes as much sense as defining someone as "a Keynsian" or "Free-marketer". Sectarian education powerfully reinforces this tendency, crippling our ability to see others as complex, multifaceted human beings. We need to move towards a more inclusive sense of identity that recognises our commonalties as well as our differences.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Neosamurai85 said...

I've got to agree with matt. It's not the very root, but more one of the most effective means. There is a strong argument to be made for the fact that evil is a concept of religion, but at the same time many athiests also hold some things to be evil as well. All I'm saying is that there's a deeper problem within humanity than religion, one that often uses religion like a host, and loosing focus on that would be folly.

Interesting point on the mental child abuse. I'd be interestied to see a method to avoid it, since development has often involved some stage of rebellion from parental teaching. Not against the idea, just curious.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Gorgs said...

I'm not sure Jesus wopuld agree with that. But then again he's always drunk and shit, so he might be all "Dudes, where's all the pink sock at?" and if he does you should just go with it.

4:15 PM  

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