I have changed the title of the article to reflect the part I want to emphasize: how damaging
Evangelical hell-fire dogma is to small children.
I've placed it in this forum rather than Religion Faith & Theology because I feel that IT IS A CONSPIRACY - and while this is certainly NOT "another
Christian bashing thread", I want to bring to light again (yes, I know, it's been discussed here before) how certain fundamentalist teachings damage
people - sometimes (if not OFTEN) for life.
The author first describes how his mother 'introduced' him to "Hell."
Mom told me that God hates sin—that is, disobedience—and to punish sin, He prepared a place of eternal fire and torment called Hell.
When sinful people died, they went to Hell. It was God’s punishment for sin. Two thousand years ago, God sent his son Jesus to die on the cross. If
I believed this, and “accepted Jesus into my heart,” I could escape the torments of hell and enjoy the promise of heaven, where I would live with
My five-year-old mind pondered with terror and horror a God who hated disobedience so much that He would condemn people to a place of eternal fire and
torment. I felt abandoned and alienated. I stared toward the _ The sunlight that once warmed me felt alien, hostile and cold. The sun’s rays
symbolized the distant foreboding flickers of a hateful eternal fire waiting to torment the souls of the lost.
I stood there in that room all alone, condemned, diminished and stripped of all human dignity. God hated me for who I was. I didn’t stay in my
bedroom long. I went out to the kitchen and asked Mom to help me pray Jesus into my heart. And so I became a Christian. But the alienation I felt on
that summer afternoon stayed with me. It became the fearful cornerstone of my understanding of God.
Poor kid. I remember feeling that way, and I was raised in a mainstream Christian Protestant faith - Episcopalian. Much less dogmatic, but the
message came through loud and clear - to my young ears.
This man's childhood was extreme, however - much less 'loving' than the way God/Jesus is portrayed in more moderate churches.
Evangelical Christianity employs the Stockholm Syndrome to full effect. God gains obedience and worship by reminding humans of their utter
unworthiness, dangling them over hell, and then “saving” them, in exchange for submission, from the very torments he threatens
The author briefly and correctly describes the Stockholm Syndrome:
Stockholm Syndrome frequently manifests when a captor strips the victim of all forms of independence, self-worth and dignity, alternately
terrorizing and offering kindness to the victim. The victim embraces the kindness and views the captor as giving life simply by not taking
So, the author grew up and adopted a child, an orphan from Ukraine.
I pondered these dogmas with the newly acquired insight and sensitivity of a father. As a vulnerable child, these dogmas had repeatedly
attacked, and ultimately destroyed, my self-image and sense of intrinsic value. As early as my pre-teen years, I struggled with low self-image,
depression and suicidal ideation. Now it was unmistakably clear: my religious upbringing was the cause.
Next, painful memories surfaced of the countless stories from Good News Club lessons I attended every week of every summer between the ages
of 7 and 10. There are thousands of GNCs operating in public schools, churches and backyards. The sponsoring organization, Child Evangelism
Fellowship, is the largest and most influential evangelical ministry directed toward young children, with over 700 staff members and 40,000
Almost every GNC lesson intones that sin—“anything you think, say, or do that breaks God’s laws”—must be punished. The worst sins, of
course, are thought crimes: doubt and unbelief. The punishment for sin is death and eternal separation from God. The lessons repeatedly admonish
children that they deserve death. One typical GNC lesson text states: “God hates the sinful things you do, like pouting and complaining, or hitting
someone. He says you deserve his punishment, which is separation from Him forever in a terrible place called Hell. Have you been set free from the
death you deserve for your sin?”
Another recurring GNC lesson theme is about the basic depravity of human nature.
One GNC lesson text informs children that: “your heart, the real you, is sinful from the time you are born.”
Says another: “[t]here was nothing in me, nor in you, that should cause the Lord Jesus to want to love us. All that is in us is sin and selfishness
and pride and hatefulness.”
And another: “Even the good things you do aren’t good enough. The Bible says those things are like filthy, dirty rags.”
This is the stuff that sickens me. Small, innocent, gullible children's lives are forever filled with shame and guilt.
GNC’s repeated themes about sinfulness and unworthiness are always “balanced” by reminders of God’s “love,” manifested by the
opportunity that each child has, through submissive “belief” in the dogmas with which they are being indoctrinated, to be saved. Children are
admonished that even though they are undeserving of love, Christ died and suffered on the cross for them, and so they owe God their worship and
The author decided he would NOT do that to his own kid; and in the process of fathering his son, he is regaining himself, he is nurturing them
I tell him: You are precious; you are beautiful; we longed for you before we ever saw you; before we ever knew who you were, and in the month you
were born, I was thinking of you and composing a melody for you; you enrich our lives, and the lives of so many others, with your presence; we will
always love and cherish you. Nathan just soaks up the love, and then gives it back. As I tell Nathan these things, I tell them to my inner child too.
As I gather Nathan into my arms, pressing his cheek against mine, I embrace my inner child too. As I comfort him, I comfort myself.
PLEASE do not do this to your children, or grandchildren. Do not allow others to do it to their children. Children are our future.
We are seeing now, on the ground, the devastating effects of hard-line fundamentalism - in U.S. Politics attempting to disenfranchise people who don't
toe that line - and in the Middle East, where people are being slaughtered, even Chaldean Christian children being beheaded.
CHILDREN, beheaded. That is what happens when extremism is taught to young children. They hardly even have a chance to become functional, tolerant,
They become monsters....and they show it as violently as their societies allow it.
This sort of "religion" - of ANY faith - is one of the worst problems we have.
Is there any hope?
How do we deal with the now-adults who were indoctrinated like this? Palestinian kids learning to hate all Jews. Evangelical kids believing they are
worthless pieces of crap lucky to be alive at all, just to wind up in eternal torture. Preachers hoping Ebola will annihilate those people who live
different lifestyles from their own.
Every day, all over the world. It breaks my heart.
edit on 8/8/2014 by BuzzyWigs because: (no reason given)