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cushioncrawler
08-27-2011, 02:19 AM
Indoctrination of children - how to escape? By AMPHIPRION
Added: Thu, 25 Aug 2011 18:13:57 UTC

Dear RDF and Prof. Richard Dawkins, Dear Readers,

I am writing here with a fundamental question for my life - about the indoctrination of children - that I will come to a little later. First of all, let me tell you that I am a biologist who was fortunate to grow up with very little religion in a secular, but Christian-dominated European country. My parents were, as I found out as an adolescent, atheists, but wouldn't talk much about it. Since every citizen who is earning salary has to pay church tax, most of us left Church and so did I at the age of 18 - after all, what's there to lose? Nothing. So my "conversion" from a pseudo-Catholic to a convinced Atheist didn't need much persuasion, and my university education, combined with your books and documentations came as a gift to me - they are all excellent, to put it short.

But there's another "conversion" I had to go through, and this is where the problem starts and the reason why I need some serious advice: My (now) husband grew up in a so-called "100%" Asian Muslim country, but has always had lots of contact to central Europe due to his work in the aviation business. We have been together for 8 years until we got married (nobody can say I didn't know what would wait ahead of me). Even though I tried everything not to convert to Muslim in order to marry him, let me tell you in short: it was just not possible. I had the choice of either convert and marry, or not marry at all, which means that I would have never got a marriage visa for his non-secular country. Thus, the claim that a woman "of the Book" (which I would have pretended to be!) can get married to a Muslim man is: Nonsense.

Ok, so knowing that my husband-to-be was a "moderate" Muslim (i.e. hardly ever goes to pray, fasts about 2 out of 30 days, is against the veil, drinks alcohol etc. BUT would NEVER say he doesn't believe in God, on the other hand), I took the risk and signed some conversion papers. All fine! I got my marriage visa and we are now living, working and spending a happy life in his small, unsecular country where I am not supposed to mention that I am an atheist. Even though my husband knows it (me being a Darwinist, I sometimes can't help but have an argument about religion vs. evolution), he doesn't want me to talk about it and at least pretend I am a Muslim. He says that none of my friends (many fence-sitters to the outside!) here would accept it and that my complete neighborhood would reject me. He asked me to pretend to be a Muslim for his own reputation as well, because people would blame him for "not telling me to be a Muslim". That's the reality, and I understand my husband's point of view too. (We actually had a shocking experience early 2010, when a friend of mine - one of the so-called 100% Muslims - declared in front of 11.000 locals to Zakir Naik, who was visiting our country for a speech, that he doesn't believe in a God. He was attacked by extremists, imprisoned and considered giving the death penalty. He was clever enough to "convert back" to Islam and got out of jail and escaped the death penalty!). It's hard to live in this "theatre" of irrational religious people and pretend to be someone who I am not, but for my marriage I am playing the game too.

Now my only concern is: our not-yet-born children. I am thinking a lot if it is possible to raise a free-thinking child in this country as I fear indoctrination in schools a lot!

Let me put it in short: Science books here do mention Charles Darwin, for example, but just for the sake of it. I doubt teachers actually understand Evolution and guess that especially foreign teachers would not even be allowed to teach it to its full extent as opposed to religion. Islam is a mandatory subject for local children (which ours would be, too), and from stories that I heard from my local step-son I know that Islam teachers preach hatred against other religions too. Even though I think that religion here is not as embedded into the curriculum as in, for example, some private Christian faith schools in the US, it is still an integral part of education and a student has NO choice to doubt, question or even reject it. In short: Indoctrination of children takes place here, big time! I can see that my husband doesn't talk about religion with his children from his first marriage, but fears that if they realize that "God" may not be the explaination of life on earth, he would be in big trouble here. If I was the reason for them to start thinking on their own, I would be in even much bigger trouble!!!

I can see in your documentations that you sometimes talk to psychologists about the issue of indoctrination at young age. What could I, as a parent of a potential child which just HAS to pretend, to the outside, that it believes in Islam, do? (I know, the best solution would be to raise our child, at least in the first few years of school age, in my secular home country where it can learn about religion, but does not have to practice one... but my husband and I both have good jobs here and we can't just move.) I will certainly NOT continue to spread falsehoods, based on NO evidence at all, but on the other hand, I cannot tell my child that what it learns in school is all rubbish? I would immediately get problems with teachers, parents, neighbours etc. (we are living in a VERY small, over-populated country). If parents start talking that my interracial child talks about religion being story-telling, I would not be able to work here and may even be told to leave the country. Seriously!

Thus, my question is: What is the best way to raise a child in a non-secular country where there is no option to drop the religious subject in school, where there is no option to talk freely in public, but still let the child know that it doesn't have to believe all the stories and it doesn't need to be scared of hellfire? Do you think it is wise to make children at all in such a situation? What do experts say on that? I'm quite in a dilemma!

Sorry for my long email, but I think it would help other readers too if you publish your reply on your website.
Thank you, Amphiprion