Monday, February 23, 2009

It's not brainwashing if it's the truth...

I recently had a debate with a friend who is pretty anti-Islam and pro-Christianity. One of the arguments was the religious brainwashing of their young, as if Christians don't indoctrinate their young. Call it "brainwashing" or "indoctrination", all religions do it. Corporate marketing firms learned from the religious masters at how to target long-term start with the children.

This isn't a blast at all of organized religion but it sure is a whole lot easier to denigrate the faith of others without seeing the reality in the mirror. About the only thing that they can all be similar in, is that all the various religions would say the difference is that their particular brand of worship is the truth and the only path to God.

You watch the videos and tell me what the difference is...


Jesus Camp:

Mormons...I have two for you (sorry my debate opponent was a Mormon so I have to make my point clear):


Jared said...

I'm so glad you put that Jesus Camp movie in there. I got so mad when we tried to watch the movie I had to leave the room. My wife made it all the way through, I couldn't.

I had no idea Nestle was now bottling a line of Jesus water that washes the stain of sin off your hands.

The simple answer is, there is no difference in these TJ. If someone sees one its only because they think the one about their religion is "right".

I wonder if they now pray to a cut out of Obama, somehow I highly doubt it.

Nicole Shelby said...

The Jesus Camp movie was ridiculous. Sorry,not the movie - the practices shown in it.

I understand, and do not have difficulty with, the clips with quizzing the kids. If the parents believe the tenets, it's only logical that they share their principles with their children.

Teaching our children to know and do what we believe to be the right thing is respectable. We all want to raise upright, intelligent, discerning adults. We want them to be rational, and reasonable, and thoughtful. We want them to live with integrity.

However, Jesus Camp? There is something just so very wrong about it. About the babbling, and crying... The not just teaching our children their worth and trying to constantly improve - but...

All right. Gotta stop. Getting into a rant.

Jodi Jean said...

this is why i can't read your blog, i stopped for a long time and thought i would stop by ...

do you seriously believe that we "brainwash" our children. you are going to have a rough time living in utah. are you saying that you wont make your children memorize the articles of faith?

you do realize that your own faith believes in speaking in tongues ... in the spring of 1836 the kirtland temple was dedicated, according to the prophet jospeh smith "many began to speak in tongues and prophecy" ... were they being brainwashed?

i had absolutely nothing wrong with the first clip ... i ask aidan questions all the time ... oh no ... i'm brainwashing him to learn his abcs!!! i don't see the difference ...

T.J. Shelby said...

J-Rod: I seriously doubt they are now praying to a black Democrat...

Nicole - Religion doesn't hold the patent and copyright on integrity. You don't need religion to teach integrity. However, if people find morals and values through their religion and pass it on to their children, so be it. I'm happy for them.

Rational, reasonable and really think religion inspires these characteristics? I know we will teach our children these things but look at the recorded history of the world and how they treat people who were "rational, reasonable and thoughtful"...didn't work out too well for Galileo did it?

Jodi - Maybe I didn't make myself clear enough. This was specifically addressing a Mormon friend who sent me the first video of the Muslim father quizzing his daughter and implicitly referred to it as Islamic brainwashing.

My point to him was that if indoctrinating our young into the belief system of the parents is brainwashing, then every other religion brainwashes their children too. You cannot simply say that theirs is brainwashing because it isn't OUR brand of truth.

I was not implying that 100% of religion is brainwashing...not 100%...

This is America. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, as smart OR as dumb as they may be, even in the area of religion. Therefore I have no problem whatsoever with parents who want to teach their kids to worship fairies, aliens, talking animals, or their version of God.

Where I (and every American) should draw the line is when those beliefs spill over into public domain and are forced upon those who do not share the belief system of the majority.

And yes, I am fully aware of the LDS doctrinal belief in speaking in tongues. Do you really believe those children in the Jesus Camp video were speaking in tongues? Or do you believe that they were trying to emulate an adult religious role model in the heat of the moment and were just speaking gibberish to fit in?

I don't know if I personally will make my kids memorize the articles of faith. Memorization is useless although I suspect primary and sunday school will force them (er...strongly encourage). And I can live with that.

Instead I will help them to understand the principles behind the doctrines instead of just memorizing empty statements and creating yet another generation of mindless sheep. The Church has enough of those already...

Jared said...

I don't pretend to know much at all about any of the religions or customs thereof for any of the videos included here. So from strictly an outsiders point of view here is my issue with the Articles of Faith video.

This kid is about 6 years old. First of all props to the kid for being able to memorize all that. But memorization and understanding are two different things.

If I heard him correctly the kid used the following words:
Interpretation of tongues

At six years old I doubt the kid has any clue what the hell he is reciting. That is the larger issue to me. Wouldn't the more prudent course be to take the time to increase a child's understanding through life experience, rather than drilling him on memorization?

He's 6. He doesn't need to understand these yet. And if he does understand the weight of these words I feel sorry for him, because where does his youthful innocence go? Let a kid be a kid, and as his mind develops he will ask for these answers to life's questions as he grows, and the parent can give provide the answers then. Isn't that a better way of increasing a child's understanding? And thus breeding a more intense, natural, relationship with their faith?
There is nothing natural about these videos, they are 100% nuture.

T.J. Shelby said...

Jared, I totally agree. From an insider's perspective (and maybe it's just because I grew up in the culture) I understand why people justify it. I don't necessarily agree with the technique and practice but I understand their reasons.

There are people who can recite scripture left and right but live as heathens. Since my brand of truth is Christianity, and more specifically the LDS Church, I would much rather my children be knowledgeable of the doctrine but (and much more important to me) actually live as good Christians.

My greatest hope is that my children will actually live what others only preach.

Christopher Maloy said...

Jared, I love what you wrote.

My thoughts are this. Your kids are really not yours. They belong to the world and community. As parents we have a responsibility to teach our children to be good citizens that are tolerant and can contribute to society.

As George Carlin joked about, we should teach them to question and as their maturity and interest grow we should allow them to learn.

I also agree that kids should be allowed to be kids.

Christopher Maloy said...

In case I didn't make myself clear - yes, those videos were brainwashing.

Christopher Maloy said...

In case you want to argue over the brainwashing definition, this is the one I use:


The application of a concentrated means of persuasion, such as an advertising campaign or repeated suggestion, in order to develop a specific belief or motivation.

T.J. Shelby said...

Some will say: "I should be allowed to teach my children the basic tenets of my religion."

Others say: "Brainwashing" or maybe a little more PC "Indoctrination".

Again, my main point in this is that for someone to point the finger of scorn at another person for "indoctrinating" their kids and labeling it "brainwashing"...the very same can be applied to Christianity and every other religion.

T.J. Shelby said...

You know, this whole topic was a main reason why the LDS church stopped having missionaries memorize the discussions to teach investigators.

It is hard to feel the Holy Spirit work when you are simply regurgitating points of data from a memorized script.

Now missionaries are required to learn the doctrine and prepare a personalized lesson based upon the spiritual needs and intellectual capacity of those they teach.

Nicole Shelby said...

i didn't mean that religion corners the market on integrity and reason. quite often it's used as an excuse not to be.

you read more into my comments than was written. i wrote that as parents (and i am making a wide assumption here based on my own goals) we seek to teach our children as best we can. i didn't write that raising good, productive, happy adults is only possible when founded on religious principles.

i believe that faith in God is important, and with that belief of mine - i try to impart it to my children. however, i do not believe that only those who believe as i do are moral and good people. religion and goodness are not mutually inclusive or exclusive.

what i was trying to say is that it is admirable - no matter what religion, creed, or whatever - for parents to try to teach their children in accordance with what they believe is good, valuable, and important. the vector may differ, the presentation and language may differ; but, i think there are some core similarities. love. honesty and integrity. loyalty. value and worth of life. forgiveness and understanding. kindness. gratitude. freedom. choice (and accepting the consequences). seeking knowledge and how to apply it. and more.

i think that religion can be an effective avenue for reinforcing what the parents are teaching at home. also, based on my beliefs and faith: formal worship is part of it. but, were i to not have faith as an integral part of my life (and subsequently the lives of my children) - i would still try to raise my children with an understanding of, and application of, a moral life.

Nicole Shelby said...

one more clarification: upon thinking more about it. i think one reason (there are many) the "jesus camp" video was so disconcerting is that the children weren't being taught any estimable values. they were not taught about their own worth and the worth of others. they were not taught any truths, or principles, or how to use them. they were not taught how to focus on their strengths and improve their weaknesses. they were taught hate. they were taught fear. they were taught the inferiority of others. they were manipulated.

T.J. Shelby said...

My apologies for reading too much into it...

Can we still be married?

Nicole Shelby said...

Bear - I wouldn't dream of being married to anybody else. I couldn't think of anybody better to be the father of my children.

Matt Shelby said...

You guys got more nicknames for each other than Jen and Ben! haha

All of these clips, in my opinion, is what drives children to grow up and break away from parents, teachers, religion, etc..

These kids are not being allowed the opportunity to be kids! Who wants to be 6 years old and forced to memorize phrases that you have no idea what they mean? Who wants to be 2 and memorize answers to questions and not understand any of the answers your giving? Who wants to be between the ages (roughly) 8-12 and go to camp? I do! Sign me up! Right? Problem is, when you get to "camp" people are waving hands in the air, ranting and raving, hooting and hollering, talking about wars and bagging on Harry Potter! What kid doesn't like Harry Potter?!!! So, no thanks to "camp" either. The only one that didn't bother me too much (but I know why you put it there T) is the children singing in the choir. Once again, the children only "know" who the prophet is because their parents told them but children singing in a choir (no matter what song or what about) isn't always a bad thing. I'd call that more of a "cultural/musical development". I do know why you put it there though!

All in all.....I have spent roughly 2 out of the last 3 years in the countries of and company of Muslims. For the most part, their good people (except when the extremists are shooting at us!!). No different from Christians except for the God they worship. They try to be good human beings.

So here is my consensus. If one religion "brainwashes", then in my personal opinion, they ALL do.

T.J. Shelby said...

Matt, that was the point of the blog. It wasn't to debate issue of whether or not religion brainwashes children (which may now become a topic for another posting since it seemed to invoke so much emotion) but that if someone accuses one religion of it, then ALL are guilty of it.