Article written for me by a friend named Adam Hamby for a column in The Griffon News opinions section.
Since practically childbirth in America (especially in the Midwest), we’ve heard all of the wonderful things about Christianity and the Christian Religion. In fact, from a young age, most of us have probably been indoctrinated into the religion and belief system, too small to even give our consent. It’s no secret that children are indoctrinated young. In fact, it’s often a topic of bragging rights for a devout church leader or youth minister, that he’s “saving the children”. A study conducted by the International Bible Society showed that 85% of people become “saved” before the age of 15. In this context, “saved” is practically synonymous with “indoctrinated”. Have you ever heard of the 10 year old Republican or Feminist? Of course not, we would feel ashamed using that terminology concerning such a young person, who isn’t old enough to fully understand and decide whether they belong to such a complicated belief system.
Sidestepping the more obvious problems that Christianity causes on American Culture, such as the irrational phobia and hatred of homosexuals, the rejection of globally-accepted scientific facts such as evolution, and the more than somewhat disturbing belief that the Earth is merely 6,000 years old and that global warming is an elaborate hoax; I want to focus on a more subtle, and lesser known problem that Christianity presents. As a student studying in Psychology, I think people might be surprised to find how psychologically and emotionally damaging Christianity can be, upon a deeper analysis of the message.
The entire foundation of the Bible, the premise on which it was built, is the very idea that there is something terribly wrong with you. So wrong in fact, that God had to send his own son to be brutally murdered to forgive you for what you did (even before you did it). Ignoring the fact that God’s best plan for our salvation turned out to be live human sacrifice, I’m not sure that the doctrine of original sin, or even sin in general is healthy. It is absolutely unfair to tell a child that there is something inherently wrong with them, a corruption that they can not fix, without the help of a divine being. Yet this is exactly what we do. How can anybody accept Jesus’ sacrifice without first admitting their own sinfulness? As a person devoting my career to helping others, I can’t help but see the psychological damage we’re doing, even at a young age, to an otherwise perfectly normal child. These ideas of sinfulness, corruption, and unworthiness stick with us into adulthood. Without any basis, many of us are convinced, from a young age, that there is something corrupt within us; and that we are indebted to an invisible, undetectable being, even before we are born. I have seen the damage this type of belief system can do firsthand, again and again.
The truth is, we are all beautiful. The truth is, there is nothing inherently wrong with us. And the truth is, if you do need to be forgiven for something, the most important person to seek forgiveness from is yourself. Remember that the next time someone tries to make you feel bad about yourself in the name of religion.