The Age of Reason: Children's Rights & The Case Against Indoctrinating Influences
Serpent

The Age of Reason: Children's Rights & The Case Against Indoctrinating Influences

“It has been said "the truth will make men free." The truth alone has never set anyone free. It is only DOUBT which will bring mental emancipation. Without the wonderful element of doubt, the doorway through which truth passes would be tightly shut, impervious to the most strenuous poundings of a thousand Lucifers.”

—A.S.L, The Satanic Bible

Hi there, Neighbor,

I strive every day to ensure that my children will never have faith in me. If their understanding and acceptance of who I am as a person should ever attain something which could be construed as faith, I know I will have done something wrong. I don’t need them to have faith in me. I don’t want them to feel as if I am something to believe in. I trust that through my actions and my words, through my bearing and my character, my children will know me as the person I truly am. I make mistakes. I am fallible. I do not know everything. I cannot do everything. And yes, sometimes…even papas need time outs. As a parent, I am much less interested in telling my children what to think than in teaching them how to think. In Satanism, we do not indoctrinate or proselytize to our youth, as we do not think one can be made into a Satanist. For those unfamiliar with our religion and our tenets, please review our Theory & Practices before continuing. At the core of my religion, my parental dogma, this is my sacred axiom—Satanism demands study, not worship. I can think of no place more sacred than the home in which I provide protection and succor for my family—a place of honest and open inquiry where my children are free to question me, my wife and the outside world to their heart’s content without fear of outrage or disgust, no matter the question. Even at their tender ages, we’ve delved deeply into things which some self-styled guardians pale to even consider discussing with their much older charges. People. Caterpillars. Motives. Dinosaurs. Religion. Boogers. Friends. Dirt. Politics. Soap. Enemies. Procreation. Eggs. Family. I find it unfair to deny them the information they crave and my wife and I do our best to explain it to them in ways they can relate to and understand. If children have a right to anything, it is a right to inquiry. But I realize not all homes are like mine. Not everybody thinks that farts are funny. Not every child grows up with the emboldenment of self that they are responsible for their own bodies, that in life they can be their own savior and sometimes, a simple “Excuse me” is more accountability than many people ever bother to muster.

In Satanism, we do not indoctrinate or proselytize to our youth, as we do not think one can be made into a Satanist.”

No one is born mired in belief. There is no fundamental framework in our physiological or psychological makeup where we innately find ourselves predisposed to accepting our surroundings without evidence. Upon being born, in essence, we reach the age of reason. We are ever-questing for an understanding of the world around us and through this an understanding of cause, effect and consequence we add to our collection of knowledge, wisdom and experience. Those with even a minimal amount of interaction with infants and children know this to be an incontrovertible fact of the human condition. The natural demand for inquiry is something which religions that rely upon faith must, if they are to survive, curtail at the very earliest opportunity. Concordantly, parents and other adults in roles which oversee the well-being and education of the younger generations are in a profoundly powerful position to protect or exploit them as their personal mandates demand. To explain this exploitation, what I call mental molestation, of a child’s natural ability to observe and ascertain for themselves the reality of the world around them, I’d refer to the practice of gaslighting. By requiring children to grow up in an environment predicated upon belief and faith, which refuses them the opportunity to accept what they experience on a daily basis, one constantly puts them in a position to question the very reality of the world around them. Removing the very important inherent propensity for critical thinking and inquiry that we have upon birth, which is one of our greatest methods for self-defense in a hostile world, can only be viewed as a form of child abuse. This disarmament of the innocent of the ability to protect themselves is a travesty of the very highest order. Many of the tell-tale signs of abuse as defined by The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be found within the tactics of religious proponents, not just upon unbelievers but also members of their congregations and their own flesh and blood progeny.

Through “divinely inspired” beliefs, theistic religions have used their teachings to justify the slavery, subjugation and genocide of those who refuse to kowtow to their teachings. Even differences (all backed by scriptural doctrine) such as gender, race, geographical location and cultural nuances have been reason enough to vilify, then victimize, outsiders. The only times and places, even in modern times, which we see these practices nullified on any observable level is found in those countries where theistic proponents are not in the majority or by law are not able to bring their collective weight to bear. For the true intentions of any ideological or political movement to be revealed, one need simply observe how that movement acts towards those different to it when it is in the majority. Following this line of reasoning, one of the most important questions we can teach our children—and indeed ourselves—to ask those who are different from us is, “What does your belief or teaching say should happen to me if I don’t agree with it?” By answering this very candid query, many important questions can be answered. Can we still have amiable relations? May we part in peace or at least indifference? Or do you believe I am an apostate, a heathen, a dissenter of ill repute whose very existence offends you? Should I burn in Hell, be, raped, tortured, enslaved or beheaded? Around the world we can see where these atrocities against individual liberty are prevalent, all for the sake of ideological disagreement: Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Turkey, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, DRC, Niger, Israel, Palestine, Egypt and many others. Yet we don’t need to travel any further than our own borders to see the travesties of religion which have been visited upon society and children too young to resist the influences of authoritarian figures.

Faith based religion purposefully undermines a child's understanding of their natural surroundings at home, where everything that they interact with has a purpose, projecting this understanding of things onto the world at large as proof positive of intelligent design. Doctor Debra Kellerman at Boston University has conducted studies with children, finding that from as young as four years old, children naturally choose answers which lean towards a purpose-based explanation vs. cause and consequence. The study titled Why Are Rocks Pointy?, is one among many conducted at the Child Development Labs at Boston University which explores the cognitive development of children. When belief and faith are introduced to children in their formative years, this in every sense of the word retards the individual's right to make decisions based upon fact, reality and the visceral experiences of life. Confirming this assertion is a 2014 study from Boston University on Judgments About Fact and Fiction by Children From Religious and Nonreligious Backgrounds which found that children raised in religious homes with biblical stories having been presented as reality were much more likely to deem a fictional story as real vs. their secularly raised counterparts. The misjudgment of these stories might be excused, given that imaginative fairy tales and entertaining myths are an important aspect of early childhood education, if not for the ascribed veracity and dogmatic ideologies which are inundated in faith-based parables.

[Removing] critical thinking and inquiry… can only be viewed as a form of child abuse.”

Those pushing for the notion that parents must have the right to choose their children’s education, no matter its basis concerning theological ideology or lack of currently accepted scientific understandings, is predicated upon the belief that parents know what is best for their children. Yet time and time again we see that children are not treated as individuals, nor interacted with on any singular level allowing for personality, character, demeanor, interest and initiative as one would another adult. Instead we see children relegated to a much lesser position which ignores or even excludes their autonomous right as separate entities to fully develop into mature, reasoning adults. Whether we look to the unfortunate cases of Charlie Gard, Ginnifer Mitchell, Ella Grace Foster and countless other children, the prevalence of parents still using corporal punishment according to findings from the Brookings Institute and UNICEF despite the lasting harm it does, proponents of the anti-vax movement who apparently can’t bother to watch a minute and a half of Bullshit! and the many, many other examples of parents “knowing what’s best,” we find that the ability to procreate does not necessarily instill a sense of familial preservation upon the user. Sadly, yet unsurprisingly, in the case of “faith healing” and a child’s right to life, many States have laws protecting a parent's choice to forgo scientifically sound medical treatment in favor of mystical “faith healing” and appeals to divine-will. These laws, which you can look into further at Pew Research, are literal religious exemptions for parents from being charged with child abuse and neglect, up to and including cases where the child has died. Yes, you read that right. Religious parents can legally kill their children… because God told them to. Remember that the next time some holier-than-thou braggart accuses you of human sacrifice. No need to quote scripture, the story of Abraham or present-day honor-killings in some back-asswards part of the world. Here and now, it is legally justifiable to let your children die.

The First Amendment and the Free Exercise Clause notwithstanding, your freedom of religion should not allow you to use your faith as a cudgel with impunity, to infringe upon the liberties of others, especially those who are not able to wield a sizable weapon of their own in self-defense. As we see with groups like The Good News Club and the organizations which back them, evangelical faith communities have no issue with exploiting children through predatory practices akin to those of cult-leaders and child molesters. Yet since the Supreme Court rulings in 2001, see Good News Club v. Milford Central School, which chose in favor of a religious clubs right to be included alongside other non-dogmatic and non-religious after-school programs, we see that there is no place free from the indoctrinating influence of fundamental ideologues. I’ll leave a more in-depth analysis of this particular issue for another time, but it seems quite the contradiction in terms that those who propose to respect and love all life are the same people who would so quickly “damn the eternal souls” of young children when they express a modicum of self-respect and individuality through their refusal to accept doctrines based on guilt, fear and torture. These preachers of peace, love and life are perhaps the hardest sellers and loudest proponents of ruling over the actions of others while pointing up towards a celestial dictator by way of absolute authority. This appeal to authority, albeit a manufactured one (as all religions are), is a well-known logical fallacy, yet from within the framework of feelings and faith it can powerfully appeal to young minds yearning to make sense of an awe-inspiring yet confusing world. Such people are the veritable predator in the van inviting young passersby in, with candy in one hand and a chloroform rag in the other. For those interested in researching their rights further, I would direct you to the FAQ from The Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Religious parents can legally kill their children… because God told them to.”

It must be noted that, to date, The United States of America is the only member of The United Nations to sign but not ratify its participation in the Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC). While those opposed to acceptance in ratifying this agreement for the U.S. to take part in the treaty cry concernedly about U.S. sovereignty and parental rights (a decent summation with accompanying references can be found here), they are obviously more concerned with the totalitarian rule of authority than the freedom and welfare of tomorrow’s adults. When one reads the CRC, we can see the scientific, and by extension Satanic, underpinnings of a call to action for states and countries to rally around a reasonable and forward-thinking approach to safeguarding the future. It’s not about taking away the rights of parents or allowing the government to step in to control the running of hearth and home, but about recognizing and protecting the rights of children for the autonomous beings they are and disregarding the antiquated notions that they are merely property and tools to be used. Still, parent-rights groups claim the treaty would undermine parents’ authority, particularly over both religious and sex education. One such group, parentalrights.org actively campaigns against the treaty, stating that “ratifying the treaty would mean children could choose their own religion, that children would have a legally enforceable right to leisure, that nations would have to spend more on children’s welfare than national defense, and that a child’s ‘right to be heard’ could trigger a governmental review of any decision a parent made that a child didn’t like.” Neo understood all too well when speaking to the Architect in the second Matrix movie: “Choice. The problem is choice.” But as we see the world over, when education, representation, the free-market and other machinations of choice are advanced, it’s a great problem to have. So where does that leave us? To seek for laws exempting children from religious coercion and mystical inundations until a certain age? With over three quarters of all American adults still identifying as religious, with the vast majority being Christians, that is a battle we cannot yet win. It will not be for my generation or perhaps even the one following to change such dogmatic laws supporting indoctrination and infanticide. According to a 2014 Religious Landscape Study by Pew Research Center on Belief In Hell Among Parents with children under 18 years of age, 63% of parents believe in Hell. To truly grasp how the concept of Hell affects people as it applies to their daily lives, the original study on Belief in Hell is uncomfortably illuminating. Not until the culture and climate of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness returns to its unadulterated state of materialism and personal responsibility will we see a time ripe to successfully campaign for such things. The fact is, we still live in a world where a vast majority of people are inhibited by the fear, guilt and shame of living for an invisible man that loves them so much that he’ll torture them for eternity if they don’t love him back.

But how does one fight back against such a foe from afar, at a personal level? If only it were as simple as seizing a piece of fruit from a garden with a talking serpent in it. But like most things worth doing, they do not come easily, and the truth cannot be found in millennia-old myths which are dubious at best. Education and constant vigilance is in order. We need to be furthering interest and learning at home, at school and the world at large in inviting children to advance and grow through inquiry and critical thinking, challenging them to question not only the world around them, but themselves. I have little interest in beating the faithful at their own game when they so aptly continue to change the rules, load the dice and shake the board as they see fit. It is our Satanic prerogative to approach things from a third side perspective, neither validating their existence nor turning our back on them. Through the centuries of strife and the deplorable actions taken on behalf of a manufactured dictator, we have seen that education, science and reason are the true opponents of divinely-inspired totalitarianism. Faith and belief require unbending acceptance of things which are beyond anyone's ability to prove. Within a culture moving ever forward with its creed of facts over faith and intellectual accountability over blind acceptance, we must support and uphold the Satanic enlightenment brought by science and reason.

There are many ways to do this from the convenience of hearth and home for those who do not relish a more active approach. When your children ask you about God, explore the fascinating world of religion and its many stories, variations and dogmas. An entertaining (and incredibly Satanic) exercise is to sit down with your child and come up with a religion of their own, deities, dogma and all. It’s easy for even a small child to understand that it was they who created it. Present for their consideration the countless examples of where religion has had to change its mandates and ideology to fit into the advancement of things such as science, medicine, human rights and personal expression. Older children might be shown the countless examples of religion attempting to force the world to fit within its narrative and the devastation it has wrought. Conduct lessons on the scientific method of simple things around you, out in your yard or even in your home. Prove to your children that there is already an objective standard for how we know what we know and how we can tell if something is true or unsound. Do not be afraid to question your children's friends, and especially their parents who speak up and out about their beliefs when in your presence. Show your child that it’s not only okay, but encouraged to show polite skepticism when introduced to outlandish assertions. Ask them what love is. Even make a book about love and what it means with drawings and pictures or even poetry and essays. Compare their book of love with the other supposed books of love from any particular faith to see the differences and similarities. They’ll see that the decent and reasonable ideas their book shares with religious scriptures are just like the ones they crafted from their own minds and that the deplorable and terrible mandates all come from a dogma which demands obedience to the divine.

…[challenge children] to question not only the world around them, but themselves.”

For those who are willing, becoming active in your town, city and state political scenes could allow you to not only stay apprised of current propositions but to assert your own strong personality on behalf of your children. Being the Devil's advocate for your nearest and dearest is a surefire way to show your family and those around you that the principles you hold dear are worth championing. Along the same lines, being involved in your child's educational institution to ensure that any religious proponents are taken to task and called out can be equally important. Share the concerns you have with your children. They need to know that the pipedream of a world where everyone is singing songs, holding hands and getting along is neither realistic nor even necessarily desired. Not when so many people’s existence is predicated upon the validation of others and that lying, stealing, cheating and the spreading of untruths are acceptable methods for securing agreement. Should your children be interested, go with them to a nearby church and let them hear a worship service and discuss their thoughts on it afterward. If you let your child attend the children's program, ask to attend it as a helper or observer. Make sure to visit different types of services from different faiths so that your child can see for themselves that the axiomatic viewpoint religions teach are anything but. One of the beauties of Satanism and in being a Satanist is that every single one of the aforementioned action items requires not a single utterance of the dreaded S-word or of you outing yourself if you are not in a position or of the mind to do so. Secular thought requires nothing more to be advanced and supported than an interest in science and a little reason and critical thinking. Through these exercises and dialogues, you’ll have allowed your child free reign to ask not only about religion, but also, the myriad of topics which coincide with belief, faith, science and reason. They’ll understand when someone makes a play for their intellectual right to choose, instead of lamely acquiescing to the tune of “Well…okay,” they can skeptically demand “Why?!”

Whether you choose to become outwardly active in your child’s right to not be bludgeoned with the propaganda of religious ideologues, or you decide to instruct them from your lair in the ways of logic and reason, I implore you to give it some very serious thought in how you might best support them. As religious institutions have shown us for centuries, abstinence, taboo and vilification of something only makes it more enticing, but so too does this hold true for staunch non-believers who refuse their young charges any modicum of free inquiry where religious interest is concerned. Through this foundation of skepticism, reason and personal responsibility, even if our children choose to be theistically inclined, we will know that they are doing so through every facet of inquiry we were able to instill in them and that they are not like so many of the faithful, blind to the world around them. They’ll be able to state proudly that, without a doubt, it was the Devil who gave them their due and championed them to make up their own damn mind. The problem as we come back to it, is choice. And what a wonderful problem to have!

“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”

—John Milton

Hail Satan!

Warlock Milton C. Cruver
Host of The Raising Hell Podcast