Most of you who know me in the real world know that I believe that successful deconversion requires a realization of the fact that you can’t alienate the one you want to liberate. Religion is a prison and adherents are victims. So, generally, I give considerable space to adherents and exercise a degree of comity between my views and their convictions.
So, I do indeed see adherents as victims who have been manipulated from a young age into believing bizarre fairy tales and fantasy, right through adulthood and on to their passing. I can grant some degree of comity in this fact understanding that to liberate adherents from the grip of this nightmare requires understanding, compassion and empathy. But there are some things that are beyond comprehension.
Society tends to object to certain kinds of behaviors; like that of a fifty year old man having a sexual relationship with a 13 year old girl. And the reason why it is frowned upon is because of the concern that the teenager doesn’t yet have full control over her innate sexual passions. And as a result she can be “conned” and manipulated to engage in self-injurious behavior that might well benefit her lover but would likely harm her. I’m using this example because of the hypocrisy I see in religion on matters of religious indoctrination.
Just like sexual exploitation, spiritual exploitation can cause young people to make horrible mistakes, to consent to things they would never consent to given possession of all pertinent facts. I received a story today (which you can read here) through a tweet that was particularly disturbing. I hope the authors won’t mind if I just quote their teaser here as it sums it up quite well:
They shaved him bald that first morning in 2008, put him in an orange jumpsuit and made him exercise past dark. • Through the night, as he slept on the floor, they forced him awake for more. • The sun had not yet risen over the Christian military home when Samson Lehman collapsed for the sixth time. Still, he said, they made him run. • The screaming, the endless exercise, it was all in the name of God, a necessary step at the Gateway Christian Military Academy on the path to righteousness. • So when Samson vomited, they threw him a rag. When his urine turned red, they said that was normal. • By Day 3, the 15-year-old was on the verge of death, his dehydrated organs shutting down. • Slumped against a wall, cold and immobile, Lehman recalls men who recited Scripture calling him a wimp. And he thought: Maybe, if I die here, someone will shut this place down. • Not in Florida.
I denounce this conduct, that being the conduct of the adults accoutable for this emotional and physical abuse of teenagers, boys and girls, and I think every adherent should agree. I urge all my readers to take a stand and let your voice be heard.