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Mental Health Month: Preventing Religious Damage

Waiting until entering college to choose to maybe learn about religions what is not taught within its institutions can be mentally life threatening to our children. By then young, influential and church-going Timmy or Sally and all their religious buddies may have already been religiously conditioned to become the nation’s next infamous and mentally hazardous Rev. Haggard or Bishop Long. The poisonous seeds of unchecked religious error may have already began sprouting up the next generation's Westboro Baptist Church or developing a future generation's priesthood of covert sexual predators.

It's obvious that religious worship is vital to the American spirit. In the latest  national census about 85% of Americans, almost all of us, identified as Christian. On any given Sunday morning there’s a preacher in a pulpit located on almost every major city street corner in our country. Regrettably, many licensed and once highly respected preachers have also murdered, raped, stole and viciously molested innocent children, and are now in our prisons - enough to recognize that serious levels of dysfunction exist today within all our religions. American religion is too important to humanity to remain as socially unaccountable as it is physically, sexually and mentally debilitating.

childrenreligionIn a country rich in cultural diversity and ever striving for social justice and peace, a portion of all income from licensed religious practice here in America should be utilized to insure that  those victimized by religion's defective belief systems are restored. These funds should also be earmarked to cover mandatory, public classroom instruction on all of our major religions. Such unbiased instruction should be required in our public school systems for the future social and mental safety of all our children.

This isn’t about the separation of church and state or praying in schools. Hire only agnostics or atheists to teach these classes. It’s about providing our children balanced, unemotional and academic insight into the many practical and psychological dangers and benefits found in most religions today. If doctors must pay a fee to practice medicine on our bodies then, most assuredly, religion should pay, too, to practice dangerous theologies on our heads - which govern our entire physicality.

From upper elementary through high school, our children should be required to gradually learn the key components which make up our major religions, especially the parts which religion leaders neglect to teach. Studies should include summarized facts pertaining to each religion’s current events, histories, core doctrines, ritualistic practices and interdenominational differences. Such required learning will significantly increase our children's abilities to religiously navigate through society, at home and even while attending church. An educational background like this would sufficiently arm children with an arsenal of useful knowledge and information about our religions, instead of having no weaponry whatsoever to combat the spellbinding, one-sided religious confusion and injustice which floods society today. If children are afforded balanced, basic religious knowledge then they will become empowered to make wise, often lifelong faith decisions. In such an unbiased atmosphere these teachings could reinforce or eventually dismiss, entirely, the need to even practice an organized religion at all.

Nowadays, headlines prove almost daily that Christian leaders hardly live out the sermons they preach. Still, from Mt. Imperfection, they hypocritically preach against the sins they perceive in others as if they’re sinless beings. Then they attempt to pass laws that impede on the inalienable rights of their neighbors through peddling fear-based superstitions, passed off as robust faith. In our courtrooms such behavior would be judged as malpractice. In heaven’s courts (according to Jesus) such a twisted behavior is blatant hypocrisy at the very least. Too few pastors have begun to recognize such religious chaos and even fewer speak out publicly against it once they do. Meanwhile, most Christians remain blinded by these anti-social religious traditions, while our children, women, men and LGBT people needlessly mentally suffer because such chaotic nonsense is allowed to socially and influentially persist.

If teachers had taught me from a curriculum of religiously untainted material that covered Christianity's many noteworthy merits alongside the heinous and inhumane atrocities woven into its blemished history, perhaps the self-loathing I inherited from entrenched religious confusion would have lost its grip on me long ago. As a teen, I might have been sufficiently armed to suffer the harmful slings and arrows shot from my religious home life, my relatives, at church and in society for making a healthy decision to not be Christian. Because, if I had been taught early in life the realities that are clearly recognizable today, I would have stopped being Christian when the curriculum ended.

If the anguish I have needlessly endured ever becomes a part of primary classroom instruction fewer LGBT teens would be so determined to commit suicide today because of disorganized religions. Moreover, fewer believers from my generation might not have become or remained Christian.

Unchecked religious negligence is un-Christlike, woefully inhumane and should already be unlawful. One way to begin preventing such atrocities is by educating our children on the other side of our religions - the side they don't ever learn about in church.

By: K. Godfrey Easter || May 13, 2013

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