was church, sleep and a little boy. You might not see at first how these three are related but I will tell you that they combined to form the first step in opening my eyes to the reality of religion. The nightmares that plagued this boy about hell and how the devil would bring his bed to hell every night came to distance him from his would be protector Jesus. Why would he let Satan bring him to hell each night, why would he let the bad man reach with his clawed hands from under his bed for him? He asked for Jesus to protect him, but Jesus never came. So each new night the Devil would continue to seek our terrified boy in his nightly horror. Flames, unbearable heat, dark corners embedded with eyes of red, sharp bloody claws grasping for his legs, these things became so real that they haunted his waking hours and slowly eroded his faith, constructing his wall of "fear of death" brick by brick until it was an impenetrable barrier separating him from Jesus and the church.
Not a pretty story, but sadly not an uncommon one. Clearly this boy was me, and just as obviously my experiences as a child were not the only reason for my transformation to an agent of reason (I hope). Still I think back to that boy when I am asked to cite what harm moderate religion does and why I speak so fervently about faith.
I was a Catholic child.
A label I never asked for, a label I didn't understand, and a label that sought to make me conform to it. It is only 30 years later that I ask, why was I not a liberal child? Why was I not a socialist child? The answer is immediately clear to anyone who reads it. Children have no understanding of such labels and have no intellectual tools with which to choose such ideologies. Why then does such a terrifying subject get passed on to children during an age where they will believe without question such things?
I will give you the answer.
Because it is the norm to believe such things, and in fact it is considered eccentric to believe otherwise. Without those who will speak out asking for the faithful to validate or back up their beliefs, religion will remain a normal part of our society to the point where it is accepted as fact because no one is allowed to challenge it and the faithful are not allowed to question it.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
and when you see a "christian" child,
know that child may share a common night time memory with me someday.