Suffer the Little Children

Pariahjane on Information Paradox provides a link to a poll of opinions among 16 to 29-yr olds, conducted by a religiously affiliated special-interest group.

The good news is that young people are more skeptical than older people about the respectability of Christianity. And rightly so, I might add. Eventually, fundamentalists of any faith almost invariably earn their religion a bad name.

However, this poll was not conducted to offer hope of a more sanely secular society in the future, it was undoubtedly intended as a prompt to increase child-oriented evangelical efforts. "THE ENEMY HAS PLANS FOR YOUR CHILDREN— DO YOU?" It's amusing that they shout at one another in caps too. Perhaps they fear that readers will only consider something True if it is Capitalized.

The enemy has plans for your children? What, a good, rational education? Encouragement to think for oneself? Recognition of human rights? No wonder all creationists have hitched their wagon to the IDiocy campaign. At the heart of all fundamentalisms is fear, which is hardly surprising because fear-mongering is at the heart of what Dawkins decries as religionist child abuse.

I want to comment on this section:

"The study explored twenty specific images related to Christianity, including ten favorable and ten unfavorable perceptions. Among young non-Christians, nine out of the top 12 perceptions were negative. Common negative perceptions include that present-day Christianity is judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old-fashioned (78%), and too involved in politics (75%) - representing large proportions of young outsiders who attach these negative labels to Christians. The most common favorable perceptions were that Christianity teaches the same basic ideas as other religions (82%), has good values and principles (76%), is friendly (71%), and is a faith they respect (55%)."
Let's look at a segment of the above:

"The most common favorable perceptions were that Christianity teaches the same basic ideas as other religions (82%)"

I would not actually consider that a positive! Presumably the designation of "positive" for this question was pre-assigned by the pollsters. Those interviewed were probably best acquainted with the Abrahamic religions, which make similar claims of beneficence, but which ultimately all derive from the same original OT patent of rule-by-divine-terror.

Recent studies have shown that most practicing Christians know little about the tenets of their own faith (not tenants, as so many Christians miswrite). Obviously, this suggests that they probably know even less about the history of Christianity and still less about the tenets of other faiths. So, particularly considering the age group polled, this 82% can hardly be assumed to reflect educated opinion. (This would cause no worry to the participants or the pollsters, American religionist society has been raised to believe that all opinion, no matter how ill-informed, matters.)

The poll invites a philosophical tension alert:

It's interesting that positives and negatives contradict one another, rather than being proportionally inverse. How can people simultaneously think that Christianity is judgmental (87%) and hypocritical (85%), yet has good values and principles (76%), is friendly (71%), and is a faith they respect (55%)?

In view of the post-Scopes resurgance of fundamentalist political-power ploys, I think that the negatives probably relate to the in-your-face-bigotry of fundamentalists. The positives probably reflect the claims that religious devotees make for Christianity, but which the church increasingly fails to deliver. Let's be generous to the intelligence of those polled, though. The apparent discrepancy may also reflect awareness of the huge, hypocritical disparities across Christian denominations. Some denominations actually do preach tolerance and love.


bigotry, child abuse, Christianity, fundamentalism, intelligent design, religion, Richard Dawkins,

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