I think religion, specifically the one operating in the name of the Christ figure, is not for children. It’s too much for them to process and it does them little good. They haven’t been through enough pain to appreciate the relief the Christ figure can offer.
In fact, I would say teaching the Christian religion to children tends to backfire. Adult children of Christianity (“ACC” meetings, anyone?) often end up feeling bitter towards spiritual things that would otherwise be a force for good in the adult world.
I would even go so far as to say teaching the Christian religion to children in many cases is a form of psychological abuse. To tell a beautiful little child that she is evil or that he is somehow responsible for a holy man suffering on a cross is to instill a guilt complex that can become horribly debilitating–psychologically disfiguring, even–later in life.
Christ’s followers were grown men, not little boys. In fact, the twelve disciples were required to completely abandon their families and follow the Christ at all costs. Not exactly a family affair.
I was not raised in a church, but I grew up with a mother who was a “recovering Catholic” yet still believed heart and soul in God. As my mother attended A.A. meetings all the time, I was regularly surrounded by people who depended on a spiritual mindset in order to survive. These were all grownups who knew the meaning of suffering; religious thinking served an important role in their lives.
But children? They’re just not ready. They are perfect as-is. We are not required to shove the Christ mythos down their throats. We are only required to love them as Jesus loved them: unconditionally and with appreciation for their innocence and purity.
That is what I currently believe. How about you? Is religion child abuse?