Thought you might enjoy this article by Ruth Gledhill of the Times. Basically Charlotte and Ollie are the children of very evangelical parents. They are also the smiley faces on the latest atheist bus campaign, which urges parents not to label their children until they can make up their own mind about who or what they are. You know, Ollie the Christian, Charlotte the Humanist, Chris-Hitch the Anti-Theist or Jeff the Jehovah’s Witness.
Part of me is sympathetic with the campaign if only because I know people, good friends of mine, who are no longer Christians. They suffered the effects of a divorce from powerful childhood manipulation. Their experience of Christianity was a fight with parents and a sub-cultures that was laced with acid, illogical guilt trips and control freakery more akin to the religiosity Jesus criticised in the Pharisees than cheekily following the Son of God into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. I would say that what my friends experienced isn’t what Christianity is about, but since parents are only human I would expect that some of that goes on in any household where a child is brought up. That’s no excuse for psychological child abuse, it’s just that in some households things are worse than in others. It’s sad that these friends are no longer Christians, but the fact that they suffer guilt is human. Which brings me to the other point, which is that I have friends who are no longer Christians but not because of how they were brought up. They also suffer guilt and it has taken some of them a lot of time to rid themselves of feelings associated with their upbringing. However, we all have baggage. As Julian Barnes says in England England, anybody who carries it around and blames their parents after the age of 26 is just a little too immature and needs to grow up.
The other part of me says, hey Dawkins, don’t be a fool and a hypocrite. Don’t you understand that there is no such thing as a neutral space to bring a child up in? Get over yourself.
Paul Woolley argues the point better on the Current Debate section of the Public Theology Think Tank called Theos.
Another good read on this topic by James Cary, comedy writer and maker of mince meat.