GOOD Friday was spent sitting round with lapsed Catholics drinking wine, eating meat and using the Lord’s name in vain, punctuated by the odd person saying, “Don’t tell my parents.” What a thrill to stare eternal damnation in the face with a chop in one hand, a glass of cask wine in the other and a mouth full of blasphemy while still being scared of your mum and dad. All the while not believing in God. We don’t believe in heaven any more, but as sure as hell something’s making this snag taste so good. It’s probably the confidence of our contradictions.
A dozen wide-eyed children were rigid with fascination as we recounted Good Fridays of our childhood, on which being happy and watching television were classified sins.
“What’s a sin?” asked the 11-year-old atheist. I could have sung with joy knowing a child knew right from wrong and good from bad but knew not what the word “sin” meant.
Sin. The conflict of desire verses programming may explain the common myth (or as we micks like to think, well-known fact) that Catholics go off like a frog in a sock in the sack. All that programming of wrongness makes some things feel so right. We all have guilty blocks of chocolate hidden in our glove boxes. The thrill of the illicit. But it’s not all good.
Last week a lapsed Catholic atheist mate of mine told me she was gay. I’m shattered. She doesn’t fancy me. Don’t touch me, I’m fine. Truth is I bullied her into telling me because of my interest in the physical manifestation of the emotional. She’d suffered debilitating migraines for years. She vomited blood and needed injections and hospitalisation. I kept prodding until I found out what it was that was making her head explode. This is how it went: “Are you gay?” “Yes.” “Have you told your parents?” “No.” “Tell your parents and the migraines will go away. They’re proud of you and they love you. There is no perfect time. You’ll wonder what took you so long, but you’ll be thrilled you didn’t wait a moment longer. Nothing is ever as bad as you think it will be. The body never lies and the truth will set you free.” Hell is truth seen too late.
The next day my beautiful friend, the embodiment of integrity, truth, honesty, love and acceptance woke with a shocking migraine and unexpectedly made the brave jump over her invisible electric fence of rejection and told her parents. The conversation went like this: “Hello, it’s your mum. How’s your migraine?”
“Mum, I’m gay.” Her family has embraced her in a way she’d never have dreamed of. Yes, they had suspected, and sure, the emotional digestion will take some time.
My mate and I debriefed about the deep-rooted brainwashing of children by religion. No child is born religious, homophobic, racist or sexist. They are programmed. Children’s brains are malleable to promote the survival of the species. Here’s how it goes: “Hey, little cave kiddy, don’t eat those poison berries or you’ll die.” Imprint equals better chance of survival. The more malleable the substance the better chance of imprint. Religion has successfully exploited this evolutionary leg-up to its advantage.
Scientists from the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders searching for the neural “God spot” found not one but several spots, “supporting the idea that the brain has evolved to be sensitive to any form of belief that improves the chances of survival.” According to Professor Jordan Grafman, “some evolutionary theorists have suggested Darwinian natural selection may have put a premium on individuals who were able to use religious belief to survive hardships that may have overwhelmed those with no religious convictions … Religion and the belief in God, they argue, are just a manifestation of this intrinsic, biological phenomenon that makes the human brain so intelligent and adaptable.” And consequently so vulnerable to corruption and with such potential to engineer.
I’m with Richard Dawkins. Indoctrination of children into religion is child abuse. Children should have the right to be raised free from their parents’ superstitions, prejudice and mumbo jumbo. Let them make up their own mind when they’re adults. Instead, let us use our powers for good and brainwash our children with tolerance, acceptance, rational thought and unconditional love.
Children are indoctrinated into religious belief by emotional manipulation and mining the God spot in their reptilian brains. They are programmed to play by the rules or God won’t love them and will send them to hell, and this means children are being hard wired with religion-approved racism, sexism, bigotry and intolerance.
Despite dismantling much of our hardwiring, even we who have seen the light of truth find gnarly little knots deeply imbedded long ago by a society with a vested interest in controlling us through guilt and fear, and a brain responding to an unsophisticated biological predisposition.