On Religious Indoctrination in Developing Countries…
When I was in South Africa the poverty I saw in the shanty towns was horrifying, but the most shocking moment of the visit came when we visited a high school, and had to sit through one of their twice weekly Christian sermons.
It was a full on fundamentalist rant of the sort that would make a church in the deep south of America seem progressive. Seeing these school children, who all live in appallingly unfortunate conditions, being involuntarily exposed to such fire and brimstone nonsense was powerfully disturbing.
The pastor, in his expensive looking suit and shoes announced that all the children were sinners. That the only way they could be good, and remove the “evil” which he claimed was inside them all was to accept Jesus and live by the bible. He commanded them to give up their own free will and surrender their lives to God.
The concept of indoctrination is a disgusting one in any circumstance, but it has an added insult to humanity in the setting of poverty ridden countries - places which religious missionaries enjoy targeting for their conversion goals.
For a start, the people living in such conditions as South Africa are badly educated and living in a variety of fragile home circumstances. These are taken advantage of by preachers, making it easier for them to spread their dark age babble around the poor communities. The preachers come to schools, and so every single student has to hear these doctrines every week, regardless of their own personal beliefs.
These people are told to praise, thank and surrender to god, the supposed creator of all life. These are people who will have had to experience countless family members and friends die from aids and other diseases, and live in fear of the same fate befalling them. People who don’t have enough money to eat, or put a proper roof over their head. To ask these people to give thanks to god, in spite of the sate of their lives, and to call them all evil sinners in spite of how little control they have had over the circumstances they have been born into is of the most extreme abhorrence.
The trap of poverty that people are born into is a viscous one, and one that is almost impossible to break out of. People in these situations must empower themselves in any way possible - education, development of talents and the liberation of free thought.
Religion comes along and says that thinking for yourself is unholy, that complete submission to god is the only path to a good life. This produces an apathetic mindset, that makes people accept their lives as they are, rather than fight to change them. It discourages the very things which will help people escape poverty, and so it is actively prolonging it.
And finally, the acceptance of Christianity in a country like South Africa is sickeningly ironic, seeing as the white settlers who pillaged and enslaved the native people of Africa did so with a bible in their hands.