exoteric, adjective: 1. Suitable for or communicated to the general public; 2. Not belonging, limited, or pertaining to the inner or select circle, as of disciples or intimates; 3. Popular; simple; commonplace; 4. Pertaining to the outside; exterior; external.
Having read the bible cover-to-cover many times (and in different translations!), I feel I can speak with authority on this subject. My parents were shocked when they found out that I’d read Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles as an eight-year-old. That actually began my long love affair with banned books, although I hadn’t known that it had been banned at the time. In places it’s pretty sexually explicit, so why my parents—as Evangelical Christians—had that book I’ll never know.
However, if you bother to look closely at the bible you’ll find x-rated material throughout, yet this was a book my parents encouraged my sisters and me to spend as much time reading as possible (which is partly why they objected to me reading Martian Chronicles, because it wasn’t the bible)! Here are a few sexually explicit examples (parents—you’ll want to send your children out of the room now):
- Lot’s daughters get him drunk and rape him multiple times after they flee Sodom. (Genesis 19:30-36)
- David commits adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of his soldiers, and then has Uriah killed when he finds out that Bathsheba is pregnant with his [David’s] child. (2 Samuel 11:3-5)
- Amnon, one of David’s sons, becomes infatuated with his half-sister Tamar (different Tamar) and rapes her after pretending to be sick and asking to have her bring him food. Tamar’s brother Absolom finds out about this two years later and kills Amnon. (2 Samuel 13)
That’s not to mention all of the other instances of rape, incest, mass slaughter, genocide, infant and child sacrifice, and horrific mutilations that are scattered throughout the “holy scriptures.” Eli Roth, James Wan and Wes Crave shouldn’t bother making torture porn—they could just adapt the bible.
Today I got into a discussion with a friend of a friend on Facebook who posted the above picture along with this caption:
Then Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise and clever, and for revealing it to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!”
— Matthew 11:25-26
As a rule, I try not to go after people I don’t know unless they try to start something with me. However, as much as I dislike children, that picture really disturbed me, and I shared that sentiment with him: “This makes me extremely nervous, seeing children who are not yet able to cognitively grasp what or who it is that they’re worshiping, or what they’re doing, and are basically parroting their elders.”
He responded: “I can see where your concern is coming from. On the flip side, I look forward to fathering my children in such a way some day, that they “parrot” my worship. If their parents are godly men and women whose lives produce fruit to go along with those postures of worship, these kids are on a very healthy pathway towards understanding worship in a way most adults do not.”
I look at that picture and see myself as a child, eager to please my parents and adults and to fit in. As children we’re genetically conditioned to imitate our elders. It’s how we learn.
But how, exactly, is this not brainwashing? When you raise a child in a vacuum, tell it that there’s a benevolent god up there who loves us, listens to our prayers and takes care of all our needs (even though its parents work hard to put food on the table and clothes on everyone’s backs); but will nevertheless throw us into a fiery pit for all eternity if we fail to properly worship the son he slaughtered because of his failed experiment on humanity—how can you expect that child to ask questions? To grow as a human being?
And when you tell that child that the earth is 6,000 years old, and that dinosaurs and humans co-existed (even though most of the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period, and modern humans appeared on the scene c.60,000 years ago), how can you expect that child to think freely when you’ve taught it from birth that the bible is the authoritative, infallible word of god, and that every word is absolutely, unquestionably true?
It’s ironic that Christians believe that every fetus has a right to life, yet when that child is born they immediately want to take away its right to think to “save its soul.”
Religious freedom is a hallmark of American society. However, in preserving parents’ freedom to express their religious beliefs, I fear that we place children in intellectual (as well as physical) peril. Many religious groups refuse life-saving medical treatment on the grounds that it interferes with god’s prerogative over life—notably, Christian Scientists. Last year a couple in Oregon was jailed for six years after their premature newborn son died of staph pneumonia when they refused medical intervention. In 2010, a 15-year-old Jehovah’s Witness in the U.K. refused a blood transfusion and died as a result.
Religious parents claim the right to raise their children as they see fit. To be fair, most children raised in religious homes grow up healthy and well-adjusted. And I acknowledge that these parents are concerned for the spiritual well-being of their offspring. But how many of those children will:
- … grow up thinking the earth is 6,000 years old?
- … vote against same-sex marriage and believe that homosexuals are evil?
- … go to school board meetings and demand that Creationism or Intelligent Design be taught?
You cannot be raised in a religious home and be a freethinker. I’m sorry, it’s not possible.