Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Are we losing this generation?

I found this, "Religion's Generation Gap Growing," on They claim there is an alarming increase in religious belief in young people:
An increasing number of teens and young adults who were raised in nonreligious or nominally religious families are getting swept up in religious fervor.

More alarming is that many parents don't realize this is a serious problem:

In a time when many teens are having sex and taking drugs, his parents mostly consider his piety a blessing. They get upset, however, when Kevin explains that he doesn't believe in evolution. "To me, this is appalling," says his mother, Karen Byers, who has a doctorate in strategic management and was raised a Methodist. "We get into arguments, and voices get a little louder than they should." Kevin says: "I don't want my parents to go to hell for not believing in God. But that is what's going to happen, and it really scares me."

While parents of newly devout offspring often consider religion a benign if not positive influence, some say they are disappointed that their children have chosen a lifestyle so different from their own. Some of these teens and young adults are forgoing secular careers in favor of the ministry, moving away from home to religious enclaves, skipping family celebrations and changing their given names.

"My joke is, they liked them better when they were on drugs," says Pastor Peter La Joy, who directs the student ministry at Calvary Chapel in Tucson, Ariz.
Did you get that? Parents prefer to have their kids on drugs. supplied some data that this is a serious and growing problem:
...some groups that minister to the young report big gains. Young Life, an evangelical Christian ministry that focuses on children "disinterested" in religion, says more than 106,000 teens attended its programs on a weekly basis during the 2005-2006 school year, up from 66,362 12 years ago. "Mecca and Main Street," a new book by Geneive Abdo, a senior analyst at the Gallup Organization's Center for Muslim Studies, argues that a significant number of young U.S. Muslims are becoming substantially more devoted to Islam than their parents. In the Jewish community, a growing number of formerly secular young people are embracing an Orthodox lifestyle.

Our culture is full of aggressive God-pushers and the media turns not only a blind eye to their irrationality and the brain damage caused by religious faith they help promote this insanity.

"God has called me to go and make disciples of the youth of America. That is what I am going to try to do, and if you try to stop me I am going to break your face." -- Stephen Baldwin, self-proclaimed "Jesus Psycho."

Stephen Baldwin's youth ministry has gathered tens of thousands of decision cards and faith-professing e-mails. He is just one of many pitching evangelical Christianity and right wing politics to young Americans. Another group is Teen Mania Ministries, Inc.

Teen Mania Ministries' leaders claim that they receive direction, provision, and motivation directly from the God. Founded in 1986 by Ron Luce they want to create a massive movement of young people from all over the world for strategic missions. Each year youth groups from over 50 denominations attend Teen's "Acquire the Fire" conventions held in 26 different cities across North America.

Absolutism reigns in these evangelical youth movements. They're pitching a dumbed-down fundamentalism and a reductive, brainless theology. It's full of anti-intellectualism and their biblical interpretations would have Jesus' bones spinning in his ossuary.

Now if you don't want your kids going to Jesus Camp and praying to a cardboard cut-out of George Bush then early intervention is the best way to help your child. Be aware of the signs of fundamentalism by following these guidelines:

If your child is experimenting with religious belief and prayer, it's possible he (or she) is doing everything possible to keep this hidden. The last thing he wants is for his parents to "hassle" him about his new-found beliefs. However, continued religious belief will affect your child's behavior, attitudes and even choice of friends. Here are some signs to look for, if you think that your child may be falling under the influence of God-pushers:

1) New Friends

If you child is worshipping, chances are he will begin hanging out with an unsavory crowd with similar interests. Has your child suddenly turned away from his old friends? Is he hanging out with an older (driving age) group or with those that you suspect are God-drenched?

Do his friends resemble any of these people:

Stephen Baldwin

He preaches that free will is a lie of Satan and that we must shut off our brains and be led by what God tells our hearts. He thinks that efforts to end global poverty and violence are just the sort of "stupid arrogance" that incur God's wrath, which we'll be feeling any day now in the coming apocalypse.

Rev. Jerry Falwell

This nationally known Baptist evangelist is chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. He blamed terrorist attacks in the United States on pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians, the American Civil Liberties Union and People For The American Way, saying "I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

Rev. Ted Haggard

This leading evangelist and vocal opponent of gay marriage was found out to have a gay prostitute lover who sold him crystal meth.
“The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem,” Haggard wrote. “I am a deceiver and a liar. There’s a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life.”

Here we see him down on his knees waiting for someone to put something in his mouth.

Kirk Cameron

This fire-breathing Evangelical nutcase was once a child actor and he now uses his fame and influence to produce a Christian reality show, called The Way of the Master.

"Most people in the world are not Christians and their ungodly lifestyles can wear on us day after day."

Rev. Peter Popoff

This infamous money-lusting false preacher who in the early 1980’s was pulling in over 4 million dollars a year before being exposed by James Randi is still in business.

Today he sells Miracle Spring Water.

According to the testimonials he reads, it'll fix anything. One woman had her electric bill paid by the Lord after she used the water.

2) Physical Evidence

Have you found unexplained items around the house or under his bed? Any paraphernalia like crucifixes, Bibles, prayer books or bottles of Miracle Spring Water?

3) Attitude and Mood Swings

Has your child developed a negative attitude towards science and rationality? Most teenagers go through normal mood swings, but look for extreme changes -- one minute they'll be happy and giddy followed by sudden fits of anger or rage just after seeing an advertisement for a Discovery Channel show on human evolution or seeing Richard Dawkins on the news. This is a sign that they have adopted a creationist theology masquerading as science that will have an adverse effect on your child's science literacy.

4) Overt Signals

Has anyone ever told you that your child is attending prayer meetings or other Christian gatherings? Have they told you that your child has been asking other kids if they "know Jesus"? Have you ever heard him speaking in tongues?

5) Their taste in art becomes noticeably lame and saccharine

The fact that I find the message behind Christian art and music dubious, to say the least, shouldn’t, in principle, prevent me from liking the music or appreciating the images. But, when I find Christian rock on any radio station, it's always remarkably lame, unimaginative, cliché driven and sappy. I don't even have to hear the lyrics nor do I have to know which station I've stumbled onto before I sense in only three chords that some low-quality, saccharine power ballad on valium will soon sing the name Jesus.

Part of the problem is obviously the fact that these are people who can't make it in the mainstream and so they find a market in the fundy subculture where their work is sold in Christian bookstores. And when you hear the term 'Christian band,' you know it means propaganda, someone with an agenda.

But beyond the not-make-it-in-mainstream and propaganda driven nature of the music there seems to be something else in the message: Jesus is a drug like valium and it dulls your emotional responsiveness to the world around you. It destroys your artistic edge and blinds you to the function of good art.

Even Jack Chick knows that music belongs to the Devil:

Again, many of these changes could be attributed to just growing up or simply the onset of schizophrenia. But if you have noticed a pattern of several of these "signals" your child may be a fundamentalist.

What can you do when your child starts experimenting with such mind destroying theologies or actually falls in with a fundamentalist crowd?

Here's what you do:

1) Blame yourself because you're an utter failure as a parent

While there are many things that happen to kids that you shouldn't blame yourself for, such as your kid becoming a psychotic mass murderer, your child becoming a fundamentalist is not one of them. If it happens then you have only yourself to blame. You have completely and utterly failed as a parent. It is a sign that you have failed to teach the kid how to think rationally and critically.

No doubt you will have a hard time coming to grips with this news, but you must consider the evidence. You raised a kid that is too stupid to figure out that modern scientific knowledge annihilates most fundamentalist beliefs.

Don't get me wrong, I don't expect teenagers to understand all the data on the age of the Earth or the evidence for biological evolution. I'm talking about a simpler and more basic kind of stupidity, not the ignorance of someone with only an incomplete high school education.

For example, I pointed out in my review of "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" how one of Ted Koppel's theologians on the show that followed "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" started arguing for the bodily ascension of Jesus into the sky. I asked myself; where did his body go? Does he think heaven is up in the sky? What's up there is 350,000 feet worth of atmosphere and then the vacuum of space and the Van Allen radiation belts. Where did Jesus' body go? To the Moon? Is Heaven hiding behind a cloud? If it all weren't so tragically insane it would be funny.

The idea of the bodily ascension of Jesus into the sky is based on an ancient and very wrong model of our world where they actually thought that heaven was upstairs in the sky, either beyond the crystal spheres or the dome of the sky. It shows up in other biblical passages, like when God comes down to smash the tower of Babel because it's getting too close to heaven. In the Koran a winged horse takes the prophet to heaven.

This is one of many clues to the fact that the Bible, New Testament and Old, is just plain wrong about a lot of things. It's also an example of the kind of thinking your child has failed to do. And your child has failed because you didn't teach him.

Another thing you should blame yourself for is the fact that kids are also seeking answers to the questions of who will look out for them, who will love them, who will tell them how to live. They're going to preachers for these answers because you've failed to give them any.

And when you do this blaming of yourself, it's very important to make sure the kid is around because it will really give him a hell of a guilt trip.

2) Encourage your child to have safe sexual adventures

There's a reason these fundy preachers don't like the normal teenage rites of passage involving sex, drugs and rock and roll and declare these things sinful; it makes religion less important and significant to kids.

Vilayanur Ramashandran, a neurologist and his colleagues at the University of California in San Diego, did an experiment where they hooked up temporal-lobe patients and healthy controls to a machine, similar to a lie detector that measured changes in skin resistance to test their emotional responses to words flashed up on a screen. Three groups of words were presented to the patients: neutral words, like chair or table, profane words, sexual words, and finally religious words.

Normal people set off the response meter when they read curses and sexually expressive words. There was no response to the neutral or religious words, even in normal volunteers who were devout. But some patients with temporal-lobe epilepsy gave the monitor a jolt when they were presented with religious words -- and not when they heard curses or sexual words.

It tells us, perhaps, that some forms of religion want to live in those areas of the brain where sexual reactions live. About 25 percent of patients with temporal lobe epilepsy are obsessed with religion. Some temporal lobe patients walking into Ramashandran's lab wore huge crosses and carried hundred-page tomes on the nature of God. Some psychologists have theorized that such temporal lobe epileptics were the people who have started major religions.

3) Encourage your child to use psychedelic drugs

If your child is claiming to have had a born again experience it's going to be tough to convince him that the experience was just in his head, just neurons firing and producing a waking dream. Such experiences can seem incredibly real and they always have a heavy emotional weight. The cure for this might be more such experiences but had through a different method; psychedelic drugs. These drugs demonstrate that such experiences can be easily and regularly induced with a subtle change in brain chemistry and are not gifts handed down by God. If you want to see God, just look in the mirror because your God is created in your own image.

Timothy Leary's "The Religious Experience: Its Production and Interpretation" claims that when giving religious professionals LSD his 'conservative' estimate was that 75 percent of the subjects reported "intense mystico-religious responses, and considerably more than half claim that they have had the deepest spiritual experiences of their life."

Unfortunately the nature of an LSD trip depends a lot on expectations, set and setting. "...if the expectation, preparation, and setting are spiritual, an intense mystical or revelatory experience can be expected in 40 to 90 percent of subjects ingesting psychedelic drugs... It is hard to see how these results can be disregarded by those who are concerned with spiritual growth and religious development," wrote Mr. Leary. The same expectation and setting influence on events is true for non-drug induced experiences also. That's why people raised in a Christian culture tend to see Jesus Christ while those raised in an Islamic culture might experience Muhammad and a Buddhist might experience a past life.

Such expectation guided hallucinations can even happen in our normal waking state without us being aware. Consider what happened to Rene Prosper Blondlot, a French physicist who claimed to have discovered N-rays. Other scientists even confirmed the existence of N-rays in their own labs. But, N-rays don't exist. They all deceived themselves into thinking they were seeing something when in fact they were not. They saw what they wanted to see, not what was actually there.

Now, you may be thinking this is all some kind of joke (and you'd be a moron not to think so) so to hammer home the seriousness of the problem take a look at this shocking evidence:

This is your brain:

This is your brain on drugs:

This is your brain on religion:


Logicel said...

I have a Stephen Baldwin allergy--I can't even look at a photo of him without reguritating my food.

Paul said...

Stephen Baldwin is an idiot. When did Christ EVER say to 'break someone's face' for not accepting his message?

But you're generalizing too...I'm a physicist and a Christian, and there's no problem being both.

A lot of people mix up Christianity and Catholicism (Christians don't usually do the whole crucifix and statue thing)...and they also mix up FUNDAMENTALISTS and Christians, much like the media confuses Muslims and RADICAL ISLAM.

I'm not sure if anyone wants to believe that not every Christian or Christ-follower can be level headed and educated, but I do know that's the case very often, and I can empathize with the Muslims who are treated like their loony counterparts.