Dawkins is immensely intelligent but not really a people person, especially when they seem unable to grasp what he is saying, which seemed to be where Pell was at.
On topic, I think telling children they are going to hell is pretty awful. As is saying the dead rot in the ground, I've never heard anyone use that type of terminology myself.
When I was 7, my mother wanted to get me Christened in the family church where my parents were married, grandparents married, my brother was christened and all the other children of my extended family were christened. The priest told my mother, while I was standing there, that it was 'too late' for me as I was going to hell now. Pretty awful to hear as a child really.
I don't think it's child abuse, but I do think it's highly inappropriate. I would be peeved BIG time if anyone ever said that to my child.
yes i class it as a form of emotional abuse. as i do with most 'threats' in order to scare a child into behaving.
lucky for my kids, mummy doesn't believe in hell
I don’t think telling a child that they would go to hell is ‘child abuse’ on it’s own, per se, (I think if you rang DOCS and said ‘my friend told their child they would go to hell’ they wouldn’t consider it a reportable offence), but I can see how it could be used as a method in the emotional abuse of a child.
I think using fear to try to influence a child’s behaviour isn’t healthy in any respect – including the good old ‘the police will come and arrest you if you do that’, or anything to that affect. I would be upset if someone told my child that they would go to hell if they did something naughty.
I am a school teacher in a Christian school (but currently a SAHM J ), and I taught 5 year olds. I would teach them a little about heaven according to the bible (eg, it is where we spend eternity with God, where we go when we die, etc), but never mentioned hell. If a child asked me about it, I would tell them that it is something that they should talk about with their parents, and then would discuss it with their parents myself also, to give them a heads up and to suggest age-appropriate ways of discussing it, if they wanted suggestions.
I will not be teaching my child that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell, or that they will go to hell if they sin. When they are old enough, I will be teaching them that Jesus came to earth to save us and forgive us of our sins, and that (when they are old enough), he died on the cross in order to take the punishment for our sins, so that we don’t have to suffer the punishment. I will teach them that ALL of us are sinners, and all fall short of the glory of God – ie, we cannot ‘earn’ our way to heaven by being a good person. I will teach them that going to heaven is a free gift from God, and that we have already been forgiven, at the cross, for everything that we have done and will do, should we choose to accept that forgiveness. I will also explain that God knows our heart, and only He can judge who will go to heaven or hell, it is not for us to judge. I will explain that we want to be christ-like (To live good lives), not to earn our way to heaven, but because we love God and have a relationship with him.
Like PP, I will be focussing on the gospel of grace, not on hell and damnation. I also don’t believe that a fixation on heaven/ hell is a particularly healthy thing – I believe it is important to maintain an eternal perspective in our lives, but to also live for God in the here and now, not out of fear of what will happen in the future.
In response to the OP, I agree with other posters that threatening your child with Hell / telling them they're heading there fits with other emotional abuse.
However, I do explain the concept of Hell etc to my children when the topic arises. But I make sure that they know that its where people go who a) deliberately break God's rules, and b) don't feel sorry or try to make amends afterwards. It always has to be balanced with the concept of forgiveness.
As for Dawkins and Pell, I thought Pell came across surprisingly well. He is a very smart man but can lack charisma. But he at least seemed to have a better sense of humour than Dawkins, poor fellow!
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You may not be directly threatening them with something they are doing at the time - but you are suggesting this burning place of torture exists.
One of 'God's Rules' is not to question god, or not to question his existence - is it not?
(but, yes - I do suppose this rule may only apply if you are 'hardcore' - or a 'true' *insert religion here*)
How is this not putting fear into an individual who is growing and learning about the world around them.
THIS is what Dawkins was getting at.
Telling a child that unless you follow the rules of your parents chosen invisible force from above, and if you don't grovel for forgiveness for breaking certain rules - the consequence is 'hell'.
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