Now, I'm very close to being a libertarian. Albeit of the socialist variety. So, by and large, I don't care what people do in the privacy of their own homes. You want to smoke pot? Not my business. You want to have sex with people of your own gender? Your call. You want to worship a sky pixie? Whatever. So long as it stays out of my life, I'll be happy to stay out of your personal decisions.
However, this only applies to adults. Children, particular young ones, are different. As a society, we are in fact beholden to protect them. They lack the wisdom, experience and sense of self to make all sorts of decisions. I think that anyone who says otherwise -- and there are some people who have -- is definitely daft and probably has no children. (Shulamith Firestone, I'm looking at you.) One of the things that we forbid parents to do is abuse their children. One of the forms of abuse that is forbidden is psychological abuse.
I generally don't quote Wikipedia, but their definition of psychological abuse is so concise I trust you'll forgive me:
Psychological abuse can take the form of physical intimidation, controlling through scare tactics and oppression . . . Any situation in which the repeated and extreme impact of a situation affects a person's emotional and rational thinking, in such a way as to adversely impact their later lives, could be termed as psychological abuse at some level.
Now, to my mind, this is precisely what happens when adults indoctrinate their children in a particular religion. This is true of the three big world religions: Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.
Both Christianity and Islam teach, and they do teach this to their children, that unless they obey the dictates of religion that they will suffer forever. I, myself, cannot remember a time in my life when I didn't know that the bad people went to Hell. In Hinduism, they take a slightly different approach -- that disobedience to religion is punished by being born into a worse position, perhaps as an animal or bug or worm. In both cases, threats of unimaginable suffering are used to compel obedience.
Undeniably, this intimidation affects their emotional and rational thinking, and I think it fairly demonstrably does so in ways that negative effect their lives later on. How many women have submitted to pregnancies they don't want, or gay people have hated themselves, of people tortured emotionally because they have dared to fall in love with someone of another faith? And what about the committed religious person's inability to meaningfully analyze scientific data -- meaning that, today, right now, religiously motivated people are trying to dismantle science even when humans are facing massive climate change, during which we'll need all the scientific prowess that we can muster? And I'm not even talking about those faiths that withhold medicines from their children and the other truly crazy things that religions sometimes do.
If I, as an atheist, said that if they used birth control I'd come over and boil them in oil, no one in their right mind would doubt I was psychologically abusing the child. Child services would snatch that kid away from me in a heartbeat -- and they'd be right to do it. But with religion, you can do precisely that. You can tell a child that unless they obey, they'll be tortured. Forever.
This isn't even close to the line, people! This is child abuse. If we evaluated religion with the same values that we evaluate all other behavior, it would be illegal to teach children most religions. But because of some ancient privilege of religion, we don't do what would otherwise be obvious -- forbid the teaching of religion to children. But because of stupid traditions, we allow religious people to perpetrate child abuse!