My friend Becky pointed me towards this blog entry. It's an amusingly written account of her family's general feelings about religion, raising a young and intelligent boy. It seems this young and intelligent boy doesn't like Christianity, and here's the reason why:
Because Alex loves music so much, we bought him an alarm clock with a radio and a CD player for Christmas. A few months ago, he was listening to the radio and tuned it to a religious station by accident. Thinking it was the news, which he likes because something exciting is always happening on it, like a building on fire or something, he kept it there. Imagine his horror when he learned that the End Days were upon us and giant scorpions were going to take over the Earth. He was frightened, and Steve had to spend some amount of time trying to tell him, that no, it wasn't the news he was listening to, and no, giant scorpions are not going to take over the Earth, and no, we're not all going to hell because mommies murder their unborn babies.
Now, when I say that Christianity teaches child abuse as a means of raising their children, this is precise the sort of thing I'm talking about.
While it is definitely my experience, and the experience of many non-theists I've spoken, that most Christian religions very vocally tell children the more horrific fate of the world and people who don't follow Christianity's (often absurd and contradictory) rules, one of the more popular refutations is that, well, it just doesn't happen. It doesn't happen that churches and parents don't sit their children down and say, functionally, "do this or you're going to be tortured forever in a lake of fire and when the End Times come you're going to be crushed by the Four Horsemen and the Whore of Babylon is going to cover you with filth and giant scorpions are going to sting you forever". My retort has always been, "That's untrue! Not only in my personal experience, but the whole conceptual framework of Christianity is formed around the idea that disobedience to the Christian god is punished by eternal horror and pain! The whole structure of Christianity is framed around Jesus dying -- in a brutal and horrific way in and of itself! -- to redeem us for our sins, and unless we consciously choose to accept that brutal human sacrifice then we go to Hell! This is the foundations of the religion, people!"
But almost every day and almost in every way, Christianity reinforces the suffering and horror inherent in the religion. Children are never allowed to forget that disobedience is punished by hellfire. So frequent are these messages that some unsuspecting child can just randomly find them on the radio and be swept up into the terrifying world of Christianity, where eternal suffering and mind-shattering horror lurk everywhere.