following is lifted directly from freethinker.co.uk.
Needless to say, I like it. I like it a lot. =mike= )
We like comedian Mark Thomas and his no-nonsense, sabre-toothed
approach to religion.
And we were particularly amused by the suggestion on his
Radio 4 The Manifesto programme last night that an Age of
Consent law should be slapped on religion.
This is what audience member Laura proposed, to enthusiastic
"There should be a minimum age of consent before anyone joins
a religion, because the vast majority of religions’ members
were put through ceremonies by their parents when they were
far too young to know what was going on. And while many of
them renounce their faith when they are older, indoctrinating
children allows religions to claim more members and more
influence than is actually justified."
Asked on the programme for his thoughts, comedian Robin Ince – “a
torch-bearer for atheism” – went further, by
suggesting that bits of the Bible should should be restricted
to readers over a certain age. Revelation, for example, should
carry an 18R certificate.
You can hear the entire clip here.
This is not the first time I have heard it suggested that
religion should keep its clammy mitts off children. In a
much more serious piece, award-winning blogger Robert
Sharp said in 2007:
"Many countries around the world, including the UK, have
an Age of Consent law. By stipulating the age at which one
legally be said to have given consent to sexual relations,
it effectively says that children under that age are not
capable of making such an important decision for themselves.
However, I do not believe such laws exist for the adoption
of a religion. This is in many ways odd. Choosing a faith
(or none) is arguably a more important decision for a person,
than whether to have sex or not. Most religious people cite
their faith as the most important thing about them. They
would surely be the first to agree that it outweighs the
very human choice over whether to indulge in intercourse
or not on any given evening.
Its a conundrum for the religionists, who are happy to use
the language of choice, responsibility and rights when it
comes to promoting their faith, yet deny similar choices
can exist for sex and sexuality. I say that if a 14-year-old
is old enough to make a decision about their God, then they
are also ready to make a decision about sex! Alternatively,
if a 14-year-old cannot make a responsible decision about
sex, then they cannot possibly make a responsible decision
about God. Note how children like Lydia Playfoot are only
deemed capable of making a responsible choice when they choose
chastity. In that case, is it any kind of choice at all?
Should it be respected in human rights law?
My suggestion is to broaden the definition of the ‘Age
of Consent’ to include a consent to religion too. By
this rationale, children could still, of course, wear religious
symbols in school… but below the age of consent, they
would not be deemed, in a legal context, to have chosen to
wear those things for themselves.
Rather, they have been dressed by their parents. If religionists
wish to assimilate young members into their Church, and use
their ‘choices’ as the basis of a campaign… then
they have to allow those young members the choice to have
sex too. Alternatively, if they cannot stomach such a permissive
idea, then the religious choices of school-children can no
longer be the basis of a Rights campaign in the courts.
Either way, The ‘Age of Consent’ will remain
a law designed to protect youngsters from the predatory influence