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Religious Family Values: Threats and Violence

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A YouTube video making the rounds is just too good not to post. Thanks Hemant, and others! It shows something rarely documented, the reaction of a highly religious parent when faced with the apostasy of their teenage child. In short: it’s ugly as hell. In addition to freely using profanity, the Catholic mother roughly grabs her son’s arm, shoving him back in his chair. She then proceeds to yell and threaten him in full voice about 4 inches from his face, intimidation by any stretch.

Mom: You’re an Atheist. Give me a fucking break, Michael. Alright, you know what? We need to start going to church every week. I’ve had it with this.

Michael: I don’t believe in God.

Mom: Bullshit. You got yourself confirmed, and you said, to the Bishop…

Michael: A lot can happen, you can think…

Mom: A lot can happen, all of the sudden, you can just quit believing in God?

Michael: Yeah.

Mom: All of the sudden, there is no God?

Michael: Yeah.

Mom: Well, let me tell you, you want to know there’s no God? Well you’re going to get absolutely nothing, nothing for Christmas, because that’s what Christmas is about, is Jesus Christ!

Michael: Okay!

Mom: No, it is not okay, Michael, it is not okay. (tape abruptly ends)

So let me get this straight: A mother is blackmailing her child toward a lifetime of belief in destructive fantasy, on pain of a few lost Christmas presents. (Never mind the pain of lost, very conditional parental love.) Brave young Michael, whether he realizes it or not, is paving the way for the future apostasy and awakening of millions. Atheism, winning the world over from vicious parents…one child at a time. Sounds like a marketing campaign…

The mother’s actions are mental and spiritual child abuse, pure and simple. And they would never happen in a culture of understanding, in a world which did not treat children as property, and which valued respect for the child. The religious often whine about intolerance and the “vitriol” and “fundamentalism” of atheists, and lack of ‘respect’ for their beliefs. Well here’s why. Our lack of ‘respect’ is a simple questioning, a skepticism, a rhetorical antidote. It’s a refusal to accept things under authority or duress. That’s nothing compared to what happens when the religious (especially parents) have their fairy tales (which they’ve used to solidify their control of their offspring) thrown back in their faces.

This video has already been pulled off of YouTube, so I’ve obtained the video and will host it permanently at the BlackSunJournal YouTube account–if necessary, I will host it directly. The world needs to see what atheists have been saying all along. Religious upbringing is a farce–both in terms of morality and in terms of the needs of the child. Q-E-frickin’-D.

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Comments (11 comments)

just say no to christ / April 10th, 2007, 4:16 pm / #1

Sean

Thank you so much for posting that! Being a military family and knowing a LOT of chaplain kids, this is a common practice and what you saw in the clip was mild. My son had a friend, who was a chaplains kid, who came to my house with slap marks on his face because he forgot to tithe. Not only was he slapped around he was forced to give 10% of his income from being a life guard at the base pool to his fathers church. This was a kid that was loosing his faith and fast and his parents were letting him know it was not OK and they were doing it by any means necessary. I’m just glad he came to us, so that I could help him understand his parents anger and let him know that it was NOT him, but his parents that have a problem. I am a BIG activist for childrens rights and I don’t believe a child should ever be hit! It NEVER solves the problem and only leaves the child frustrated and the parents full of guilt.

Amy

Rob Anderson / April 11th, 2007, 2:52 pm / #2

Uh, I hate to break it to you but that was clearly STAGED. One in a long line of faked “incident” videos that have been posted to YouTube since Day One. Ask yourself: Who was that person with the camera, and why weren’t they spotted? What were they doing in the midst of such a heated family exchange? Why was the father so nonchalant?? And why did the mother’s dialogue sound like, well, *dialogue*??

BlackSun / April 11th, 2007, 3:12 pm / #3

Rob, you have no evidence it was staged.
I suspected that possibility to begin with–and that people like you would claim it was fake whether it was real or not–but I posted it anyway. Because even if it turns out to have been fake, I’ve been witness personally to similar abusive situations (and worse) where parents actually hit their kids over apostasy.

Here’s what argues for this being authentic: The fact that the camera came on clearly after the exchange was underway, and then was quickly removed just when it was getting interesting–I mean if you’re going to write a scene, at least have a conclusion, and maybe a little more over-the-top violence? Also, the boy’s reaction “Okay” to being yelled at was very typical (I have raised three teenagers). Also the fact that the original poster at YouTube pulled the video down after a short time, and only when it was re-posted did it become popular.
But given that this stuff happens all the time, would it somehow make you feel better about religious abuse if the video could be PROVEN to be fake?

What’s funny about this whole question is that in an age of media explosion, even glaring visual evidence is called into question. Look at all the 9/11 conspiracy theories, when that event was the most heavily documented disaster in human history. You could claim all that video was faked too. Plenty of people have (about 1/3 of the U.S. population believes in some sort of 9/11 conspiracy).

Unless you could get the ‘mom,’ the ‘dad,’ the ‘boy’ and the camera operator to go on a talk show, and explain the staging of the video, I don’t think you can say for certain what happened. It’s your meaningless conjecture against everyone else’s.
My suspicion is that you’re just another religious person who’s embarrassed by the bad behavior.

Oh, and if you want a story that’s definitely not faked, check this out: there was the 8 year old little boy in Atlanta who was beaten to death under the disciplinary instructions of his parents church. The parents are currently in jail for the kid’s murder.

http://religiousfreaks.com/2007/02/10/remnant-fellowship-church-freaks-are-among-us/

Heather Annastasia Siladi / April 13th, 2007, 6:25 am / #4

That’s violence? Where did you people grow up, Maybury?

This kid is learning to stand up to his parents, he’ll be fine. Hopefully they’ll learn to accept him for who he is.

You have to remember also that the mother is trying to save her son from eternal damnation; things are going to get a little heated.

This family doesn’t look so bad to me.

Heather Annastasia Siladi / April 13th, 2007, 9:30 am / #5

I was still a very catholic teenager when I discovered that the Irish Druids worshipped trinity gods. I found that to be fascinating, and I told my dad, since he is very into being Irish. He denied it, so I went and got the book that listed the gods and the myths. I honestly thought he would be as interested as I was but it ended with him screaming and knocking the book out of my hands. It wasn’t until much later that I realized why this information made him so angry. First, there’s the Catholic myth about St. Patrick using a clover to explain the concept of the trinity to the pagan Irish, then there’s the fact that the concept of a trinity isn’t an original Christian concept at all.

But as far as religion and violence against children, the main connection is hypocrisy. Someone who is very close to me had to wear turtle necks to school for over a week when he was about eight to hide the cord marks around his throat. His parents are atheists. It would have been more ironic if they were Christians, and I think atheists are somewhat less likely to be violent because they are more intellectual than most religious folks.

Still, I’m all for pointing out the hypocrisy of religious people at every opportunity.

BlackSun / April 13th, 2007, 9:51 am / #6

Heather, don’t get me wrong. I said they’re teaching “values” of violence. Mental health professionals know that you don’t have to actually hit someone to do violence to their sense of self.

Spousal abuse cases have been brought for something as trivial as throwing food at a spouse. The rule is: if you or anything you have touched contacts the other person in anger, you are guilty of assault. So therefore, as the mom roughly grabbed the boy’s arm and shoved him back, she violated his space. Whether this would fit the legal grounds, I don’t know.

And of course atheist parents do stuff to their kids. It’s usually not in the ‘name’ of anything else though.

What kind of message does it send to teenagers when parents think it’s OK to demean them like this? That they can’t have their own views? I mean what she did was 100% self-serving, and strictly to protect her own value system, not to help the boy in any way.

I can tell you right now, I’ve had heated words with my kids. But telling them they can’t have their own thoughts and opinions? That ends at around age 6, as soon as they’re old enough to start formulating basic logic. She was treating this 15 or 16 year old as if he was 5. If you want to argue with your kids, you better have some good logic–or it’s just bullying.

Look, the clip speaks for itself. Let’s not quibble.

Heather Annastasia Siladi / April 13th, 2007, 10:10 am / #7

I don’t mean to quibble. It’s very serious. I’m just looking at the clip from a different perspective. It brings back memories… almost kind of fond memories.

If this boy is willing to stand firm in the face of the people who matter most to him and fight for the right to have his own thoughts and be his own person, he’s so much better off than most of the population.

I look at the mother and see misguided desperation. She’s a victim of religion herself. For crying out loud, she’s threatening a teenager with christmas presents! And I bet anything she’ll break down and buy him something anyway.

So please don’t take what I’m saying the wrong way. This kid wants to think for himself and he’s willing to take the heat. This is a good moment in his life, and I really think his parents will get over themselves once they fail to sway him with christmas presents.

Aaron Kinney / April 18th, 2007, 3:27 pm / #8

You can keep your Xmas presents if I can keep the 10% of my income :P

breakerslion / April 22nd, 2007, 7:06 am / #9

I posted this comment on another blog that used this clip, but please allow me to elaborate here. I too, got the feeling that this video was staged. I thought this primarily because Michael reminds me of someone I know, back when he was an acting student at NYU. The lines “You can think…” and “…because that’s what Christmas is about, Jesus Christ” are the kind of subtle wit that a mutual friend of ours used to turn into plays and/or use in his improv comedy group, of which my friend was a member.

Before any Christian types shout “A-HA!”, please read on.

First, I have no evidence that it was staged. Second, ever since the death of Vaudeville and the advent of the Stanislovski Method, the goal of “natural” theatre has been to imitate life as closely as possible, while observing the constraint of a time art. For this reason, reality is portrayed in a condensed fashion; more information is given in a shorter period of time.

It really doesn’t matter if this was staged or not. An argument is dramatic. There is an interesting subject, strong emotional displays, and no dull pauses or asides about rutabagas or the leaky sink. If it was Art, it is Art imitating Life. If it is Life, than it is EXACTLY the kind of Life that good Art imitates, and this is what made it worthy of posting on U-Tube in the first place.

The above is not an inexpert opinion. I was a Theatre Arts major at Rutgers University about a million years ago. I’m going to send a link to this post to my friend, and perhaps he’ll share his opinion too.

breakerslion / April 22nd, 2007, 7:13 am / #10

Sorry for the follow-up, but I realized I did not fully support one of my assertions. It doesn’t matter if it was staged or not. If it was staged, what is the objection? Are the objectors trying to say that scenes like this one dont’t take place in real life?

BlackSun / April 22nd, 2007, 10:24 am / #11

Thanks, Breakerslion. Couldn’t agree more!

If it was staged, though, someone is having a really good laugh right about now. Nearly 400,000 views, and that’s not even counting mirrors. Way to get the point across.

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