Case for banning all religious indoctrination before the age of 18
By George Merlo pallath
India is a secular nation where equality is ensured and guaranteed to all its citizens. As per our constitution, all citizens have the freedom to practice any form of religion of his or her choice or none at all. But in reality do we ever get a chance to exercise our choice? The children are branded into different religions as per their parents wishes as soon as they are born. Even before the person becomes a major, his religion is chosen for him by his parents and community. Does he have any real choice? By the age of 18 years, a person is already brain washed and conditioned into a Christian, Muslim or Hindu. We have so much of religious fundamentalism and divisions in our society due to this system of religious brain washing and conditioning indulged in by our parents and community. Do parents have any right to determine the religion of the child? The child gets severely overburdened by this labels that will have to be carried throughout their life. The child’s vision and capacity for free thought gets compressed by all the religious indoctrination that they have to undergo. They are deliberately made into shortsighted and narrow minded individuals by the society. 99% of the people indulge in this child brain washing unknowingly, without any thought. We have lost our capacity for free thought. Even our leaders and intellectuals have become individuals with tunnel vision.
In India, there are specific laws to protect minors. Minors have no right to contract. Minors cannot give free consent. A minor can get a driving license only when they attain the age of maturity. Minors have no voting rights. There is the Juvenile justice Act to oversee the laws and punishment of crimes committed by minors. But in the case of religion alone, all this is given a complete go bye. Minors are branded as a Muslim, Hindu or Christian before they become a major, even though minors are not considered to have free consent. Not only that religions are imposed, inculcated, and these minors are conditioned into becoming believers of one faith system or another which they believe is the ultimate. So the end result is we have a population of blinded, conditioned, brain washed individuals who fight with one another in the name of their different faith systems. Now religion has become a dirty word, Religion is seen as the perpetrator of all the violence in this world.
Article 14,15, 25 & 26 of the Indian constitution are pointless unless religious education is banned during minority. It is high time that all sorts of religious indoctrination of minors are banned in this society. This labeling of humans must stop. Once an individual attains majority, let each individual citizen decide whether he wants to be a believer or non believer and which religion he wants to be. Then we can say that there is real freedom of choice. Parents should understand that they have no right to decide upon their child’s religion. It is the birth right of each child to choose his or her religion or to remain a non believer.
I am not against any religion. But it is high time that all kinds of religious indoctrination are banned during minority and each citizen is given an opportunity to exercise their choice after they become a major. Then it will go a long way in nullifying or at least cutting down all kinds of religious, communal and caste based fundamentalism in this country. Moreover in this scenario, the divisions in society will be torn down and people will start seeing each other as humans and fellow citizens instead of as Hindu, Christian, Muslim or Buddhist. This will make India the most progressive state in the world and a beacon for the rest of the world to follow. We owe this to our future generations. The world will be a much safer place for all humanity.
Dated this the 15th day of February 2015