Child indoctrination help for ex-Christians by Drs. Darrel Ray & Marlene Winell

The September 2017 Church of England survey reveals the extent of childhood indoctrination in Britain. So Atheism UK has compiled this post about child indoctrination help by Dr. Darrel Ray of Kids Without Gods and Dr. Marlene Winell of Journey Free: Recovery from Harmful Religion.

‘Indoctrination’ defined

“The process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.” (1)

Don’t use childhood indoctrination to promote religion or atheism

J.D. Brucker argues that:

“Most often [indoctrination] is done when the individual is particularly young, when he or she lack the ability to reasonably conclude whether or not a statement is true. So they may be unaware of competing theories, alternate hypotheses, or even whether the ideas hold any merit at all.

I’d never advocate for someone to indoctrinate their child with strong atheist ideas either. I think it’s very important that we teach children how to think, not what to think.” (2)

Factors in Childhood indoctrination

child indoctrination help
Figure 4 (5)

Dr. Marlene Winell of Journey Free explained that:

Some techniques of childhood indoctrination are deliberate, such as keeping children at home for their schooling to control what they learn and don’t learn. The primary goal of sincere Christian parents is to pass on their faith, not help their child develop critical thinking to make a fully informed decision about religion. Christians do not present their offspring with the literature on all the religions of the world. Nor do they make field trips to temples, churches, and mosques to help them decide. Yet in their theology, they claim that “accepting Jesus” is a personal choice of free will and only those who reject God’s free gift of salvation will go to hell.

Preverbal children indoctrinated

Toddlers can be inducted into the belief system by churches with the agreement of parents. Preverbal children use the “Wordless Book,” with coloured pages for major concepts: gold for Heaven (you can’t go there), black for your sinful heart, red for the blood shed by Jesus because of you etc.

Abuse of Power, brain development repressed

In effect, the indoctrination of a child with immature cognitive abilities in the helpless context of a family is an abuse of power [child abuse]. The child has no perspective and no choice but to cooperate in order to survive.

The brain embeds the indoctrinating messages. But lack of stimulation means repression of brain development and critical thinking.

This, combined with accepting the teaching that one is unable to trust one’s own thoughts, and the abject fear of terrifying consequences, completes the trap. Even as the child gets older, there are social forces in place to enforce these dynamics and the circular reasoning can continue on, making the child feel highly disturbed but not have any idea why.

The typical pattern is for a person to keep trying harder to make the religion work because the doctrine always makes the individual at fault.


Self-reflection is bad. So to stay in the faith believers use self-deception and medication for their mental health issues.

Child indoctrination help

The most difficult thing to overcome, by far, is overcoming the intense indoctrination of early years. As an adult, for example, the fear of hell can pop up and cause panic attacks even if a person rationally rejects the doctrine. They have to learn how to label the emotion as “conditioning” instead of “truth” in the process of healing what is essentially early brainwashing. Child indoctrination help means that gradually people in recovery can learn to trust their own feelings and discover critical thinking. Self-trust is the key to reclaiming one’s own life, and not easy when there has been mental abuse. However, understanding what has happened can help to disengage the power of early messages.” (3)

Religious Trauma Syndrome

Religious Trauma Syndrome is the condition experienced by people who are struggling with leaving an authoritarian, dogmatic religion and coping with the damage of indoctrination. So they may be going through the shattering of a personally meaningful faith and/or breaking away from a controlling community and lifestyle. (5)

Child indoctrination help for kids and teenagers

child indoctrination helpAtheism UK Distinguished Supporter, Dr. Darrel Ray runs the Kids Without God website. This site helps kids and teens avoid religious indoctrination. (4)


(1) Childhood indoctrination defined by Oxford Dictionaries. (accessed 16th September2017).

(2) Brucker, J.D., Reason Over Faith: Antitheism & the Case Against Religion (p. 8). Atheist Republic. Kindle Edition.

(3) Journey Free: Recovering from Harmful Religion. (accessed 17th September2017).

(4) Darel Ray author of The God Virus runs Kids Without God

(5) Religious Trauma Syndrome