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My mother was a social climber and thus a regular at the local Church of the Good Cadillacs (well, it was the Church of the Good Shepherd, but the wags point to its many millionaire congregants).  I will never know if she honestly believed in Jesus or simply used her faith to justify attendance: one day she accidentally admitted to me that business was being conducted after church on the front steps.  It's just that when she joined the Episcopal Church, she had to take an oath, one that I, too, would be forced to mumble, though I had no idea at the time of the bloody history behind it.

I speak of the so-called Nicene Creed.  (It really ought to be called the Obscene Creed.)  This oath contains all the silly nonsense and superstition about one god in three, crucifixion and resurrection, and so forth.  At one time, it may have been a litmus test designed to sus out those self-proclaimed Christians who were actually heretics, believing in this or that alternate New Testiment reality, such as those of the many Gnostic sects or even among the Church's own bishops.  These latter included adherents to the heresy of Arius, and the founder of modern Christianity, Emperor Constantine, slaughtered all he could find.

Sunday after Sunday I recited aloud the Creed.  I quit the church when I was 17 and off to college, so you might suppose that each Sunday I was lying.  I was not.  I am only surprised that it took me over half a century to realize that all of it was ignorance and superstition.  And that is why, when I read the works of Dennett, Hitchens, Harris, and others, I pay special attention to their remarks on adult indoctrination of children into the dogma of religion.  I think it is a great evil, and I know you do, too.

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Recommended reading: Richard Rubenstein's When Jesus Became God very clearly elaborates the politics and process of the Council of Nicaea and its surrounding history. Very readable, unbiased (Rubenstein is a Jewish scholar interested in Jesus' mythology) and fascinating.

On the subject of indoctrination of children: unforgivably thwarts a child's development of critical thinking.


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