Four thoroughly indoctrinated youths. Mind-bent---robbed of a real choice---prisoners of a culture. Yes, they are far better off than street gang youths but far short of the Joyful. wholesome creative openness of unindoctrinated kids. Unless they escape their indoctrination, they have no chance at becoming a scientist or any other occupation on the frontiers of human knowledge.
In response to lots of calls and e-mails, I've agreed to present one of the controversial poems I read to them: THE RELIGION WAREHOUSE. I begin with the introduction to that poem from my book: ALL OVER THE MAP
What if all the religions of the world were forced somehow to compete on a level playin field? Perhaps a world weary of religious strife finally traced the problem to its roots: the indoctrination of children? And what if that were made illegal? Parents could still share VALUES with their children but not DOCTRINES. Children would reach the age of 12 or so with their minds more open. And when they demonstrated sufficient mental competence and curiosity, they would be allowed to visit-----
THE RELIGION WAREHOUSE
Kids are gathered outside at eight,
Doors are opened at nine.
They are here to sample religions of the world,
All strung out in a line.
Row upon row, every living faith
Represented in spacious booths.
And every booth has people anxious
To share their"eternal truths."
They have pamphlets and films and all 27
Major "holy books,"
The Bible, The Koran, The Bagavad Gita.
Every kid's invited to look.
As they wander up and down the aisles.
Believers of every bent
Urge the children into their booths.
Like barkers at a side show tent.
The Christian section has 200 booths,
Each with a different slant
On God, salvation, Jesus and heaven
That they wish to implant.
There are 9 different versions of Islam,
Six different kinds of Jews,
A host of Buddhist sects,
A hundred types of Hindus.
The new age section is replete
With people pushing "spiritual" stuff;
Smiley faced believers in a thousand things,
Like crystals and superstitious fluff.
The American Indians drummed up a crowd
With dancers adorned with feathers,
Truly believing that shamans can heal
And Kachinas can change the weather.
Cults took up a whole wall--
Gurus of every stripe,
Dominating tyrants trolling
For the total submission type.
The atheist booth had scrappy folks.
dead sure in their conclusion
That religion is the opiate of the people,
A dumb and deadly illusion.
Agnostics had a cheerful booth
With banners above and below.
The upper one said, "keep an open mind,"
The lower said "Nobody knows."
The Mormons were talking 'bout golden books.
The Quakers pushed peace and hope.
The Amish urged us back to the land.
Catholics said obey the Pope.
Back in the corner were Unitarians.
Of all the churches most odd;
The only church that didn't claim
To have a message from God.
Muslims were a backward lot,
Their religion frozen in time;
Their nations ruled by autocrats,
Their women treated like slime.
Voodoo believers sacrificed chickens;
Spiritualist summoned ghosts.
Urantia folks told of flying saucers;
Tantrics urged sex uppermost.
On and on the religions stretched;
Children came and went untill
In a day or a year, their minds were clear,
Or perhaps just had their fill.
Then back to the world having chosen
"truths" that suited their taste.
Most took bits from several faiths,
With a job of "cut and paste."
Gone was arrogance and dogmatism.
Their study of religion and history
Lets them tolerate ambiguity,
embrace the human mystery.
In a few short years religious wars ceased;
All nations made a truce;
Every civilized person now agrees:
Indoctrination is child abuse.
Freedom to choose your religion
Is a universal human right.
Parents stopped laying their"trip" on kids,
And the world sleeps better at night.