Forced Religious activies to be classified as child abuse in Japan

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That sounds extremely vague and the details matter a LOT.

Forcing a kid to go to church when he’d rather stay home and play video games is not abusive IMO. Nor is telling the kid that A, B, and C are sinful.

But obviously all sorts of actual abuse can and does happen.

So it’s kind of impossible to have an intelligent conversation about this without a better understanding of what will and won’t be permitted under this proposed change.

In the article:

" Inciting fear by telling children they will go to hell if they don’t participate in religious activities, or preventing them from making decisions about their career path, is regarded as psychological abuse and neglect in the guidelines.

Other acts that will constitute neglect include not having the financial resources to provide adequate food or housing for children as a result of making large donations, or blocking their interaction with friends due to a difference in religious beliefs and thereby undermining their social skills."


this is definitely in the right direction


Yeah, I saw that. It’s worrying to me. It sounds like potentially ordinary mainstream religious beliefs cannot be taught.

Like the Catholic Church has holy days of obligation. Are they not allowed to teach children about holy days of obligation?

(My understanding is that it’s a venial sin to miss mass on a regular weekend but it’s a mortal sin to miss mass on a holy day of obligation. And if you die having not confessed and done penance for a mortal sin then… I think you go to hell. Maybe a Catholic can clarify.)

If Catholics can’t teach relatively basic parts of their faith such as holy days of obligation then that’s an unreasonable infringement on religious freedom IMO.


I guess it depends on how much overlap you think exists between teaching and inciting fear.

Inciting fear in an abusive way should not be protected religion.

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I agree with this. Reminds me of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in this way.

That said, the details mentioned do sound quite extreme (by our standards).

I think it depends on how much fear is being incited?

Kids live in constant fear of various punishments from various grownups.

Maybe eternal damnation is a very powerful fear, but I don’t think it usually is, practically speaking.

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Maybe depends on how much fear is being incited. Like, obviously, by any reasonable interpretation of (various) church doctrines tons of people are going to hell.

But we don’t usually scream at them about it, unless they’re gay or something.

It’s all purely speculation, since that article isn’t very clear.

Enforcement would be an issue. I could easily imagine a child reading more into the doctrine of hell than is intended. This isn’t to say some churches don’t try to scare children with hell; they definitely do. But i’m not sure whether the reception if that message depends more on the church, or in the child.

I tend to think that the Christian message ultimately implies universal salvation. All the same, i think hell is a necessary metaphor to understand the depth of evil some people do. I suspect we need hell less these days because most of us have not experienced this kind of deep evil.

All this seems very dangerous to me. The state is getting involved with the teaching of what is most important and meaningful. There is always the temptation to control that message for its own ends, ie to make itself that most important thing.

Sounds like it is a reaction to this:

In 2022, Abe was assassinated by Tetsuya Yamagami, who stated that he resented the Unification Church because his mother was forced to make a large donation to it.[317] She joined the Unification Church in 1998, and sold the land she inherited from her father along with the house where she lived with her 3 children. In June 1999, she donated about 100 million yen (US$720,000) to the Unification Church, leading to her family’s bankruptcy in 2002 and significantly affecting their family, according to Yamagami.[318] Financially troubled, Yamagami was unable to enter university despite graduating from a prestigious high school. His brother and his father would later commit suicide. Yamagami stated that his original plan was to assassinate Hak Ja Han, the widow of Sun Myung Moon and the current leader of the Unification Church. However, he gave up killing her because he could not get close to her.[319][320] He believes Abe and his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, spread the Unification Church in Japan and decided to kill Abe after discovering online that Abe had sent video messages to Unification Church-related organizations.[321]


Probably any of those could be determined to be abusive if severe enough or depending on how they are used. I guess the question is how much do religious type of threats get a blanket exclusion, because of religious arguments? How often is religion used as the reason for a parent’s decision, like in the US where anti-vaxxers claim religion to have their kids skip childhood vaccines?

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I disagree. This can be abusive. It took me years and years to get over being aggressively told how horrible sexual sins are. Even to this day, I feel shame around things I shouldn’t.

So if we accept that some basic parts of a faith are abusive, do we let religious freedoms override the protection of children’s rights? I don’t feel great about that.


I think it’s always about the child’s rights. Even “religious freedom” must be understood as the child’s religious freedom, in my mind. Back when you were a child, if we could have used a time machine to speak with the future, adult you, and you had requested you not be exposed to those messages about sexual shame, then i think those requests should have been honored, with coercion from the state if necessary.

We don’t have that time machine though. And letting the state get between parents and children is a very serious thing. How do we identify abusive messages? And how does this not embolden abuse of this power, as when texas tried to remove medically treated trans kids from their parents?

And what should replace the abusive message? Even the christian message of sexual shame (which i disagree with) has another side to it. We are all equal under that shame which can help keep sex from being used as a tool of social power and suppression. Another message would have its own positives and negatives.

I would suggest @meep, as she is very knowledgeable in Catholicism and spent time living in Japan so has some understanding of the people and culture.

From the outside, many “ordinary mainstream religious beliefs” IS brainwashing.


Just trading one religion for another. One punishment for the next one.

I was in Japan for only 2 months. 30 years ago.

My impression re: Japanese culture & religion currently is that there are certain amounts of ceremony, tied to traditional Shinto practice that I assume this law has nothing to do with, because it’s not seen as “Religious” in the same way as Christianity, Islam, Moonies, etc.

As far as Shinto-related ceremony that I know now… it’s all sumo-related, and there is some serious shit going down there right now. People are getting kicked out (well, forced to retire) for physical abuse and bullying.

But the main thing with Shinto - it’s a thing for adults, not kids. And it’s not about going to hell or about money, but about appropriate respect for nature spirits, ancestors, etc.

I do wonder if they would have any penalties about scaring kids with stories of yokai.

What guarantees of religious freedom does Japan provide?

It obviously wouldn’t fly in the US. But religious freedoms aren’t the same around the world by any stretch of the imagination.


Why does there have to be punishment involved?

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