It’s hard for me to talk about my conversion into Christianity because most of it happened before I had memory. How can I talk about a process that happens before my mind has sufficiently developed? Yes, I had later moments where I rededicated myself to the belief in a nonexistent deity, but those moments weren’t conversion experiences. They were built on an unfathomable foundation.
The only clues I have are found in children’s ministry.
As a general rule, such ministries stay away from the openly sadistic parts of the faith. There isn’t much talk of blood and human sacrifice and Roman torture devices. In its place, there’s much emphasis on feelings of love and relating them to the proposed Canaanite deity. This method of persuasion is pathos, but it also conflates feelings with facts.
If such ministries are an indicator of the process I went through, it would explain why I have a hard time divorcing mental fears from a basis in reality. My early life would have been spent learning that my feelings were facts, that they had a reality based in the supernatural, and that I couldn’t ignore them. For example, I would have been taught that Jesus’s love was not only equal to or greater than the love my parents had for me. Since I had some guess as to the latter, it made it easier for me to imagine the former.
Reinforce the imagination over time, and it becomes an automatic assumption. I wouldn’t need to think about it too much. Such ideas would take residence in the same locations as obvious facts. And because they are in those places, I am all but blind to them.
I’m not okay with doing this to people.
According to principles I used to hold, the divine was real and could communicate in a passive way to an ordinary person. No voices were required, other than prayer and having a mind swaddled in what I now know is confirmation bias. Still, if this deity was real, and could do the things I was told it could do, one would think that childhood conversion isn’t necessary or even desirable.
Such activities at best are playing with fire. One can hope that a person will shrug off any damage caused by the process and become a healthy adult. Being within the faith helps, because at that point nobody will recognize the damage for what it is. Instead it’s a strength, a gift, and a blessing to feel wrong and be in need of salvation.
Because the causes are doubtful and the effects unpredictable, I can’t say I’m okay with ministering to small children.