Little Deborah Drapper

Recently our friend over at The Atheist Blogger wrote an interesting piece on Religious Child Abuse. In it he posted a video from a BBC Documentary about the Drapper family, a fundamentalist Christian – home schooling family in the UK.

In the Documentary posted in 6 parts below; Deborah Drapper, age 13, is extensively profiled. The cameras follow her around while she goes about her daily activities , interviews her about her faith, and even goes with her on a trip to her brothers college apartment. Deborah is naive…very much like I was at her age…She is an intelligent young girl, my intention is not to call Deborah stupid  here, at all.

When I was about 15 years old I decided to start living my life for God again…I had been “saved” at the age of 6 just like Deborah claimed to be.  At these young ages both Deborah and I claim to have understood 1: That man was depraved and doomed to eternal torment and 2: That Christ died on the cross as a scapegoat for our sins – thereby saving anyone that accepted this belief in Christ and his sacrifice from the eternal furnace. Do you think we could have possibly understood this? Do you think that we could understand the Biblical fall of man or the doctrines of Atonement? I truly don’t. I think at the earlier age we were merely repeating the things we had heard from church, or in Deborah’s case – her parents.

Deborah’s parents don’t seem overbearing or mean…they are indoctrinated, but I don’t at all see them as devious people with bad intentions for their children. They are just extremely convinced that their Truth is The Truth…much like I was at one time.

The only glaring problems I see with Deborah is that she settles for Pseudo-Science with the likes of Ken Ham and Ray Comfort, she even listens to Ken Ham as she goes to sleep at night and uses Ray Comfort’s infamous Atheist Test Tract and almost quotes him word for word in her witnessing techniques. That tells me that Deborah is not thinking for herself yet. Though her blog shows me that she is far more intelligent than the BBC Documentary makes her look. She is concise and articulate if not robotically redundant, which gives me certain hope that eventually she might just snap out of it all.
Watching this documentary, however, makes me really sad for Deborah…she sees people, she is kind to people, but she believes that everyone she meets that is not saved is going to hell, she is open about that- she tells people that. I remember the intense emotions I felt back when I encountered someone that was not “saved” and it hurts in me that she has to feel the same thing at her young age. It is a painful thing to see everyone as hellbound, to feel that you have to find a way to get them “saved” to spare them from eternal agony and pain. This is to me the true crime of fundamentalist parenting: It brainwashes and scares the kids so much. It isn’t that Deborah’s parents don’t love her, or even that they don’t love the people they try to witness to…the really do.  I think Penn Jillette is the one that said something to the effect of ,”How much do you have to hate someone to NOT try to save them from Hell?”.

I think that this is where a lot of Atheists are incorrect. They often think that people like the Drapper family are just aweful people, deluded and small minded, but this simply is not always the case. Sometimes they are just fearful for themselves and for you. Sometimes they are just doing their damnedest to try to save you because they love you and honestly, I cannot find fault with that. The only fault I can find is that they haven’t challenged their understanding of God enough to question the motivation behind a place like hell, to find error in the Bible, and to live free of the oppression of religion.

  • And if anyone that enjoyed this post would pleaes Stumble, Digg, Mixx, or Reddit this entry. Thanks

  • First off I have to say that I admire her faith, and that I dont brand that as "religious abuse". Shes just a person who is deep in her faith and loves God and wants to share it with others…while unfortunitly being very sheltered and naive. she said that shes "never questioned her faith" but how can you really know what you believe til you question why you do?

    I admire her faith again, she has alot of conviction. and like you said her and her family just want others not to go to hell and that is admirable…i dont call that "abuse"…I call that keeping themselves on "island one" of chrsitianity…but I believe God takes us to higher levels of understand or islands as time goes on if we let him.

    my personal hope for her is that she keeps her faith but lets it grow as she becomes more familiar with the world and the questions out there

  • Since Christ rose from the dead to demonstrate that humans can be free of suffering under any extreme circumstances, billions of devout Christians like the Drapper family, have filled the world with war and suffering because of their stupid brainwashed belief in hell.

    • pasb

      its so sad that you will find your selve in hell before you believe it, but it will be too late. You chose not to believe because you like to live a life of least resistance and just want to feel good, but, the truth is that you just a fool as the Bible says, i guess you don't have to see your brain before you believe you have a brain. Common sense tells you faith is believing without seeing…

  • Hey eric, tell your mom I said hi,

    I wouldn't call it religious abuse, but it certainly is on the border…I think the parents are abusing themselves and in turn harming their children.

    Deborah seems to me to be intelligent and articulate enough that one day she will end up in one of two boats.

    Your boat: Universalist with Christian leaning – because she, like both of us, is going to want more from God than what she has now

    or

    My boat: Renouncing that whole folly of religion. Pretty much for the same reasons really I got here the same way you got to where you are, I see that same desire in Deborah.

    I would be glad for her to be in either boat personally

  • Fae

    Thank you for linking to that documentary. I came here via Entrecard and found that show very interesting.

    I don't think these people are abusing their children. Like you, I find the level of indoctrination somewhat sickening.
    I'm grown up Roman Catholic, and still am. What with thinking one sexual orientation is as good as the other and that I'm not sure I want to believe in a God who cares a lot about whichever church you belong to, I don't feel at home with many religious people.

    Just like you I remember how I was at that age – never as over the top as the children in the documentary, but I was VERY sure that I was right and everyone else was wrong. I often think I must have been quite the judgemental bitch. 😛 Thank God (ha) that I somehow grew out of that. I'm looking forward to visiting here more often.

    • Fae,

      Thanks for the comment, I hope you do visit often and share your opinion on my posts.

  • Dax

    The best weapon we have is the bible!

    • Sweeeny

      You must be an atheist!

  • Matt,

    With Easter 2009 arriving soon I feel inspired to elaborate on my previous comment to this post.

    Deborah and you bring out the core/central Christian belief that Christ died on the cross as a scapegoat for our sins. On April 12th this year, hundreds of millions of Christians world wide will celebrate that the Heavenly Father sent His Son to be tortured and killed for their benefit.

    One of my goals in life is to help Christians take just 3 steps back and put what they are celebrating in perspective to see how crazy an example that is for a parent to set.

    I bet there are many Christians who have left Christianity feeling sure that if there is a God he would not be so stupid to send his child to be tortured and killed, let alone being tortured and killed for what someone else does wrong. And I know many parents feel justified about sending their children to participate in the insanity of war because of the precedent set by God, which also gives most parents reason to believe that suffering will make their children stronger, with more character.

    God sent His Son to earth to demonstrate the opposite, that human beings are made in His image (Pure Happiness which can accomplish/create anything). All of Christ's miracles demonstrated the dignity of human life when one is living in God's image (Pure Happiness). Rising from the dead was Christ's climax miracle to show if one chooses to live in Pure Happiness not even the extreme process of crucifixion and death will hurt her or him.

    Thus, the correct interpretation of Christ's crucifixion and therefore the correct meaning for Easter celebration is that Christ's resurrection demonstrated what it means for us to be made in the image of God (suffering is not necessary under any circumstances, human life is in fact Freedom from suffering if one justifies the dignity of human life).

  • I find it interesting that you assume that because Christians still believe in Christ/God/His Word it means "they haven't challenged their understanding of God enough to question the motivation behind a place like hell, to find error in the Bible, and to live free of the oppression of religion." I've told you before that with almost every "challenge" you've posed to me with Scripture it's forced me to dig deeper into my understanding but instead of coming out as a skeptic as you did, I come out stronger in my faith. And I still for the life of me do not understand what this "oppression" you keep speaking of is. If that's how you understood Christianity, I guess I wouldn't want any part of it either. I could see it as being oppressive if all the focus was on works and how you need to be such a good person. I've been a Christian my entire life and I've seen how some denominations abuse it and make it oppressive, but I've never experienced as being oppressive.

    • she is 13, she still hasn't bothered to rebel against mom and dad, much less the idea of God…

      I think that if you challenge god then you are very likely to renounce him…but not always and I realize that. I think it is healthy for everyone to do, even you, even if it makes you a more convinced Christan. I am happy to have played a part in it at all.

      The oppression is the lie, that you have to follow a set of rules that i don't have to, yet my life is just as enjoyable as yours…was my own religious experience far more negative than yours? probably…but i still understood god in a similar way to you.

      • Oh, and I'm pretty sure 13 is plenty old to "bother" to rebel against mom and dad not to mention God

      • Again, to describe Christianity as having "to follow a set of rules" isn't a full understanding of Christianity. If it were simply about that, again, I wouldn't want any part of it because I know I wouldn't be able to live up to it. The reality is – and I've said this a number of times here – Christianity at it's heart is about love for us and forgiveness IN SPITE of our failure to keep those rules. If the capacity to keep those rules perfectly existed, there would have been no reason for Christ to do it in our place. The bottom line is yes, as God's children we are called to live according to his will but not as a means of oppression, but because they're for our own good. Furthermore, and this is really the main point AGAIN (my face is starting to turn blue), Christianity is about salvation by grace through faith in Christ, not about our works (See Ephesians 2:8-9). True faith, as a result, brings about a desire to follow God's will and to do the good things He wants. And yes, non-Christians can and do perform good acts. But the point is salvation, forgiveness, eternal life in the Christian church isn't about a list of do's/do not's but about Christ shedding his blood on the cross for the forgiveness of sins and His resurrection from the dead so that we too shall live. Works are a "necessary" part of that in that true faith brings about good works; but they are not necessary in the sense that without enough good works, you can't be saved. That's works righteousness, and that is not Christian.

        • I am just highlighting one of the problems with Christianity and religion and general…I haven't mentioned the fact that you can't know that your god or your way out of believing or worshiping god is the right way to do it….it's been said before but I only believe in 1 god less than you do…so our chances of meeting the wrath of which ever of the thousands of supposed gods is nearly the same…the fact that your belief claims this superiority to other faiths is reason enough not to trust it, it is reason enough to resent it, and then the fact that it doesn't provide you with empirical evidence among all the other religions is reason to reject it all together…salvation by grace and such…that false hope is why I am an enemy of your faith….its why you would be better off without god.

          Not that your having faith isn't helping you be a better person, i just think you can be just as good a person without it and you wouldn't be turning blue in the face (thats a definite benefit). The idea that you are a depraved being is …well…depressing, it devalues who you are…I don't think you are depraved and the fact that God does is kinda messed up…so you are losing on your self esteem just like Deborah…who at age 6 was convinced that she was this horrid sinner…like i was—that is twisted to me..in hindsight…6 year olds and 13 year olds shouldn't be worrying over these things.

          • Again, I'm sorry you misunderstand Christianity that way and I continue to pray for you. You accuse me of having a superiority complex and that offends me a little because you know me better than that. You think you're right and that I'm wrong and that you're better off because you don't have God so I could accuse you of the same thing. I've said it before and I'll say it again – I believe in an absolute truth – God/His Word/Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. That's a truth that's available for all people. The only "requirement" is that you don't reject it. I can't force it on anyone and the fact that you and countless others disagree with God's truth doesn't make you a "worse" person or me a "superior" one. The forgiveness of sins and promise of eternal life is for all people – again, just as long as you don't reject it. What I can't figure out is that if you don't believe in hell anyway, I'm not sure why you really care. I do (on both counts – believe in hell and care) and I don't want anyone there, so that's why I try to proclaim the truth in love. Again, I certainly can't force it on you or anyone else and I hope it doesn't seem like that's what I'm trying to do. You are trying awfully hard to convince me and others that a life without God is superior to a life with Him and I still have yet to see any convincing reasons as to why that's true. So, Matt, before you go off pointing fingers at me and the other Christians saying "any faith that claims superiority is enough reason not to trust it" – you're guilty of the same thing. The only difference is you don't call atheism faith or religion. You can rattle off all the definitions of religion you want to "prove" atheism isn't a religion or a faith, but it's just semantics in my book. For me, I want all people to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because I know it means forgiveness and eternal life – freedom from the bondage of sin, death, and the devil. And I find it sad that anyone would rather have a life that ends in nothing compared to eternal life.

            And as far as being "depraved," you and I have already had this discussion. You've agreed with me that people aren't basically "good" but that any of us could be capable of untold horrible things so I don't have to believe in God to see that as human beings, we're not all that great. My life experience does a pretty good job of showing me how bad a person I really am.

          • Again, I'm sorry you misunderstand Christianity that way and I continue to pray for you. You accuse me of having a superiority complex and that offends me a little because you know me better than that. You think you're right and that I'm wrong and that you're better off because you don't have God so I could accuse you of the same thing. I've said it before and I'll say it again – I believe in an absolute truth – God/His Word/Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. That's a truth that's available for all people. The only "requirement" is that you don't reject it. I can't force it on anyone and the fact that you and countless others disagree with God's truth doesn't make you a "worse" person or me a "superior" one. The forgiveness of sins and promise of eternal life is for all people – again, just as long as you don't reject it. What I can't figure out is that if you don't believe in hell anyway, I'm not sure why you really care. I do (on both counts – believe in hell and care) and I don't want anyone there, so that's why I try to proclaim the truth in love. Again, I certainly can't force it on you or anyone else and I hope it doesn't seem like that's what I'm trying to do. You are trying awfully hard to convince me and others that a life without God is superior to a life with Him and I still have yet to see any convincing reasons as to why that's true. So, Matt, before you go off pointing fingers at me and the other Christians saying "any faith that claims superiority is enough reason not to trust it" – you're guilty of the same thing. The only difference is you don't call atheism faith or religion. You can rattle off all the definitions of religion you want to "prove" atheism isn't a religion or a faith, but it's just semantics in my book. For me, I want all people to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because I know it means forgiveness and eternal life – freedom from the bondage of sin, death, and the devil. And I find it sad that anyone would rather have a life that ends in nothing compared to eternal life.

            And as far as being "depraved," you and I have already had this discussion. You've agreed with me that people aren't basically "good" but that any of us could be capable of untold horrible things so I don't have to believe in God to see that as human beings, we're not all that great. My life experience does a pretty good job of showing me how bad a person I really am.

      • SOMBRERO

        My little amigo oxley, it is SOMBRERO here again. And you are little, in fact, as we all are. One of only roughly six and a half billion skeletons on the earth. You are little, my little amigo. Little I tell you. Your life is but a breath.

        Concerning the issue of "rules", where does the whole concept of "rules", "guideline", etc. come from? Ponder it my little amigo. Try to break the "rules" by NOT paying your power bill for about three or four months and see if the rules really apply to you, amigo oxley. Do they? Or do rules about paying or not paying your power bill even exist???!!! Try this little experiment and see if there really is a such thing as rules. If so do they really apply to you, little oxley? Also, try to buck the "rule of one". The "rule of one" is that literally every particle of matter in the whole universe exists as one unit within itself. One dog is one dog — not two. One tree is one tree — not two. There may be two trees in the yard, but each tree is only one tree. And each limb is only one limb. And each leaf is only one leaf. And each molecule of the wood is only one molecule. And all of the seemingly infinite "molecules of one" make up the "ONE" universe. Think on this thing of ONE, my little amigo, and it will take you deeper. Think it deep. No, deeper than that, my little hombre.
        I wonder, my little hombre, if the greater issue in your life (greater than the issue of God and the issue of His existence) is the issue of "Oxley", i.e. just exactly who is Oxley? And "WHY" does Oxley exist?
        Hasta la vista, amigo oxley!
        Until Next Time,
        Sombrero —- Ole! Ole! Ole!

        • actually im kind of a big guy…and a big deal…i agree however, that compared to the scope of the universe that I am quite small.

          interesting comment though, I can't really disagree with anything you are saying but I don't quite understand the point you are going for?

          thanks for stopping by again.

  • I am sorry that you feel this way about Christianity.
    Instead of stamping a name on any religion that you may follow, have you ever just tried looking for the Hand of God in your life?

    I was an athiest until I turned 19. Things started happening in my life that made me recognize I couldn't control it all.

    I was so into scientific reasoning, and I still believe in evolution. But because I started opening my eyes to my surrounding, I KNOW there is a God. Not a God that I tithe to at church, or even one who I worship at church every weekend.

    I really hope you open your mind and realize that believing in God does not make you a weak person.

    • Hi Hillary, thanks for your comment

      I have, in fact, tried to find god outside of the boundaries of organized religion, I went through a very lengthy episode of that prior to my absolution from the idea of God all together. The result of that search is what you see here.

      As an Atheist, I know already that I cannot control all aspects of my life, I can control my own attitude, emotions, knowledge, and the way i treat and respond to others. Atheism has nothing to do with who or what has control over ones life, it is just asserting that God has no control because he does not exist…we still have nature and the laws of science that control things, plus the variables of humanity and so many other things…it isn't about control at all for me.

      I also do not think that believing in God makes you a weak person, but relying on god for your every need and whim does…it harms you and your ability to succeed in life in my opinion, it retards your ability to learn and achieve because often it leads one to a fundamentalist view of the world that will not allow change or opposition to ones viewpoints…i've been there.

      Thanks for commenting and I hope you comment again

      • I completely agree with you in all of your reasoning. Relying on God for my every need and whim would absolutely harm my or anyone's ability to succeed in life.

        My viewpoints are far from set in stone, God wants religious fruits, not nuts.

        I can make room for God in all things, including scientific reasoning and thought as well as in what I hope is my progressive understanding of the world.

        I feel that so many believers like myself have been given a bad rap because of the religious nuts out there. But, you have definitely won my readership with your response. I appreciate your critical reasoning .

  • i watched this a while back but never got around to commenting.
    it just kind of made me sad. she's so young too.