I grew up a devoted Christian. For a solid 26 years of life, I was dedicated to the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth and his atoning sacrifice for my sins. In fact, I apparently understood the message of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection well enough at the age of 6 to be able to commit my entire life to him. It didn’t pan out in the end as I discarded my faith about 3 years ago after a certain man-child became the republican nominee for President of the United States and made me rethink literally everything I once believed.
I made an eternal contract with what I believed to be the creator of the universe before I even fully understood the difference between Mega Man and Mega Man X and it was supposed to last my entire life. I understood nothing at the age of 6, and I certainly didn’t understand what that declaration of my undying devotion to Jesus would mean later on in life.
At that time, my biggest challenge in life was trying to figure out how to finally destroy Ganon and save Hyrule! I hadn’t even graduated from addition and subtraction in math class, I didn’t even know evolution was even a word, and I certainly didn’t know anything about the quite enjoyable process that leads to having a baby but I had already committed myself to an ideology that told me that all life was created in 7 days, that all humans and animals on earth could trace itself back to a boat, and that if I had sex before I got married, something bad would happen (never got a clear answer on that, and as of yet nothing bad has happened so…).
That brings me to my point: my then-minister claimed that he would not baptize anyone unless he was confident that the one being baptized understood the gospel and yet, there I was getting dunked at the age of 6. This is hardly an uncommon story, millions upon millions of people were baptized as part of making a covenant of fealty to the omnipotent creator of the universe before the 2nd grade. It’s insanity to expect to understand even the 10 commandments (what temptation is adultery when you haven’t even had a romantic partner?) much less the concept of eternal salvation from sins you haven’t even thought of yet.
It’s no surprise, though, that they target kids and try to get a commitment from them at an early age. There is a psychological effect in making a commitment to something, it makes it harder to just walk away from (that’s the reason Trump made people at his rallies hold up their hands and pledge to vote for him). It’s a big moment, arguably the first taste of what a kid imagines adulthood is like. Not only are you making a contract (what’s more grown-up than that) but you are surrounded by people who are very, very proud of you and you are more likely to stick with the religion even after you are old enough to recognize that Sampson using burning foxes to torch Philistine fields is just a little completely insane.
Because, let’s face it. Religion is crazy, and the easiest way to sell crazy is to sell it to kids.