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Christian Stereotypes & Corrections: Uneducated and Brainwashed (Part 2)

by Tuckster

"You will become a Christian," the pastor stated. 

"I will become a Christian," the regular church attenders responded in a monotone. 

"Christianity is the true religion. All other religions are lies that pollute your souls," the pastor said. 

"Christianity is the true religion. All other religions are lies that pollute your souls," the congregation answered. 

"Now go, and debate endlessly with those who disagree!" The pastor sent them out of the church with a wave of his staff before making another note on his Kindle for his approaching sermon, to be delivered on Sunday at 10:00 sharp. 


While obviously that dialogue is a stretch, the concept remains the same. Many people assume that Christians, especially young ones, were simply raised that way and are so uneducated or brainwashed that they cannot reach a conclusion for themselves. While it may be true in some cases, it is unfair to apply that to all Christians. A minority (about 6%) of Christians say that they accepted Christ after the age of 18, according to a study done by the Barna group in 2013. Even if someone was raised a Christian, that is irrelevant to their argument. Saying that someone believes something just because that's the way they were raised is invalid for several reasons. Firstly, there are different denominations of Christianity that can be similar or very different. For example, someone may have been raised Catholic and decided to become Protestant or vice versa. Even within the Protestant body, there can be many different branches, such as Methodist and Presbyterian, which have very different beliefs regarding worship and daily life. 

Secondly, just because someone was raised that way they were not forced to believe it. Many parents encourage their children to become Christians, but will not reject them and disown them if they choose a different system of beliefs. This is the case with some other religions, but in an ideal Christian home, people will love and support each other regardless of differing religious and political views. A successful conversion will never come about by screaming and arguing, or belittling the other about religious convictions. Rather, Christians should show everyone love regardless of differences. 

And thirdly, Christians have the ability to think to themselves. Christians are not puppets whose strings are jerked around by cruel and malicious masters, determining their fates without giving them a chance. While they may not have received a full education or none at all, they can still think for themselves and rationalize their beliefs. Christians, for the most part, are exposed to the world as well and are aware of other beliefs. 

Regarding a lack of education, research conducted by the Pew Research Center (PRC) found that of the Presbyterian Church(USA)'s members, 47% had a college degree, 25% had completed some college, and 24% had finished high school. Out of all US adults, only 27% had a college degree, 32% accomplished some college, and 31% had finished high school. This proves that some religious denominations are actually more educated than other groups. To be fair, however, several Protestant denominations are lower than the national average. Take, for example, Church of the Nazarene, where only 20% of members have a college degree. Is this stereotype mostly true, then?

Well, perhaps "uneducated" is not the best word to use in this instance. "Uneducated" means "lacking education", which seems to imply no education at all. As we discussed, this is the case very rarely, to the point where it is completely inaccurate to apply to all Christians. Perhaps "undereducated" would be a better usage of vocabulary, even if the dictionary may not consider undereducated to be an official word, its meaning should be apparent by the structure of said word. But specific vocabulary aside, is this stereotype true?

The answer is, technically, yes. However, we must be careful when applying this to specific cases to avoid the fallacy of division. The fallacy of division, succinctly put, means that you assume that the parts of a whole will have the qualities of the whole. To see why this is false, consider the following example:

"A pizza is circular. Therefore, a slice of pizza will be circular." 

Obviously, this is an incorrect statement. Pizza slices are triangles, unless it is a special type of pizza. Using this same logic to refer to the church and then apply that characteristic to each member of the church is faulty and commits a fallacy. So while some members of the Christian church may have a lower education, this does not necessarily apply to all Christians. 

In conclusion, Christians are not uneducated or brainwashed. Although a larger portion of Christians than the national average might have a lower education rate, this is unfair logic to apply to all Christians. Christians are not brainwashed because of their ability to think independently and hold different beliefs, which they are oftentimes taught about, even in Christian schools. 

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Sun Jun 25, 2017 5:17 pm
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ExOmelas wrote a review...

Hey, getting this out of the green room.

A minority (about 6%) of Christians say that they accepted Christ after the age of 18

I'm really unsure how this strengthens your argument. That's an extremely small number of people making this decision in adulthood. That makes it sound more like people are brainwashed in childhood.

For example, someone may have been raised Catholic and decided to become Protestant or vice versa.

But what evidence do you have that they do?

Rather, Christians should show everyone love regardless of differences.

But again, how do you ensure that this is what people do?

Christians, for the most part, are exposed to the world as well and are aware of other beliefs.

This is a more convincing argument. I think you should lead with this.

So while some members of the Christian church may have a lower education, this does not necessarily apply to all Christians.

That's pretty much what something being a stereotype means. But if it's true for more than half the cases, then it's possible to see it as a systematic problem that disproportionately affects children.

So overall, what your argument comes to, is that while Christians as a whole are less educated than average, this doesn't apply to all Christians. I am totally willing to buy this. I live with a Christian, and we are university students. He's also incredibly good at critical thinking and we go to debating together.

However, the question is what it's like for most people. If he was the only Christian of his kind (which he's not) then it would still be valid to say that lack of education wasn't true for all Christians. But it would be virtually meaningless, and mean that the church didn't address a problem.

So if it is a problem for a lot of Christians, then it's something the church needs to address. Maybe it would only be a problem if it was over say 70%. Up to you to argue a boundary for that.

But also, I think formal education isn't usually what people accuse Christians of lacking. It's more like critical thinking, and the ability to challenge their beliefs. Maybe focus more on Christians in science, because this is the area that challenges Christian beliefs most specifically.

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)

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Sun Jun 25, 2017 5:12 pm
DragonNoir wrote a review...

Hello! DragonNoir here for a review!

On the technical side of your report, you used a lot of facts and figures, which boosts your credibility, but there is one more thing to ask about those studies: when were they done? The reason for which I'm asking should be pretty clear.
Moving on, you open the article with a dialogue, which is a very interesting. It is also effective because it relates to the topic and gives a stereotypical point of view on Christianity.

Overall, the technical side doesn't necessarily have any other errors, apart from the credibility of the studies you used.

Onto the actual content, I understand this is about Christianity, but the stereotype almost makes it sound like Islamistic enlistment, which makes me think that you could've touched on that a bit, although I don't think it's very necessarily to be honest.
Other than that, I really don't think there's anything I have to say apart from this: this is an awesome article!

Overall, I think this is an amazing article. To improve, I would try not to rely solely on studies for facts and figures.
I hope my review helped! :)

Tuckster says...

Hi Dragon, and thanks for the review! I mentioned for one study that it was done in 2013, but I couldn't find a date for the second study. I'll look harder in the future :)

As far as your last comment, what would you recommend besides studies to get my facts from, so that I am not assuming things?

Once again, thanks for the review,

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Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:04 am
Aley wrote a review...

Hello MJTucker,

I've seen you around for other christian related things on YWS so I was curious to see how your writing was when I saw this in the Green Room.

I feel like you have a lot of research in this, which I like. You've gone out and searched for studies that show numbers and you use them to support your claims. That makes the claims more believable and provides them with a degree of trust for the reader. That's a good tactic to use, getting third party sources.

I do think you have some basic fallacies in this essay however. First off, you don't have an introduction which clearly lays out what your argument will be and your supporting information. You sort of jumped into the body before handling that, probably because you hadn't found your information yet, so you just did what we all do when writing essays and forgot the introduction after you finished. Because of this, you really don't have a thesis in this paper. What's your point here? Is your point that all christians aren't the stereotypical "uneducated, brainwashed, conversion happy" people? If so, state that, and then deal with each stereotype individually in it's own section, and not just one paragraph either, but deal with each stereotype individually.

My next point is that I think you also move on too fast from points 1 through 3 because you don't really make a clear point. Now, this will help when you actually get a thesis to this thing. You'll have to find a thesis that follows the support you give. Let's tackle your structure for each point individually.

To start us off, let's go with the first point of your paper.

Many people assume that Christians, especially young ones, were simply raised that way and are so uneducated or brainwashed that they cannot reach a conclusion for themselves. While it may be true in some cases, it is unfair to apply that to all Christians. A minority (about 6%) of Christians say that they accepted Christ after the age of 18, according to a study done by the Barna group in 2013. Even if someone was raised a Christian, that is irrelevant to their argument. Saying that someone believes something just because that's the way they were raised is invalid for several reasons.

This seems jerky because in my opinion, you basically say that being raised in a religion is an invalid excuse for believing something but you give no support for that. So let's break it down.

Sentence One: Thesis statement: People think Christians were just raised that way.
Two: Support: Yes maybe, but you can't use the word "all" in that.
Three: Statistic. By the way, I have no idea what it means to say you "accepted Christ" does that make you a "true" Christian or something? Why did you use that terminology? It doesn't make sense. If that makes them Christian then just say they said they were Christian. If that's terminology from the study, I want to know with a quote. Like give me the question they asked.
Four: Rebuttal: Christians being raised that way is irrelevant. Why? Why is it irrelevant? Your point to this section was that being raised that way isn't always the cause of being Christian, so it seems to me like being raised that way IS relevant to their argument. What argument are they making even? This is the sentence that confuses me the most.
Five: Leading to the argument: It's invalid because;

Okay, so here is where you say "... because x, y, and z. [transition with something like Let's examine X first.]"

You don't do that. You, instead go Because X: Reasoning: Support: Reasoning: Transition Y Reasoning etc.

The reason we need that x, y, and z up there together is because it helps us form your argument in our minds. If your thesis is that "People aren't just raised Christian and keep with it just because they were raised that way, but because they believe it." I need to know how you know that because I don't believe you. It's in my nature as a reader not to believe the author of an essay because the reason an essay is written is to disprove the current understood norm. You're trying to oust some accepted standard, so you have to be upfront with your ideas.

So how would you do that in this paper? Well, you'll have to make Firstly, Secondly, and Thirdly their own paragraphs, maybe more than one paragraph per thing, and then also add in First Second Third to the first paragraph in a single sentence such as:

People aren't just raised Christian and stay that way, they choose to be Christian because they could have changed sects, they aren't forced to believe it, and they can think for themselves.

Now, regardless of the fact that I don't think any of those three arguments are actually a valid reason, I think you need to elaborate on them because after you finish "thirdly" you end up talking about a completely different topic! That's not how a paper is written. One topic at a time. One thing you need to prove at a time. You can't take on the world with a single paper. Imagine that the social norms and beliefs of people about Christians is a box with old nails and you have a hammer with a nail remover head thing. If you stuff the prongs under five nails at once, none of them will budge, right? Well if you only stuff the prongs under one nail at a time, they will eventually all fall out. That is how this paper should be focused.

One thing at a time.

You end up arguing against the idea that Christians are undereducated after you are arguing that just because someone was raised Christian doesn't mean they're going to stay Christian, so that's your second paper right there.

Now I suppose we should actually go over your first, second, and third argument from an essay's standpoint. Let's keep your thesis for this half of the essay in mind. You can be born into a Christian family and change religion, therefore what you were born into doesn't matter.

First: You can change sections within the religion.

Is that really supporting your argument? If the argument is that you can leave the religion you were born into, is just changing your title of Christian really a good example? The reason people think that Christians who are born Christian stay Christian, which is what you're arguing against, is because they don't believe they can get away from the fear-mongering of having a devil and a hell, right? Isn't that the thing you have to argue against? How does "you can become a Protestant" help that argument? You're not giving me an example or statistics of how many people left the religious umbrella of Christian here, and I feel like you should be. I mean, that's the goal isn't it? You have to prove that people feel free to leave the religion they are born into, that's your argument? You can change sections within that religion just seems to undermine that because that means that, no, you're not able to leave the umbrella of Christian, you can just move around under it.

Regardless of that, having a single sentence as support makes the argument weaker because I don't see where you're coming from. You jump right from the thesis to the support without any explanation of what you're thinking, or how you conclude that changing organizations is the same thing as leaving a religion or making it invalid. Is that not what it means to be Christian? That you can choose which denomination you like best? Do most parents demand their children be their denomination? If you explained yourself better, this might actually be a good point.

You have to introduce support though. State what you are arguing, explain your reasoning, support your reasoning, explain your support, move on to the next argument.

For instance:

Dogs are the best pet in the world because they're furry, they love you forever, and they can go to the bathroom outside.
Dogs are the best pet in the world because they are furry. Furry animals are naturally adorable because we ourselves are basically hairless rats, and we are attracted to furry things. All of the cat videos on the internet are proof that we love furry things. They are proof that we love furry things because it is the furry cats in the video that attract our attention and keep it for so long. People have watched cat videos for hours at a time creating millions of views. However, cats have their downsides while dogs have less.
Dogs are the best pet in the world because they will always love you. If you kick a dog, it will still love you. I once kicked my dog on accident right in the leg and he crawled onto my lap to ask my forgiveness rather than making me ask for his. He was trying to beg me not to hate him because he loves me so much he couldn't imagine why I kicked him. It broke his heart that's why he's the best. etc.

Break it down into clear arguments. Obviously this is a super simplistic view so you can see the division of my sentences between the statement, the thought, the support, and the review of that support, but hopefully it will show you what you have to expound upon in the essay.

Man, okay. I did not mean to make this THIS long. I'm going to wrap this up here actually cuz I think with these notes you might be able to edit this and create a better essay.

Basically, I think you have the groundwork started for two different papers. You have a paper about a stereotype that Christians cannot leave their original religion, and a second one that Christians are uneducated. Breaking these apart would be best, but once you do that you have quite a bit of work ahead of you. You need to define your thesis for each paper, and then expand upon the support you give with actual development of the idea. Tell us what you're thinking, and what you are arguing against. The more we know what's going on, and what you're seeing in your own words, the more your arguments will make sense and feel supported. Right now it's sort of like you're telling us there are rocks twenty feet away, and then showing us a picture of a bar of yellow light across a black sky. You see that it's a lighthouse, but we have no idea why you think the picture is so important. Some people will get it right away, but you want to make this accessible to everyone.

Hopefully this helps you see how you can make a stronger argument in essay form because I really think you CAN make really good arguments since you're willing to use your tools of research and support already. Usually those are the hard parts, so you have an easy job ahead of you.

See you around~

Tuckster says...

Thanks Aley! I agree with a lot of your points, especially your first one about a lack of an introduction paragraph. I will probably end up rewriting this, since my form was probably a little off. I rushed this essay a little bit to try and get it out, so it will be easier to just start over. Once again, thank you!

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Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:22 am
RoseAndThorn says...

Thank you for this! I've been meaning to write a similar essay for a while, to clear up some common misconceptions about Christianity, but you've beat me to it. :)

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Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:33 pm
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inktopus says...

As a non-Christian, I'm afraid I must slightly disagree with you on the fact the Christians are taught to think for themselves. I was born into a Baptist family, and while I was taught to think for myself in most aspects, religion was not one of them. I was taught that there was only one god, and if I didn't believe, I would go to hell when I died. I was told this my entire life, and I believed it.

When someone is told, as an impressionable, young child, that something or someone is bad, it is very hard for them to critically think about why that is. The person may know that it isn't logical or scientific, but they still have trouble not thinking in that way because they were taught to do so at such a young age.

This is not the case everywhere, but when a young child is told that something is true by their caretakers (and when some religions punish those who do not believe) they tend to believe it wholeheartedly. I wouldn't go so far as to say it is brainwashing, but it was most certainly indoctrination, and many religious people (in most cases not maliciously) indoctrinate their children into their religion.

I am speaking from my own experience in just one denomination, but my experience is not uncommon among Christian turned atheists. My parting statement is: Young children often lack the ability to think independently and question what they are told, so is it right to indoctrinate them into a religion? They’re believing the religion because they think it is true, but why do they think it is true? Because their caretakers told them it was.

(I'm not trying to pick a fight, and while I figured you would know that, I'm still saying this just in case)

Tuckster says...


I understand that young children might not be able to think for themselves, but my argument is that once they grow older and are able to understand what they are being taught they can choose for themselves whether they believe that. Christians are not rendered unable to think to themselves because of the way that they have been raised, but rather they are able to decide that they want to either change denominations or choose a different religion altogether.

Also, if a child was raised atheist, wouldn't the beliefs of his/her parents be impressed on him/her? I believe that parents can raise their children with the knowledge of all different religions but also take their children to worship whatever religion they worship with them, as long as the child understands that she or he can disagree with them without fear of being rejected.

inktopus says...

Once you are older, you do gain the mental capacity to think for yourself, but when something has been impressed upon you from such a young age, it becomes very difficult to question what you have been told. At least in my case, I was scared to not believe in God, for I thought that I would go to hell if I didn't. It's not the case with every religion, but many use fear to keep people believing. (don't take offense at this) It's the same way with cults and groups like the Westboro Baptist Church, they use fear to keep people on their side. If it was so easy to question, don't you think people would leave those kinds of groups? Religious groups are milder, but I think it's the same idea.

Feltrix says...

I agree with just about everything Storm said, but I have to say that it isn't really a great argument against christianity's validity. If I was raised a christian, I suspect that I would have christian beliefs. I went to church when I was younger even though my parents didn't believe in God and I was trying to force myself to so I'd see dinosaurs when I died. (I was in that phase. I also was confused about the point of church, but I insisted on going anyway.) But at that age, my belief in God was similar to my belief in Santa or the Tooth Fairy. It was nice. It made me happy. But deep down, I didn't think that the earth and all life on it had been created by an omnipotent and omniscient being. It just didn't seem logical to me. Anyway, that's just my two cents.

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Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:38 pm
ChieRynn says...

I'm gonna say amen and give you a like. You're pretty much on-the-spot, especially for talking to a non Christian.

Good job.

Tuckster says...

Thanks! I tried to do my best to defend Christianity against some incorrect stereotypes people have against Christians so that everyone can understand exactly what Christians believe :)

Feltrix says...

Why didn't you tag me....?

Feltrix says...

Oops. That was supposed to be on the general comment section.

ChieRynn says...

I was wondering

Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else’s path unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path then by all means you should follow that.
— Ellen Degeneres