Ethics in Marketing Religion II

It seems that a post I wrote a while back on the ethics of marketing religion to kids has attracted quite a bit of attention.

Look guys, I just reckon marketing, religion and kids shouldn’t mix.

It comes down to:

1.  Kids minds are not fully formed and their thoughts are easily influenced.

2. Some services and products are best left to adults to decide rather than forced on kids with the knowledge it will have a lasting impact.  (Circumcision, especially female circumcision, is an example – and religious belief is another).

3.Religions should not be forced on anyone (this is a human rights issue) yet we know that kids introduced and encouraged at a young age to participate in a particular sect, will tend to remain there.  “Show me the boy at 7…”

4. Therefore creating marketing programmes which explicitly target kids ) is ethically wrong in my view.  Adult marketing doesn’t bother me nearly as much.

The Damage

It’s an extreme and tragic situation, but as proof that religion can distort parents and kids’ decision making faculties, check out the following tragic case where religious parents have just decided that chemotherapy is against their religious beliefs.  So they are letting their son die instead.  The son (who was brainwashed by religion nice and early) agrees with is parents and will die unless he gets treatment, in which case he will live.  Oh, and they’ve done a runner.

At some point, this kid had his parents’ religion pitched to him, so much so that he’s prepared to die rather than listen to science and logic. That’s dark marketing.

But that’s someone else’s strange religion isn’t it?  For anyone who believes that damage can’t happen when our traditional (Christian) religous sects interact with kids – you can’t be serious ,can you?

At some point, these kids were taught by repetition to accept the authority of the church and its franchise managers. That’s dark branding at work.

And I don’t mean to be rude, but what about God himself?  He used to be pretty happy with a bit of child abuse – how about telling Abraham to whack Isaac???  Not nice.  Luckily He changed His mind – phew, that’s OK then!


Well, here God is expressing his BRAND VALUES.  That’s marketing.  A bit “Harley Davidson” rebel I suppose…

OK back to the main point which is that when you have serious risks to kids physical and emotional wellbeing, great branding and marketing can still create harm in the real world. So can tobacco marketing…

And I think that’s unethical marketing.  What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Ethics in Marketing Religion II

  1. Circumcision of ALL children- male, female and intersex- is something that should be left for them to decide.

  2. Hi again Matt,
    Nice to hear your reply. You are 100% right, religion should not be forced on anyone. I agree with you enitrely. Kids need to be given the information to make the right decisions. If they are not told they will make wise decisions.
    On this I found other people who just can’t help “marketing” to kids… the government. Horrible I know! I was at my kid’s school the other day and there were big glossy poster advertising everything from eating fruit, stranger danger and fire safety. Who does the government think it is, telling my kids what to think and what to do, their minds are far to easily influenced. If 5 year olds want to talk to strangers they need to make up their own mind about it!!?? Surely you would not agree with this would you?
    Marketing and kids does in fact mix, your real contention is that religion and kids does not mix.
    Again one of the issues Dawkins has, is that he sees “religion” as one big glob, never taking the time to investigate and see some religion is bad, some is very good. I think you have slipped into this as well. One simply cannot pluck out anectodes from the weird end of the spectrum and then tar all religious people with the same brush. The Salvos (who strangely came and knocked on my door yesterday trying to help the disadvantaged, while the local atheists have never once appeared) Anyway the Salvos and the Branch Davidians are not the same thing. Perhaps a more credible way to think about religion is to actually investigate it and work out what is bad and good, not lump them all together. In my last blog I asked you to put down Dawkins and pick up Rodney Stark or Alister MacGrath, please do, I will even lend them to you. It would only be fair.

    At the kid’s club we run at our church this term we have brainwashed the kids into being truthful people and helping those less fortunate than themselves, even if it is hard. This is not terrorist training camp. One last thought; why not ring up the minister at Petersham and then go and speak to him over a coffee, ask him what they teach and give him a fair go.
    I am still open for the same thing.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.