I grew up in the Mormon Church. From early childhood up to age 12, I attended an organization called Primary. What is done in Primary is disturbing; it brainwashes children, it does not give children a choice in their religion, and it teaches children to have excessive guilt.
First, I believe that Primary is brainwashing. I hesitate to use that word but I believe it is the only suited description for what goes on. Children are taught the basic principles of the gospel over and over. Children stand up in front of the Primary and give talks whispered in their ears by their parents. Older children are asked to memorize a talk written by their parents before they come to Primary. The kids giving the talks say that they know the church is true. No they don’t! However after repeating it a billion times and being taught about the church every Sunday, of course they are going to come out of the experience “knowing” that the church is true!
Second, Primary does not give a choice of religion to children. Children sing that they “belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Richard Dawkins says that we should not label children because kids are not old enough to decide that they want to be a part of that religion.
Third, Primary teaches kids excessive guilt. Kids are told that if they do not do everything perfectly they will not live with their families in heaven. As a child I once told a silly lie to my Mom and lived for a year with unbearable guilt. I thought everyone else in my family would make it except for me. I imagine Outer Darkness over and over again. I felt I had to tell my Mom about my lie to be forgiven but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Finally I did tell her but now I realize how silly the lie I told was and how silly my guilt was.
There is damage done in Primary. As an adult, I found it very hard to come to a state of non-belief. It took overcoming wiring in my brian that began when I was a gullible little child in Primary.