Scared, whining children
It probably seems rather unfair to call religious believers "scared, whining children". Now first I have to say that I am not, of course, talking about the practical atheists who adopt religion out of convenience, for social visibility, to please their parents, or because they need a narrative to make themselves feel a little more grounded. Those people are philosophically annoying but by and large fine individuals.
I'm talking about the ones who have been raised into religious submission, or to a certain extent those who have come to accept it later in life. The people whose personal values have been buried by mountains of fear, guilt, powerlessness and bigotry. You know them, the fundamentalists, the ones always foaming at the mouth. The Islamists who killed innocents in the riots caused by a bunch of mediocre cartoons. The Christians who vote for George Bush and harass women at abortion clinics. That gargoyle on Trading Spouses screaming about psychics and mandalas. Them. The sworn enemies of all that is decent and free.
The nature of religious thought and morality is pure regression. The epistemic premise of religion is that one can be passively spoon-fed the truth - from a book, from the schizophrenic voices in your head, from your favourite guy in a robe - and that the full extent of "critical thinking" consists of bickering over whether Jesus will come back before, during or after the Easter Bunny runs out of chocolate.
This puts then below the level of baby, because even babies are active learners, interacting with their environment and understanding the causality taking place all around them. Religion is not conceptualization, it is anti-conceptualization. The inter-subjective worldview of Christianity, for example, is completely constructed with non-concepts and anti-concepts : "faith", "salvation", "soul", "god", "unknowable", "supernatural", "acausal", "Creator", "Heaven" and "Hell", "original sin", "predestination", "commandments", the list goes on and on. Babies work at understanding the world and its laws : religious people work at un-learning everything they know about the world, and deny its laws.
Part of the plan of the religious worldview is to systematically destroy human cognition, and to make man dependent on unquestionable, incoherent religious dogma. By doing so, it regresses the individual to the level of little child. He is taught not to think for himself, indeed that thinking for himself is evil, he is taught that the TRVTH (tm) is beyond his capacity to reason, and that he should therefore submit to whatever authority has interposed itself as bearers of the TRVTH (tm).
I have already explained why Christian morality is repressive and child-like, but it bears repeating again. The morality of children is composed of two processes : narratives used to inculcate fear of punishment, and orders from a parental figure. This is exactly what Christianity offers as a pitiful excuse for morality. An array of superstitious tribal myths featuring genocide, mass murder and human sacrifice, designed to inculcate fear of sin and Hell, as well as a litany of orders without rhyme or reason.
What's so wrong about being ordered around by the Almighty Rageaholic ? Obeying orders is not morality. Following a laundry list of "thou shalt not"s and "stone those who" do this and that is not moral agency, it's submission. We are moral agents whether we like it or not, and people who follow the evil precepts of Christianity are morally responsible for their actions. The fact that they pretend to surrender their will to a god or doctrine does not make it so.
Children do not hold values, they obey orders. Christians do not hold values, they obey orders. Children are not responsible for their actions. Christians are grown adults, but still believe that they are not accountable for their moral dogma. Children are motivated by fear of punishment. Christians are motivated by fear of punishment. Children are raised into the belief that their family and the beliefs of their family are the best. Christians believe that only they detain the key to "salvation", and that all other religions or worldviews are immoral.
What do you end up with ? Overgrown children walking around, hollering like monkeys at sexuality and profanity, lashing out at anyone different, whining when they don't get their way all the time, hurting others when they please, hounding others to conform (unfortunately, this also describes many atheists as well).
However, I must add that to associate religious people with children is really an insult to children. Therefore I would like to apologize to all atheist children who might be reading this entry.