My first experience with religion as a powerful force for bad was when I found out in middle school that a friend of mine couldn't even consider going to college because she was a Jehovah's Witness. Jehovah's Witnesses aren't allowed to read anything not approved by their leadership. It totally blew my mind that for her, a library was a big building filled with everything she couldn't read. All those books, and she couldn't open a one.
My mother let me read anything. I used to read the Wall Street Journal when I was 5. (No, I didn't get the context, but I could read the words.) I read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich at the age of 11. I suppose my mother would have drawn the line at pornography, but she had no interest in censoring anything else.*
So you can see why the concept of not being allowed to choose for yourself what to read or view or experience really blew my mind. It bothered me, the thought of having to ask permission on reading materials and being denied would sneak up on me at odd moments, and every time I felt sad.
My mother never censored my musical tastes, either, not even when I was spending 4 hours a day practicing clarinet (all classical) and then listening to Cannibal Corpse. She stopped censoring movies for me after the age of 13 (all she ever censored was extreme violence anyway). She never told me what to wear, or how to do my hair, and I really wish she would have scrubbed my face off during that horrible blue eyeshadow phase I went through. (Pictures remain, I suspect purely for her own enjoyment.)
My mother never tried to force me to her point of view by restricting my access to other points of view, something I have regarded religion with distate for since middle school.
Take, for example, The Opine Editorial's list of things one should not view:
1. Princess/goddess/diva characters in pop culture
2. Romance novels
recent entry on The Elusive Wapiti - but it is NSFW)
3. Romantic comedies
4. "Reality" television shows
6. Soap operas
7. Just about any television show or movie not included in the above
8. Wedding magazines
9. Celebrity "news" magazines, and Cosmo and similar
10. Advice columns
11. Gossip (Explicitly condemned in the Bible - including in the Torah)
12. Materialism/compulsive shopping/overspending/debt accumulation
So, basically anything not seen or heard in church. How defensible is your point of view if simply seeing a romcom will destroy it? (The wedding magazine mention struck me as odd until I remembered that the Opiners are Mormon. You really wouldn't want anyone dreaming of a typical American wedding and then experiencing a Mormon Temple wedding. Go ahead, click the link.)
This list of the Opiners is hardly unique. I have seen many an argument amongst fundys as to whether or not one can be friends with a person outside of your religion. The answer is, btw, "no". There is too much risk, you see. We might infect** you with our liberalism and tolerance. You might wake up one morning feeling sorry for single moms on welfare or worried about all those orphaned Iraqi children. There where would you be?
In hell with me, I suppose.
*My mother was always aware of what I was reading, in case you think she just didn't know I was reading about the Holocaust at a very young age. When I was reading something troubling, she would take the time to talk to me about it, to help me put it in perspective, although I don't think anyone can really put killing 10 million people for fun in perspective.
**Actual word used.