How often do you come across someone that picked up smoking as an adult? It’s an obvious rarity because a necessary prerequisite to smoking is the inability to make reasoned choices. The ideal candidate to become a smoker is, therefore, a child. Not many adults willingly choose a habit that has approximately 5.4 million deaths a year under its belt (among many other unpleasantries). But luckily for tobacco executives they can secure lifelong customers by preying on the weak and vulnerable with a highly addictive product. I think we all know this. Less known – or perhaps less acknowledged – is the fact that like tobacco, religion too finds its most valued and loyal customers in the weak and defenseless – in children. What person who had not been previously exposed to religion would then freely choose it as an adult? The main prerequisite for religious belief is ignorance. And the main enemy of religion is intelligence. It follows that religions must deny the opportunity for freedom of thought – and by extension, freedom of choice. As smoking grabs firm hold of its prey with the addiction of nicotine, religion sinks its claws much deeper by instilling impressionable minds with ideas of heaven and hell as reward or punishment for acceptance of the doctrine. Who would deviate from a dogma when any such deviation is threatened with everlasting torture? I think no truly moral being would accept the validity of such ideas being imposed on children. Furthermore, I think these policies are revealing. Religions (and tobacco) rely on taking advantage of the weak, which in effect shows their own insecurities over credibility. If one were allowed actual freedom of choice, which they are certainly not, they may very well choose a different religion than the one designated for them – or better yet, no religion at all.