"I submit to you that it is possible to present a religion to a child in a positive manner, one that does not fixate on negatives like Hell or demonize those who do not share such beliefs."
So? Even if you can present a religion to a child that isn't chalk full of psychologically damaging crap designed to keep the peasants in line so the priests can rule...you're still presenting the child with a carefully manufactured lie and indoctrinating them into believing that it is the truth. That is still abuse.
You are still placing them at a disadvantage compared to those who weren't raised in a lie, to say nothing of the potential psychological fallout should they ever find out the fairy tale isn't true. Nihilism spirals aren't fun.
Present all known possibilities to the individual and give them the tools to make rational, informed decisions. If they choose to believe a lie - or to believe in one possibility amongst many in situations where the truth isn't yet known - that absolutely must be their choice. Forcing it upon them through "one truth and only one truth" indoctrination is still abuse.
"Jesus was the antithesis of a douchebag, I submit to you the idea that he could use a whole new fanclub - one whose members actually try to live like him."
Oh, yeah, the world needs another Christian cult like it needs a nuclear war. Puh-lease. You're veering dangerously close to the sun of "my church knows the one true truth, and everyone else is an unbeliever!" Danger! Danger! Danger!
"But I must point out that Richard Dawkins is no mental health professional - he has an axe to grind." You mean he champions empirical truth and condemns organized lying? Well shit, he's a witch! Burn him!
"The article also comes close to conflating sexual abuse with the mental trauma you no doubt want me to notice."
I don't give a bent goat what you notice or not. I've spend several days building things from source and I'm bored out of my skull. I'm trolling you largely for my own personal amusement because I don't think for a second you're actually capable of considering the negative impact of religion.
Your little line about "conflating sexual abuse with mental trauma" is evidence of your bias. You quite obviously perceive mental trauma to be not as important as physical or sexual trauma. Somewhere, someone taught you that this was so. Probably repeatedly until you internalized it good and proper. Sex is bad! Sexual abuse, therefore is significantly worse that mental abuse! Based on nothing, of course, excepting your own moral judgement about how different kinds of abuse are "rated"...which is rooted in your belief system. Hence why this whole conversation was completely pointless several comments ago...but hey, I got my trolling on, so I'm quite happy.
"...religious instruction received in childhood often does stick around for life. But, outside of those cases where ham-handed assholes have done damage, is that necessarily a bad thing?"
Religious indoctrination is the removal of the child's choice in what to believe and who they want to become. That is wrong, regardless of how "good" and "moral" and "right" you think your religion is. Those "ham handed" types teaching their kids racism or burning the heathens? They don't think to themselves "that's wrong, better teach it to my kids." They think to themselves "my beliefs are just, right and moral, I must pass them on to the next generation."
The individual you want to indoctrinate deserves the right to choose for themselves what to believe. What is right and what is wrong. They deserve, most of all, to be taught critical thinking so that they can identify truth from fabrication; to identify where the truth is genuinely unknown versus where manufactured controversy exists.
If they choose to make a leap of faith, that's up to them. under no circumstances should that faith be indoctrinated into them.
"We all need some sort of "lens" to view and make sense of the world around us and we largely get that from the people around us whether they be family, community, teachers or, in some cases, churchy types. This lens will be acquired long before the child reaches an age you consider appropriate for making informed choices, can't be helped thats just how life works. If the lens is not based on hatred, violence or negativity does it really matter where it comes from?"
Absolutely, yes it does. Critical thinking is what needs to be passed on, not doctrine. A moral compass doesn't require religion, and quite frankly doesn't benefit from religion at all. Doctrine and faith obscure the ability to question authority, question morality, question standing ethics and question extant social moors.
A child should be entirely free to believe that there is no "one true truth". That everything needs to be questioned, analyzed and confirmed. They need to know that people lie, and that as a consequence of this you cannot simply take what the parent/teacher/priest/politician/journalist/etc says at face value.
Faith of any sort is the instruction that it's entirely okay not to question. That something simply are, no matter what anyone says. Faith is about accepting the word of another over your own judgement. It is about accepting the authority of the lie over the truth, or - at the very least - accepting that the truth is unknowable/not worth knowing, and choosing to believe the comforting thing instead.
When the child is of age and they are ready to make an informed choice about faith, more power to them.
Until then, the "lens" they should be gifted is one of truthseeking.
Truthseeking is all the more critical as our population balloons. The percentage of charlatans per population unit likely hasn't changed much with time, but as the absolute population grows, so does the absolute number of charlatans. Worse, technology enhances their power and reach manyfold. Today's charlatan can do a lot more damage than those of yesteryear, and there are more of them.
So that child will grow up in a world where nearly all jobs are automated. Where competition for any job at all - let alone a good job - is rabid and fierce. Where charlatans of skill and knowledge are everywhere and where the truth is every more easily obscured beneath layers and layers of personal opinion, anecdote and beliefs.
Being taught that there is a "one true faith" is a weakness. It's a chink in the armour. Not only does it increase your attack surface (as you have so helpfully demonstrated) but it means you are trained from birth to accept a comforting lie as truth. It's a minor effort to find the hooks that drove into the psyche and exploit them.
"As for me being a self-important cockbag, look in the mirror - you're the shouty one. Seriously."
Funny, I don't feel particularly shouty. Bored, maybe. A little somolent. Perhaps eve a tinge malevolent with a dash of gleefully impish. Shouty would imply I'm either talking in all caps, or that I care enough about the topic to get worked up about it. Neither are true.