I think a strong case can indeed be made that the answer is yes.
I’m sure that many people, even on this website, will find that to be a bit of a stretch, or maybe even complete nonsense, but please hear me out before you dismiss the notion or call it an overstatement.
I’ve read many, many personal stories on here and I always find myself feeling almost overwhelmingly envious of the extremely fortunate people that grew up without any religion of any kind. Try as I might, I almost can’t even begin to conceive what it would have been like to have experienced childhood without thinking and feeling that I was being watched and listened to while being judged on my morality every minute of every day. I can’t even image how great it might have been to not worry myself sick over the loved ones that died that were surely burning in hell because they weren't 'saved'. I sit and ponder how glorious it may have been just to go to the bathroom in complete privacy, never even giving it a second thought that I was, of course, the only one in the room. And in a half-joking way, how absolutely fantastic would it have been to just close the door and enjoy masturbating without God being present; watching, judging and being totally disappointed by my total lack of willpower. Oh, and what would it have been like to not feel the shameful guilt afterwards? These things are almost unimaginable to me!
But maybe the biggest thing I’m most jealous of is how great it would have been to be able to reason my way to my atheism without being riddled with fear about how I was heading towards becoming the very worst thing a person could be in this life; a ‘backslider’ or an ‘apostate’ because I’ve ‘turned my back on God.’ There was special torment waiting for me in the afterlife for sure! So that was fun to face every day.
So I’m not saying it’s like being raped as a child, or punched in the face by your parents, or any of the other horrors that come to mind when you consider child abuse. I understand that there are degrees and some things are worse than others. But I’m suggesting that the severe damage of what religion does to you psychologically, and how it plays a huge role in preventing you from the free thought that helps you to find your way in life, well, it simply can’t be ignored or dismissed in contemplating whether it's child abuse or not.
(Just to be clear, I don't mean to suggest in any way that what I learned in church was child abuse by my PARENTS. Not at all. I don't blame them one bit for doing what they thought was best for me and sending me to church. What I'm suggesting is that what I was taught inside the walls of the church was ultimately so emotionally and psychologically damaging that it could very conceivably be considered abusive.)
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