My Kids Are Being Indoctrinated, And I Don’t Know What To Do

They attend pre-school at a local church. Great program, except that they have a vanilla chapel service along with the regular curriculum of ABC’s and One, Two Three’s. Why do I say “except?” Because the lessons at this chapel raise all kinds of issues for me.

They’ve come home on a few occasions singing songs like Jesus Loves the Little Children, or The B-I-B-L-E. On the one hand, these are innocuous, and catchy, tunes. On the other hand, I’m nominally Catholic, and most certainly do NOT “stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E. ” Also, the other day when they sang about Jesus and the Little Children, you know “red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in his sight,” I felt compelled to inform them that this was a recent theological development, at least in the American South. Used to be, the conservative Christian position was that black people were especially cursed by God, meaning, among other things, slavery, and later segregation, were divine institutions. Even without the historical issues, if you read the whole Bible, I’m not sure “all are precious in his sight” is a lesson you’d glean. This is the same guy who will be destroying most of humanity. In short, some of the stuff in these songs is out of whack with what I believe, while other stuff is that and a bit misleading.

Still, these are just kids’ songs. The purpose isn’t theological or historical precision. The purpose is basic lessons in Christianity. Serious thought can come later, when their little brains can handle it. Until then, I can let this go.

Or can I?

I’m sure one day they’ll ask why I never go to church. At that time, I’ll tell them that after years of thought, I’ve decided riding my bike with my friends is a much more productive use of my time on Sunday mornings. I’m sure that conversation will probably include all the reasons why I doubt the veracity of what they hear in church. After hearing this, so the argument goes, they can make up their own minds.

Except, they won’t be using just their minds to make the decision. Thanks to years of happy feeling Jesus songs, they’ll be judging my reasoning with plenty of strong religious emotions. They won’t be coolly weighing the evidence and rationally evaluating competing claims. They’ll be upset and wondering why Daddy doesn’t love Jesus.

I don’t want that. I want them to freely choose for themselves. That, I think, means I have to offer some balance to the Church stuff, even though they’re not yet even in kindergarten. I’m not planning to belittle or attack anything they do in Church. I am going to offer alternatives. Meaning, next time they ask who Jesus is, instead of imitating Peter and confessing him as God, I’ll waffle like the disciples and just report what everyone else is saying.

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7 Comments on “My Kids Are Being Indoctrinated, And I Don’t Know What To Do”

  1. Himself Says:

    Tread lightly.

  2. Hot Momma Says:

    The good news is that they’ll only be in the Methodist preschool for a total of two years. Then they’re off to government-funded public school. They will have to attend PSR at church, but at least it’ll be void of the whole sola scriptura theology. They’ll probably still get the catchy Jesus songs though.

  3. mom Says:

    My mother taught me the Lord’s Prayer just about the time I started to talk and those words are a comfort to me to this day. My dad would read from the Bible when I was small. I remember the sound of his voice reading to me more than I remember what was read. Both of my parents instilled in me that God loved me and would always be there for me no matter what. I am most comfortable in the denomination where I attend now. My worship is not dependent on that denomination or any other. My worship is daily and continually with God. He probably gets tired of hearing from me…I tend to chat with him a lot. When conversation opens up with your babies just be honest and open with them (as age allows) and they will respect you for your guidance. Parents ARE the most important influence in a child’s life. I have the utmost respect for my dad and he simply answered my questions as honestly as he could and supported my decisions as I grew older. You are a wonderful dad. Wisdom from God is always available.

  4. raviner Says:

    I received the same indoctrination and I grew up perfectly capable of “coolly weighing the evidence,” as you put it. Your kids are smart. They will also be perfectly capable of these things. Relax.

  5. KC Says:

    the child of one of my law partners (Episcopalian) has a grandfather who is a Baptist preacher…they were visiting Grandad’s church on one of those rare occasions where the Baptists do “communion”…they passed their little juice shots around and the 6 year old said in a loud voice “Dad, this isn’t wine, it’s just grape juice!”

    taking them on occassion to an Anglican or Catholic church is a good innoculation against snake handlers.

    • Wheeler Says:

      funny. still, when i converted from baptist to papist, the seriousness with which the latter handled “communion” was a big factor. as a baptist, whenever we had that ceremony – once every few months – the preacher always spent more time telling us what it wasn’t than what it was.

      • KC Says:

        when I was in college I tried a methodist church (the was a girl involved) never could get in to it…church w/o communion just isn’t “church” to me.


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