Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"Faith"fully Excluded

It's possible that I am going to get an earful for this. I'm sure some readers will possibly be offended,  disagree and not understand how something as positive as faith in God, can be deemed negative. I apologize in advance if this upsets anyone, and I hope you will keep an open mind and respect my feelings. 

In the last two years a local Christian organization has sent young college students to my oldest child's middle school to become involved with students. This group is not specifically affiliated with one particular church, but their quest is simple and stated throughout their training manuals -- find youth and teach them about God. Help them become Christians and do this in various ways that will keep their interest. I've read several manuals from different states, and though the Pacific Northwest is a little less intense, the message is still the same....this worries me.

Let me be very clear on something -- I pray, and I pray to God. I believe in angels, miracles and heaven. I find there is comfort in a church, even if I don't attend as regularly as I used to growing up. I was baptized, I had First Communion and several after that. I'm not ignorant or uneducated in my understanding of religion and faith.

But I do have a problem with adult's that have no direct affiliation with a school or students attending it, come on school grounds and socialize with students for the purposes of recruiting them to join a religious "club". What's worse is that the public school district allows it, even though they are wavering on constitutional guidelines. Though I've been told that the school is open to ALL organizations to use their facility, I highly doubt that they would be as open to a Muslim, Morman, Jewish, or Jehova's Witness youth group coming in with the same intentions. 

The worst part in all of this, is that my child cannot get away from it. As if she doesn't have enough peer pressure to deal with (wearing the right clothes or shoes, having the right hairstyle and the right grades), she now has to worry about being the right religion to satisfy her peers. Recently, she stepped into the cafeteria at lunch time and found more than half of her friends gone. Many of them are now attending a weekly lunchtime bible study on school grounds. Parties and sleepover invitations have not been extended to her, because she's not interested in being a part of this youth group. This situation has made her feel judged, pressured and out of the loop. And even though her heart wasn't in it, she even contemplated joining just so she wouldn't be left out. Peer pressure is one of the worst reasons to join any sector of faith. 

In my opinion, faith is a very personal thing and when you obtain it, it should be authentic and pure. Religion shouldn't come with a training manual or a be part of a trend. Any group whose intention is to recruit for the purpose of spreading a strong religious message is concerning. And if it's sole focus is on children, then it concerns me even more.

I know what some of you might be thinking, "What's the problem? It's not like she has to go to the bible study." That's true, she doesn't. The bible study isn't the problem. The youth group isn't even the problem. The fact that my daughter and her peers are put into an uncomfortable position in a place that is supposed to be neutral and safe, is the problem. This is not just an activity or a sport that one can easily make an excuse not to be a part of. It's not so easy to say "no" at her age, to what many people believe is a positive and spiritual experience. But it's not that simple. Choosing to have faith in any religion is a very important decision that each person has the right to make. Is a public school really an appropriate setting to help influence someone in making that choice?

Be well my friends,


1 comment:

  1. There is a reason our insightful forefathers (but I do have to question, where were the foremothers?) built the separation of church and state into the constitution. Religion or spirituality are not and should not be in the realm of public education. Hopefully that realm is a factually-based, objective arena for exploring ideas, not for indoctrination. A study of comparative religions? Fine. A locale for Bible study? Not fine at all.