When your church is thrillingly liberal/radical, but the Sunday school is not... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 06-09-2008, 01:54 PM - Thread Starter
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I don't know whether to post this here or in Religious Studies. But here goes:

I have finally found the church of my dreams. It is United (Canada, not sure if different elsewhere). When I started attending in the fall, they had just become one of the first Affirming Congregations in Atlantic Canada. That means the entire congregation went through a process to vote to welcome gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered; perform marriages; and welcome people with different sexual orientations into the Ministry.

All three ministers-the main one, the assistant and the faith formation-are woman.

For Lent, we were asked to give up some of our carbon emissions.

And on and on and on.

But the Sunday school!!!

It's not that it's outrageous, I guess. It's just that what I've observed makes me know, in my heart, that this is not a good church home for dd as it stands. Or rather, the Sunday school is not.

The 2 examples I have:
I went with dd a couple of months ago and there was a really, really cranky lady teaching her class. At one point she said to two boys, "Do I have to put a GIRL between you?" WTH? The whole class was like that.

So I wrote a long e-mail to the faith formation minister and spoke to the minister, who seemed to take my concerns very seriously. They asked me to give it another chance and assured me this particular woman would not be in a "position of power" again. I haven't seen her since.

So we go there yesterday and they are watching Veggie Tales in dd's class. This one was on "telling the truth." My Lord, what a heavy message for a 4 yo! All about a little lie that turns into a monster and almost swallows the kid. Dd turned to me and asked me if she'd ever told a lie. I told her no, I didn't think she had. To the whole class, I said we don't punish in our house, so she never has to worry about us being mad at her for having an accident or making a poor decision. I said this because the whole thing was about obeying your parents and how being punished for what you did is still better than telling a lie.

At the beginning of the class, the teacher went over the commandment of "Respect and obey your parents." She asked who obeys their parents. Some kids hands went up and she said "everyone's hand should be up for that one. Everyone should obey their parents. It's very important." So the rest of the hands went up. I whispered to dd that she didn't have to obey us.

I don't want to lay this kind of trip on my daughter. It's exactly what I hated about Sunday school as a kid. I thought it was just an isolated incident, but now I'm thinking maybe a Christian education for dd is just a BAD IDEA. Is it the norm for Christian parents to want their children to obey? Does everybody punish? Is that just assumed?

None of the other parents are ever there. I will NOT leave dd alone as things stand. I would really like to find out what the values are surrounding childraising and what we hope to teach the children at Sunday school. I don't understand why there seems to be such a disconnect between the ideologies for the adults and for the children. The quality of the teaching is just abysmal and the ideology is just weirdly conservative for that church, IMO.

As a newcomer who has already complained, do I:
-try to get a meeting of the parents with kids in Sunday School
-offer to teach (which I do intend to do)
-go back to the Unitarian church, where I went before; I loved the Sunday school program for the children, but it wasn't as good a fit for me
-leave dd at home with dh (who is not interested in attending)
-just go for the first part of the service and then leave and go to the playground
-attend Bible study once a week and just basically forget the Sunday services.

Oh. I do have one ally, at least. Another friend happens to go to this church and her kid was in that class. She was not happy that they were watching TV and doesn't like Veggie Tales either. She's offered to take on the system wtih me! So maybe some other parents wouldn't be too happy if they knew. unfortunately, I have found kids often just don't tell their parents when stuff bbothers them in Sunday school.

Sorry this is so long. I'm just so torn on this one. Anyone BTDT?
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#2 of 4 Old 06-09-2008, 06:34 PM
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Well, a casual potluck meeting with the other parents probably wouldn't hurt (though it might look "bad" to the church leaders... but then, if they did think that then maybe it's not as good a match as it seems, yk?). Or maybe you could ask to see the syllabus they're using first? It could be that this is a "packaged deal" and the leaders are not familiar with all the details. Then you could offer to host a "parent class" to go over the syllabus and discuss what comes up?

One option you didn't mention in terms of the religious ed aspect... could your DH take dd to classes at the Unitarian church while you attended services at United? Our UU church has a connected hall where some people just hang out and drink coffee while the service is being conducted... so could he "drop off" your dd and remain someplace nearby if he didn't want to participate actively?

Good luck!

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#3 of 4 Old 06-10-2008, 04:01 PM
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One option you didn't mention is taking your daughter with you to the adult service. That's what I do. My church's Sunday school is okay, but my son prefers not to be separated from me and won't go unless I stay with him the whole time, and since we are separated 5 days a week while I go to work I think it's just fine to have him in church with me. But if you want to experience the service as adult time, or your daughter's not willing to go...I would go to the first part of the service and/or Bible study and keep your daughter with you or home with her dad.

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#4 of 4 Old 06-10-2008, 06:24 PM
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Is it during the service? if so just keep her with you in there. if not just skip it and just do the service.

as for what was being taught. That is one of my childrens all time favorite videos. from the time they were wee little to now that they are almost teens. and yes I think it is pretty standard for children to be taught to obey their parents in church as well as just about every where else. the whole no punishment ever (even time out) and no need to pbey your parents may seem pretty prevelant from looking around this board but you have to rememebr this is a very small fragment of society with people like to think that and/or influence others to think that. Out in the real world most people expect their children to obey.

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