kids get invited to religious club I don't want them to attend! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 29 Old 11-20-2011, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi, my kids have been repeatedly invited to Awana. We live in a very conservative community, where it is kind of assumed that everyone is Christian, and if you're not, then you need to be. I don't identify as Christian, though MIL is a liberal preacher and the kids usually go to church, about half the time I go with them. But I have some doctrinal issues with Christianity, and I struggle with it. DH and I have made some effort to expose the kids to other traditions, but the influence of the surrounding environment is powerful. Today at church a kid invited them to this group, and she is a great kid, whom I would be happy for my kids to be around more. I love her mom. But I am completely uncomfortable with that organization. I don't want my kids to go. They are 7 and 4, btw. Anybody have any thoughts on this? tia

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#2 of 29 Old 11-20-2011, 05:06 PM
 
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I had to google to see what Awana is.

 

I don't think there's a right or wrong answer here.  I can tell you that I would be very uncomfortable with my kids going, so I would simply decline.  I might just say something like "we've decided not to send our children to Awana".


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#3 of 29 Old 11-20-2011, 05:07 PM
 
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Just turn down the invite... I am Christian but I certainly wouldn't force you to come to something religious!! (I don't know what Awana is though.) If everyone in your area is Christian I can see why they might just assume you guys are too, maybe they just didn't know. Why don't you invite the girl over to play or something?

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#4 of 29 Old 11-20-2011, 05:10 PM
 
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How are you responding to them?  You might need to be a bit more pointed that the issue is you are not interested in Awana.  They might think that you are busy *that time* but are still interested.  It sounds like you turning them down multiple times is not making them think you are simply not interested.  Be sure to say, "We aren't interested in Awana" or "We won't be sending the kids to Awana" instead of "We can't make it today", "I think we're busy" or even just "No thanks."


 

 

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#5 of 29 Old 11-20-2011, 05:38 PM
 
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I agree--you need to be polite but very specific.

 

"Thank you for inviting us!  We're not interested in the kids going to Awana.  We'd love to get together with you some other time though."

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#6 of 29 Old 11-20-2011, 05:51 PM
 
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I think you clearly need to say "Thank you, but we're not interested". At 4 and 7, you definitely get to decide what beliefs you want your children exposed to. I looked up the Awana statement of beliefs, and as a liberal Christian, there are a number of things there that I strongly disagree with. (Literal interpretation of the Bible, and lack of inclusive language are 2 things that are high on the list.) That would be a deal-breaker for me.

 

It sounds like you're uncomfortable declining because the majority beliefs in community don't mesh with yours. This is a really good time to model for your children how to respond to peer pressure. Not all peer pressure is to do drugs, sex and rock 'n roll winky.gif. Often it's pressure to do things that you don't really want to do. When your kids are older and not always supervised by you, they're going to get more of these kinds of invitations.

 

Two powerful tools you can give your kids to resist peer pressure of any kind: "No thanks" and "No thanks, my mom/dad would have a fit/ground me for life". Model that for your kids and stand by your beliefs.


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#7 of 29 Old 11-20-2011, 06:32 PM
 
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There are many non Christians who go to awana for the social aspect and as far as I know, don't make it a point to convert. I don't  believe in organized religion so I would have my kid find different friends, but I can undertand that's difficult in a small community.


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#8 of 29 Old 11-21-2011, 06:28 AM
 
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I love AWANA!  I think it's a great program.  But, I'd never be offended if you didn't want your kids to go.  I wouldn't even question why... I'd just assume you weren't interested.  I don't think anybody would try to talk you into it.  (except the other kids... they probably want yours to go)  

 

I think that as long as you say it politely, and thank them for the invite, that should be plenty.  

 

When I was in grade school, I was invited several times to a Mormon dance party for teenagers.  I said "No thank you".  But, when someone asked my Mom if I could go, she threw a little mini fit that embarrassed me.  She felt some need to share her strong opinion in front of me.  

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#9 of 29 Old 11-21-2011, 11:03 AM
 
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I went to Awana as a child and loved it. My kids go now and they love to go as well. What they do is play games (best part according to the kids lol) have a Bible story and then they work on their versus (they memorize Bible verses to earn badges and patches for their vest. They have so much fun that they tell me it only feels like it's 10 min. long. LOL

 

But there's nothing wrong with politely declining and I don't think the parents would be offended. My kids invited their friends to Awana and I made it clear to the parents to not feel obligated to say yes. One of the girls did go and can't wait to go again.

 

 

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#10 of 29 Old 11-21-2011, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everybody for the support. You're right that I haven't been clear, I so far have just smiled and said, "thank you for the invitation." But I also looked at the site and talked w/dh about it (he might be more adamant than I am). Now I am more clear myself about what my disagreement is, in case anyone asks (which is unlikely). Thanks again!

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#11 of 29 Old 11-21-2011, 02:26 PM
 
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when I read your thread I immediately checked your location. We've lived all over, including Wichita, KS. As a non-christian, I found it a very difficult place to live, and in Kansas terms, it's not the middle of no where! 

 

I think that being extremely clear with other people will be important as your kids get older, because I suspect that other issues will come up. We are NOT ok with our kids attending any functions at churches. When they were little, they didn't always understand why, but they are 13 and 15 now and do understand. We started out mellower on this issue, but having twice ended up at things we were told weren't going to be religious that included a portion on telling our kids how they could be saved, we pulled the plug and banned all religious functions until the kids were old enough to think for themselves.

 

My experience with some places we lived (including Kansas) is that Christianity is such the dominate religion that people just assume, and find it very odd when they find out the truth. And while they would be deeply offended if someone tried to get their child to attend religious training for a different religion, they think they are actually being nice by trying to proselytize my kids.


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#12 of 29 Old 11-21-2011, 04:39 PM
 
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and the kids usually go to church, about half the time I go with them. But I have some doctrinal issues with Christianity, and I struggle with it. DH and I have made some effort to expose the kids to other traditions, but the influence of the surrounding environment is powerful. Today at church a kid invited them to this group, and she is a great kid, whom I would be happy for my kids to be around more. I love her mom

 

 

the messages you are sending is the problem! 

 

you could be coming across as a hypocrite in the eyes of the other mother, sending your children yet holding the views you do could be viewed as highly insulting in the community you are in--IMO if you feel the way you do, don't send the kids to church where they are subjected to this and not expected others to question (or be highly bothered by this)-how is this other mother to know and explain it to her child?

 

think of the message this is sending to the other child-they attend the same church but can't go to the program-what is this child to think?


 

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#13 of 29 Old 11-21-2011, 06:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

 

the messages you are sending is the problem! 

 

you could be coming across as a hypocrite in the eyes of the other mother, sending your children yet holding the views you do could be viewed as highly insulting in the community you are in--IMO if you feel the way you do, don't send the kids to church where they are subjected to this and not expected others to question (or be highly bothered by this)-how is this other mother to know and explain it to her child?

 

think of the message this is sending to the other child-they attend the same church but can't go to the program-what is this child to think?

 

I don't see this as hypocritical at all. I go to a liberal church. The OP said her mother was a liberal preacher. Awana is not a liberal organization. Having doctrinal issues doesn't mean that you want to reject the church altogether. I know for a fact that there are more conservative people at our church than I am. A child from one of those families might someday invite my child to something like Awana. I would say no. They believe things I do not believe. They promote a doctrine I am not comfortable with.

 

Kids can understand shades of difference. They also understand that some families choose to do different activities. We've talked to our kids about why we don't want our son to do Boy Scouts. My nephew does Boy Scouts. Our kids understand that our objections to the Boy Scouts are a big deal to us, but they're not such a big deal to my brother and SIL.

 

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#14 of 29 Old 11-22-2011, 02:40 AM
 
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I go to a liberal church. The OP said her mother was a liberal preacher.

 

they are both attending the same church per the OP

 

it can send a very mixed  message and it can come across as offensive, it is not unheard of for so-called liberal church members to want to attend and to ask others

 

understanding shade of difference only extend so far for some families and if both attend the same church is can be very confusing for the other child who does go-many deal with this with not so great outcomes regarding BS as well


 

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#15 of 29 Old 11-22-2011, 07:08 AM
 
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I'm confused. The OPer takes her children to a church that teaches things in their children's programs that she doesn't want her kids to learn?

 

I don't get that. And I don't think it's a long term plan.


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#16 of 29 Old 11-22-2011, 07:11 AM
 
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I don't care if another mother sees my spiritual practices as "mixed a message" about my preferences for my children...being a part of a church (a liberal one at that) does not automatically mean that any kind of religious organization is going to be cool for my kids...and I can't understand why anyone would think that. If she is reading a mixed message, it's no ones fault, but she can't very well call me a hypocrite if I explain that she "thought wrong" about me! We're all just doing what feels right for our families!

 

 

For the record, we are non-christian, but very highly spiritual. We have friends who range from pantheist, to atheist all the way to very conservative penticostal ministers and everywhere in between. Devotion, love and trying to live well in the world, in brotherhood with all the other people and creatures who are sharing this earth experience with us are all very important and encouraged ideas in our families. I believe strongly that exposure to different views and belief systems is important for my kids and I would never shy away from an invitation to attend a liberal service (or even a more strict, conservative service if I went WITH my kids and they were old enough to understand the language and talk with me about it, etc) because it is cool to see the different ways that people practice their love for their God and it will help my kids, i think, to formulate their own believe system and feel lovingly connected to God or whatever, in a way that feels real to them.

 

That being said....I would never, under any circumstances, send my kids to be a part of that program. Awana in some places is pretty mild I think....but I have seen/heard of some Awana "circles" that are operated as full on brainwashing camps. I just would never, ever send a 4 and 7 year old to that kind of thing without me. Ever. Ever. lol.gif Seriously don't judge anyone who does....but if the belief system that is sort of pushed there is not your own...it would be a mistake I think to send your kids. They are too young at 4 and 7 and not being there with them makes it harder to talk about thigns that may not jive with your belief system at home later on.


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#17 of 29 Old 11-22-2011, 07:38 AM
 
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Originally Posted by AverysMomma View Post

. Awana in some places is pretty mild I think....but I have seen/heard of some Awana "circles" that are operated as full on brainwashing camps. 



LMBO!  I have a hard time imagining that.  I'm thinking it was someone's overreaction to something they didn't check into very well before sending their kids.   I've worked with AWANA for almost 40 years, and the kids earn badges by memorizing bible verses.  They play fun outdoor games that keep the whole group busy, and they do an occasional craft, then have a snack.  

 

They get AWANA bucks for the AWANA store, where they can buy cheesy little toys that were purchased at Oriental Trader.  The older kids are given jobs to do (like run the store, or organize the badges, or help set up the carnival night, and run a game booth)  Older kids are taught to help and work by doing some of the set up and clean up each week.

 

But, it always seemed to revolve around the group games.  

 

The thing is, it's a Christian, Bible based organization.  Of course, they will teach the bible.  If someone didn't know that in advance, I could see how they'd be offended when their kids came home with a bible verse to learn.  But, a non Christian would hopefully look into it before agreeing to send their kids.  

 

NO parent should find it offensive that another parent would not want their kids to attend a Christian club.   I can't imagine trying to talk a parent into something they said "No thanks" to... I don't even want their explanation.  I'd just say "OK", and move on to other conversation.   

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#18 of 29 Old 11-22-2011, 08:40 AM
 
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They are probably confused because your kids go to church together and church would seem like a place where you could trust people would be interested in the same religious activities. But I think you can either say no and specifically you aren't interested in Awana, or keep saying no every time until they finally figure it out.

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#19 of 29 Old 11-22-2011, 09:22 AM
 
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Personally, I have a hard time believing anyone's going to be confused by a "no, thank you". People might have a gazillion reasons for saying no. If the OP said "No, we aren't really Christian but we come to church, but don't want our kids to go to Awana," then it would certainly cause confusion. But I didn't get that picture at all. OP, I got the sense that you posted you reasoning for us to see, but that doesn't mean you're walking around the church proselytizing your openness to all faiths.

 

We have families in our church that come to church. The kids don't go to Sunday School, they don't come to Vacation Bible School, they don't take part in activities. They're just as welcome as the families who do all the activities.


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#20 of 29 Old 11-22-2011, 10:22 AM
 
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They are probably confused because your kids go to church together and church would seem like a place where you could trust people would be interested in the same religious activities. 

 

 

generally one does not attend something they do not agree with, be it boy scouts or a church

 

if you don't agree with the doctrine maybe it's not a place you should go or have your children attend - IMO

 

 

this would be an issue if the conversation took place at synagogue and you were being asked to attend a Awana meeting but it happened in a church-I don't get it?


 

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#21 of 29 Old 11-22-2011, 12:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Very interesting, thanks all for your input. fwiw I like the kid who made the invitation, think her mom is great, and I'm pretty sure her mom is okay with me. We actually have a lot in common. The thing about the church, MIL is the preacher. We've actually visited a UU church once, and if we lived in a place with more choices, I would probably investigate them. But the kids love the ritual, they love the people, they see both gparents there participating, and they want to as well. I wouldn't take that away from them. for myself, sometimes I find I am more spiritually fulfilled by staying home and writing or meditating. Have talked about that with the preacher/MIL and she is fine with it. Not worried about what other people think, that's their business, not mine.

 

Awana is not affiliated with this congregation, and takes place at another church which I have never attended. It's a multi-denominational group. I don't hold it against the kid who invited my kids, she enjoys the club and wants to share that with them. Just wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to say about that to her, how much, how to be graceful about it. She's 11, I wonder if it's too early to start talking about inerrancy with her . . . (jk)

 

Interestingly, there have been times when I have spoken in private with some individuals in the congregation about some of my questions about Christianity, and they have all said it's perfectly all right to come to services and ignore anything I don't like. They just want me to come. Which I think is kinda funny. (ha ha funny)

 

Thanks again everybody for this dialog!

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#22 of 29 Old 11-22-2011, 01:10 PM
 
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i can totally understand your point of view. my dh is catholic, as are his parents, and we all go to the same church. im atheist, but whenever i can go to mass, i do. to support my dh, his family, let my kids hear the music. the spanish mass is awesome, super lively and time goes by so quick. i dont go up to take the host but i encourage my dh to go up and take our boys, and when they are older, i will be teaching them that this is just one view of many and they are free to choose. my in laws think i am "lazy" catholic, but i would rather not stir that pot. if everyone around you is one way, its intimidating to yell out to the world that youre the opposite. 

 

im at peace with myself and the choices i make. it sounds like you are too. and i agree, 7 and 4 is too young to leave by themselves in a place where others might (unintentionally or intentionally) sway them from beliefs that you dont share. 
 

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Very interesting, thanks all for your input. fwiw I like the kid who made the invitation, think her mom is great, and I'm pretty sure her mom is okay with me. We actually have a lot in common. The thing about the church, MIL is the preacher. We've actually visited a UU church once, and if we lived in a place with more choices, I would probably investigate them. But the kids love the ritual, they love the people, they see both gparents there participating, and they want to as well. I wouldn't take that away from them. for myself, sometimes I find I am more spiritually fulfilled by staying home and writing or meditating. Have talked about that with the preacher/MIL and she is fine with it. Not worried about what other people think, that's their business, not mine.

 

Awana is not affiliated with this congregation, and takes place at another church which I have never attended. It's a multi-denominational group. I don't hold it against the kid who invited my kids, she enjoys the club and wants to share that with them. Just wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to say about that to her, how much, how to be graceful about it. She's 11, I wonder if it's too early to start talking about inerrancy with her . . . (jk)

 

Interestingly, there have been times when I have spoken in private with some individuals in the congregation about some of my questions about Christianity, and they have all said it's perfectly all right to come to services and ignore anything I don't like. They just want me to come. Which I think is kinda funny. (ha ha funny)

 

Thanks again everybody for this dialog!



 


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#23 of 29 Old 11-23-2011, 09:12 AM
 
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Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

 

 

 

the messages you are sending is the problem! 

 

you could be coming across as a hypocrite in the eyes of the other mother, sending your children yet holding the views you do could be viewed as highly insulting in the community you are in--IMO if you feel the way you do, don't send the kids to church where they are subjected to this and not expected others to question (or be highly bothered by this)-how is this other mother to know and explain it to her child?

 

think of the message this is sending to the other child-they attend the same church but can't go to the program-what is this child to think?

Huh?  Her MIL the kids' grandmother is the preacher of the church they attend.  It would make sense for them to go to that church to see gma even if the OP was Jewish or Muslim or atheist or anything.  

 

I'll explain it to the other kid, "hey kid, gma is the preacher so we come to church.  However, we ain't interest in Awana.  Let's get together for pizza and playtime sometime okay?"

 

Now the other child thinks, "wow sometimes I see people at my church but lo and behold we are not all the SAME!  There is diversity even in places we choose to spend time!"
 

 

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#24 of 29 Old 11-23-2011, 12:18 PM
 
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generally one does not attend something they do not agree with, be it boy scouts or a church

 

if you don't agree with the doctrine maybe it's not a place you should go or have your children attend - IMO

 

 

this would be an issue if the conversation took place at synagogue and you were being asked to attend a Awana meeting but it happened in a church-I don't get it?

Because not all things are created equal?  There are many people who identify with a particular faith but there is much diversity in practice and belief.  A lot of people identify as Jewish but many if not most don't go about dressing in 19th century clothing or covering their heads.  Doesn't change the fact that they engage in certain observances associated with that faith.  I don't see the OP claiming that the doctrine of the church and this outside group are the same.  Am I missing something?  
 

 


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#25 of 29 Old 11-23-2011, 03:44 PM
 
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Because not all things are created equal?  There are many people who identify with a particular faith but there is much diversity in practice and belief.  A lot of people identify as Jewish but many if not most don't go about dressing in 19th century clothing or covering their heads.  Doesn't change the fact that they engage in certain observances associated with that faith.  

I agree... I am Catholic and there is a ton of diversity just within my church, some parishioners are very strict and others are very lax and don't believe all of the Church's teachings. My family is on the strict side. But we also attend a few carefully-selected Buddhist gatherings. I would be very very uncomfortable with DS going to any kind of Buddhist program/club/whatever without me there with him because I am not Buddhist & don't agree with all of Buddhism (some of it is directly contrary to Catholicism) & want to keep tabs on what DS is exposed to at such a young age. We continue going occasionally because I do feel my family benefits from attending, even though we are Catholic & identify as such and want to raise our children in that faith. I think many many families occasionally or even regularly attend different churches/temples/etc. for various reasons, but might not be comfortable with their children being totally immersed in certain faiths.

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#26 of 29 Old 11-30-2011, 08:14 AM
 
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I am much like you however when my older girls were about 8 and 6 they started going to Awanas and really enjoyed it. They went for about 1.5 yrs. When it comes to religious issues I let my girls make their own choices I try not to force my beliefs on them and if they ask me to take them to a certain church or ask to learn about a religion we all try to learn about it together.

Maybe let them go to a couple meetings with you in tow and see how they like it and go from there.


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#27 of 29 Old 11-30-2011, 09:58 AM
 
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Then you respectfully decline telling them it is not your religion. It is ok to be of a different religion and make sure your children know this. I teach my children to be very accepting of other's religions. Maybe you could also google about religions and teach the kids about various belief systems around the world and how others celebrate. That can be fun.

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#28 of 29 Old 12-01-2011, 11:41 AM
 
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At first I thought this was a really off-the-wall analogy--all Jews wearing 19th century clothing?--but it's actually a pretty good comparison.

 

Some Hasidim, members of the Jewish sect that sometimes wear distinctive/old fashioned clothing, do try to involve other Jews in their way of being Jewish. The Lubavitcher Hasidim have an organization called Chabad that provides some really great programming. I don't like what they believe--it doesn't fit with my idea of being Jewish.

 

I could definitely see myself in the OP's shoes, having to tell some sweet, adorable kid that I don't want my child to go to what's probably a lovely activity, because I'm worried about some of the theological content that would only seem obscure and irrelevant to an 11-year-old. 

 

So you know, good explaining for my cultural context, even though I understood that there were different flavors of Christianity out there in the world. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post

Because not all things are created equal?  There are many people who identify with a particular faith but there is much diversity in practice and belief.  A lot of people identify as Jewish but many if not most don't go about dressing in 19th century clothing or covering their heads.  Doesn't change the fact that they engage in certain observances associated with that faith.  I don't see the OP claiming that the doctrine of the church and this outside group are the same.  Am I missing something?  
 

 


 

 


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#29 of 29 Old 12-03-2011, 11:42 AM
 
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I would politely decline and say that you aren't interested in Awana. 

 

But be aware that this will most likely not be the last invitation you will have to refuse. You need to figure out how much involvement in church that you want your children to have. If MIL is a liberal preacher and you have a good relationship with her, you might want to talk with her about it. 

 

Things like this aren't easy. Good luck.


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