Should I let my child go to a church club?

I’m an atheist, always have been always will be. But I am open minded when it come to finding out about others religions.

For the last 4 years the child (during the winter) has been going to a “kids club” thingy at a local church. He goes because he enjoys it. All his mates are there (yes he is a geek :D), it’s 2 hours out on a Friday night and they do things he enjoys.

NZ said has “bible in schools” officialy not during school hours and only half an hour a week (schools can opt in or out of this), the child attended during his first year at school but after a “mum you are wrong” discussion, I opted him out untill he was 10 (no that was not an age I just arrived at…different school).

But at ten I thought he was old enough to start thinking about religion for himself. He quickly took himself out of “bible in schools” but just as quickly joined this youth group at a church his mates went to. To be fair only one out of his small circle attends the church, the others just enjoy the “kids club”.

He arrived home tonight with a permission slip for a camp (a weekend), it lists all the activities for the camp “Auckland’s coolest flying fox and the most awesome confidence course and extreme downhill trollies” :smiley: and then “Short but sweet talks on how to relate better with your friends, family and God”
I’m in a bit of a dither.

Should I let him go? The plus is lots of fun and terror (knowing the child). The minus is a shitload of religion all weekend “God let you survive extreme downhill trolly racing”

I don’t mind him going but does that make me a flaming hypocrite ? I feel a bit weird sending the child off to a Christian weekend. I don’t know if I am cheating them, him or me.

Should I let him go? Everytime I think NO I think …ahhhhhhhh but would a fundy christian let their kid go in a atheist weekend?. Then I want him to go. But in my heart I don’t want him to go. I want to be all “fundy” and say “Don’t you preach to my child”.

I should stop thinking let him go really I spose?

I don’t see where the hypocrite part comes in.

Ultimately I think it comes down to what you think of your kid and the program. Maybe you should find out more about it (and I’d recommend not letting on your atheism while asking).

Well, Catholic checking in here. If it’s a “fundie” group, better off finding another camp for him. But if it’s a moderate Christian group that will expose him to religion, what’s the harm? They may offer a way of thinking that exposes him to thinking of life outside himself. I can accept your atheism, and from what I’ve seen in your posts could probably consider you a friend if we ever met. But again, why deny him religion? If he rejects it on his own, that’s his choice.

Now here’s a question for you. If he denies religion, will you take responsibility? You’ll have to if you steer him in that direction. However, if he denies it on his own, without your persuasion, he’s made a choice.

One more question. And this I’ve always been curious about when parents are atheists. If he decides to be Christian (or any other faith) How do you reconcile his beleif of eternal life with your rejection of it?

(That’s not a flame, I’m genuinley (sp?) curious on that point.

I don’t think you’re being hypocritical - you’re being a concerned parent about allowing the influence of something that you don’t happen to agree with.

My first reaction seeing this is that, while the group the child is involved with is officially linked to a church group, he’s already getting some indoctrination there from those people. This may be a more intensive version of it, but if the first situation doesn’t really bother you, what do you expect will happen in 2 days to change your child’s mind?

Like Marley23 I’d suggest finding out more about the religious teaching behind the camp - and specifically what they’ll be teaching. I get the impression that you don’t object to the general moral standards promoted by the community that your child is involved with - and if this is going to be more of the same, why sweat it? OTOH, if it is something more dogmatic than such general things I can understand your desire not to allow your child to go.

Unlike Marley23, though, I’d suggest when talking to the people involved that you do admit being an athiest - explain your concerns. If they get into a huff - seems a good reason NOT to let your child go. IMNSHO, they won’t be the best ambassadors of Christ anyways. :smiley: (I get the impression you’re talking about an Xtian group. If I’m wrong, my apologies.) Given that they have to be aware that neither you nor your child go to religious services regularly, I doubt that’s going to be a surprise for them, honestly.

Again, a lot is going to depend upon what kind of situation this is. It could be very little more than simply singing ‘Kum-By-Ya’ at campfires, and having daily prayers. Or it could be the high pressure sell indoctrination that you seem to be afraid it is. I guess, what I’m trying to say is that if you’re willing to trust your boy’s judgement enough to let him remain involved with this group, at least give them the chance to reassure you that there will be nothing more insidious than the religious influences he has already chosen to face, and that you’ve agreed to let him face.

I hope that can offer some help for you.

I say let him go, assuming he really wants to. I would talk to him, both before and after – an honest, open discussion of what his feelings are about the church and its teachings. If this is something that’s really speaking to him, that he really enjoys, then I think the best course is to let him explore it. Of course, in talking to him about it you may discover that the God part of it doesn’t really appeal to him and that he’s just doing it for the fun, which is fine too.

I’ve always been a big believer in letting kids (once they reach a certain age, of course) explore the bigger things for themselves, as long as they know that that they have a parent(s) who will love them and support them no matter what.

And I say all this as someone who’s coming from the opposite side of things as your son – I was dragged pretty deeply by my mother into a super fundamentalist church for the formative years of my youth (12 - 18). While I do believe in God and want to even things out with my spirituality, nowadays just going to church is a real emotional challenge for me, because I witnessed, was victim to, and too often a willing participant in a lot of stupidity and ignorance, and I will be damned (heh) if I go back down that road.

Looking back I really wish she had given me gentle guidance instead of handing down holy dictums from on high. I know she was just doing what she believed was right, but at the same time I think I’d be a lot more at peace with my faith if she had kind of let me figure things out for myself, you know?

My thinking was that they could just bullshit her to assuage her concerns. Or even give her kid that much more of an earful later on.

And I can’t tell you you’re wrong with your concers. :frowning:

I’m just going on the fact that she’s been relatively comfortable with her child’s interaction with this group for the nonce, so trust seems reasonable to extend. And it is easier for me to make that suggestion because: It’s not my child; and I am a Catholic.

OTOH, while anyone can bullshit someone in a short meeting, I’d put faith in her kid’s own BS detector: I don’t know many 10 yo’s who will fall for a line being put out by someone they interact with regularly.

Certainly there are hard-core fundie places out there, but most church camps for children that age go pretty light on doctrine and focus more on little morality tales and “doing the right thing” type lessons, so I doubt if he’s going to come home and ask if you’ve acepted the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior.

Here’s my question. You said you think he’s old enough to start thinking about religion himself, and that he’s already attending a church youth group. Do you think 48 hours straight is going to warp him more than two hours a week for the last four years?

My guess is the church chose this camp with the idea that the religious flavor will be roughly the same as what it’s already doing on Friday nights - no more, no less. If you’re concerned, ask the youth leader just how smelly the “shitload of religion all weekend” will be.

Either you’ve indulged in a big bit of hyperbole here, or christian childrens’ camps over there are run by guys who live with their followers in “compounds” where they await the “end times” because their leader is Jesus reborn… :rolleyes: Of course, these sorts of places don’t really tend to advertise much…

Maybe you should talk to the folks who run the camp, bearing in mind that their beliefs don’t match yours, and see what kind of vibe you get from them - do you feel like they’ll cram religion down your kid’s throat, or do you feel like they might use a light dose of religion and a lot of organized fun to try to help your kid build self confidence and be a better person?

As stated, if they are fundies, it is a bad idea. Some of those weekend get togethers are more in line with brain washing camps. I would hesitate on over night trips too, being if the above is true, your kid goes through a weekend of hell. You might want to go to the church or some other day function to make the call yourself.

As for me, I am an atheist, but while growing up, I used to attend an outreach program by the local church after school. We did games and crafts, got a snack, and heard bible stories. Nothing wrong with that.

He’s been hanging out with this group for four years.

You said you thought it was time for him to make up his own mind.

What do you think is going to happen on a two day trip that has happened in the past four years?

If he wants to, let him go.

Let him go. Short of the group being a cult out to brainwash unsuspecting young 'ums (and if they were, you’d have known about that long before this), it sounds like a harmless weekend. And if it prompts more discussions with you and your son about religion, God, and atheism, all the better.

Maybe not a “flaming” hypocrite, but IMHO, yes, it is hypocritical. And you’d be cheating him.

What is the reason you dislike “fundies?” Because they are Christian? Or because they force their religious views onto everyone else and are not accepting of people with different religious views? If you trust your son and you feel he’s old enough to make up his own mind, then you should give him the chance to learn about religions other than your own (or, your own lack of one). There’s a chance he just wants to hang out with friends and the religion to him is just secondary – I know that’s how it was with every Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Christian camp, etc. that I ever went to.

Again, my opinion: you got the chance to decide for yourself that you’re an atheist and you always will be; he should get the same chance. The only question is whether or not you believe he’s old enough not to be so impressionable that he’d end up lock-step with people he doesn’t truly agree with. And that’s for you to decide, since none of us know the child.

Don’t let him go.

There certainly has to be some other camp with kids from different religions that offer the same fun things to do - without the blunt, or subtle, religious teachings.

I am not saying these are evil people…most likely they are truly wonderful folks.

But a 10 year old is easily swayed, and this is not the time to throw him to the Christians…do you think a lot of Jewish/Muslim folks are sending their kids there?

For instance, I would never send my kid to a Republican Party camp in the US, even if they got free pie. I would also not send my kid to the Waco Paramilitary Day Camp. Nor do they get to go to the teen nudist camp (a true recent news story).

Your gut is telling you this is not a good thing.

Put him in some form of boy scout camp, or computer camp, or whatever. There really has to be a happy alternative.

Thanks for the replies guys.

I have nothing against this group really. Many of them are very nice people. I’m not afraid of them converting him, he’s old enough to know his own mind. If he wants to become Christian, Jewish or Hari Krishna that’s up to him.

My feelings were more about me then him. As a parent aren’t we supposed to want our children to share our beliefs? So isn’t shipping him off for a weekend of something against my beliefs a weird thing for me to do?

Like you all said. It is 2 days. It won’t kill him. I will just pretend to myself that he has gone on an “extreme downhill trolley” camp :smiley:

Duffer he’s my child, whatever he believes will happen to him after death is fine by me. Me I will be dust. (and thank you for your kind words :slight_smile: )

DMark you summed up my feelings very well. The child is 13 now though and although a whole weekend is different from 2 hours ona friday night, I have been letting him hang around with this group. I think I will let him go and just have a giggle with him about it afterwards.

If they ask for parent help that is when I will put my foot down. :slight_smile:

This seemed to me the telling point and I liked what you said here. He is old enough to think about it himself - so I think you are doing the right thing by letting him make the choice.

I think that the primary goal of a parent is to raise a moral, capable, happy person—not to make your kid into an ideological carbon-copy of yourself!

If you give your son the equipment to be a critical thinker and have thoughtful discussions with him about religion, and he decides to be a Christian, I don’t think you’ve failed in your duties as a parent. It would be worse if you constantly derided religion and attempted to shield him from religious viewpoints.

However, I agree that it’s a good idea to check out this organization. Maybe you could talk to other parents whose childred did the same retreat to get a realistic picture of what it’s like. It’s probably harmless, but who knows, they could go in for the creepy high-pressure tactics. And before I saw your reply, I was going to suggest you might go along as a chaperone just so’s you could keep an eye on things, but looks like you’re not interested in being there.

Podkayne I do not care if he shares the same beliefs as me when he is an adult. I don’t actually care if he wants to go to church even as a child. He’s old enough to decide for himself. I do not deride anyones elses beliefs.

My question was, is it weird for a parent to ship them of to a camp that holds veiws that oppose their own?

DMark said he wouldn’t let his kid go to Republican camp. I’m sure a PETA parent wouldn’t let their kid go to bull fighting camp. Would a Christian paent let their kid go to Hari Krishna camp?

My feelings are not for my son. I’m sure he will have a great time and will believe what he want to believe. I just felt part of a parents job is to teach them what they believe and to “protect” them from things they felt were “wrong”.

Why is it people insist atheists must expose their kids to religion anyway? Nobody insists Christians, Jews, Muslims etc expose their kids to each others religions. At the end of the day we all decide what we want to believe for ourselves whether were exposed to it as a child or not.

To admit that this is all about you means you’ve already stepped back and tried to look at the big picture. I’m not too crazy about FC philosophy because of the amount of theological compartmentalization required to sustain a belief structure (they have an answer for everything).

I would be willing to bet that you, as an atheist, find yourself in awe of the magnitude of the universe. That alone leads to thoughts of a grand scheme. You may not believe in God but you certainly exhibit the desire to work toward a greater good.

I haven’t seen the inside of a church for a long time and that bothered my mother until a Nun told her that my heart was in the right place and that ultimately was what Jesus wanted (or something to that effect).

The ability to look at the big picture means you don’t know all the answers, but you have a pretty good idea of the direction to travel. That’s been my litmus test for people I want to interact with. It works well in business and at home.