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Ask the Patriarch 184
My children are constantly being invited to Sunday School

from: Jason

A discussion on this article has been opened in Debate and Discourse. Please feel free to add your own thoughts to the exchange of views via the contact page


Thank you for accepting my application for ordination and for providing a well constructed website.

My question is concerning children, namely mine, and how to help them avoid becoming outcasts in a small bible belt town. I encourage my kids to think for themselves, but they are constantly being invited to Sunday School by all of their friends.

My kids are eight and under and are not old enough, in my opinion, to be subjected to the influence that is sure to come at said school. I would welcome any advice you have on this subject.

                               Thank you,


The Patriarch replies:


I have not had any direct experience of your situation. I do hope that your question generates some discussion from those who have gone through this.

However I will provide some thoughts.

In my view, this type of invitation does not usually originate with the child. The child's parents, having noticed that you don't go to church have most likely made the suggestion so as to save your childrens' souls.

Depending on your comfort level, you may wish to approach the parents with something like "Our family does not share your religious views. I'm sure that if we tried to indoctrinate your children with our views - and we have no intention of doing so - you would find it an unwelcome intrusion into your family's spiritual life. Please understand why we ask that there be no more of these invitations to your Sunday School. Thank you so much."

Otherwise, you are leaving all the pressure of saying "No" on your kids.

When your children get older, say 10 or so, you might consider letting them attend if they wish. Then, plan on spending at least an hour with them immediately afterward discussing what was presented, obtaining their impressions, and helping them determine whether what was said was reasonable or not.

You write that you encourage your children to think for themselves. This is not enough - and you may already do more than that. You have to give them the tools to think, a grounding in basic logic, rational thinking, and how to identify questionable arguments such as appeals to authority and false analogies.

I do hope there will be some further ideas from those who have dealt with the situation.