Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Are These Really ‘Non-Religious Reasons to Take Your Kids to Church’?

Are These Really ‘Non-Religious Reasons to Take Your Kids to Church’?:
Daddy blogger Nick Shell thinks it’s a good idea for everybody to take their children to church, “not from a religious perspective, but from more of a scientific one.” Because, you know, surveys show churches are good for your well-being.
This is for the agnostics who are curious about taking their kids to church, as well as, for those who haven’t had much exposure to church but are curious enough to consider checking it out.
Ok, ok, I’m an atheist and Shell’s not really targeting me… but this is a bad idea for agnostics. And anyone else not part of a church system.
Because you don’t need a church to live a happier life. You really just need a tight-knit community, in any form.
But Shell didn’t say that. He thinks there are eight “non-religious reasons to take your kids to church.” On that point, he’s soooooo wrong.

Let’s go through his list, shall we?
1. Friends. For you as well as your kids. Most of my friends and my wife’s friends are somehow traced back to our church. In fact, we met each other through a mutual friend that I met through a group of friends I knew through my church.
2. Community. Similarly, you find yourself among other people who are bound to have things in common with you and your children; even if it’s just the fact you are parents with kids around the same age at the same place.
Yes, it’s great to have friendships that are contingent on your acceptance of Jesus Christ and all the mythology associated with him. (Who wants to bet that if your child tells his Sunday School classmates he’s an atheist, he’ll be shunned pretty quickly?)
Look, you don’t need a church to meet people anymore. It’s easy to find groups based on your actual interests (Meetup.com is a good place to start) and those friendships won’t require you to sit through long explanations of why someone died for sins you never committed and then came back to life, thus nullifying the whole idea of dying for your sins.
Going to a church offers no guarantee that you’ll have things in common with the other parents there any more than you’d find like-minded families while sitting in the bleachers at a baseball game. The one thing churchgoers have in common is their faith — and if you don’t have it, then church isn’t going to be the best place to meet people.
3. Activities and events. There is always something happening on the church calendar and much of it involves free food. Not to mention, most of the activities themselves don’t cost anything to participate. Basically, it’s free entertainment with families you have stuff in common with.
… the hell?
Yeah, I’m sure all of the Church’s events are secular in nature… you think you’re just going swimming. Next thing you know, your kids have been baptized.
Even eating the “free food” probably involves praying over it first.
I’m not blaming the churches for this. They’re a church. This is what they do. But you can’t honestly suggest families who aren’t interested in religion would enjoy a church’s activities.
And I don’t think it’s right for non-religious families to take advantage of a church’s free food, anyway. If they’re planning and holding events and paying for food, let them enjoy it! Stop mooching off of them because you didn’t plan out your food budget properly.
4. Child care. Free child care. While you are in the main worship service, as well as Sunday School, your kids are being supervised and taught in their own age appropriate Sunday School and worship service where they make you crafts out of construction paper and popsicle sticks.
Right… Because Sunday School is all about crafts and fun, and not about brainwashing and proselytizing.
Again, there are better ways to teach your kids ethics and morals than to send them to Sunday School where those values tend to be warped, anyway.
No doubt the non-religious community could do a better job of offering something akin to Secular Sunday School classes for children… but, in the meantime, the church isn’t an acceptable alternative.
5. Family values. Church is a great place to get moral reinforcement. It’s no secret that pop culture, everyday life, and even just our own negativity can be a drag on our ideal personal standards.
Did he just say churches can teach us morals…? Really?!
So Shell thinks the same people who believe that gays and lesbians are condemned to spend eternity in hellfire, that women who get raped ought to bear their rapist’s baby rather than have an abortion, that pre-marital sex is always a bad thing… are the people who we should look to as moral experts?
Not. A. Chance.
Keep your children away.
6. Motivation. Imagine the hope that comes out of the belief that the creator of this universe not only loves you but has a plan for your life. When you go to and belong to a church, you are exposed to a way of thinking that ultimately affects how you see the world, yourself, and others.
… and it’s all made up. Shell would rather live a life of blissful delusion than one with honest self-reflection.
He may not care about the truth, but I do. And I hope my kids do, too.
And wasn’t this supposed to be a list of non-religious reasons to go to church? How is this non-religious?
7. Opportunities to help others. You’d be amazed at some of the unique ways you can help others and your community through your church. It is likely you will find a venue to serve others in a way that is framed around your talents and abilities.
Ok, I’ll almost concede this one. I’ve said before that churches do charity much better than atheists do… but their charity too often comes with strings attached. They’ll help you… but you have to accept the Bible.
Atheists have ways to help each other. You can donate to charity and volunteer in person.
Church leaders aren’t the only people who offer those opportunities. So start looking elsewhere and you might be surprised at what you’ll find.
8. Routine. When you expose yourself and your kids to all this positivity every week, after a while you’re bound to see a noticeable difference in the way your family interacts.
I don’t even get that. What, you’ll eventually notice you’re all sniping at each other because it’s too damn early to wake up on a Sunday morning?
If you want routine, plan an exercise route. Go volunteer every week. Visit a library.
Don’t fill your mind with nonsense.

I don’t even know why churches would want non-religious families to attend. We’d be the parents sitting in the back of the pew, holding “Citation Needed” signs during the sermon, teaching our children to question authority and demand evidence for supernatural claims… It’s everything the church doesn’t want.
I accept that if you actually believe what Christianity preaches, you may get a lot of benefits from attending church.
But if you’re not religious and you care about your children learning evidence-based truth, you’re wasting your time (and doing a lot of harm in the process) by taking your children to church.
What would you be teaching your kids, anyway? “Hey, son, I want you to be a hypocrite and not stand up for what you believe in… because there’s free food involved.”
(Thanks to Marguerite for the link)

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