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This just burns me up!

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
And it really doesn't even affect me!

My coworker started bringing her daughter to Sunday School at a church that has other programs that kids from her daughter's school participate in. Her daughter is 5, and loves Sunday School.

My coworker isn't a religious person due to her upbringing and some very bad experiences with organized religion. She doesn't want to attend church, but did want her daughter to learn morals and values and about the religion from another source besides her. She asked, multiple times, before signing her daughter up if that is OK that she not attend church but still bring her girl to SS.

Well, now apparently it isn't OK. She got a REALLY nasty letter from the director of SS. The letter said that they are not a babysitting service and the church "will not tolerate" her dropping off her daughter anymore, and that she MUST attend church to have her daughter in SS. So now she has to either tell her daughter that the church won't let her attend without going to church too, which she doesn't want to do and tarnish whatever good feelings she has about the church, or try to convince her that she really doesn't want to go to SS anymore. How sad, considering how much she loves SS.

I think this is about the most un-Christian attitude I have seen in a long time! And then people wonder why so many are turned off by organized religion. I was raised Lutheran, and when I was in high school even taught pre-school Sunday School. Out of the 20 or so kids in there, probably 5-7 were from regular attending church members. It was no problem - even if the parents were using it as a babysitting service for free at least the kids were getting something out of it. I thought churches were supposed to minister to people, not turn away the children because the parents don't conform to their level of piety. ARG!!! It just makes me SO MAD! And it breaks my heart that the little girl is ultimately the one who gets hurt from all this - she made friends there, had fun, learned things, etc.

Is this an anomoly or is this how churches operate anymore?
post #2 of 29
My husband and I dropped out attending organized religious services years ago for similar types of problems. My issue is the conflict between their "rules", and what I feel should be a true religious doctrine, as well as the hypocrisy and apathy of most people that attended the churches we participated in. I can empathize with your coworker for dropping out.

Based on my long ago experience, this doesn't surprise me, but it is a SHAME for the little girl.
post #3 of 29
OMG how sad .
I don't know if she picked her girl up right away from SS or let them wait a half hour or so . That may could be the only reason I can think off she is getting a letter like that . But even then , they could have told her to pick her girl up right at the end of SS .
How ever the church I am going to would never do that , omg . We are more then happy if some one would bring their child in for SS and if she would be late we would take the girl in to church service and thats it . Did you read the letter in person ??? I just cant believe that . Maybe she needs to find a other church for her daugther . B/c that is not christ like what so ever . Jesus said : bring them all to me . Is'nt that not why we also have vacation bible study ? To lead children to christ ? I am just in a shock at this moment .
post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 
I didn't actually read the letter yet, but she is going to bring it in tomorrow so I can help her with a response letter to them. I know her pretty well, and I know she isn't prone to exaggeration, though. She is also very prompt, and I know that she wouldn't just leave her daughter anywhere beyond the scheduled time. It's the "[Name of Church] will not tolerate you dropping off your daughter any longer" that really gets me, and that is a direct quote.
post #5 of 29
What happened to your co-worker and her little girl doesn't suprise me. They should have made the little girl feel very welcome and accepted in Sunday School regardless of whether or not her mom attends that church, and that's what they do at the church I go to. People like that Sunday School director really do a lot to make God and organized religion look really bad, that isn't a Christian attitude at all, and it's such a shame for the little girl. Has your co-worker tried discussing this with the minister?
post #6 of 29
Ahhhhh , I try that chuch befor . There is a few things I believe what is not scripurely (sp) right . I go to a southern baptist church , where I feel that they are most likely to follow the bible . Of course every church is different . Maybe you can ask if she is willing to try a baptist church with her child , to see how she like it . I personaly would encourage her ( your friend ) to get the daughter back into a church . She could tell her daughter , lets have some more fun in a different church .But first I also would check out the church and their rules , in calling them . Also , some churches have some great wednesday night thing going on for the children , like awwanna (sp) ( baptist ) . There they have games and all kind of fun for the children learning about the bible and christ .I know other churches have different things going on for children too . I would call around and see what program they have for children . And go from there .
post #7 of 29
Waaaaaay back when I used to attend church regularly, our church had a church bus that would go around and pick up kids that would otherwise not go to Sunday School because their parents didn't attend church, and didn't want to have to drive them all the way across town ( ). I can't believe a church would turn someone away just because the parent doesn't want to attend services.

But, like Lorie, I'm not particularly surprised.
post #8 of 29
I have heard of this before, a child turned away because the Mother can't or won't attend. There are many people out there that just use the church as a baby-sitter and I don't think that is right but as the pastor of a small country church I would never turn anyone most of all a child away. Maybe the church should go back to the bible and read Matthew 19:13&14. Jesus said "Let the little children come to me." I know of other small town church's that have done the same thing and I don't like it. Most of the time churchs are not as bad as they seem, if someone doesn't know about God sometimes they don't understand the church. It sounds to me like this lady and her daughter should look for a church that she can fit into. Not all church's can fit all people. She should look for one that she can feel good in. She should talk to the Pastor and some of the elders of the church and tell them her fear and what she has gone through. That way she can get a feel of the church before gets into it. All churchs are not like that, most of them will take the child and work on the mother with love and carring. This is the way my church is. We feel with the daughter in SS we have more chance to get the rest of the family in church.
Pastor Ted
post #9 of 29
The hypocrisy of organized religion is what made me give up on church. The Catholic Church wouldn't allow my kids to be baptized there unless the ex and I put up big bucks to have my first marriage annulled. They were baptized in the Protestant Church instead. Then the minister of my particular parish had marital trouble and was getting separated. The congregation turned on him. It is sad, because of my experiences, my kids have had little to no formal religious exposure. Like the little girl in Heidi's story, I always remember enjoying SS as a kid. Not exposing my kids is probably the biggest regret I have as a parent.
post #10 of 29
As a 'tween, Mark expressed an interest in going to Sunday School, in Tombstone. I didn't care for that particular church but, most of Mark's friends went there and I allowed it. Nobody ever said anything to me, about using it for a babysitting service.

When I was a kid, my dad used to pick up kids, whose parents didn't go to church and take them to Sunday School.
post #11 of 29
I know that when we went to CCD there just weren't enough teachers so the classes had to be limited, there for if you were not an active member of the church you could not attend the classes. I kind of think this is fair, or CCD was funded by money raised from the church, and the people that taught it were people from that church. It would be unfair for a child who's family is active not to be able to attend, because the class had kids who's parents were not active. Why not find a non relgious group or start a sunday play group for children, or just become and active member in the church. If we are ever lucky enough to have kids and my child decides they want to be catholic of christian I will attend mass with them even though it is not my faith.
post #12 of 29
If she wants her child to be exposed to religion, find another church! Don't think that one experience defines everyone that is Christian. Think of all of the people you have met that hate Cats and think that they are evil. I have come across SO MANY!
post #13 of 29
You said she had asked several times whether this was kosher (sorry, I couldn't resist) and was told that it was okay. Is it possible that the Director's nose is out of joint because someone other than her said it was okay for her to attend? Can your friend speak to that person again & get it straightened out? Also, I wonder if the church has an official membership, where people pay some annual dues to be considered part of the congregation? I remember that from when I was young, although this was a Catholic Church & the parish dues were very small, since it was a working class neighborhood. If you were a member of the parish, anything that went on there was open to you. My father never went to church, except for baptisms, communions & funerals, and that didn't seem to bother them. One kid in the class didn't go to the children's Sunday Mass with the rest of us, because her parents wanted her to attend the school, but didnt live that close, so on Sundays they went to a different church for mass. I remember that we had a few children who went to public school attend the classes that we had before First Communion & Confirmation.
I think they even scheduled them late in the day to accomodate the kids who weren't in parochial school.

While I understand how some people could think that Sunday School is being used as 'babysitting', I assume this is only for an hour or 2, given the age of the children. It isn't exactly time for dinner & a movie for your friend.
post #14 of 29
This is not right. She should go to the minister and explain why she wants to have her child attend. And, I think that it would be appropriate for her to ask if she can have a copy of the curriculum, in case the child has questions, they can talk about it. And she should ask about the cost, Sunday School programs are funded by church members, and if she is willing to make a donattion to the church, that seems appropriate as well.

I think this is a terrible misunderstanding, and it was way out of line for someone to write a letter like that.
post #15 of 29
Thats horrible, but not surprising. In the past I have been treated as 'unwelcome' at different churches for many different reasons, because I have a visible tattoo being one of the stupidest. It seems its always the most innocent who suffer in cases like this. Do they realize what impression this little girl is going to walk away with of church and religion? So much for acceptance
post #16 of 29
Maybe it is a small church that can only allow some many children in the program. There are permits and fire safty guidelines every building has to follow. I understand them wanting to keep the space open for children who's parents are active in the church. Even in a catholic church our mass was 45 minutes long tops, that is not very much time to sit through to make your child happy. I remember my parents got a notice that was sent out to all parents that they must be active in the church in order for there children to attend.
post #17 of 29
Thread Starter 
Answers to the questions that I know the answers to:

She told me that she talked to the woman who sent the letter, as well as the SS class teacher and a few others who appeared to be in charge. She also said that the letter was obviously hand-typed on a typewriter, so it wasn't a form letter that they use as a matter of policy.

This particular church isn't small, in fact it is pretty large, so I can't see the financial aspects mentioned here. Besides, if it were just about money wouldn't the letter have said something about making a donation or membership annual fees to cover the cost of materials?

I also suggested that she find another church for SS, but she said that the reason she wanted to go to this one is because they have a Wednesday evening program that her daughter attends with many of her classmates. Apparently you don't have to go to church for them to "babysit" on Wednesday, because a lot of the kids from school don't attend SS or church on Sundays.

And as for her sitting through 45 min of church service, trust me it won't happen. She has her reasons, and they are viable and related to some pretty traumatic experiences from her childhood. Regardless, I don't think it's right that they exclude her daughter because of her choices. I just think it's horribly sad, and especially when I think that it probably isn't the first child they have turned away. Many people wouldn't be willing to give another church a chance after such a cold reception like this. The chance is gone for many of them, and regardless of my religious beliefs now, I think that is very sad.
post #18 of 29
I agree with you. That is why I would suggest that she talk to the minister. He needs to know that this is going on, and she needs to know if this is really church policy gone wrong.

I was in a church that was very very enthusiastic about outreach, and bringing in new people. Then, they kicked one child out of Sunday School, because he was causing a fuss. He was the child of church members, long time elders, father chaired the outreach committee, mother sang in the choir. And they were told that their son, who was slightly autistic, was not welcome in Sunday School. That was deplorable. A group of us "joined" the team of teachers, we all took training in special needs education, and we started inviting special needs kids to Sunday School, simply to give their parents a break. We were very successful, and eventually had about a dozen kids enrolled.

At a different church, I had a friend who was adament about not attending, for many of the same reasons you have implied here. But she realized that her children were missing really important education, and she wanted her kids to sing in the junior choir, to learn the really important classical sacred music. So I asked, even if the parents don't attend, can the children join the choir. And they were welcomed with open arms. The policy of the minister was, what ever gets them in the door, we use that. The kids are there every Sunday, and the older boy even did a reading at the Christmas candlelight service (he is 8 years old).

I think that it is despicable to turn a child away from Sunday School, for any reason. I would say, that from the perspective of the church, if the parents don't go to church, then even more reason for them to want to "educate" the children.
post #19 of 29
I am not at all surprised tht a church would do that. When I was a teenager, I got into some trouble, and my parents sent me to boarding school for a year. While I was there, they sent me a letter saying that I was no longer an active, donating member of the church, and they were dropping me from the church roll. I had gone to that church, actually been forced to go, for years, and my family still went there. My mother went there until she was no longer able to dure to health reasons. It caused a huge rift between us that was never settled. Up until a couple years ago, I still got letters from them to attend specific, paying, functions. I consider myself a Christian, but will not participate in organized religion. I have tried from time to time over the years, but I have never been comfortable inside a church since then.
post #20 of 29

This is not how most churches act at all!!! I was shocked when I read your post.

My church is happy to have the children come to Sunday School. I have the priviledge of teaching 5-6 year olds at my church. We are excited over each student, whether or not their parents come to our church or not.

As I mentioned, I was shocked when I read your post. This church has a serious problem.
post #21 of 29
Thread Starter 
Found out a bit more information about the situation, which honestly makes it even more infuriating to me.

The little girl attends the church's kindergarten, which obviously is paid for since it is a private school. The Kids Club thing on Wednesday evenings is also a paid for thing through the church. So apparently, paying for and attending their school isn't good enough to be accepted into Sunday School. Also, she has been attending SS for 5 months and this is the first anything has been said about any "policy" that the parents must attend church every Sunday for the child to be allowed to participate.

I did suggest to her that she make an appointment with the head minister at this church (which I found out this church is HUGE, so money for the SS materials certainly isn't the issue) and find out if it is policy to use children as pawns to bully parents into attending church. I personally think this woman who wrote the letter overstepped, and even if it is policy a) it should have been stated up front when she first registered her daughter, b) not been put off for 5 months while the girl continues to get more and more attached to SS, and 3) handled in a better way, not by sending a rude and nasty letter. She said she will do that, and may ask some other parents who do not attend SS and church if anything has happened to them like this.

Edited to add: I was wrong that she had talked to the Director prior to enrolling, she had talked to many other people about it though. If this is the policy, then this woman needs to make sure that people involved with the SS program know about it at the very least!
post #22 of 29
I still don't understand. We have a church of about 100 people. We would never charge anybody for Sunday School materials! We also have a Wednesday night Kids Club. People drop their children off and come and pick them up. If they can't bring their children to Sunday School or Kids Club, one of the church members would be happy to go pick them up and drop them off afterwards. We have often run home children after Sunday School and do not expect them to stay for church. However, if they would like their children to stay for church, we have a children's church that is geared to their understanding and they also have a craft time.
post #23 of 29
Heidi, this sounds very odd to me. There are huge churches that are very evangelical. They run schools, and after school programs, and all sorts of programs for families. It sounds like this is the kind of church she has encountered.

I am a Christian, and a member of the board of my very staid traditional church. We don't do this.

Some large churches I have encountered like to "pretend" that they are the only path to God. Not other Christian churches, them alone.

No matter how happy her daughter might be, she needs to think about what she will say when the child says that mother is going to hell, because she doesn't go to church.

Unfortunately, these things sometimes go hand in hand, the big corporate church with the school programs, and the very hard line fundamental theology.
post #24 of 29
I haven't read the entire thread. I'm sorry. I'm on a lunch break...three hours...and I'm zooming through the threads on TCS so I hope I don't say anything irrelevant.

First off, I don't practice any form of religion.

However, I did go to Sunday School and my parents didn't attend Church and were clearly part of an ethnic minority group. No one had any talks or sent letters to them to suggest that they should attend Church. There wasn't an issue about this. And I remember other children who also went to Sunday School while their parents did not.

I hope something is sorted out for your friend and her little girl. It sounds to me like a corporate church.
post #25 of 29
If your friend is able to see the minister in charge of the congregation, and he supports the Sunday School director's decision, she should tell him that under the circumstances, it should be he, as 'God's representative' to explain to her little girl why 'God' doesn't want her in this program. Given the fact that she attends a paid K-school there, this whole thing is beyond outrageous. It really sounds like the director got herself into a snit for some reason: maybe she was mad at someone else whom your friend spoke to & took it out on your friend.

In my last year of parochial school (6th grade) my mother had a number of battles royale with the Principal of the school, who was a nun. (My mother was somewhat crazy, and the nun was I think becoming senile, since they had her teaching 6th grade, rather than 8th grade as the Principal traditionally did in the school.) My mother made frequent visits to the convent demanding to see her over something or other, and they never threw me out of school as a result. Part of it was that the nun was upset that I was leaving the Catholic school system to attend one of NYC's public specialized schools, but despite that, they even invited me back for the 8th grade graduation party
post #26 of 29
Something like this happened to my moms family when she was growing up. My mom and aunt went to sunday school and they and my grandparents went to church, but the sunday school teacher asked my grandparents not to bring my aunt and mom back because they didn't have the right clothing!! Because my grandmother made the clothes and didn't buy them. Can you believe that. My grandfather refused to go to any church after that.
post #27 of 29
Thread Starter 
I told my friend that I had started this thread and gave her a printout of everyone's comments. She said that the support she got just from reading it made her feel a lot better, that she isn't just overreacting to nothing. She is also incorporating some of the comments from here into her letter to the church.

She also talked with another parent last night and found out that the other parent had been told the same thing. At the same time, she has had offers from at least two people to pick up her daughter for SS, people who are members of the church. Obviously, if this is a policy that isn't selectively enforced, it certainly isn't widespread knowledge. She is debating whether or not to make an appointment with the minister because she has met with him before and didn't get a real positive feeling, and it seems he is VERY staunch in his VERY conservative beliefs.

She is going to start looking for another SS to bring her daughter to, preferably a non-denominational church that is more in tune with her own beliefs and who will accept it if she still isn't comfortable attending services.
post #28 of 29
Wow--I really feel bad for this precious little girl. I am baptist, and I started to attend my grandfather's church back when I was in high school and if I ever missed a Sunday or two they would corner me and ask me where I was and was very very very negative towards me. I finally stopped going because I was very uncomfortable with the people. When my grandmother died in June, they were very sweet to me and the first time ever made me feel good about myself. I vowed not to go back anyway because I didn't want them to do the same thing to me. I really want to be in a church, but I don't know where to go! My husband likes to sleep in late that makes it even harder.

I really hope she takes her out of this church because they don't seem to want to do what is best for her and what God wants. It is a horrible thing to tell a child that she can't see her friends and go to the church anymore...but she will make new friends. If she decided to do that, then bringing her up in a church that is respectful to you and most of all, her...she will have a great experience and would want to raise her child(ren) in a church. I am sure the mother is devestated because she doesn't want her daughter to have negative feelings towards tell her my prayers are with her and good luck! Keep us posted..please!
post #29 of 29
I agree with everything here, but I want to suggest that when she before she makes the appointment with the head of the church, do a little spying. Find out who else received the letter. Does the church have a hierarchy above the ministers? (Ie: the priests in a catholic church have to answer to bishops, who answer to cardinals, etc) Then invite all the parents that received the letter AND the minister's boss to the meeting. Maybe even a few members of the church that offered to bring her daughter to SS and support her. Maybe even a few members of the press??

When someone does something like this to me, I RETALIATE
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