VBS Wars - Should I Start One?
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
12-07-2011, 07:51 AM
VBS Wars - Should I Start One?
Hey everybody. Sorry this may be a little long, but I'd appreciate input.

I've been less active for a while now, for many reasons. Lots of stuff going on at home, trying to sell our house, had a baby (girl #3!) and busy with work. But I'm faced with a situation now and am seeking some advice from the community here.

For newer members, or those that don't remember, I'm an atheist married to a theist. I won't go into everything, if you're interested you can probably find older posts of mine going into more detail about my situation. My wife and I have calmed down quite a bit over the last year - there are subjects we avoid sometimes but we've reached a bit of a plateau on religious things. I wouldn't call things resolved exactly, but there's more of an overall tolerance between us and the religious stuff. Of course, for the time being, we're also living with my (religious) in-laws while we try to sell our home.

So my 2 older daughters, ages 5 and 7, and their 2 cousins, started Vacation Bible School this week. For those that don't know, VBS is usually a week-long program at a church in which the kids go once a day for a couple of hours to do fun activities coupled with religious brainwashing er, teaching - like a church day camp basically. I'm not exactly fond of this idea as you can imagine, but I put up with it. I often hope that it may bring up points of conversation between myself and my kids, and maybe even my wife. So last night my kids (and niece) tell me they learned about god. And monkeys. (?) And then my oldest daughter, who knows I don't believe in god, says "Daddy, god is real. And he's in heaven, watching us." Rather than entering a he said/she said with a 7 year old, I asked - "where is heaven?" My 4 year old niece replied "in the sky! in the clouds!" to which I said "heaven is not in the sky or the clouds." I was thrilled to hear my 7 year old - who had just proclaimed how real god was, use one of the rebuttals I had given her: "if heaven was in the clouds, the airplanes would see it when they go up. And they haven't seen any heaven." Hooray! So I told them the next time they were at VBS, to ask if anyone knows where heaven is.

Anyway, on to this morning, when I came across the handout from one of their classes from last night. Which reads: "The Truth about Life. God created humans in His own image on Day Six of Creation Week about 6,000 years ago (Genesis 1). We're not just another animal, and we didn't come from an ape-like creature. God created apes, and God created humans, but God didn't create ape-men. We are special and set apart from His other creations." Ah. They learned "about God. And monkeys." I see.

Now, I'm no biologist. I'm no expert on evolution, or geology. But obviously this one little paragraph is so full of false statements that I feel compelled to combat it. This is the same crap I was fed as a child and I refuse to sit idly by while my kids are told things that go completely against the best evidence that we have. If they want to believe in God that's fine, but I'm not going to have this anti-scientific drivel go unchallenged right in front of me.

So my question is how would you proceed? Do I sit down with my kids (and not my nieces - I'd love to but I'm not getting mixed up in that) and go over evolutionary facts with them alone? Anybody have any really simple books to recommend for that? Do I contact the church and try to converse with whoever is in charge of this VBS program to voice my displeasure? Do I post a picture of this handout to facebook and ask religious people why they feel the need to lie to children? All of the above? The facebook thing is probably not the best idea, but oh man would it feel good.

Anyway, thanks for reading and any advice you all can offer.

Our brains deceive us on a regular basis, so we have to find ways to fight back.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like TheSixthGlass's post
12-07-2011, 08:58 AM
 
RE: VBS Wars - Should I Start One?
Well, I don't know anything about your situation or family other than what you've posted in this topic. But in a similar situation to yours, my (very biased and potentially impractical) priorities would be the following:

1) The well-being of my kids. Any kind of indoctrination like what they teach at that VBS would be completely unacceptable (to me), and I wouldn't allow it, especially at such an impressionable age. That's just my bias though, I think any kind of religious upbringing can be very harmful and confusing when a kid starts to question their beliefs.

2) Spouse's opinion on the matter. I can't be considered a perfect judge of what's good for my kids, and I can't count my opinion as any more valid than the other parent. There needs to be some kind of consensus on this, and each parent trying to influence the kids behind the others' back would be the worst possible way to go about it.

I think a reasonable agreement is no religious indoctrination and no teaching the kids things that are demonstrably false (like YEC). It is acceptable to teach the kids about the bible, but not as if it were true. Teach them what the bible says, let them read it when they're old enough for the more graphic material, and let them decide for themselves. Tell them that you don't believe it and their mother does. Tell them why you each feel the way you do, and teach them to be skeptical and not take any religious dogma on faith. Don't try to teach them it's a load of crap while your wife teaches them it's true. This is something the two of you should do together, in a way that you can both agree upon. Not something to do separately, and definitely not something to leave to a church.

103) What color shirt I should wear tomorrow.

104) In-laws opinions. I wouldn't tolerate any pressure to send them to VBS or attempted interference from people who have no business interfering. Just as you would restrain yourself from teaching your nieces that the bible isn't true, they shouldn't get involved in how your kids are taught.

105) Church's feelings on the matter. Just like your in-laws, they have no business teaching this nonsense to your kids.
Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Zach's post
12-07-2011, 09:12 AM
RE: VBS Wars - Should I Start One?
Hey, Six.

I had a very good friend that was (to be ludicrously simplistic) a primitivist. He was very smart, his master's thesis is regarded as a work of exceptional importance, yada yada. His wife did not share his views. He struggled with this for many years, until he realised that his wife didn't have to believe the same things that he did. They're both individuals and have their own worldviews. Once he understood that, he stopped feeling like he had to convince her of anything and all of the friction disapeared. They are now happy.

I offer that as advice for you and your wife. Fuck worldviews. Love the person.

As for the children, you guys need to be on the same page, for sure. For sure.

If she's teaching them creationist stuff and you, for example, go behind her back and undermine it, that's wonky to the Nth degree. If you teach them science and she undermines that, that's BS too.

I'm not saying raise them Christian or raise them scientists. I would imagine that the best route for you two would be to teach them both traditions, make it clear that mommy believes X and daddy believes Y and it's allright to have different beliefs, but whatever the solution, it will only come from you and your wife sitting down and coming to an agreement/compromise about how to raise the kids (my mother was a protestant and my dad a Catholic, so they decided not to baptise me as a different example of compromise). Anything else, any non-united, non-thought-out, non-solution will only disrupt your marriage and harm the children.

You're a team. You have to accept that you have different world views and that you simply cannot teach your children just one without one partner being shut out. So figure out, through conversation, how to be united.

That's as good advice as I can give not knowing either of you or the particulars of your life together, so take it for what it's worth.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Ghost's post
12-07-2011, 09:24 AM (This post was last modified: 12-07-2011 09:29 AM by TheSixthGlass.)
RE: VBS Wars - Should I Start One?
Thanks for the input - I realized shortly after I posted this that I left out another option, which is discuss this with my wife. But I was kinda pissed off this morning. Smile And that's probably the best option - problem being is that she's a YEC, so this will inevitably lead to a conflict of some sort, which is probably why I didn't really think of it to begin with. Oh well, we haven't had a good religious discussion in awhile, guess it's time to give it another shot.

The good news is that she has not completely ruled out the possibility of an old earth, so I might "win" on that one.

The reason I brought up the possibility of contacting the leader(s) of the VBS, is because whenever my wife and I have these conversations, she defaults to other people (church members, pastor, etc) and accepts their apologetics. Therefore part of me wants to go straight to the source, since those people are who I'm technically arguing with.

Le sigh.

edit: Also, for clarification, I wasn't considering "going behind anyone's back" and I try to show them my viewpoint (or scientific facts, whichever the case may be) without telling them that they're wrong, or their mother is wrong, or whatever. I'm not trying to do anything underhanded, but I am doing what I can to make sure my voice is heard.

Our brains deceive us on a regular basis, so we have to find ways to fight back.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-07-2011, 09:27 AM
RE: VBS Wars - Should I Start One?
The only thing I would say since you've already allowed them to go to this brainwashing camp is to let your wife know that the girls should be allowed to see both sides of the story equally, so as to have all the tools available when making the decision of what to believe.

I agree with your facebook idea, it would be awesome, if only it wasn't such an obviously bad idea. I almost think we should all group up on the damn thing so that when one of us slips up and reveals our true nature we have more back-up.

http://www.the-best-childrens-books.org/...plans.html

I also think you should show them some books and information on evolution, and when the kids eventually ask your honest opinion on the subject, even though your wife might disagree, I would recommend honesty. They will thank you later.

It's definitely too early and unfair to be teaching kids about christ and god. Any god even. They not only don't have the information to make an informed choice they don't have the capacity to understand that the whole god thing might just not be true. I think it is a form of abuse to subject your child to beliefs that are potentially harmful when they aren't even provable. I understand it's a sticky situation though. One I hope to never be in. It would literally end my relationship if my wife wanted to put our daughter through any kind of religious camp. And I love her to pieces. I feel for you man. Ugh that would suck.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-07-2011, 09:44 AM
RE: VBS Wars - Should I Start One?
It may be a little late, but perhaps next year you should think about camp quest?

http://www.campquest.org/

Camp quest is a secular summer camp which encourages critical thinking and discussion. It also has all of the other camp stuff too, like hiking, fishing, archery and all of that.

Oh VBS...

I think you research about child indoctrination, I believe they did studies on it and it showed how children can be negatively affected by it. Tell her that you would love for her to share her beliefs with your children, but until they are old enough to appreciate them.

When I was 7 I thought church and Sunday school was totally lame... as did most of you I'm sure.

In the end, it's only one week. Take her to a museum and call ahead and have a curator or better yet a real scientists take you on a tour (many local/small museums offer this, you just need to ask). Children are fascinated by the natural world... I'm quite sure she would like that much more then coloring with Jesus.

[Image: 1471821-futurama_bender_s_big_score_imag...er-1-1.jpg]
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-07-2011, 09:57 AM
RE: VBS Wars - Should I Start One?
And to clarify as to the length of the "camp" - this is 5 nights for a couple of hours a night. Extended Sunday School, basically.

If it were to come to a full blown, week long, all day and night immersion in a Jesus Camp, my foot would be firmly down.

I'd love to send them to Camp Quest, looks like my oldest will be old enough next year. We'll see how it goes.

Our brains deceive us on a regular basis, so we have to find ways to fight back.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-07-2011, 10:10 AM
RE: VBS Wars - Should I Start One?
I think the best option is to present them with both sides of the argument. If your wife is YEC then she no doubt likes the fact that they are learning about it at VBS. I do not agree with that but there is nothing you can do about that now. Instead, teach them the scientific alternative. I have not looked into any children's evolution or geology textbooks but a good natural history museum should have some as well as some excellent exhibits to get their imaginations going. When presented with both sides of the argument they will try to reason out what they believe. They may be to young (especially the 4 year old) to fully grasp geology/evolution right now but the images will stick and so will the questions. Make sure to bring the wife too! Me and my wife are in the same boat. She is a theist and I am of course an atheist. We are expecting a bundle of joy here in about 7 months and this is something we have discussed. As we have begun to discuss it she has not conceded her beliefs but she has learned to realize that the scientific principles behind mine are sound. Anyways perhaps this would be a good learning experience for everyone (the museum and the situation)! That, and I love any excuse to go to a natural history museum!

“Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.”
—Thomas Henry Huxley
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-07-2011, 10:17 AM
RE: VBS Wars - Should I Start One?
(12-07-2011 10:10 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  I think the best option is to present them with both sides of the argument. If your wife is YEC then she no doubt likes the fact that they are learning about it at VBS. I do not agree with that but there is nothing you can do about that now. Instead, teach them the scientific alternative. I have not looked into any children's evolution or geology textbooks but a good natural history museum should have some as well as some excellent exhibits to get their imaginations going. When presented with both sides of the argument they will try to reason out what they believe. They may be to young (especially the 4 year old) to fully grasp geology/evolution right now but the images will stick and so will the questions. Make sure to bring the wife too! Me and my wife are in the same boat. She is a theist and I am of course an atheist. We are expecting a bundle of joy here in about 7 months and this is something we have discussed. As we have begun to discuss it she has not conceded her beliefs but she has learned to realize that the scientific principles behind mine are sound. Anyways perhaps this would be a good learning experience for everyone (the museum and the situation)! That, and I love any excuse to go to a natural history museum!
Right on. Smile

Our situation was more like: we were both vague cultural Christians when we got married, neither of us cared for organized religion or church, but somewhere after we had kids her earlier indoctrination kicked back in and I think she got scared that she wasn't raising our children "right." Enter the search for a church... followed by her re-conversion... followed by baptism. I on the other hand looked at all of it with a more critical and skeptical eye than I ever had before, and realized there was no support for it (Christianity in particular) and became and atheist.

Unfortunately we don't have any natural history museums close by, but we do have a nice Adventure Science Center for kids here. And I need to get them in there ASAP. Perhaps a weekend trip...

Our brains deceive us on a regular basis, so we have to find ways to fight back.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes TheSixthGlass's post
12-07-2011, 10:22 AM
RE: VBS Wars - Should I Start One?
(12-07-2011 10:17 AM)TheSixthGlass Wrote:  
(12-07-2011 10:10 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  I think the best option is to present them with both sides of the argument. If your wife is YEC then she no doubt likes the fact that they are learning about it at VBS. I do not agree with that but there is nothing you can do about that now. Instead, teach them the scientific alternative. I have not looked into any children's evolution or geology textbooks but a good natural history museum should have some as well as some excellent exhibits to get their imaginations going. When presented with both sides of the argument they will try to reason out what they believe. They may be to young (especially the 4 year old) to fully grasp geology/evolution right now but the images will stick and so will the questions. Make sure to bring the wife too! Me and my wife are in the same boat. She is a theist and I am of course an atheist. We are expecting a bundle of joy here in about 7 months and this is something we have discussed. As we have begun to discuss it she has not conceded her beliefs but she has learned to realize that the scientific principles behind mine are sound. Anyways perhaps this would be a good learning experience for everyone (the museum and the situation)! That, and I love any excuse to go to a natural history museum!
Right on. Smile

Our situation was more like: we were both vague cultural Christians when we got married, neither of us cared for organized religion or church, but somewhere after we had kids her earlier indoctrination kicked back in and I think she got scared that she wasn't raising our children "right." Enter the search for a church... followed by her re-conversion... followed by baptism. I on the other hand looked at all of it with a more critical and skeptical eye than I ever had before, and realized there was no support for it (Christianity in particular) and became and atheist.

Unfortunately we don't have any natural history museums close by, but we do have a nice Adventure Science Center for kids here. And I need to get them in there ASAP. Perhaps a weekend trip...

Have fun at the science center and make sure to stop by your closest natural history museum on the next family trip! The mineral exhibits....the FOSSILS!!!!

And hopefully as her kids begin to mature they will begin to question things. As they question them hopefully it will cause her to reconsider her own position. Not de-convert necessarily but hopefully lighten up.

“Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.”
—Thomas Henry Huxley
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: