Hell, heaven, Sikhs and Christian education for kidsBy Kay Campbell
What’s the goal of faith-based work: Getting people to believe something or offering help and healing regardless of beliefs?
The recent experience of Elly Scott, a brilliant young writer in Knoxville whom I’ve known since she was her preschool daughters’ age, raises this question for me.
A neighbor boy, 7, regularly climbs onto a church bus to ride 25 minutes from their inner-city neighborhood to a church in Knoxville’s suburbs. This child’s father is in prison. The grandmother who raised him died last year. He now lives in a run-down house with his mother, who, Elly says, seems to always be asleep.
In his case, what is meaningful religious education and what is psychological abuse?
Here’s Elly’s account:
“The little boy told my girls a few moments ago that a preacher said that if they didn’t believe in God, they were going to hell. My girls just stared at him round-eyed and open-mouthed.
“I broke a personal rule to not dispute other people’s religions and told him I thought that was a mean thing for the preacher to tell a little kid — and that I didn’t believe it anyway.
“Then I said ‘Um, why don’t you kids go outside and eat a Popsicle?’”
Now Elly is trying to figure out how to deal with this topic the next time it comes up.
“Can I tell a child that what he hears at church is mean and total bull? What is this church trying to accomplish by busing in all these vulnerable kids to listen to hate and fear?
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