Catch ‘Em Young, Keep ‘Em For Life

While driving home from a shopping expedition this Memorial Day we passed a stone church displaying a huge banner, demanding:

“Come to Vacation Bible School”

I said to my wife, “The poor kids wait all year for summer vacation, and are no sooner let out than they’re whisked off to bloody Bible school. What are they trying to do to them?”

My wife responded by telling me she was aware of it, because I’d made the same comment when driving past that same banner, every summer vacation-time since arriving from England six years ago.

Yes, but hang it all, what are they doing to the kids?

Are they teaching them that Jesus loved everybody and taught that we should do the same? Do they emphasise “our neighbor” is not just weird Mister Huckleberry from the house next door, but Africans, Asians, Muslims, and Atheists living in other lands all around the globe? Do they teach violence against others is wrong, even if the ‘other’ is not an American citizen?

If the answer to all these questions, and a few dozen others, is ‘Yes’, then fine – send the kids to Bible school. Unfortunately, the answers all tend towards a resounding, “No!”

They’re taught that God is an American God who looks down with benevolence on the United States as His chosen nation (hang the Jews) and anyone who dares say otherwise can be rapidly exterminated and will spend the rest of eternity burning in Hell. It may not be spouted in so many words, but this is what the kids eventually learn from it all.

Bible schools everywhere don’t teach anything, because ‘faith’ is blind belief with no basis in substantiated truth. What they are amazingly successful at achieving is the indoctrination of fertile minds ready and willing to believe anything told them by those they accept as all-knowing adults.

The marketing of Christianity in America is controlled by vast organizations, just like most other commodities. The creation of wealth and power is at its root just as surely as at the heart of any banking organization or insurance group. If banks and finance houses targeted young kids with the cold, calculating, vigor of the churches, there’d be an outcry. Yet no-one objects when their pride-and-joys are whisked into the care of the local pastor and his minions for a lesson in superstitious nonsense.

It doesn’t stop there, of course. One vital function of the Bible school is manipulating young minds into ‘correct social behavior’. Part of that behavior is learning the requirement to rush off and get killed, or maimed, in some foreign land at the whim of a crazed politician. Never mind that the guy you’re sent to fight is ‘your neighbor’, as well-defined in the Bible by the son of your god.

The churches have always considered themselves the bastions of morality and social harmony. It’s a façade behind which has long lurked the sins and corrupt practices of the clergy. During the Middle Ages of European history they did little to hide the fact. Popes and bishops cavorted with prostitutes and rent-boys a-plenty, causing the populace no more than an occasional smirk. Today, skulduggery is deeply hidden, often only surfacing after many years, as in the recent cases of rape, buggery, and general child abuse committed by numerous priests of the Roman Catholic church.

Vacation Bible School goes a step further than the standard Sunday school. It offers five day week indoctrinations of kids while Mom and Pop can continue earning their ‘daily bread’ without the responsibility of bringing up the offspring. It’s a nice get-out, in line with American society generally; the idea of giving birth, then after a couple of years handing the child over to a state or church authority, allowing parents to continue their social and economic life free of the binds of full-time parenthood. When similar schemes are highlighted in communist countries like China, the full scorn of American church, government, state, and populace is poured forth in a flood of outrageous self-righteousness.

One of the most noticeable aspects of child education, at least here in the ‘Heartlands’, is the plethora of church-run schools. They probably outnumber public schools. Even those kids who manage to escape the ‘church education’ and attend a public school may find themselves collected in the afternoon by the local church bus and whisked away for an hour or two of good religious indoctrination, before Mom or Pop finally makes a re-appearance in their lives.

Perhaps the most hypocritical of all falsehoods in America is the alleged separation of church and state. The churches are so heavily involved in politics, at every level from federal government to local town council, that one has to question whether this nation is a secular democracy, or a democratic theocracy.

No politician will make good without the backing of the church. No US president will ever be elected without first displaying prominently his Christian credentials. More than one ordained Christian pastor has stood for the presidency, though to date none – thank God! – has achieved it. It’s probably just a matter of time before one does.

When it happens, there’ll be little doubt he or she will be a socially acceptable, clean-cut, clean-living, all American boy or girl, who spent all their summer vacation studying superstition and socially acceptable behavior at their local Vacation Bible School.

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7 Replies to “Catch ‘Em Young, Keep ‘Em For Life”

  1. You are in fine form today. I agree completely. Naming it “vacation” school always pissed me off too – what an oxymoron.

    I remember having to go to it when I was a kid – the nuns would tell us we could get into heaven easier than the other religions and then we would meet the Lutherans (who went to confirmation classes) at the creek and squabble, even though we got along during the regular school year. All the religions claim that humans are better for believing, but I found it didn’t work in my childhood experience. I still associate lilacs with the experience and it ruins them for me.

  2. Well, kids of all walks of life, colours, beliefs etc. play in peace in front of my house… we just the Disneyland of the block aroun’ heah!

    As for irrational belief, in my case it’s half right. I teach my kids to question, observe, and analyse, just as my book does. That doesn’t mean that every question is answerable, or that every answer is understandable; but our approach is rational. Yes, we do have hierophants; but they’re not supposed to dictate to us what to do… just to suggest, on the basis of scholarship.

    And if we don’t know, we don’t make up a story to cover our ignorance.
    We just say we don’t know.

    It should make sense to the faithful that an investigation into the natural, physical world should be encouraged. Sure, there is much there that might challenge conventional understanding; but who says that the Almighty is limited to what we can comprehend? For our scholars, the approach is basically that however it happened, the Almighty did it. That goes for evolution et al.

    In my opinion, if there is an effort to veer away from reality to cling to an invented perspective, then a definitely skewed path is formed which invariably leads one into fantasy. It’s no use telling me that it’s true because a thousand thousand people have believed it for eons. We all have a responsibility to find out what’s true for ourselves. And yes, that’s in my book, too.

    Frankly, i’m shocked that so many people who are supposedly raised in a science-based society, with a full western education, still believe everything the Teevee says without question. Without looking for a second opinion. Or even researching the stories. There is so much misinformation, lying, and downright slander on the Teevee that I’m sure a steady diet of it over an extended period of time must cause a serious cancer of the logic.

    That’s yer true irrational belief, RJ.

    Fortunately, our school system here was inundated during the seventies with American draft dodgers who taught us how the media was manipulated to get Nixon back into office, how commercials were made to sell products, and how alternative realities could be and are invented to manufacture consent. I wouldn’t believe a fried chicken commercial, now… not even if the hens were hopping off the screen into my lap.

    Not everyone got the same education, though. It saddened me, for example, to see a tiny child cringing behind their sanctimonious elder while we were ‘out’ shopping the other day – i guess the tv or some such had taught her that i was no better than terrorist devilspawn crawling down the street, bombs strapped to my waist.

    Hey, it must be true.
    It’s on television, innit?

  3. btw… i can’t get through on your email address, so:
    well done, and say hello to the stones for me.

  4. I love your “Filed under” tag: “Biblical bullshit”, RJ!
    As George Carlin says – “It’s bullshit, and it’s BAD for ya!”

    I read your piece to the husband who agreed with you in general. He says he remembers attending a couple of these Vacation Bible School as a very small child, but all they did was draw pictures of Jesus etc. as far as he can remember….of course that was long, long ago.

    He points out that one bad aspect of the Bible School phenomenon is that teachers are not necessarily qualified or monitored, and can say more or less whatever they choose to the kids, including passing on their own prejudices and worse.

    In my younger years I was a Sunday School teacher (Church of England), what I passed on to the kids was mainly geography and a bit of history and general knowledge about the Middle East than any kind of faith-based belief, as far as I remember, putting Bible stories into context for them.

    I became more and more disenchanted with organised religion as age and experience piled on. I think this probably happens to many adults who have not been subjected to heavy indoctrination as a child. There’s the big danger of too much Bible schooling – losing the ability to think for oneself.

  5. As a pproduct of a strict Catholic convent upbringing, RJA, I wonder what the world would be like without all this indoctrination. We were taught that godless hordes would rape and pillage ad finitum but I tend to think it would be the opposite. More harmony. More attention paid to the here and now. More value placed on life itself if it is all we have (no more poor soldiers in Iraq dreaming of eternity.
    Funnily enough, I posted on my breaking out of the cult on my blog today. Synchronicity. Now THAT I can believe in!

  6. Flimsy – thanks for the insight. It’s a shame about the lilacs. I guess religion can spoil a great many beautiful things.

    Anan“We all have a responsibility to find out what’s true for ourselves” I think that sentence sums matters up very nicely. As we’re all mere human beings it behooves us to form our own beliefs and respect that of others, without fighting over who is right and who is wrong. In the great scheme of things, chances are good that both will be well off-course. Sadly, television could be a wonderful instrument were it not almost solely utilized for indoctrinal and control purposes.

    I’m not sure why you have problems with my email address, but I will certainly pass on your greeting to the stones when I see them.

    Twilight – I’m glad your husband is in general agreement. At times I can be harsh on America but never as intentional attacks on the American people as individuals, so endorsement from ‘the natives’ is always welcome. I’ve never been able to conceive of losing the ability to think for myself, despite the usual religious indoctrinations as a kid, though there are obviously many who live their lives in that sad state.

    Sunday school teacher turned astrologer? Now there’s one C of E failure, to be sure. It’s enough to make a bishop weep. 😉

    WWW – I agree. Organized religion is the cause of much unhappiness, and only rarely a lasting remedy. Though it’s likely the corruption of religion that is the worst offender.

    Jung was certainly onto something!

  7. Hmmm… must be a different version of vacation bible school than the one in my neighborhood (rural southern Indiana). This one is introducing kids to Jewish customs & culture during Jesus’ lifetime. Last year they learned about a different culture every day of the week. It’s 2 hours in the evening for 5 days.

    of course it’s a United Church of Christ, so it’s not the most conservative bunch in the world, thank GOD.

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