6/6/13

Vacation Bible School

Vacation Bible School encourages children 'to ...
Vacation Bible School encourages children 'to be good people' (Photo credit: Fort Meade)
June is my favorite month of the year. I get father’s day and my birthday, so the good dad presents are coming (grill stuff, power tools and the like); the grill will be fired, the vegetables from my garden will start to ripen, then I'll grill them. Did I mention we do a lot of grilling at my house?

One of my favorite parts of being a teacher is the extended vacation I get during the summer. I get to spend time in my house, with my family, and I try to make the most of it. The children do various camps and activities. One activity we will avoid, though, is vacation bible school. In northeastern Mississippi, June brings signs advertising vacation bible school (VBS) on church marquees. If I wanted to have my child indoctrinated into Christianity, I have a wealth of options.

Recently, my wife and I had a disagreement about VBS. A dear family friend had invited my first-grader to attend VBS with her daughter,  and my spouse asked me what I thought about it. Since I had never thought about it before, I pondered it for a second, then opposed putting my child in VBS. Spouse disagreed. To  resolve our disagreement, I proposed that both of us make an argument.

Spouse's Pro-VBS argument:
  1. VBS is harmless fun.
  2. Our child will spend time with other children, something she loves.
  3. Our child has to understand what children in our area do, believe, etc. if she is going to be socially skilled.
  4. I attended VBS as a kid, and I turned out all right.
My VBS Cons:
  1. I am not going to carelessly toss my children to the Christians.  Christians always go after children. They know that if they can indoctrinate children early on, many will be Christians for life. They will go after my children at every opportunity, so why should I help them along?
  2. VBS is especially pernicious because wraps Christianity in a veneer of fun. It is a marketing ploy, much like Ronald McDonald makes shitty food look like fun.
  3. VBS teachers will teach my children harebrained, unproven ideas as truth, as facts. It would be one thing if they taught children those concepts as hypothetical ideas, but that’s not what happens. They teach the concepts as absolute truth, thus indoctrination. Our daughter, at six, still lacks the critical reasoning faculties that would help her know the difference between fact and fantasy.
I can hear it now, lighten up, man. It is just VBS, no big deal. I disagree. I will not trust my child’s upbringing to people who believe in magic and superstition and teach those things as truth. Yes, my children must know how to navigate the waters. Most of their peers in Mississippi’s public schools will already be indoctrinated, and my children will need to know how to deal with them. That will come. But for now, I’m skipping the indoctrination, thank you.

My argument carried the day.