I have a specific scenario to discuss.
In my area, a local mega-church (I don't actually know if it qualifies as "mega" in the Jimmy Swaggart sense, but the church is HUGE) started offering a respite service to families who have children with special needs. One Friday evening a month, for four hours, they will take the children with special needs and their siblings under the age of thirteen so that the parents can have a worry-free evening for themselves.
After checking into the service offered, I decided to let my daughters participate. I was assured that this program, though sponsored by and held in the church, would be secular in nature. Those in charge of the program told me that their only desire was to reach out to families like mine and offer this respite because they understand the difficulties we often have in finding childcare. I was told that they realize that there are many families who don't share the church's beliefs and they want us to be comfortable in the knowledge that this program has one purpose only: to provide excellent childcare so that parents can enjoy a worry-free evening to themselves.
For the past two years, then, we participated in the program, and my girls loved it. They would have crafts, show movies, have different organizations come in to share activities with the children, like the fire department, the zoo, the aquarium and the children's museum. It was fantastic, and my younger daughter, the one with autism, looks forward to these evenings with such hope and excitement.
The program has grown in popularity so much that they have had to add a second Friday in order to be able to accommodate all the families who have children with special needs.
Something else has changed, too. They have started having the children pray. They have started having sing-alongs to Christian music praising Jesus. They have also started reading stories from the Bible.
Last night, when I picked up my girls from the program, my younger daughter wanted to know where her Jesus was. My older daughter explained: They had a prayer, then sang "Jesus Loves Me", and the kids were handed out Jesus pendants and pamphlets about Jesus and his love for children. My older daughter refused these trinkets. I don't know what happened to the ones they gave to my younger daughter. They weren't in her backpack. I wonder if her caretaker remembered that I wouldn't be pleased and got rid of the evidence. Her caretaker for last night was the program director.
This, of course, leaves me with a little dilemma. I have to decide whether it's worth the occasional proselytizing to children with physical and cognitive disabilities, who may or may not understand what's being preached to them, just so my husband and I can enjoy an evening together. I have to decide whether the other activities that are so engaging for my daughters are worth the proselytizing they have to endure. I have to decide whether to talk with the director and remind her that we are not interested in that aspect of the program, or whether I should have expected this, in spite of the assurances I was given two years ago.
What are your thoughts regarding this sort of situation, though? If a church is offering a service to the community, should we expect there to be strings attached? Whether we're talking about soup kitchens or respite care, should the services be offered under the condition that the recipients be subjected to proselytizing?Answer Question
Answer by wendythewriter at 12:11 PM on Mar. 16, 2013
Answer by missanc at 12:27 PM on Mar. 16, 2013
Answer by maecntpntz219 at 12:47 PM on Mar. 16, 2013
Answer by bandgeek521 at 12:47 PM on Mar. 16, 2013
Answer by bandgeek521 at 12:50 PM on Mar. 16, 2013
Answer by maecntpntz219 at 12:51 PM on Mar. 16, 2013
Answer by bandgeek521 at 12:52 PM on Mar. 16, 2013
Answer by gdiamante at 12:59 PM on Mar. 16, 2013
Answer by Dardenella at 1:08 PM on Mar. 16, 2013