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nikipedia's avatar

Do you think it's inappropriate to take someone else's child to church?

Asked by nikipedia (27333 points ) May 27th, 2008

Sometime in my early teens my mom took my best friend to church with us—not to push an agenda, just because she had slept over and we were all going to church. Her mom was furious and thought it was totally inappropriate. I can see both sides. What do you think?

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56 Answers

simone54's avatar

I agree with her Mom. I’d feel the same way.

jrpowell's avatar

My mom would have came out swinging if they didn’t have permission to take me or my sister to church (she actually did once). But she probably would have agreed if they asked. My sister would be irate if someone took her kids to church. I would be pissed too.

Religion is like drinking, driving, or voting. We need an age limit on it. Or like a sign at the fair. You must be this tall to enter this church.

shilolo's avatar

I would have to agree with your friend’s mom. It is inappropriate since people are very sensitive about religion. Even if the purpose wasn’t for “indoctrination”, I would be very upset if someone took my son anywhere without my permission, and certainly not to church.

nikipedia's avatar

@johnpowell: I think you bring up a good point with the age thing. Assuming said friend was old enough to think for herself (say 14ish?) then couldn’t you just see it as an interesting cultural experience? Exposure to something novel?

Seesul's avatar

Ditto, not without express permission.

Harp's avatar

Parents should absolutely be consulted. There are some religions that view attending other religious services as apostasy, for instance, so there’s lots of potential problems.

nikipedia's avatar

Barring situations like the one Harp pointed out, what harm is committed by taking someone to church? I really don’t mean to be dense about this—to me it seems (almost) equivalent to taking someone to a lecture on anything else.

marinelife's avatar

The exact thing you are describing happened several times in my childhood when I slept over. The difference being that each time the parents asked my parents if it was OK with them first. I enjoyed it. If I had questions about the differences in the services, we just talked about it when I got home.

I really don’t think a parent hosting a child spending the night should take the child anywhere (swimming, go kart racing, or church) without letting the other parents know that is the plan and getting their OK.

DeezerQueue's avatar

I think if the child is young enough to require permission to sleep over from the parent then it would stand to reason that permission be obtained on something that personal as well. Although I understand from your mother’s point of view that she wanted her to feel welcomed and part of the family, we sometimes cross boundaries that may be more sensitive to others than to us.

It was a simple mistake in my opinion, not done with some kind of heinous intention and that should have been taken into consideration by the parent of the child. It could be easily and tactfully handled.

jrpowell's avatar

So how would we feel if someone took their kid to a Mosque?

marinelife's avatar

@johnpowell I wish I could have had that experience. No different from any other church.

PupnTaco's avatar

Totally inappropriate without the parent’s permission.

MisterBlueSky85's avatar

I’m atheist. I feel if someday a family took my kid to church, it’d be a good opportunity to talk to him about religious tolerance and searching for spiritual truth. If he decided he likes organized religion, we would find a church together and I would take him.

You can’t shield your kid from other religions forever. What are you so afraid of?

Skyrail's avatar

As I’ve come from a Christian family it has never really come across my mind to think about it, but thinking about it now the mother who took the child to church should of asked the parents permission (as Deezer said, if the child is young enough to require permission about a sleep over then the mother should of got permission about church) as depending on the childs age they can easily be affected by religion and if the parent doesn’t want them to have a part of that then it could mean trouble.

DeezerQueue's avatar

@johnpowell I’ve been faced with this before, and had no objection to it, although I did later take the course of the advice that I originally gave. I don’t have a problem with other religions and knew all of my son’s friends as well as having met their parents.

I think sometimes our over reaction to certain things can send a message to our children as well as the things that we teach them through verbal and non-verbal cues.

Harp's avatar

@nikipedia
I can see no harm, and would personally love for my kids to get to see as many different versions of religion as possible (cults excluded). But if another parent didn’t know that’s how I feel and just took my kid anyway, that would throw their judgment into question for me. Religion is, I think, one of those aspects of a minor’s education that is commonly seen as falling under the parents’ purview, because it involves interpretations of morality that are not generally agreed on.

What if, for instance, I raised my children to not discriminate against anyone on the basis of sexual orientation, but at a church service they hear that God finds homosexuality abominable? That could be a teaching opportunity for me, sure, if my kid decides to talk to me about it, but as a parent I know that’s a big “if”. Kids assimilate things in unexpected ways. As a parent, I have a better (albeit imperfect) feel for how my kids process experience than would any other adult, so I would expect to be consulted in a matter like this.

Bri_L's avatar

I would have just arranged for it to not happen again. I guess I would have considered it part my fault for not being aware of the full schedule of the event. That being said, I personally welcome the chance to experience new things.

BirdlegLeft's avatar

Growing up I went to church with a couple of different friends. My family sometimes went to church and sometimes didn’t. I don’t rerember ever hearing my parents talk about it. I assume that at some point my friends’ parents either asked or told them that I was going with them if I happened to spend the night on a Saturday.

As a parent, I’d probably be okay with it if I was asked ahead of time. Without permission my feathers would be ruffled.

autumnofage's avatar

Pretty much what everyone is saying. I think that a parent should inform the other that they go to church on such and such day and that if it’s alright may said child come along. If it’s not alright then to drop them off before going to church. I understand getting upset if not asked however to be up in arms about it is a bit ridiculous. People don’t always think of it as a big deal and may mean no harm, I think the best thing that mother could have done was just tell the other that she’d appreciate being asked because she doesn’t want her child going to church or that specific church

Trance24's avatar

I think that if your friend was willing and agreed to go to church that it is her choice. But I can also understand how the mother could be offended, because she wasn’t asked whether or not it was ok to take her daughter to church.

gooch's avatar

yes it ok church does not kill you

Critter38's avatar

I find it strange that your mother did not ask your friends parents before hand. Your mother would have been well aware that you were going to church the following morning. Was she aware that your friend’s family was not religious or presumably belonged to another religion/denomination or did she just assume she was a Christian of the same denomination?

Put it this way, if my daughter had a friend stay over of a similar age, I would never consider taking her friend to an Atheist discussion group, or a Green party meeting, or any event (even an amusement park) without letting her parents know.

You don’t take someone elses child away from a place where they think their child is, without letting their parents know. It’s the location change first and foremost, and then it’s the issue of pushing a belief agenda on someone else’s kid without permission.

Your friend’s parents had multiple reasons for being upset.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@Critter38
I agree with you, it is an issue of change of location first, and then exposing the child to spiritual/philosophical/social influences the parent should have control over.

bodyhead's avatar

I think it’s fine to brainwash any child that has permission to sleep over at your house.

bodyhead's avatar

gooch, I get what you’re saying up there. Rape would not kill you either. Is it ok to rape anyone who spends the night at the house?

SeventhSense's avatar

@gooch
yes it ok church does not kill you
I hope you’re not going there for writing lessons..:)

SeventhSense's avatar

@bodyhead
Rape would not kill you either. Is it ok to rape anyone who spends the night at the house?
a little extreme on that analogy?

Supacase's avatar

It was never specifically addressed in my family. My parents kind of knew what the families of my friends were like and their families knew about mine. It was expected that I would take a dress to go to church if I stayed over with a religious friend and it was obvious that they would be missing church that week if they stayed over with me.

If the families know little about each other, I think asking would be the appropriate thing to do.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Supacase
Right? Why was this such a non issue before and now everyone makes a federal case about stuff like this. It’s part of a healthy development to experience other people’s cultures and rituals. It’s called community, society or a neighborhood.

jaketulane's avatar

As an atheist, I doubt that my children would be entirely swayed into belief from one visit to church (I grew up in a church going household… not exactly a ton of fun… pretty boring actually). I’m pretty sure I would have talked to my kids about religion a long time before they ever went to a sleepover, so I don’t think I’d rage at the other parents over it. My kids deserve a chance to at least see how the other side does it, and I’ll be there to lovingly explain any questions they might have when they get back home. Now THAT’S parenting… BE A PARENT!

caseydesmond's avatar

My answer is biased, just a warning. I am an atheist and would be upset if it was my child. Not only because I think church is a joke, but because force feeding children biblical stories is really confusing for them. As an educated adult, one may still be baffled by the bible. It is of course, only a story… but a complex, closed minded, ancient, inconsistent library of nonsense. I went to catholic school, and instead of learning about science and astronomy, I was choked with ridiculous gobbledygook. Going into jr. High I had to soak up a lot that I was deprived of when I was in a religious environment. It was really hard. I’m not saying people shouldn’t have religious freedom, but parents shouldn’t push children into their spiritual agendas. Not without first educating the child about the way of the world, it’s solar system, and our true existence. I do agree that it’s important that kids experience different cultures, and rituals to grow, and expand their minds about our species, but first it’s important to have a stable base to build upon their minds. They should be educated adults before deciding what is truly right for them. Your mother wasn’t being a bad mother for taking her children to church, but hopefully she gave you the choice. Other mothers may want their children in temple, or in science class… so she should have asked.

EmpressPixie's avatar

I would be unhappy with another parent took my child to a religious service without consulting me. If they consulted me and my kid was interested, it would be fine. If the consulted me and my kid was not interested, I’d pick my kid up before service. But not consulting me at all is not okay. I view it more as an issue of respect for the parent than anything else. As a parent, I’d choose to basically leave it up to my kid, but other parents should respect my rights as a parent enough to talk to me about it.

lillycoyote's avatar

Generally, I would say yes, it’s inappropriate, but on the other hand, a house guest shouldn’t necessarily be able to disrupt a family’s entire routine and if going to church was what your family normally did on Sundays then it would really be unreasonable for a house guest to expect your family to completely forgo that. And I doubt your friend’s family would have been happy had you left a teenager at home alone. On the other hand, perhaps your parents should have mentioned to your friend’s parents that you all would be attending church. Either way I don’t know if it’s that big a deal. It was not an attempt to indoctrinate your friend, it was just including him/her in family activities. Anyway, if the other parents had a problem it certainly could have been used as a teaching opportunity rather than a getting all bent out of shape opportunity.

Response moderated
JLeslie's avatar

Your mom should have stated to your friends mom that you all go to church on Sunday, and asked if it was ok that she attends also. If its not ok she can’t sleep over that night.

Fyrius's avatar

Perhaps somewhat uncharacteristically, I wouldn’t consider it a big deal. As long as the child wanted to go, and as long as nobody tried to convince her she’ll be tortured for all eternity unless she starts believing in Jesus pronto.

I have more quarrel with how my own mother made me go to church as a child, even though I thought it was a boring waste of time. And I don’t really have any principled trouble with being put through something boring, but I resent how she always insisted on taking me there, as if attending your church is something kids just have to do, like eating your vegetables or brushing your teeth. It symbolises subscription to a belief that anyone under the age of twelve (heck, perhaps even anyone under the age of eighteen) is way too young to make an informed decision about.
Going off-topic. Excuse me.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’d be uber-pissed off if this parent didn’t let me know about it first…if they would tell me first, I’d be okay with it…though I would definitely discuss it with my kid after…my aunt is Christian and I have allowed her to take my oldest to church with her that one time when there was a large wedding there and it’s quite a big spectacle to see and I wanted him to enjoy it

Val123's avatar

I’m trying to think if it would bother me….I don’t think so. In fact, if my child was staying over Sat. night, I’d ask if they were going so I could pack appropriate clothes.

proXXi's avatar

Not so much inappropriate as dangerous, specifically if it’s a Catholic church as the child is exposed to greater hazards from the clergy.

My advice is don’t do it.

Nullo's avatar

I’d say that it’s fine. Perhaps moreso since her mom was furious. For many, it’s a more passive sort of proselytizing.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Nullo I don’t understand why it’d be better to take the child if their parent was furious. That’s just being inflammatory and completely inappropriate.

JLeslie's avatar

@proXXi Are you serious?

@Nullo Ugh. You know, I think Christians have a right to prosthelitize, freedom of speech and all, but I draw the line with children. Each of us should have the right to raise our children as we see fit religiously without interference from government or neighbors for that matter. I just don’t understand how you can say it is more important if the mom is furious? So, you think it is ok to not honor the wishes of the parents of a child? Are you applying the golden rule? I don’t think so.

Nullo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir That kid certainly isn’t going to be brought to church by her own parents. I’d say that the health of the soul bears some consideration.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Nullo If you believe in that stuff, that is.

Fyrius's avatar

@Nullo
You know, it would be refreshing if you’d try to be a bit considerate about other people’s beliefs for a change.

nikipedia's avatar

Sorry to rain on your hate parade @Nullo but this wasn’t that kind of church. There was no soul-saving to be had there.

Nullo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I have said on a number of occasions that I do. As you might expect, this means that your priorities and my own are not the same.

@Fyrius One quite simply cannot afford more than a bit of consideration when it comes to these matters.

@nikipedia Hate parade? o_O Is it also hateful to pull people into lifeboats, I wonder? Perhaps if you’d have elaborated on the church? Because most churches are kinda aimed at salvation and edification.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Nullo No, I know (boy, don’t we all) that you do but your beliefs don’t have anything to do with anyone else or their children. I don’t get how you can think otherwise.

Fyrius's avatar

@Nullo
You can’t afford it?

The fact of the matter remains that this is your faith against theirs, and if you honestly believe your convictions are objectively more credible and well-supported than other people’s convictions, then you’d better be able to prove it beyond all doubt.
And since you can’t do that, it would behove you to stop being so bloody cocksure and become a bit more considerate. I’m not even asking you to reconsider your beliefs. Just try for three minutes to imagine what the situation looks like from any position other than yours before you get on your chauvinist high horse.

And I would definitely hold it against you if you’d pull other people’s children into a life boat that isn’t clearly safe, from a ship that isn’t unequivocally in danger. Especially if their own parents disagree with you on both subjects.

breedmitch's avatar

Remind me to never let my kids stay over at Nullo’s house.

Nullo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir As a matter of fact, they do. I operate on the principle that the unsaved are going to be spending a very long and miserable eternity if they die unsaved, and that it’s up to the Church to do at least some of the legwork in preventing that.

@Fyrius Nope.
I understand that you view religion like one might a club, or perhaps a political party, and that the one that you choose to go with ultimately makes no difference.
But I’m not you. I have tried, over the years that I’ve known you, to convey how important this stuff is. This is the ultimate in Serious Business. It is likened throughout the New Testament to war, against an enemy that looks to exterminate everyone, even little girls.
Running with the war analogy, you are asking me to ignore enemy assaults. You’re suggesting that it’s better to leave people behind enemy lines, people who are going to be destroyed. I can’t do that. Victory is assured, but the body count is undetermined.

I can’t afford it.

I don’t suppose that you’d be anywhere near this irritated by the fact that there are other groups trying to indoctrinate the kid? Like her school?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Nullo Are you part of the church…in that, are you a clergy person?

Fyrius's avatar

I’m sorry, @Nullo. I know you mean well. I know you have the best intentions for the children involved, and that the disturbing things you say don’t come from any sort of bad will.

Still I contend that if you believe this sort of cultural kidnapping would be justified, you urgently need to face the fact that you really don’t have enough information to be as certain as you are that you are right and the others are wrong. To have as little proof as you do, and still be as certain as you are, and act on it, is a very, very big mistake.
The religions live in data poverty. What you cannot afford is taking it for granted that what you believe is definitely true, on pain of being wrong and never finding out. And given the present context, being wrong about the importance and justification of converting other people’s children will have nasty consequences.
You might be committing some severe, dare I say criminal injustice against these poor impressionable minds in the most important and vulnerable stage of their development. In the best case, you would be forcing a belief system on them that they can’t consider on its merits yet, that they’ll take your word for because they still think grown-ups are never wrong.
In a worse case, with your life boat philosophy, you could end up convincing a kid with OCD that she’ll burn in agonising hellfire for all eternity unless she carefully keeps herself from “sinning”, ruining years of her life.

And the worst part is that it could all be for nothing, if you’re wrong and there is no hell.

As for my personal convictions when it comes to indoctrinating children, I think it should be reduced to a minimum, only the values that are widely agreed upon by the entire society – values such as freedom and justice and kindness and honesty. But anything more contested or contestable than that – such as very much religion – they should not have to bother with until they’re old enough to make up their own minds.
Urging children to convert to your church before they can defend themselves against rhetorical tricks, I think that’s a form of child abuse.
Even if it doesn’t involve such perverse and terrifying ideas as an eternity of excruciating punishment just for not accepting Jesus as your personal saviour, as a result of being born into the wrong religion or not being lucky enough to pick the right one out of hundreds of equally plausible alternatives.
Doing so against the will of their parents, I consider a good reason to call the police.

Charles's avatar

I wouldn’t be furious – I understand the convenience thing. I would consider it an educational experience.
I would hope my kid wouldn’t get brainwashed by the message of the church and hopefully my kid would be open minded enough to avoid church altogether.

JLeslie's avatar

I am not sure how old the last several posts are, but what struck me as I reread @Nullo‘s answers and some reponses to it is, this is why Christians disect the Q’uran and pull out lines of jihad and war. I don’t see how being willing to go to war for the spread of Christianity is any different than for the Muslim religion. I am not talking about any specific groups, or terrorist acts, I am only saying it seems war can be justified in the name of religion by the religious in either religion (maybe in Judaism too, I have no idea. What I do know is Jews do not try to spread their word, so I am thinking probably we do not go to war to convert, but we would of course defend ourselves). I don’t see how Christians can accuse the Muslim religion of being horrific, when they want the same thing. i am not talking about all Christians, just the few that buy into this holy war type idea, who see no boundaries of respect for the religion of others. Seems to me everyone being willing to live peacefully side by side saves the most lives in the end.

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