Last weekend I had to spend Saturday in a mandatory foster parent training where we were reminded once again that we aren't allowed to spank and there are reasons these kids are misbehaving. The class wasn't horrible, just pointless. Before the class began I was speaking with another couple who we know from our Foster Parent training classes. As part of all of our licenses we have to receive an additional 24 hours of training in two years. Six of these hours can be webinar, but the rest have to be done in person. This is not a problem. My husband and I will hit 24 hours in April because we have attended two adoption conferences, two medical training classes, one 'don't spank' class, and one teen parenting class. It is highly possible we will have double the amount of training hours because we think it is important to learn everything we can and build our adoption community.
So back to this couple. They have completed 2 hours of training. That's it. Where do we get these hours? they asked. We told them about the upcoming conference on connecting with children. Another woman near us chimed in about how awesome it was and I quickly forwarded them the email for signing up. "I should let you know," I said. "The material is straight psychology, but it is religious in nature as there is a prayer and worship service at the beginning of each day. " That didn't matter to them, but the woman who had chimed in asked me why that matters? "Because not everyone is religious and some people may be uncomfortable with it," I said. She looked a bit confused, but agreed that there was no mention of the prayer and worship in any of the material. She then tells me that she actually knows the organizers and perhaps that should be added. "Yes. They should probably let people know that. Give people an option of coming later if it makes them uncomfortable or just acknowledging that not everyone who is invited is religious." She nodded before turning around and writing something in her notebook.
Let's be honest here. There are only a few reasons why a Christian psychologist who writes material that is purely evidence based would not tell people that their yearly conference has a Christian prayer and worship service.
1. They are attempting a weak (and lazy) form of prothelitizing.
2. They assume that everyone who is coming to their conference is Christian and their particular brand of Christianity at that.
3. They know that not everyone attending will be Christian, but can't imaging not worshipping their deity in some way and other people be damned.
4. They see the worship and prayer as an act of defiance against perceived persecution.
Now, having grown up around these people and I think it is probably a combination of all four. They can't imagine not having a worship service, but do assume that people who are attending are more than likely Christian. And if they aren't, then they should just get over it because they will not be silences. If a bit of prothelitizing happens while they are there, then that is seen as good thing. Of course, all the scenarios are also incredibly presumptive and self-serving. They don't respect other people, not even other Christians. Based on last year I would say these people probably attend some kind of non-denominational Evangelical mega-church. They are therefore not being very welcoming of Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, Quakers, Episcopalians, etc. It's rude and presumptive and yes, something that should be somewhere in the literature about the event.
Better yet...just stop. Stop with the prayer and worship service. Focus on the evidence based approaches that have been shown to work. Don't assume who your audience is. Make it more inclusive so that you can help more kids.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.