So I was in the store the other day, and a mother comes by with her two son's. The oldest (I would guess about 8yrs old) by my observation was very withdrawn and seemed to lack a self-confidence. As it happens, and happens quite often in the aisle that I work in, the boy asks for a Flashlight. "Mom can I please have this?" in his mousy little voice. I've heard this question hundreds of times, but never put more innocently. Usually its a demand, followed by a tantrum. Frankly, I would have bought it for the kid. His Mom's response however floored me. "No! I said no and if you ask again I will send you away to reform school. You'll never see me again and God will never forgive you."
O.K., so first I had to pick my lip up off the floor. Then, I found myself asking her in a tone not dissimilar to the same one adopted by the child. "Please don't say that kind of thing..." I pleaded. She responded with a foul mouthed tirade punctuated with "Whats wrong with me teaching my children by the Ten Commandments!..."
I couldn't help myself, I wanted to protect this kid, my backbone went up and I responded first with a dumbfounded look, then I said: "...I was a Scout Leader and a Youth Pastor for 12 years, and what your doing is not teaching the Commandments..."
(...and I'm sure I was still looking stupefied when I was done...)
I realized at this point as she began to get even more foulmouthed and proceeded to tell me she "...had been sent to reform school and it was the best thing that ever happened to her..." that I was never going to get to the idea that all she was teaching was fear!
My hands were shaking. My stomach was in knots and this was not the time or place for what I was doing. I walked away and took a break out on the back dock. If I had stayed things would have gotten worse. I turned the other cheek, and said a prayer for those two young boys. A prayer that they would not grow up and perpetuate what was obviously their inheritance from their Mothers parents.
When I was a Boyscout leader, the Boy Scouts were at that time pressured to remove all Christian symbols from their Chapels. This was done under the guise of "becoming more inclusive". So, we ended up with a Chapel that for all intents looked like just another building. No place special. No place to find God. (That is what it felt like to me anyway.) I questioned whether it might have been more "inclusive" to have added symbols of other faiths. "No, its simpler this way." was what they said.
Maybe, just maybe, the solution to the Bible in Schools would be to include the Koran, and the Book of Mormon, and, and, and, etc... It would not be the simple solution, but that is how we approached Confirmation in our Church. In order to be Confirmed, candidates had to attend worship services of five other faiths. It wasn't easy, logistically or thematically. But it gave them a grounding in their faith, and an understanding of others faith and beliefs as well. Hopefully, it fostered some tolerance too. All views on the table as they say.
Inclusive: including many things or everything, not excluding any...
...perhaps we should say: all-inclusive.
It shouldn't be all-or-nothing, it should be all-not nothing.PLEASE... lets teach love. Not fear.