I felt it appropriate to make people aware of just how brainwashed some churches, particularly Evangelical churches, are trying to make their preteens, tweens, and teens.
Having grown up in an Evangelical ("Born-Again") household, I've experienced many of the issues a large number of you have brought up, including the "speaking in tongues" topic on this page. However, it's a mistake to think it's just social pressuring that occurs every Sunday.
Every Friday night my church has a "youth group" meeting that they've affectionately titled "Ground Zero." They have a trendy lounge-type room in the church exclusively for this ministry, which includes a bar (They serve snacks and soda, of course. For money.), plasma-screen TVs, pool tables, air-hockey, Xbox-360, etc. They've even given it a "street" abbreviation of "gZ."
The logic behind the title is that they want to create an "explosive" revolution in America, and it starts there. Thus, Ground Zero.
This clever advertising and "trendy" atmosphere ropes in kids that would normally think religion is ridiculous, outdated, and stupid (All of which would be accurate assumptions/predictions.). And once you go, you're accepted into the group, thus providing a sense of belonging in purpose, which teenagers are often hungry for, particularly the "outcasts." It's a brilliant setup, as are most of the programs my former church created. To their credit, they know what the hell they're doing.
But they don't just stop at the typical Christian teachings that you'd expect from a church service. They're telling these kids, who are between the ages of 12-21, what ot think about politics, media, relationships, and just about every other aspect of their lives. And, yes, the typical brainwashings expected by a religious institution. Here's an e-mail they sent out recently through Facebook (Yes, they have a facebook group, and the "Youth Leaders" monitor what people say/do on Facebook.). The gZ program is having a series of "classes" for the next few weeks to teach them about how to be a good Christian.
Here are the program details: (Wherever an asterisk appears is where I'm adding a comment/explanation. The last names have been deleted out of general respect, and for legal purposes. Oh, and keep in mind that this is on Wednesdays. Thus, these kids are still going to the ACTUAL youth church on Fridays.)
hey guys, here's the schedule for our wednesday night classes beginning tomorrow night at 7pm (it will at Masters Regional Academy)
*This is my church's highschool, which I attended for all four years. It's a whole new kind of nightmare, which I may post about some time in the future. I'll just say for now that it's the Youth Church program on steroids.*
week 1 (jan.28) - Pastor M: Vision - "seeking a revolution of truth and purpose"
*Through barbaric, hypocritical teachings and, ironically, lies. Sounds great.*
week 2 (feb.4) - Nate : Prayer - "seeking God on all matters"
*Why bother thinking about things? You can just pray!*
week 3 (feb.11) - Jason : Word - "the tool that molds us into holiness"
*Don't question this. It's meant to be taken literally, and seriously. . .lulz.*
week 4 (feb.18) - Kerrie: Pipeline - "the link between kids and youth ministry"
*A class all about how we're a "family" and that you should trust them over anyone else.*
week 5 (feb.25) - Pastor M: Service - "practical demonstration of Christ"
*One of the few classes I don't have a horrible problem with in concept, but, I find it very unlikely they'll adhere accurately to what Jesus taught. Of course, this is disregarding whether or not Jesus ever actually existed.*
week 6 (march4) - Nate: Community - "unbreakable love for people"
*The only other class I don't have a major problem with. Being a modern, Evangelical church, they often preach about love as oppossed to conflict, but their actions are totally contradictory to this.*
week 7(march11) - Jason: Evangelism - "the heart of God beats for souls"
*What program would be complete without a class on how you should harass every non-Christian you meet?*
week 8 (march18) - Pastor: Leadership - "distinct representation of gZ"
*It ends on a selling point of why gZ is so awesome, and how it's the greatest thing you'll ever be a part of. Praise God.*
Some of this may seem benign to you, but it really isn't. They do not encourage, nor suggest, that these kids think for themselves, and "direct" them on just about everything. If a kid makes a comment on Facebook that may go against the grain on their beliefs, they will actually comment back on Facebook reprimanding them or "proving them incorrect" by using warped facts and statistics.
And of course a 14 year old isn't going to challenge a 30+ year old elder of the church. This happened numerous times during the election, and as I still keep in contact with most of these kids, I battled the youth leaders on Facebook for all of the kids to see. Hopefully I opened some eyes, but I'm sure they addressed it the following Friday.
While I can't speak for the exact practices of other churches on an everyday basis, I have visited other churches and found the experiences to be nearly identical. This is just a small piece of the modern Christian experience.
If you liked this little delve into the Christian community, I'd be happy to talk about my HS experiences in another entry.
Maybe I should make this into a blog?