One of my favorite ways of spending time is to spend it with youth. Perhaps itís because Iím still young at heart, perhaps itís because I enjoy interaction and conversation, but itís most likely a bunch of factors. A church youth group is a great platform for young people to come together and interact. My entire life I have been involved with my youth group and still to this day I am heavily involved. However, more and more lately the negative side effects of a religious based youth gathering are being made apparent to me.
I attend a Korean Seventh Day Adventist church in Minneapolis. Iíve been a member of that church my entire life. Our church is small, humble, and relatively moderate. Achieving a moderate status in the religious sphere is really nothing to be proud of considering how extreme religions are. This doctrinaire approach religions take today seem to be robbing the minds of our youth. There is a fear within the churches that if they donít hook the kids at a young age, some other group will. Many of the children I interact with at churches resemble homeschooled children. Children who are completely sealed off from the outside world and unaware of anything outside of their sphere. With the Internet at our fingertips, there is no excuse for children not to have a proper understanding of all things worldly.
Unfortunately, the harm doesnít end with churches narrowing the critical thought and perspective of children. There is immense danger on how children of very religious families and more conservative churches are educated about sex. These children often are afraid of sex and view it as dirty and sinful act. Not only is their perspective of sex slanted, but they are void of any actual education of sex and do not know how to approach it safely or express their sexuality properly. They are often uncomfortable at the mention of sex or any mild reference of anything remotely sexual. Even a kiss on the television can make a mature 17 year old Christian child squirm. I donít know if churches expect their youth to never come across sex or if they believe that their youth will magically download the sex encyclopedia into their brains, but it is becoming more and more apparent that their approach is dangerous.
Lastly, the more I talk to youth group members the more I find that they are taught to reject logic and science. A high school member of my youth group once expressed that he considers himself a logical person, but when it comes to religion he suspends his logic. Shouldnít something that acts as your foundation easily pass the tests of logic and rational thought? More and more I find youth members rejecting the facts of science as well. There is this strange dichotomy where members of a youth group will claim they enjoy science class and express passion for science, but then reject scientific facts when you talk about them in detail.
If it is our job as adults to ensure that the future of the world and of our species is in good hands through the education we give our children, Iím not so sure we are doing a good job. When we hinder critical thinking and open inquiry and we indoctrinate our future we are doing more harm than good.