Christian Religious Education - Revisited
Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica like no other previous hurricane in my memory. During which scores of young and not so young people looted from various stores and supermarkets with impunity.
I was told that a young man said to his uncle that "after a hurricane that's the time to loot"! This hit me for six ...because it shows how some of the young people are thinking.
We, as Dominicans were brought up to believe differently, but listen to what the young man told his uncle.
Children are brought up and receive training from three main sources: viz, 1) Home 2) School 3) Church.
1) HOME: We all receive our education from early childhood at home. We learn morality, we learn discipline, and we are taught our prayers. We are sent to school and to church. But times have changed, and some children may not get that training. Husband and wife may not be together and discipline is lacking in a dysfunctional home etc.
2) SCHOOL: The teachers themselves may not be sufficiently trained to instruct and correct the children. Discipline may not be enforced. Religion may not be taught at all at some schools. Children may be absent from school. There are no longer truant officers. There may not be enough teachers at the school etc.
3) CHURCH: Children may not always be sent to church. Those delinquents, some of whom I have spoken to, tell me more or less the same story. That the priests and pastors preach too long and the sermons are boring and not relevant to them, so they stay away just like their parents.
Sunday school is praiseworthy but how many churches have Sunday school? Do the children attend? And if so, is that enough?
Also, some children may have escaped first communion and confirmation classes and did not receive these teachings from their churches. They somehow slipped through the system
We live in a different world today than yesterday. Many people do not go to church and give their children a bad example.
Materialism and sexuality hold centre stage, and if we, as parents, and the authorities, do not go the extra mile to bring up our children in the correct way as we ourselves were taught, then as the saying goes "crapaud smoke your pipe".
I ask these questions because the answer the young man gave to his uncle is disturbing and food for thought.
If that is the thinking of some of today's youth that looting is permissible and should be accepted, then we have a serious problem.
It is inconceivable that the young man knew nothing of the 7th Commandment "Thou shall not steal." What changed his mind is the question? Regardless of what he may have learnt from outsiders, I am firmly convinced that had he received basic religious teaching, I would not have had to ask that question. His faith would have prevailed.
We, as Christians, probably need to rethink and readjust our basic teaching so as to capture the youth and make sure every young person receives this training in a convincing way because if one is well grounded in their faith as a young person that makes all the difference.
Basic Christian religious education should be on every school's curriculum and not only for the church schools. This I strongly believe.
We must take a more positive attitude towards our children's Christian faith so that we do not get statements like what the young man said to his uncle. Of course, all this takes time.
We must not give up. We need the blessings of Almighty God to do so.
The situation calls for action. All hope is not lost, because while there is life, there is hope.
Dr. William E.V. Green