This year in Children’s R. E. we get to focus on our faith identity. While preparing for our teacher training I came across a wonderful article by Toni Larson called, “Evangelizing our Children.” In it he talks about how 85% to 90% of UUs today are “come outers”(not raised UU.) He says, “We must be doing something right because people keep coming and replenishing our membership and we never have to recruit our children. Now here’s the part where I’m going to sound like a heretic to some, but I’m going to say it anyway. I think we should be recruiting our children.
Oh, I know, I know. We want our kids to make their own choices. We don’t want to push our beliefs on them. We don’t want to shove our religion down their throats… We want our kids to be free. That’s nice and I agree with it. Our children should make their own religious choices. But that doesn’t mean we can’t give a plug for our religion so they’re more inclined to make the best choice. And while I agree we shouldn’t push our beliefs on our children we can at least share our beliefs with them…Sharing is different than shoving.”
He admonishes parents to tell their children what they believe and why and listen to the beliefs of their children. He says, “Tell them why you belong to a UU congregation and, heresy of heresies- tell them you hope they will be Unitarian Universalists too when they grow up. That’s right. Of course you will love them whether they do or not but this is a good religion and its doing good things. And nothing is wrong with telling our kids we hope they will keep up the good work.
He reminds us that as parents we don’t get a choice about whether our kids learn about sex or religion. Our only choice is whom they hear about it from first. If we aren’t willing to talk about religion there will be many out there who are.
He also talks about what we should be teaching our kids. He says that we should teach our kids how to pronounce our name, for starters. We should also teach our kids how to answer the question “What do UUs believe?” Here is his simple answer and I think it is a good one. Unitarian Universalists believe in–
1) Loving your neighbor as yourself, which includes trying not to steal, lie, kill or hurt people in any other way.
2) Making the world a better place, which includes working for justice peace and freedom for all people
3) Searching for the truth with an open mind
It is my fervent wish that this year we can all work toward instilling in our precious children and teens a proud sense of what it means to be Unitarian Universalist.
Janen Wright, Lifespan Faith Development Director