Sunday, September 18, 2011

Primary program

I went to church today for the first time in months, because it was the primary program. I know the primary program is supposed to be cute and fun, and it certainly had that effect as I was making faces and waving at my own kids. But after a while, I just couldn't stand it anymore. I was glad that my 18-month old was acting up so I could take her out in the hallway.

As I sat in the pew today, I began to suspect that the primary program is the epitome of why I can't stand church. It wouldn't be so bad if most, or even some, of the kids went up and said things like, "I know I can be a good person by helping others." Or, "I can help my family by sharing my toys with my sister." Or, "When I mess up I know I can be forgiven." Or even, "Jesus told us to love everyone so I need to try to do that."

But did any of the kids say anything like that? Not hardly. Without a pause, four-year old after four-year old streamed up to the podium and announced things like, "I'm thankful we have a prophet we can follow, and his name is Thomas S. Monson." Or, "I know the prophet will never lead us astray." Or, "I know Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus, and Moroni helped him translate the Book of Mormon." Or, "I'm preparing to go on a mission." One six-year old had a black missionary nametag.

I've come to accept that this is standard fare, but come on. Far from uplifting, I find this extremely depressing. Can we ever let kids be kids? Do we really need to make every single one of them parrot doctrinal garbage when some of them are barely out of diapers? I don't like to think that my kids are being indoctrinated, and stuff like this primary program certainly doesn't ease my mind.

At least we ended the service by singing only two verses of "Praise to the Man". It could have been worse.


Burk said...

Another blog post that you have nailed. The only thing more repugnant to me is attending testimony meeting and watching the parents force their kids into bearing testimony. Ugh.

"I'd like to bury my testimony...

I know this church is true..."

No, you don't. Your dad just told you what to say.

Mormons as a whole seem to teach children to parrot rather than think critically. I would much rather ask my child what they thought about something than tell them what to believe.

Burk said...

Whoa! Blogger totally took out my "whisper whisper whisper" in there. It was a much better comment with those in there. ;)

Saganist said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the no-whispering comment policy. I totally agree, there's way too much ear-whispering going on.

That reminds me of another thing said during the primary program, something like, "I want to share the gospel with the world because it makes me happy and I want them to be happy too." This is a better sentiment than most that I heard yesterday. Still, I hope my kids aren't getting the impression that everyone outside the LDS church is unhappy and just waiting for the missionaries to knock on their door. I try to have conversations with my kids to counteract these ideas, but who knows which of them will stick.

Karen said...

YES! When you take a step back, the heavy-handed indoctrination becomes disturbingly obvious, doesn't it? The first fall after we quit going to church, the Primary *mailed* us copies of our kids' speaking parts for the Primary Program (since, you know, they weren't there when the parts were handed out, since we didn't go to church anymore). My son's line was "I know Jesus wants me to be baptized." It made me uncomfortable. Why can't we teach children to say what they think or what they believe? And then let them decide what it is they think or believe, instead of telling them what they "know"?

My son is 10 now, and still not baptized.

Saganist said...

The kids don't even write their own lines? That's even lamer than I thought.