The Religion Racket
by Norman H. Wells
Former Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Cincinnati
Now With The Lord
© 2005 James H. Dearmore/Gospelweb.net

The Late Dr. Norman H. Wells

[GospelWeb.net Globe]

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Chapter 8

Child Neglect

How to "reach the young people" is a constant problem of religion and the facts reveal the enormity of this difficulty. The greater percentage of young people are not attending church and Sunday school and those who are generally drop out somewhere in their early teens. Most of the frantic effort "to reach the young people" is in reality an attempt to retrieve what religion has already lost.

All religion knows that if it is going to, be successful it must make provision for the teaching and training of children in spiritual things, This is of supreme importance. The simple, spiritual truth must be planted in the fertile minds and hearts of the young. The teaching agency of most churches is called a Sunday School, Bible School, or Church School. Normally it consists of one hour set aside on Sunday morning for the purpose of teaching. About twenty to twenty-five minutes of this hour is usually given to opening exercises, singing, record keeping, announcements, promotions, etc. and another five to ten minutes is consumed in changing from assembly rooms to classrooms. This leaves about thirty minutes for actual teaching. Thirty minutes a week! This compares to thirty hours a week the same student spends in public school. In public school he attends class more in a week than he does the whole year in Sunday School.

By the time the student graduates from High School he will have the equivalent of twelve weeks of religious, training. This is less than one semester and only a small percentage are getting this amount. And we wonder why we are a generation of spiritual ignoramuses.

No where do we deceive ourselves more than when we try to make believe that the teaching a child receives in Sunday School is enough to give him the spiritual education he so desperately needs.

Our public school teachers are professionals, well trained and qualified. The Sunday School, however, must depend upon volunteers and this presents some problems. The average Sunday School is constantly in need of Sunday School teachers. There always seems to be a shortage but very few are willing to take upon themselves this responsibility. This necessitates using whoever is available, whether they are qualified or not. This results in too large a percentage of Sunday School teachers being unqualified and really incapable of teaching. Too often they will waste the thirty precious minutes out of the week the child is given to learn of spiritual things.

Children are quick to recognize the inefficiency and inabilities of these teachers and are ready to take advantage. Too often a Sunday School class is, just thirty minutes of utter confusion with a harassed teacher helplessly trying at least to keep order. The unreliability of Sunday School teachers is proverbial. A large percentage of these teachers seem to have utterly no recognition of the importance of what they are doing. They will show up late, unprepared, and will think nothing of being absent without making provision for their class. The sight of a departmental superintendent searching frantically around a Sunday School for a substitute teacher is an all too familiar one.

In some instances the Sunday School is used mainly as a promotional organization designed to get large numbers to attend church and Sunday School. So much time is given to getting a good number present that there is none left to teach them after they are there. It is common to see attendance contests take up most of the teaching time. If this weren't so tragic it would be funny.

Every good Sunday School must have good officers. Goo superintendents and departmental heads with their assistants and secretaries are a necessity. These offices are mostly filled by folks who have proven themselves to be good, dedicated teachers. This means that the best teachers are put into positions where they don't teach. They then spend their time trying to get the job done with teachers who can't teach but must be used anyhow.

Possibly nowhere does the child cry out for firm guidance more than in religion and nowhere does he find such a deaf ear. There are two scenes, that, in all probability, are etched into the memory of everyone who has ever caught the vision of the importance of religious training for children. One of these scenes is a young child whose interest and wonder about spiritual things has been stirred and he eagerly anticipates Sunday morning when he can attend Sunday School where these wonders are unfolded. When Sunday morning comes the parents concoct some foolish excuse and keep the child home. The interest dies and the glow of wonder fades out ... sometimes forever.

The other scene is a room full of children gathered in a Sunday School class eagerly awaiting those precious moments of spiritual training ... and the teacher comes in late and unprepared or doesn't even show up. This kind of damage is irreparable ... and can even be eternal.

With this type of training it is small wonder that the child, at a very early age, becomes aware of the sham and hypocrisy of religion. A sincere, honest child will want to know. He will look for answers ... answers he never gets. He grows up firmly convinced no one has ever really leveled with him about religion. By far the large percentage of the youth of today-A receive no religious training in their home, their school, or their church. No wonder they can dismiss it as of no importance.

Those exposed to the teaching offered in the average church are quick to sense the unreality of it all ... the. pretense and hypocrisy. They get a glimpse of the truth but when they compare it with what they see practiced they generally reject it in disgust. A child is not as easily deceived as we might think. Early in his life he becomes aware of the difference between what he hears in church and what he sees in his parents. He is conscious of the vast superiority of his public school over his Sunday School. He is acutely conscious of the habitual hypocrisy all around. He feels he is being deceived ... no one is really laying it on the line. By the time the child reaches an age of independent decision he is intensely aware of his spiritual need. He is also aware that the religion to which he has been exposed does not meet that need. He then turns to something else.

Sometimes, in order to show his contempt for the pretense and sham of religion, he will run to what he feels is an extreme opposite. He will find satisfaction in opinions, fashions, and actions that are contradictory to all for which he believes religion stands. He delights in shocking the generation that has tried to impose upon him their hypocrisies. He excuses his wrong actions simply because they axe done in honesty and sincerity as opposed to covering the same actions under the veneer of religion. He speaks of a "new morality" when he never really knew anything about the old. He expresses him-self in what he believes is unorthodox opinions, appearances, clothing, music, literature, etc. His rebellion is nothing more than a desire to be the opposite of that to which he objects. He recognizes a need but doesn't know how it is to be satisfied. He may ultimately try to expand his mind with drugs and indulge in every excess which lust dictates. He fails ... because religion failed.

There are others who seem to be able to reject religion with a contempt that only great wisdom can have for ignorance. They fancy themselves as having intellectually advanced beyond a need of religion. They condone it in others of lesser knowledge and wait impatiently for them to catch up. A young person comes to this conclusion about the time he is a sophomore in college.

Some of the young will turn to new exotic cults that all established religions condemn. The new cult is attractive only because it is condemned. The majority just ignore religion as of no importance. Others drift into the sham and hypocrisy of their parents.

Each generation gets farther away ... and time is running out.

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