Sunday, November 18, 2007

Refusing to Submit to the Control of Fear

Geneviève April of Laval, Quebec is worried. She is worried that her children will become Muslims if they are taught by Muslim teachers. Speaking before Quebec's "reasonable accommodations" commission, April stated, "Children are sponges, and if my children are taught by someone (who is Muslim), they'll start asking themselves who they are. And since I'm trying to be open with them, they risk being influenced by someone with a stronger religious identity who's with them all day." She believes that teachers and daycare workers in hijabs, for example, are a threat, because "children trust the people looking after them, and so (wearing the hijab) is practically a kind of subversion, and I think that's deplorable and shouldn't be accepted."

As a parent, I understand the urge to protect one's children. But I think that this type of fear-driven concern is unfortunate. I well remember being taught by Mrs. Naidoo back in the second grade, a dear Hindu lady who dressed everyday in a traditional India sari. Not once was I at all tempted to explore Hinduism as a result. I do remember being fascinated by her attire and the dot on her forehead. But what I really remember is an excellent teacher who helped me to stop lisping and who helped develop my love for reading by reading classic children's literature to us in such a way as to make them come alive. She was perhaps the best teacher I ever had.

The responsibility for training one's children in the faith is the role of the parent, not the teacher and most teachers understand that, especially in the younger ages. We must resist the temptation to let fear control us as we send our kids out into the world. Not an easy feat, admittedly. And this is not an excuse for being lackadaisical in our care for our kids. But we must be careful not raise a generation who sees threats to their faith behind every bush. Do we really trust that God is with us, protecting, keeping, and defending our children, as we faithfully instruct them in the way that they ought to go? We need to raise children who are secure in their faith and trust in God, not fear-driven.

This paranoia over the "other" that is different is ugly and must be resisted. I do not share the concern that many express to me at conferences or meetings over the number of Muslim immigrants coming to Canada. I do not worry that they will soon take over or impose Sharia law over the country. I will not let fear drive me as fear keeps me from viewing newcomers to Canada as those whom Christ died for and those whom we are now able to reach with the love of Christ in a way that would not have been possible were they still in their country of origin.


Pastor Chad said...

The key to her fear lies in her comment, "And since I'm trying to be open with them, they risk being influenced by someone with a stronger religious identity who's with them all day." She is NOT taking an active role in her children's religious upbringing, and so she SHOULD be worried about what they will pick up elsewhere. She has to pick up her own responsibility, instead of placing it on everyone else. She has to make a choice in what she believes to be important so she can teach her children. I think the problem is she does not know what to believe herself.

Anonymous said...

I think you're right, Pastor Chad. Our society promotes "openness" as the greatest virtue; an openness that means you can't discuss right and wrong. I remember a time our family was walking through a mall and saw a billboard promoting a kids' help line and the headline was "Because there are some things you don't talk about at dinner." My kids looked at each other and said "There are?"

Don't blame teachers if your children are confused about their religious identity. Teach your children about Muslims, Hindus and other religions. Talk about what Christians believe. And if you don't know, find out.