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Sunday, 15 May 2011

Not Ashamed that I am Ashamed!

In the words of Joey Tribbiani

Well, as some of you know, I am a voluntary leader at a youth group for 11-14 year olds. Its really fun helping out there as I get to help a group of great kids grow up and I get to see them develop and change. I get to help them be better people. And yes, it is a Christian youth group ...

But I didn’t think you were a Christian jack?!

... Well, no, I’m not. And I know how that sounds, but the way I see it is that I shouldn’t HAVE to be a Christian just to help teach these young kids about the world and about what is right and wrong. I agree with the messaged being taught there, like there are always people around you to rely on, and you are never alone, and don’t murder people. And I do ready the bible in some of the talks (they last 15 mins and are mandatory, but is the only Christian-directed part to the evening). Whats more, you don’t have to be a Christian to attend the youth group, just willing to be quiet during the talk; so why be hypocritical in that the leaders do?!

And although its probably not the easiest thing to explain, I do have the fall back in that they are being, um ... religionist (similar to sexist and racist lol), in that they would be discriminating against me. Besides, the youth leader who runs everything knows I’m an Atheist, and its not like I’m going around lying to people or even trying to teach them other religions.

I teach them what is expected of me during the talks, and if they ask about God, I tell them what they should know in relation to their beliefs and what I know. If I don’t know, I refer them to someone else. Besides, I have always been interested in the Bible stories and messages, its just not something I believe in personally. Although sometimes I do feel ashamed as I am slighltly misleading them, as I join in with the talks and I do lead at a Christian youth group; but in general I am not ashamed about being an Atheist in a Christian environment.


So I help out at this youth group, and we take them on trips, play games with them, host movie nights and sleepovers etc. Its a lot of fun, especially because they are such great kids.

I usually run the Tuck Shop where they an buy drinks and sweets, mainly, well because no one does it correctly lol. My OCD really comes out here lol, but its because no one can ever put the sweets away correctly so that they all fit in the space, so they end up leaving boxed out on the counter. But me being the amazing person that I am lol, I can fit them in. That, and because I’m the only one who enjoys it and knows the prices mostly off-by-heart lol.

But I do help out around other area’s of the club. Like, sometimes I will host football tournaments, or more regularly I’ll run the crafts section.

Its quite sweet, I’ve made a real connection with most of the kids there, especially one little girl. I met her when I volunteered to go carol singing way back in December, and I persuaded her to sing and so I stayed with her for the rest of the night. She was the one who gave me the nick-name “Egypt” and even made me a fridge magnet in the crafts section we had. She’s a really sweet girl.

Of course the other kids are just as great too, and most of them are little angels, but some are miss behaved lol.

Like the other day, we took 7 of them to this big event in London called “Sorted: Nano”. It was a lot of fun. Its where about 20 or more different Christian Youth Groups gather together to learn about God and the world and how to accept themselves etc. This years theme was “Not Ashamed” to know God. And I had missed opinions about it all.

See, I’m the kind of person who will keep their mouth quiet if something is bothering me, especially when it comes to religion. Now, most of the seminar was ok. It was talking about his they shouldn’t be ashamed of their faith and about letting god into their lives, which is fair enough. I even support this, if they are Christians, there is no problem with this. But something did strike a nerve with me.

Now, before I say this, I try my very best to be understanding and accepting of everyone’s opinion. But there are extremists who actually really bug me! These are those people who shove their beliefs down people’s throats. And I know Jehovah’s Witnesses are the most famous example, but there are these people in EVERY category. I don’t have a problem with it usually and normally I’ll keep my mouth shut when I actually do meet these people, but they still get under my skin.

Now, back to the other day, what got me frustrated was the speaker was instructing them to go away and preach about their beliefs to other people. Yes, they shouldn’t be ashamed of what they are believing, but the way he was describing it, was that people who don’t know God SHOULD be ashamed, and that they should be like these people who shove their beliefs down people’s throat.

I tried to find an example of someone doing just this, and I couldn’t, but I’m sure you can all think of an example lol. Now before I offend people, I just want to reiterate how I do not have a problem with Christians, just those extremists lol. In fact about half of my friends are Christians, and here is quite an admirable Christian who explains how these people are not representative of all Christians (here)

So anyway, we took the children to this place, and other than that section, it was a good day. They learnt a lot, and we made banners and met some new people. And OMG SUCH A HOT TECHNITIAN!  lol. And after that we had some lunch and it was quite sweet really, a little girl from another youth group came over to our leader as she was also leading (but not the preacher).  And after that we went sightseeing, before I came home, relaxed and went out to a party.

It was kind of embarrassing though, as four of the kids were really poorly behaved during the seminar, and we actually had to give out three yellow cards. Which are really quite serious, as if they keep misbehaving, they will get a red card and cant go for a week. And just to put it into perspective, I have been helping there since January, and have only ever seen one yellow card given out and no red cards!

But other than that, it was a good day and I really enjoyed helping these kids accept their own faith and make their minds up about the world. And cant wait to carry on :)


Anonymous said...

Interesting post, Jack. I agree that you shouldn't have to be a Christian to help out with a Christian youth group. I mean, Christianity is all about how you live your life, and you live your life upstandingly. You are a good example to these kids, and obviously the leaders understand that nothing but good can come to you or the kids by having someone who is a good role model to them. The proselytizing tends to bother me, too, but some groups within Christianity take the Bible verses that espouse not "hiding your light under a bushel" as their mantra. Just as others use one verse out of Leviticus to condemn homosexuality.

In any case, you do NOT have anything to be ashamed of, nor should the folks who run the group. One thing that good Christian groups will do is be INCLUSIVE, which is a lesson in and of itself to young people. What does it teach kids of they are exposed to the hypocrisy that accompanies exclusiveness? Nothing but bad. This is the root of bullying and other bad behavior.

This activity in your life is one that affects many others in a very positive way. I know I'd be proud to have someone like you work with any groups I was apart of. Keep up the good work, Jack! Glad you're going to continue!

Oh, and it's too bad the kids acted up, but kids will be kids sometimes, even at the most inappropriate times.

Peace <3

naturgesetz said...

It sounds as if you're doing a very good job of being true to yourself while doing nothing to undercut the purposes of the youth group. It's good that you can sort things out like this. You give us a fine example of respect and tolerance for others' beliefs.

Wayne said...

I am not against religion, just narrow-minded interpretations of religion without regard to the times in which they were written. Oh I think you are a closet Christian Jack lol, it is just that your interpretation is a little saner than the rest. People who pound the Bible with literal quotations to promote extremist views do a disservice to their religion (eg the homophobic quotes from the Old Testament). Here we are fighting the Crusades again in this modern day-and-age with Islamic extremists. My impression of Jesus is of someone who did not judge a person's sexuality and disliked hypocrisy.
-Volunteering your time to help out is wonderful and rewarding. I think we should send the spoiled and misbehaving brats to a third world country for a few months for an attitude adjustment though lol. bfn - Wayne :)

Rowan said...

I could, and have the temptation to criticise religion just now but i wont.
I just think its good you are able to respect others beliefs and you clearly show it by going to this group :)

Rowan <3

Jack xx said...

Haha thanks Jay :) but i usually point out that Leviticus also says its a sin to get a tatoo, to cut your hair and that any woman who touches a man's genitalia in defence of her husband gets her hand cut off. so i simply say you can do it all or none of it really, either is ok with me lol
and i know, but kids will be kids, its jst frustrating when they talk though the prayers when in a church lol ... awkward!

and thanks Naturgesetz, i really do try my hardest to make sure that people can have their own oppinion.

And wayne, agreed. although i'm really not a closet Christian. I used to be, along with a whole hoast of other religions lol, before i realised i just didnt care lol. All religions are based on the same thing but i dont have to follow any of them to share these beliefs.
If i'm perfectly honest, and at the risk of loosing a few followers i will be, but i think Jesus existed but he was a cype of con-man who's abilities got exagerated and then the Roman church pieced together accounts of his tales so that the ycould accomodate power easier. But as i said, i really just dont care about which religion is the real one or if there really is one or not :/
but this doesnt change the message of the bible or the kindness it brings lol
and thank you, i'll sugest it next time i help out lol


Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree that Leviticus is filled with things that people ignore as they choose. That was my point. Too many Christians choose what they wish to use as their "weapons", usually against others. All while claiming to embrace the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule.
Peace <3

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