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The Child Proselytiser

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Yep. That was me. The Child Proselytiser. As a born again Christian, I knew that my non-Christian best friend, Lisa Jones, would be headed for Hell if she didn’t accept Christ.

Now, I had to be really tactful about this, because I knew her father had committed suicide and was probably in Hell. I waited a few weeks for the perfect time to talk to her about it, and felt awfully guilty every time I chickened out of it.

But one day I worked up the courage. While we were playing in my backyard, I explained how she would end up in Hell if she didn’t accept Jesus. I asked her to pray to him for forgiveness and she said she’d think about it.

I felt really uncomfortable about the whole situation. I never really wanted to do it, but I felt like I had no choice, God was asking me to and I would be a bad Christian if I didn’t.

Looking back on it now, I am embarrassed and ashamed that I said such things to poor Lisa. In the end, Lisa never converted, but we were still good friends, she even came to church a few times.

What I think was really wrong about the whole situation was the fact that my faith made me do something I didn’t want to do. Something I felt was not only socially unacceptable, but morally uncomfortable. My fear for her eternity overwrote my kindness and respect. This isn’t healthy, especially for a ten year old whose morals and personality are still forming.

Children should be children. They should be carefree. The knowledge that non-Christians are going to Hell is a huge burden for a child to carry. It casts a shadow over everything. It’s a huge responsibility and not something I was ready to deal with at ten years old.

Please don’t do this to your kids.



About Ellen Rose

Blogger curious about how travel helps us to lead more meaningful lives.

9 responses »

  1. Powerful post.

    The phrase from the picture at the top of this post, “the credulity of children” highlights an important responsibility we have with children — to help them recognize and choose what is trustworthy and true.

    I’m not sure about the wisdom of a Jesus-or-Hell conversation between 10-year-olds. It sounds like you were in a high-pressure/not-much-to-offer situation that day, just trying to get your friend to choose not to go to Hell.

    And, I don’t think it would surprise most people if Lisa, or any child, chose not to go to Hell. But, once you’ve chosen not to go to Hell, where do you go from there?

    What seems more important is inviting children to look at Jesus and see if He is trustworthy and true. And, if He is, help them learn how to choose Him.

  2. criticofchristianity

    Yeah, anything but scaring them with threats of Hell. Whether it’s themselves or other people going there. I’m not sure if kids are mature enough to assess whether Jesus is trustworthy and true. They generally just believe whatever their parents tell them.

  3. For me, assessing whether Jesus is trustworthy and true has been a nearly life-long and daily process. I think it’s legitimate to invite children onto that path.

    When it comes to Hell, I think it also might be legitimate to fear life apart from God. And, I wonder about how to talk with children about that.

    • criticofchristianity

      Yeah, but they need to realise that it is process and not something they have to believe. I think telling them about Hell is too much fear to bring into the life of a child.

  4. I find your post very clear and vivid. The concept of religion compelling you do something you felt very awkward about and regretting it afterwards is chilling. It reminds me of why Dawkins says children should not ‘be’ religious, should not be called Christian, Hindu or whatever because of the burden it places on them.

  5. Children do get indoctrinated by whatever they grow up in. Whether that is a christian home, Buddist home, Atheistic, or just plain apathetic about religion. Children are impressionable. Which is why no matter what religion you are you need to be cautious about what you tell children, show children, etc.

    • criticofchristianity

      Yeah, I agree. I don’t have a problem with parents teaching children what they believe. That’s just part parenting. But the concept of Hell is so dark and serious; I know I wasn’t ready to deal with it at that age, so I think parents need to be really careful teaching kids about it.

  6. Pingback: Attention all non-religious parents: The Good News Club wants our kids. « Safe Among The Heathen

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