Thursday, May 21, 2009

Send Your Kids to Sunday School

answers in genesis, ken ham, creationism, religion, christian, fundamentalism, fundy, sunday school
In case you've never heard of Ken Ham, he's the big cheese at Answers in Genesis, a creationist "institute". Ken Ham is a scientist in the same way that I am a ballet dancer. Ken Ham is to science what my dog is to art. Ken Ham is the Carrie Prejean of evolutionary biologists. (Feel free to add your own analogy.)

Ken Ham is about to run out of money.

Oh, he says he's all concerned about the fate of fundamentalism, but Ken's smart enough to run the numbers, and if he's right about the future of fundamentalism, people like him and Ray Comfort, whose incomes depend on the generosity of many, many fundys, are screwed.

Good for ya, bichez.

From Ken Ham's blog, A Shock to the Church.

A new book entitled Already Gone, authored by highly respected market researcher Britt Beamer (from America’s Research Group) and me, will be released this coming Tuesday.

We believe this book is going to be a shock and a wake-up call for the church. In fact, I believe this is the most important book I have ever authored or coauthored.
BUY IT! NOW! I NEED A NEW BEEMER! The contents are based on statistical research Britt Beamer conducted for Answers in Genesis (and paid by one of our generous supporters please, be generous again.). We interviewed people aged between 20–29 -5 points on style. that was awkward who went to church when they were younger, but no longer go to church. i'm guessing a lot of those people are hanging out on this blog. And we only included participants who attended conservative evangelical churches so that the results are the best they could possibly be. that weirded me out at first, but it's probably valid. he, and the readers of his books, don't care why catholics stop going to church, they care why their own kind stop going to church.

I have to give Ken and Britt (weren't those two of Barbie's friends?) credit, the research, if it is valid, is really quite interesting, and counterintuitive. (I don't trust Ken with anything, but Britt could be a very good researcher for all I know.)

The purpose of the research was to find out why they left church—what caused them to do this.

The results are shocking and a real wake-up call. If God’s people take this research to heart
give me more money! that inground pool won't build itself!, it could revolutionize our churches. i thought the point of fundamentalism was to not revolutionize things. Here are just a couple of the many things we found:

1. Over 40% in the survey had decided to leave the church by the end of middle and elementary school, and another 40+ % by the end of high school. that makes sense to me. most atheists i know used to be christians, and this matches the personal anecdotes i've heard from them. These people–now young adults—were already having doubts about Christianity through elementary, middle, and high school. It wasn’t in college where most of them were lost—it was before that. the reason Ken points this out is because most fundys view colleges as dens of iniquity where satan steals souls, and their precious little spawn will become drug addicted, promiscious atheists within 5 minutes of setting foot on campus. (I am not kidding. This comes up on Rapture Ready all the time. "My child was accepted to Brown with a full scholarship, but I can't let him go there!") Most fundys believe that christian schools, or better yet homeschooling, will ensure their children grow up faith intact.

2. The second chapter in the book is one of the most shocking—we call it the “Sunday School Syndrome.” We found that those that went to Sunday school regularly as kids were worse off than those who didn’t—that Sunday school overall has been detrimental to a child’s spiritual health! this was what i found counterintuitive. i would have thought the opposite, and i imagine most fundys would have agreed with me. Now we don’t advocate eradicating Sunday schools, but do advocate radical changes for teachers and the curricula. such as buying my books! designer clothes? not cheap, people! But you can’t deny the statistics—they are overwhelming. For instance, those who went to Sunday school were more like to defend abortion and pre-marital sex than those who didn’t attend Sunday school: again, i would have thought the opposite. which is why i recommend that all fundys continue to send their children to sunday school. clearly it is a force for good.

Now, we do give what we believe are the reasons for this shocking situation—and it relates to how the Bible is taught—it also relates to belief—and it relates to the fact that the curricula does not by and large have an apologetics emphasis. We give the many reasons, and the book suggests solutions.

I'm sure the book does- for the low, low price of $29.95. call in the next twenty minutes and receive a free booklight! i doubt the real problem is apologetics, however. children are natural skeptics. they have to be. the only way children can learn is to question. spend 10 minutes with a four year old and you'll find out exactly how much you don't know. in fact, my friend was playing spiderman with his 5 year old son, and the boy kept asking about the background extras. every time a random person in the game would walk or drive by, my friend was bombarded with questions as to that person's name, job, likes, dislikes, hobbies, marital status, etc.

Fundamentalist christianity, especially young earth creationism, is filled with logical gaps, inexplicable stories, and completely irrational reasoning. children do recognize illogic and irrationality. they generally can't verbalize it, but they do notice. more apologetics will not help the fact that a faith based on irrational illogic is irrational and illogical, and in the end, indefensible.

bottom line: children are ignorant, but they're not stupid.

But this is just a part of what is in this book that we believe is vital to the church today. buy it! buy my book! In fact, we are using this book to call for a new reformation in our churches—a badly needed reformation. ken's a modern day Martin Luther!

We are so convinced this publication needs to get into the hands of every Christian there are millions of you! i can finally buy that island! and every Christian leader that we are making them available in case lots. BWAHAHAHAHAHA Can I urge you to buy cases of them and hand to every Christian leader in your church? oops, used the maniacal a little too soon. In fact, get them to everyone in your church. if enough people listen to Ken's advice, they'll all be handing each other copies of the book. lulz.

Statistics show that if you were to line up all the elementary, middle, high school, and college students in your church, then at least 60% and maybe 70–80% will leave the church one day. sunday school ftw! They are your children—your grandchildren—and this research shows why this is happening and how we can stem the tide. with my book- buy it! by the case!

You can order Already Gone from the AiG website. i love the smell of desperation in the morning.


  1. I wonder how much time they spent sorting out correlation and causation in this little study. I find it extremely hard to believe that, "We're doing Sunday School wrong," is even remotely correct as an answer.

    What this actually sounds like is a standard evangelical rear-guard action. This happened often in groups I was part of. Something didn't work. We compared its lack of success with the Biblical promises of god's ever-increasing whatnot and say, "Okay, what happened there?"

    The response in most cases is to say, "We must have screwed up." So you go back, formulate a new plan, and start all over again. Some of us could only do that for so long...

    Actually, there might be a causal issue that requires an additional step. Perhaps kids who go to Sunday School are more likely to move to leadership positions. Upon reaching those leadership positions they may well be more likely to realize, "Wow, this is bullshit."

    Although the fact that their findings indicate doubts start before high school probably says otherwise. But, with my own story I started doubting but kept pushing myself in to higher and higher positions of leadership in an attempt to find some of the answers that were lacking. Since this descriptor gives no indication of the time elapsed between doubting and quitting, there may still be something to it.

    Of course there's another possibility: the tide is turning against strict Evangelical Christianity. They're simply seeing the tidal shift. Wouldn't that be nice?

  2. you could be suggesting something even better, geds. if we extrapolate from you own experience (perhaps foolish, perhaps not), then even some of the people they interviewed who professed continued faith are actually doubters and future "unchurched".

    that's awesome.

  3. It's definitely foolish to extrapolate from a single person's experience.

    I'm regularly disturbed, in fact, by some of the people I used to go to church with. A lot of them seem to be getting crazier. Or, at least, they're getting more and more insular.

    I think there's a spectrum. There are some like me who realized it was impossible to hold to faith. There are some who still do it but don't really care too much. Then there are some who just figure out how to avoid or ignore doubt. Those people are usually either fairly harmless and possessed of a simple faith and mind or slowly going insane. It's the latter category that scares me...

  4. I just ran into someone whose idea of persecution is her college professors keep giving her bad grades for citing the bible as a source . . .

  5. Well, the timing they cite certainly matches my personal experience. (I wouldn't count though - my background's Episcopalian, so I'm not a Real True Christian.) I had doubts early on - though I also remember when the story of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross seemed really, really compelling - and I'm pretty sure I'd quit believing by the time I was eleven or twelve.

    I don't think that any change to the Sunday School curriculum would have helped, though. I have trouble accepting too many things that are fundamental parts of mainstream Christianity: the doctrine of the Trinity, the need for Jesus' sacrifice... and actually, if you try to tackle both of those together, I find it really, really unworkable.

    So they're probably spot-on about the shape of the problem, but not so much on any sort of solution.

  6. Ken Ham is to science as purple is to window.

  7. Maybe it's just that they are forced to read the Bible in Sunday School instead of hearing sermons on choice phrases.

    As Penn said in the Bullshit episode on the Bible:

    "We need more atheists, and nothing will get you there faster than reading the damn Bible".

  8. Geds made some good comments about correlation vs. causation. And there's no guarantee that Ken "Taking the Dinosaurs Back!" Ham and Co. are capable of anything like good experimental design and statistical analysis.

    Still, if his description of the Sunday School phenomenon is correct, it is very interesting. My best guess is that people who attended Sunday School as children were more likely to belong to families with high religiosity. I would suspect that highly religious people (of any faith) are more likely to undergo violent or radical de-conversion than people of more moderate views.

  9. I got to see Ken Ham speak once, when I was maybe nine or ten. My mom was homeschooling me and both my sisters at the time, and we were involved with a "homeschool group" of like-minded Christian families. We went on field trips together and stuff; if the parents communicated beyond that I wasn't aware of it.

    I remember several field trips we went on where the staff at the colonial village or museum or whatnot raved about how well-behaved all the kids were, compared to the public school children they usually got. Even at the time I remember thinking, "Hello? We are all here with our moms. Why do you look so impressed?" But I'm getting off-topic.

    Ken Ham was a charismatic speaker; I'd never heard anyone with an Australian accent in person before, which made it even more fun. He talked mostly about the Flood (which made it count as a science field trip), and had certain key points to which he returned over and over and over. I can still quote the main one today: "Billions of dead things, buried in rock layers, laid down by water, all over the earth!"

    You hear it enough times, with enough force, from enough of a variety of authority figures, and any old thing stats to sound like the truth.

    Why do people start to question the things they learn in Sunday School when they get to real school? Because anyone, even a child, can tell the friggin difference between the genuine article (however crappy or annoying) and a knockoff. That's something I realized when I attended my first rock concert, and compared the emotional impact of that to the praise and worship sessions at a Pentecostal church.

    Did you ever see the Simpsons episode with the Movementarians? I've always wanted to go on a "free" weekend trip where a cult starts to recruit me. Because I have a feeling that one builds up an immunity to those kinds of brainwashing tactics through repeated exposure, like iocane powder. And I want to make sure I've still got the skillz.

  10. By the way, the title of your blog is priceless.

  11. Fiat Lex:

    I totally want to go on a Movementarian weekend. When they shine the spotlight on me and say, "Why are you leaving?" I'll respond, "Because this is bullshit."

    I think that episode is actually extremely astute, both in pointing out the cult behavior and how Reverend Lovejoy wasn't any better. The whole standing up, then sitting back down again when singled out is a total human nature thing, though. We need more voices who stand up, stay standing, and open their mouths to say, "I'm leaving because this is complete bullshit."


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