Monday, August 20, 2007

Is "Non-Denominational" Anti-Catholic?

When I was first considering homeschooling my children someday (Katrina was only 4 and Matthew was 1) I prayed for guidance because the only experience I'd had with that was one family in town and it was such an oddball thing to do. Butch's boss's wife homeschooled her children which gave me the idea that homeschooling could possible be an option for us. Years later, we moved to Buffalo next door to a very nice family. I thought that maybe God was trying to tell me something when I realized that they homeschooled their children! They were a lovely example of the fruits of homeschooling. Their children were intelligent, well rounded, well mannered, and loved God and their parents very much. The mother (I'll call her "Beth") introduced me to a whole lot of other homeschooling families and we eventually joined their co-op of about 50 families for the school year. We met at a local church (we rented) and I taught the pre-school class while Trina attended the kindergarten class (she was 5 then) and it really was quite a nice introduction to homeschooling in general.


I started to notice a couple of things that bothered me. When we gathered together in the morning (twice a week, I think), we sat in the "sanctuary" of that church and prayed a general prayer, said the Pledge of Allegiance (there was a flag there), and after a while, I noticed another, different flag which we were starting to say a "Pledge to the Christian Flag" whatever the heck that was. I didn't pledge or stand because I had no allegiance to this strange flag or whatever it stood to represent but nobody seemed to have a problem with this and they eventually must have had other people make comments because they stopped this practice after only a few times. This was all fine, but then I realized as I made my lesson plans for the 4 year olds that every time we talked about the bible lesson for the day, I had to "check" my Catholicism at the door (so to speak) and be careful not to place too much emphasis on Mary, the Saints, or anything else typically Catholic. I started to feel like an apple on a peach pile. I looked around for anyone to talk to and realized that I couldn't say anything at all because if I talked about MY faith, I would be construed as being too denominational or maybe trying to convert people to MY faith. THEY could go on and on about how much land they bought, how big their houses were, how HUGE their churches were, how successful their husbands were, how great the last foriegn mission trip they went on was...but if I talked a simple, little bit about a small matter of my faith...I would get a stare or a shake of the head to show how inappropriate that would be.

It wasn't long (a few mom only meetings into the year) before I realized that the co-op was a set up for something much more than I was willing to dedicate myself or my family to. It seemed that they were organizing like a corporation. They had a bossy, self appointed president, vice, secretary, etc. and kind of a "board" who decided what classes they would like to include, what outside teachers they might like to hire, which curricula were best, and on, and on. The main goal of the whole group, I discovered, was to eventually start their own "Christian School" in Buffalo!


I wanted to homeschool my children! I wanted the flexibility that comes with teaching my children at their own pace. I wanted for them the freedom to explore some subject they may not get to in a public/private school. I wanted to not feel bad if we had to take a break from school (and therefore get "behind" in some subjects) if we had a family emergency, illness, new birth, vacation (much cheaper during the school year!), etc.!

Which all leads me to today. I found, right before the school year of Katrina's first grade, that Michelle S. lived back in town and that she homeschooled her kids and that there was actually a group of CATHOLIC homeschool families that got together once in a while! So now, we are happily in our 8th year of schooling at home and are chugging along just like everybody else.

A neighbor asked me if Analise could go to a "non-denominational" VBS class the other night and I said "yes" knowing that this neighbor would be there the whole time and that she is a wonderful lady and a good Christian. I figured that they would just mostly talk about old testament bible stories and sing songs about Jesus, etc. and that it would be pretty general and fun for Weazy. But the more I thought about the whole "non-denominational" thingy the more it got me thinking that if Weazy said certain "key words", what would the adults there say to her in response? Nothing like that happened, of course, but what if one of my older children innocently asked an evangelical friend something like, "When did you receive your first communion?" and one of their parents overheard and came in to "correct" my child's belief in the true presence or something like that? I don't know if "non-denominational" means anti-Catholic for sure, but I'm pretty sure it actually DOES. I can't go into it any more than that right now. It's 2am and my brain is spongy. My original idea for this post was lost because I saved it unfinished as a draft! What are your thoughts?


Serviam! said...

The denomination of Non-Denominationalism is very much anti-Catholic. The group has a lot of variation, but tends to define itself on what it does not believe (thus the non part of the name) more than what it does. They are usually churches, which are started by an individual with their own resources and are a group that is very much against any sort of church hierarchy above the office of pastor.

Many Catholics confuse the word non-denominational with the word inter-denominational, which is understandable. But these words are very different; “non” is exclusive whereas “inter” is inclusive. Your fears of your daughter possibly being corrected are well founded.

I have this same issue with the in-laws who have attended a non-denomination church for the last 20 years. Every couple of weeks we have to tell my mother-in-law that they can’t take the kids to church with them – no matter how much fun they think the kids will have. The people who run and help at these events know full well that Catholics (and other groups) will be there and do keep their eyes open for the “unsaved”. Because of how Catholics think and talk, they stick out like a sore thumb. A huge percentage of the people who attend these churches are ex-Catholics who have some axe to grind. How do I know? Mrs. Serviam! and myself spent 7 years ourselves going to that church.

Your decision was a good one - keep the kids away.

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

I know, I was thinking specifically about you guys while writing this post. I sure do like the sound of "inter-denominational" better! At least it's open to discussion of the different faiths, and like you said, isn't so much about what they all DON'T belive in...which isn't a good thing to base any kind of group on, much less a CHURCH!