HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
May 14, 2007, Herald Journal

Clueless about religion

By KRISTEN MILLER

According to a recent Star Tribune article, the Catholic church’s attendance is declining in one of its most populace countries, Brazil. This, they believe, is due to a lack of education regarding the Catholic faith.

I can’t argue with this statement since I tend to have a difficult time understanding myself.

Times are changing, as well as churches. My parents both attended Catholic school, where they learned Latin and the basic principles of Catholicism at a younger age. It was drilled into them, whereas for me, attending public school, had an hour a week to learn about my faith in religious education class. As we all know, most of that time was spent not even paying attention to what was being taught.

The point is, a person is less likely to be involved in something if they are clueless about it. Why would someone waste their time with something they don’t even understand, much less develop a passion for it?

Many denominations are Bible-based, with less traditions and rituals than the Catholic church, which without education, can be hard to understand.

If something as complicated as religion can be is not understood at a young age, a person is likely to give up as they get older.

I was made to go to church every Sunday, whether I wanted to or not. But as an adult, I make my own decision when and what church I attend, or what religion I choose to be a part of, for that matter.

As many young people search their faith, if they don’t have the proper education and guidance, they are more likely to stray when they have the option to.

I’m only starting to get a grip on my religion, but as a teenager and young adult, I had a lot of questions that went unanswered until recently.

John Peterson, a visiting pastor at Gethsemane Lutheran Church said he has found the church competing with children’s extracurricular activities, causing a decline in youth participation in church-related activities.

“Wednesday night was a church night. Now kids have to decide whether or not to go to hockey practice and or go to church,” he said.

Peterson explained as a person gets older, the window of opportunity shrinks regarding coming into faith.

Now, there is more and more faith-based resources for young people inside and outside of church. Saturday mornings, kids can tune into Veggie Tales to learn about Christianity. They can turn on the radio to hear some really good Christian music or better yet, they can join a band in their own church.

“There are many resources with which the Gospel can be shared with them at their age level,” Peterson said.

I think the key to a strong religious faith is starting out young. Getting kids involved in their faith in a FUN way at a young age will likely continue their involvement as an adult.