It seems to me, though, that there are too many of them who are completely willing to hand the care of their kids off to other people. I think there's a strong temptation for them to just see something like "water fun games" with any so-called religious organization and simply think that something church-based is going to be safe for those kids.
It's not always just ignorance and optimism at work here.
A friend of mine who worked, and her husband worked, too, responded to an ad for a week-long "Sports/Art Camp" to be held at a nearby church. She called and asked if it was religion-based, and was told, "No, we might have a prayer at the end or something because it's being held in a church, but your children can choose either the 'Sports' track or the 'Art' track." At $25 for 5 full days of child care, what a boon to working parents, right?
When she and her husband took the kids to the signup open house, there were refreshments and inflatable bounce houses - very kid-appealing. She looked over the release form - it was standard stuff, who to call in an emergency, can we call in medical professionals if needed, blah blah blah.
It was only when they got the kids alone that they started the hard-core indoctrination into Evangelical Christianity. The day started with an "assembly" where teenagers would get up and speak about how important "god" and "the lord" and "jesus" were in their lives etc. etc. The typical Evangelical call-response style audience engagement was used: "Are you on Jesus's team?" "Yeah!" "Whose team do you want to be on?" "Jesus!" "Would you ever consider anything else?" "NO!" That sort of thing.
By the end of the second day, their children (ages 5 and 7) were coming home very confused and asking questions like, "Mommy, how do I ask god into my heart?" She said, "Don't worry, honey, he's already there." And did not finish out the week. It was pure bait-and-switch. And these are college-educated, upper middle class professionals - THEY checked it out carefully and even THEY were fooled! Just think how much these groups can run roughshod over less educated, poor people!
Anything evangelical immediately raises my suspicions, and anyone who tells me that they belong to a group that believes when they die they'll go to the planet Photon is going to make me want to politely disguise a snicker. I would immediately think "cult" as far as the latter are concerned. It just seems that the older, more conventional religions attract fewer people who have a cult-like fervor, whereas the newer, more-contrived ones may be prone to attracting the wing-nuts.
I think that's a fair assessment, but we need to be on the lookout for how much indoctrination we've absorbed from our cultural milieu. For example, a cult awareness article written by Timothy Conway, PhD., includes the following in its list of warning signs of dysfunctional cults:Obsession with invisible or other-worldly entities or forces other than God.
Why should we think that obsession with the invisible, other-worldly entity or force that Christians and Jews refer to as “God” is not dysfunctional? Would a Muslim, whose sole deity goes by the name of “Allah,” agree? Would a Hindu, whose dominant deity is referred to as Brahma (or Brahman), accept such a statement? What would a Buddhist or a Jain, who believes in no gods, think? Is this statement unconsciously betraying the author’s cultural bias, evidence of his however unconscious indoctrination into Christianity (“Everything we
do is normal”)?
Are we even aware of the preconceived notions we accept as “normal” and “natural?” I’m sure most of us accept that it is perfectly “normal” to have so many churches dotting our landscape; it’s what we are accustomed to. That means there will be no democratic discussion of whether their effect is positive, benign, or negative. The status quo abides.
Children to a certain age accept without question whatever authority figures tell them; it is this understanding that drives most religions’ zeal to indoctrinate young children, and the younger, the better. What these children learn is then stored in their subconscious, and from there it influences their attitudes and beliefs for the rest of their lives."Give me the boy until he is seven, and I will give you the man.”
– motto attributed to the Jesuits
Researchers Gregory Paul & Phil Zuckerman have observed that “(d) isbelief in the supernatural alone is able to achieve extraordinary rates of growth (in apostasy, secularism, and atheism) by voluntary conversion” and that “freedom from belief in the supernatural is rising among the growing segment that enjoys higher incomes and sophisticated education.”
Nichiren itself is pretty old, but the sgi influence is relatively new - prior to makaguchi and toda, it was a pretty obscure group and had a narrow following, so I put it in that neo-religion group as of the 1920's-1930's. Its association with Buddhism clouds that, though, and unless you really recognize that it's a modern creation, it's a pretty blurry distinction. If someone is looking, as I was, for easy-access/immediate-gratification, it fills the bill perfectly. When compared to Tibetan Buddhism, where you actually have to do quite a bit of work to begin understanding it, sgi is the kraft macaroni and cheese version of Buddhism. It fits in with our modern need for short-cuts - the only real work required is chanting and going to meetings; hypnosis makes that progressively easier and reduces the need to ask hard questions.
Again, a fair assessment.