I'm gonna go relig on y'all right now.
Because, dudes, I almost bit the end of my tongue to a drippy, bloody pulp today in a sixth grade class.
As the students worked, I suddenly became aware of a side conversation taking place between six of them. One voice said, louder than the rest of the voices which was impressive considering that this class would not shut their collective traps regardless of any and all effort on my part, "We should be quiet, we're going to offend the Mormons." My attention perked because the kid who said it was wearing a BYU shirt. Not that wearing a BYU shirt makes one LDS anymore than wearing an apron makes me a chef but still, I sort of least expected to hear it from him.
Now, I am under strict (read it like this, STRICT!) orders not to so much as mutter a word about religion in any class. Ever. This is humorous to me based on the fact that, one of my very first days of subbing found me in an auditorium listening to a whole crew of fourth graders singing about Brigham Young and Mormon pioneers. And I totally get that the history of Utah is tied closely to the history of the Mormon church but it still strikes me as funny (not funny "HA-HA" so much as funny "chuckle snort") that all educators and subs are under orders not to bring up religion but it's okay to do Brigham Young: The Musical. (Totally not the name, but the spirit of it just the same.)
So I nibbled the tip of my tongue straight off as I listened to the following.
"It's not offensive," said one student.
"Yes it is," said another. "Because listen, if you're a Catholic or a Mormon, you're a Christian."
"That's not exactly how it works," one boy chimed in.
"Yes it is! Yes it is! Catholics and Mormons are Christians!" said another.
The boy repeated himself, "That's not exactly how it works."
This went back and forth several times, all the while my mouth just on the verge of tasting tinny. (Keep reading before you go thinking I'm judging the attitude of your heart.) After a few moments, they dropped the subject completely without my having to tell them to stop arguing over religion when they are supposed to be doing their spelling.
These were sixth graders.
I came home and asked my kindergartner about it.
"What makes someone a Christian?" I asked.
"If they believe in God," he supplied quickly, without thinking.
"Really?" I pressed him. "Believing in God makes you a Christian?"
"Oh no! Wait. You're a Christian if you invite Jesus into your heart!"
It's his simple Sunday school answer, yes. But my kindergartner knows what makes a Christian. He knows that no one is inherently a believer in Christ because he attaches the name of a church to himself. He knows that being a "baptist" does not make him a Christian. I'm sure there are plenty of people sitting in churches across the country--regardless of affiliation--who are there simply because it's what their parents did. There are plenty of people who like the friendships or the singing or even the free coffee but have no idea who Jesus really is.
Garrett knows that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) And he knows that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8). He knows that He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. (Titus 3:5) He knows that it is by grace we have been saved, through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works so that no man can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9) And he knows that if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
He knows that we don't work for it and we don't earn it. He knows that we must accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. He knows so much more. Because he studies his Bible. (As much as a kindergartner can actually study anything.)
So I can't talk about "religion" at school. I can't share my faith with the students--even when their responses are misguided and ill informed. But I've got half a mind to march my kindergartner into that sixth grade class tomorrow and let him give them a Bible lesson.