There has been some recent interest in our organization, and what our first initiative is all about. I wish to discuss this a little bit here. First, however, allow me to go into a little bit about our organization. Those of you who have read our first post will be familiar with some of this information.
We are a small organization headquartered in Chattanooga, TN. We are not yet officially recognized by the hierarchy, but we are working on it. This can be a difficult and lengthy process.
We uphold and defend Catholic Teaching. We also do what we can to advise Catholics who seek advice on either issues relevant to the Faith, or to religious freedom. American Catholic Solidarity also takes great pride in trying to educate our fellow Catholics in any subject relevant to our work. We want all Catholics to look at the world through the eyes of the Church’s Teachings. Most importantly, we seek to deepen the spiritual lives of our members.
Due to our small size and unofficial status, we are limited in what we can accomplish. We have many long-term goals which we are unable to meet at the moment. So we take our baby steps. We have chosen to begin with religious education.
Any Catholic who has children who have ever attended religious education classes (called PRE, formerly called CCD) knows the less than satisfactory state religious education is in in the Catholic Church. Too often our children are subjected to a watered down version of Catholicism. I have seen some PRE programs that were downright heretical! This situation must be remedied!
I am well aware that the hierarchy is making improvements. Yet the hierarchy is moving much too slowly. This is our future we’re talking about. The Catholic Church already has a serious problem with losing the youth. A large blame for this must lie squarely on our poor attempts at religious education!
The typical reaction by the hierarchy is to say, “The Church teaches that the primary educators of their children are the parents.”
That certainly is true. There is, however, a very serious problem. Most Catholic adults barely know more about what the Catholic Church teaches than their children! Let’s be honest here. It’s not like our problems in religious education are a recent occurrence.
I was born in 1981. Though I was exempt from having to attend CCD classes (I was homeschooled from 5th grade on), I voluntarily attended them because many of my friends did. I was also very involved with our youth group from junior high through high school. You would not believe the things we were told.
I distinctly remember one night in high school where our youth group was discussing sex. Our leaders told us pre-marital sex was wrong. To avoid sex, however, we were told the Church permitted petting, masturbation, and other such immoral acts. Furthermore, we were encouraged to talk to our youth leaders should we partake in such activities. “It will be totally confidential,” we were told.
I attended a popular youth conference called “Steubenville South Youth Conference” back in 1999. There we had a boys’ seminar where a priest was the main speaker. Speaking about masturbation the priest said, “Sometimes you just have to clean out the pipes. Heck, 90% of men masturbate. The other 10% lie about it.”
I am not trying to be disgusting. I am trying to show that our children’s generation is not the only one that is receiving a poor religious education. The problem dates back further than even my generation. My father (who has left the Church) admits that his religious education was equally deficient!
Yes, the parents should be the primary educators of their children; but how can parents instruct their children in the Faith when the parents themselves don’t adequately know it themselves? The answer is obvious. We must educate the parents.
As deplorable as our children’s religious education is, adult religious education is worse. Do you know why it’s worse? It’s worse because it is practically non-existent in most parishes! This must be fixed.
The usual excuse I hear as to why adult religious education classes generally don’t exist is that you can’t make adults attend. You can’t make parents bring their children to PRE classes either. You certainly can withhold the sacraments from those children who don’t attend, but this is not normally a real effective method. If a patent doesn’t value religious education or the sacraments themselves, chances are they simply will refuse to bring their children to PRE classes.
There are no real disciplinary measures that can be taken to get adults to attend religious education classes. I believe, however, there is an effective way to get some to come. Get the clergy involved, and get them to actively promote adult religious education classes.
We could get into other ways to promote the classes, and the different ways in which these “classes” might be conducted. To get into all this, however, would make this post far too lengthy. My point was simply to demonstrate what we are trying to do in our first initiative.
If you think you might be interested in helping us, and in becoming a member of American Catholic Solidarity, you can email us at We would love to have you join us! We have absolutely no monetary requirements. Our requirements are solely of a spiritual nature. You can learn more about us by visiting our Facebook and Twitter pages, as well. There are links here on our blog.
Peace in Christ,
David J. Pollard
American Catholic Solidarity