Religion, culture and dirty looks.

32


Discussion by: flutePlayer3

I am in the early stages of applying to be a foster carer.

At an initial meeting with our assessor amongst all the things that were discussed, I was asked if I would be happy to take a Muslim child to a Mosque every week. I replied that I wouldn't be happy doing this and to elaborate I explained that I don't like any religions and wouldn't do this for a child of any religious background.

This caused a lot of discomfort for us both and was obviously not something that assessor was comfortable with.

What I wonder is, is the cultural entwinement of religion so strong, that in the case of a displaced child, would it not be more imortant to maintain an exposure to his/hers cultural religion to avoid any potential issues of reintergration.

32 COMMENTS

  1. I can’t agree with you here mate.

    We are entitled to have personal feelings on any subject but as a carer it is you who should respect the wishes of the people who are sponsoring the care of this child. You are contracted to provide personal care for the child. Essentially you are paid to bring this child to the mosque.

    • I agree with you entirely. Initially I thought the question was about my suitability to offer appropriate care in a specific situation and would be used to consider appropriate placements. I answered without thought and only after started considering the point in general terms.
      Of course if I was accepted and took responsibility for a child, there would be no choice about completing any obligation that was required.
      I suppose that my concern is that I am entirely unequipped to support any religious structure for a child and so have to decide whether or not to continue with the assessment and if so how I can reconcile supporting religious education with my own beliefs or lack of.

      In reply to #1 by Pauly01:

      I can’t agree with you here mate.

      We are entitled to have personal feelings on any subject but as a carer it is you who should respect the wishes of the people who are sponsoring the care of this child. You are contracted to provide personal care for the child. Essentially you are paid to bring this child to the mosque.

  2. What is best for the child? It is conceivable that includes religious practice. It is also conceivable that religious practice amounts to child abuse. It depends on the case. I admire your pursuit of this noble goal, and humbly suggest reevaluating your position (as you seem to be doing).

  3. Not wanting to be overly analytical, but I think the age of the child plays into this decision very heavily. Are you obligated to continue a 13 year old through his studies and services when his entire peer group is involved? Yeah, i think so….

  4. I think there is a big difference to be made between just being a foster carer and adopting the child.. in the first case I agree with Pauly01 and you have an obligation to take the child to a mosque if he/ she wishes it but in the latter… please bring up the child knowing god is a BIG lie..

  5. You were truthful about a specific question. Whether you are a good fit for the child is the agency’s job to discern (hopefully among many factors). I don’t think you should have responded any differently.

    Mike

  6. Was the question about a real child or a hypothetical one?

    Either way, I’d like to know what the assessor meant by a “Muslim child”. Was it a child old enough to have a reasonable understanding and desire to pursue a religion? Or was it a child that the natural parents demanded be brought up as a Muslim? Or was it a child that came from an Islamic background, so the assessors thought it must be condemned to be indoctrinated as a Muslim for no other reason?

    • In reply to #6 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:
      It was a hypothetical question but it could occur for a number of reasons I guess. It could be a request of the parents or it could be assumed by social services that it would be interest of the child, perhaps in the case of a child from another country needing temporary care.

      Was the question about a real child or a hypothetical one?

      Either way, I’d like to know what the assessor meant by a “Muslim child”. Was it a child old enough to have a reasonable understanding and desire to pursue a religion? Or was it a child that the natural parents demanded be brought up as a Muslim? Or was it a child that came from an Islamic background, so the assessors thought it must be condemned to be indoctrinated as a Muslim for no other reason?

  7. Well, think that’s the end of that then, I don’t think you have had much practice in dealing with bureaucrats, personal honesty is rarely rewarded, just so you know for future reference, also you are only temporary guardian, so you might have to face some difficult situations and make allowances you would not necessarily make if the child was your own, he or she may have to return to his or her natural home environment and fit in, interference on your part no matter how well intentioned may have a detrimental effect on how he or she will be reintegrated with his or her natural family.

    I’m sure there will be a check box for that somewhere… anyways.

    Answers should have been;
    A) Well, yes of course… bla, bla
    B) Well, I’m not religious but would be fully supportive bla, bla…
    C) Well, yes… my wife loves all that stuff; she would be thrilled at the opportunity!

    • In reply to #8 by ShinobiYaka:
      I think you are right. I need to learn to shut up.

      Well, think that’s the end of that then, I don’t think you have had much practice in dealing with bureaucrats, personal honesty is rarely rewarded, just so you know for future reference, also you are only temporary guardian, so you might have to face some difficult situations and make allowances you would not necessarily make if the child was your own, he or she may have to return to his or her natural home environment and fit in, interference on your part no matter how well intentioned may have a detrimental effect on how he or she will be reintegrated with his or her natural family.

      I’m sure there will be a check box for that somewhere… anyways.

      Answers should have been;
      A) Well, yes of course… bla, bla
      B) Well, I’m not religious but would be fully supportive bla, bla…
      C) Well, yes… my wife loves all that stuff; she would be thrilled at the opportunity!

  8. I think you’ve done the right thing.

    Firstly are they talking about taking them along and for you to wait outside, or would you have to go in and sit through all that Islamic bull. I might be prepared to drop them off, but if you are responsible, you’d better not let them out of your sight.

    Secondly, they ask about taking a child to a mosque, but would require you not to take a child to a BNP meeting. There is no difference in principle, but assessors come fully armed with double standards. They pretend they are being neutral, but really you have to abide by their set of political and moral rules.

    I could easily deal with the children, but I could never deal with the assessors.

  9. Churches serve many more functions than mere indoctrination. Some of these, granted possibly all, can be had through humanist or even non-religious gatherings, but a child still should have a choice regarding where he goes. Considering that foster kids often are forced to change their lifestyles with every lrelocation, a given temple or church may be one of the few points of consistency in one’s life.

    So yes, it would behoove you as a foster caregiver to take your charge to mosque every week, as that might be what he needs to cope with his situation. If you can endure it, actually go in with him.

    In the meantime, I would endorse teaching critical thought to the lad, not necessarily directed at his religious teachings (in fact I’d suggest starting with significantly more benign subjects and let him realize on his own critical thought applies to even big issues such as the sacred).

    But what he learns from mosque may well be comforting to him. As it is with Santa and other imaginary friends.

    Of course, if a child were to start applying scriptural teachings in conflict with modern-era morality (say to discriminate against women or to take up arms) I’d intervene right away. Sometimes things that are said in holy texts (such as the Koran) disagree with mores and notions we know to be true, and the archaic notions not appropriate for contemporary civilizations (at very least in the community in which you and he live).

    But it should be up to him when he gives up on Islam, or the Koran. If he never does, that is okay too. Many perfectly decent folk are Muslim all their lives.

  10. In reply to #12 by Uriel-238:
    Thank you for your reply.
    I was naively looking for a simple black and white answer were no such thing exists.
    I have a friend who was brought up in foster care, who is now in his thirties and has a family of his own. He also raised the point that for most children placements were just temporary and he felt that all the children he knew were really only looking for the long term solution and most placements were just a continuation of more uncertainty and frustration.
    So I agree there would be a moral obligation on a carer to maintain any stability already in place.
    But the extension and implications of this are quite hard to reconcile.
    As has been mentioned there could be a contractual agreement to take a child to a specific place of worship. But I had the same obligation for instance to take my children to school. The obligation didn’t stop at the process of delivery and collection. In reality it meant ensuring that they were supported in there learning and that this learning was reinforced at home.
    Would the same not apply to attendance of a religious institution? and if so undermining teachings that conflict with my own or modern ethics as you say would defeat the object and probably be very confusing.
    I too have good religious friend whose opinions I respect in many areas, unfortunately on topics such as this I can’t get the genuine open discussion that I need to help me decide the best way forward.

    Churches serve many more functions than mere indoctrination. Some of these, granted possibly all, can be had through humanist or even non-religious gatherings, but a child still should have a choice regarding where he goes. Considering that foster kids often are forced to change their lifestyles with every lrelocation, a given temple or church may be one of the few points of consistency in one’s life.

    So yes, it would behoove you as a foster caregiver to take your charge to mosque every week, as that might be what he needs to cope with his situation. If you can endure it, actually go in with him.

    In the meantime, I would endorse teaching critical thought to the lad, not necessarily directed at his religious teachings (in fact I’d suggest starting with significantly more benign subjects and let him realize on his own critical thought applies to even big issues such as the sacred).

    But what he learns from mosque may well be comforting to him. As it is with Santa and other imaginary friends.

    Of course, if a child were to start applying THISISNOTASCRIPTREALLYural teachings in conflict with modern-era morality (say to discriminate against women or to take up arms) I’d intervene right away. Sometimes things that are said in holy texts (such as the Koran) disagree with mores and notions we know to be true, and the archaic notions not appropriate for contemporary civilizations (at very least in the community in which you and he live).

    But it should be up to him when he gives up on Islam, or the Koran. If he never does, that is okay too. Many perfectly decent folk are Muslim all their lives.

    • In reply to #13 by flutePlayer3:

      I In reality it meant ensuring that they were supported in there learning and that this learning was reinforced at home.
      Would the same not apply to attendance of a religious institution? and if so undermining teachings that conflict with my own or modern ethics as you say would defeat the object and probably be very confusing.

      There is a difference between requiring that a religious student (say, a Muslim boy) study and know what the Koran says and what it means, and requiring that the boy accept that the Koran is infallible. And it would be surprising (and distressing) if you were instructed to favor religious mores above your own ethical foundation.

      Just as we memorize poems and literature in our upbringing, or secret society initiates memorize mysteries of the sect, his narrative of choice is the Koran. (My own was Hellenic mythology.) All of these serve as parables and history that have applicability to the real world (much like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings).

      At the point that he’d be concerned with the possibility of scriptural literalism, he’ll be a teen (unless he’s particularly bright) and by then he’ll looking to look at things critically to better define himself. At that point what you’re doing is adding your opinion to his internal dialogue, and you’ll get through better approaching with that level of humility. e.g. The Koran (9:123, for example) talks a lot about killing the non-believers, but that’s not a very nice thing to do is it? I don’t think anyone should kill anybody if they can avoid it. What do you think?

      If you can be someone with whom he can safely dialogue and debate, you will do wonders in steering him towards thinking and talking, and away from fighting and terror.

      This editor seems to have a problem with the word “S.C.R.I.P.T” producing script as in scripture. Considering the subject that’s a word I use a lot.

  11. I agree with this carer and disagree with Pauly01. Why should the carer respect the religious wishes of those sponsoring the care of the child? The child is not a Muslim, the child is a child and too young and inexperienced to know what if any religion it may enter into. This silly pandering to religious ‘feelings’ of (alleged) grown-ups is what is causing the continued indoctrination of the generations. Even the United Nations have got it wrong. If you read the summary of the Rights of the Child, they have the ‘right’, to be raised in the religion of the parents! Disgusting! How is that a right of the child? – I feel a petition coming on!

    Yes Pauly01 – she is contracted to provide personal care for the child – not for the religion!! She is paid to do the right thing in the child’s best interests – and that is to raise a non-religious child so the child is free to choose at an appropriate age and mental capacity.

  12. My mom and dad were asked the same thing when they had to foster one of my cousins. My mom’s sister had a psychotic break that conveniently manifested itself just a day or 2 before she was supposed to surrender to authorities to serve 60 days for failure to appear on a drunk driving charge. We had to travel 300 miles on 5 minutes notice then we were treated like the state was doing us a favor by putting us under consideration. Among the questions was the aforementioned question about church and my father replied that just a soon as a six month old child showed any inclination to go he would see to it the kid would attend. The interviewer chided him for being flippant so he got us all together and made ready to leave. The interviewer almost fainted, she couldn’t believe he would just walk away, she actually ordered him to sit down. In the calmest voice I ever heard he said “We came here to help you but you don’t want it so throw the kid in a dumpster for all I give a shit, and her mother”, and we all walked out the door. We didn’t make it to the car before the supervisor was chasing us down with the papers to sign and another worker was carrying out my cousin. Don’t let these morons drag you around, if they act like they’re doing you a favor walk away, they have the problem and they forget that all the time.

  13. As you have said, flutePlayer3, this is not a simple black and white question. I agree with what Uriel has said, and implore you to take the child’s interests to heart before making any decisions. I understand this was a hypothetical question, but if you succeed in fostering a child, then best of luck. You are a wonderful person for taking up such a task.

  14. You’d have a hard time raising a child as a muslim in a non-muslim home; how would you handle dietary restrictions or conflicts between your morality, values and behavior and islamic codes? It would be hard and involve some big compromises. What do you do when the kid comes home and insists that mom should be wearing the hijab in obedience to sharia?

    What’s a bit bizarre is the notion that this child’s religious heritage is being treated as though it were a genetic trait like skin color. If parents started out belonging to a catholic church and then decided that they had been born again and joined some fundamentalist church, would anyone tell them they are wrong to bring the kid along and raise it in their new faith? As the parent, don’t you have an obligation to give the child the best guidance that you can rather than passing that off to someone else who has no other responsibilities or obligations?

    I would want to know how they do the cost-benefit trade-offs of religion vs.all the rest. How many cruel beatings does take from a muslim foster parent to exceed the negatives of your not taking the kid to a mosque. Hey, take the kid to a mosque one day and brainwash him against it the other 6n days?

    If it’s so important they ought to have a line of muslims lined up looking for kids if they don’t what’s best for the child? Maybe being brought up witj the values of the people who are there to take the child into their home and lives.

    • In reply to #18 by whiteraven:

      You’d have a hard time raising a child as a muslim in a non-muslim home; how would you handle dietary restrictions or conflicts between your morality, values and behavior and islamic codes? It would be hard and involve some big compromises. What do you do when the kid comes home and insists that mom should be wearing the hijab in obedience to sharia?

      I think if he wishes to follow the dietary restrictions of Islam, that won’t be any more difficult than the dietary restrictions of a child with food allergies (in this case, blood, pork and intoxicants are proscribed). As for demanding outside obedience to Sharia, that’s not very likely, except maybe as an act of rebellion. More likely, a child would ask why Sharia is not obeyed in a specific sense, and that would open up dialogues.

      What’s a bit bizarre is the notion that this child’s religious heritage is being treated as though it were a genetic trait like skin color…

      Not exactly. The boy may have been Muslim before he was turned to foster care, or it could be a demand of the parents that he be raised Muslim. His religious practice might be something he feels forced into doing, or it might be one of the few points of consistency in his life.

      Therefore, It really should be his own preference that determines whether he goes to mosque or church or the local observatory on Sundays. To deny that based on the presupposition that it is indoctrination would be just as inappropriate as if a Southern Baptist caregiver forced him to go to church.

  15. I see that there are allot of people commenting that they disagree with you, and that you have a responsibility etc.

    Well, consider this: I would not allow myself to become an accomplice in the indoctrination of a child into religious superstition. I would not want to contribute to this indoctrination, as that would be immoral of me.

    Therefore I would refuse to care for any child if I were only allowed to do so on the premise that I actively take part in the intellectual destruction of the child.

    I will not have that on my hands. Find someone else.

    • In reply to #19 by kare.olsen.718:

      I would refuse to care for any child if I were only allowed to do so on the premise that I actively take part in the intellectual destruction of the child.

      That really presupposes that any religious element in the child’s life is intellectually destructive, which is a dangerous notion to assume.

      Granted, many people do submit themselves overly to their faith. Humans are predisposed to trust in authority, but there are better ways to navigate children away from this outcome than forcing your perspective on them. Doing so would be disorienting to the child and like countercult deprogramming would probably be more damaging to the kid than a regular itinerary of radical Islam.

      A better approach would be to teach the lad critical thinking skills (provided he’s old enough to comprehend it) and not directed towards his religious schooling. Let him link the two later.

      Kids in US foster care are really in a bad fix, even before they are abused, indoctrinated or recruited into gangs (all of which are commonplace). They’re seldom in a single place for long, and that kind of life is really disorienting, especially when one is expected to be learning how to cope in US society. The best thing for a child in Foster care is a safe home that requires the least effort transitioning into or out of it.

  16. From the OP-

    Would [you] be happy to take a Muslim child to a Mosque every week?

    I think a perfectly honest answer would be (apart from perhaps raising the point is no child is ‘muslim’, or ‘christian’, or ‘socialist’):-
    “If the child wanted to go.”

    I’d have trouble to consenting to being party to a child being dragged to any activity they didn’t want to do. Mer personal beliefs would therefore have nothing to do with it.

    However, if the question was phrased more about encouraging a child to pursue a religion I could not agree. And I could equally not agree to not introducing a child to my own feelings, which is obviously that religion is false and damaging.

    On the flip side, if you had a ‘muslim child’ (awful phrase) in your care it would be an opportunity to educate, in contrast to the religious indoctrination they may have experienced elsewhere.

  17. I would like to thank everyone for there comments.
    I think that my initial reply was poorly considered, but I also think that the question was also poorly considered or maybe just badly presented.
    I have since posting this question had further meetings with social workers and agreed to pursue the process to it’s conclusion. I am pretty sure that this issue will sort itself out one way or another and it really about my suitability to work within the system for the benefit of the child or children and if I am not suitable, so be it.
    I think my reply now would be that I am prepared to support any religious or cultural needs that the child has, providing that need has been properly assessed by professional services involved and is considered to be in the best interest of the child. In addition, to support any religious needs I would require additional support myself.
    In reality if the social services are doing there job properly and matching placements this shouldn’t be an issue.
    It’s ironic that I had considered many aspects of the commitment, such as the possibility of violence in my own home, drug related issues and issues of abuse……but the one that has caused the most anguish has been something that I would not even have thought of as a major point.

  18. As RD said there should be NO ‘muslim’ children, nor ‘christian’ children…
    Personally I could not and would not accede to this and would make my feelings plain to this assessor.

    Why not take him to a catholic priest? Oh, wait…

  19. I don’t know much about foster care but what does your research tell you. Is it expected of the foster parent to expose the children to religion. You could have a frank discussion with the assessor and get this kind of information. Do 90% of cases require cooperation with regards to religion , is it 70% , get a feeling for the kind of numbers you are looking at. You could then get a feel for how reasonable your position is.

    Alternatively you could tell the foster services that you do not intend to engage in any religiosity Re: the child and pass on cases that fit your description. You would have to be careful how you put that across because as you have said there could be biased views regarding your situation. Where I come from Care regarding the elderly , disabled and children is synonymous with religious practice.

  20. Would a religious person agree not to take their adopted atheist child to church/mosque/synagogue? Not just leave them at home irresponsibly, but give up THEIR convictions of going to church/mosque/synagogue, in order to provide an atheist environment?

    I have severe doubts that these protections would be accorded to atheist children, while religious views, such as an abrahamic-religious child, are in fact well preserved.

    • In reply to #27 by Jogre:

      I have severe doubts that these protections would be accorded to atheist children, while religious views, such as an abrahamic-religious child, are in fact well preserved.

      That is a relevant point, but just because some people are bigoted or general jackasses doesn’t mean that we have to be. To the contrary, it behooves anyone who deeply regards their own outlook, dogma or ideology and wants it to be recognized and spread to behave courteously, fairly and civilly even in the face of opposition that does not.

      When the fundamentalists are jerks and we are jerks, we all look bad. But when the fundamentalists are jerks and we are fair and reasonable, only they look bad, even if they gain a short-term edge.

      As a foster parent, we need to do what is best for the kid, and consistency and support of his (or her) needs is a much higher priority than deciding his dogmatic access based on your own ideals. The fact that you were (out of many foster caregivers) one of the ones that regarded him and his perspective will go much farther than attempting to block his religious education for fear of indoctrination.

  21. I have tried to pose a question based around the same theme on a religious site, to get the theist perspective.
    I am unable to fins any religious forum that will allow me to register unless I tick a box to say that I believe in their god.
    That’s a bit frustrating.

    • In reply to #29 by flutePlayer3:

      I have tried to pose a question based around the same theme on a religious site, to get the theist perspective.
      I am unable to fins any religious forum that will allow me to register unless I tick a box to say that I believe in their god.
      That’s a bit frustrating.

      Can you blame them for wanting to keep out troublemakers? Use a throw-away e-mail address, have a momentary lapse of non-faith and register during your time of weakness. Pose your question and see what happens. You could tweak the original post here a little so you’re not an obvious plagiarist. The only part that needs a little work is “to elaborate I explained that I don’t like any religions and wouldn’t do this for a child of any religious background.”

  22. This seems to be a question of professional responsibility. If so, then there is not much choice unless you are willing to forego professionalism. The requirements of “paid work” are not interpretative things, they are often bullet points that we have to deliver on, your personal belief should not have anything to do with it. Otherwise, you would be doing a disservice to your profession.

    Culture and religion is not such a simple thing as many would like it to be. Often, it is not a matter of choice. I realize that “choice” in this matter is highly arguable, but let us put that argument in the context of actual human life. In the third-world for example, choices are not always about personal preferences, many of the choices that people make have an impact in their social, professional, and family lives. It is far from being favorable, but such is the situation that we cannot expect to change within the lifetime of those who must suffer for it. Is it a negative thing? Certainly, but we must live in the real world and we cannot require others to submit to something just because we think we are right. Otherwise, you would be doing the exact same thing that you hate about religion.

    I hope this is helpful.

  23. By fostering, I assume you mean a temporary placement ?
    In my view, if the child has been raised in the Muslim faith then it would be better to continue, but also encourage him/her to think independently and critically about their belief. They then have something to build on in later life.
    Do you think the assessor was trying to catch you out ?

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