Preaching to kids at playground: cool/not cool?

I live in a very diverse, predominantly new immigrant neighborhood in Queens, NYC. My typical weekday schedule is picking up 4 year old daughter at preschool and stopping at the park playground on the way home so she can run off some energy with her friends and neighborhood kids.

The playground is usually packed with kids if varying ages, many of whose parents are there but don't speak a lot of English. A lot of those parents just hang back and let their kids run around. I'm usually a little more involved and engaged with my daughter at the playground.

One day last week I noticed that there were a bunch of new faces at the playground, mostly late teens/early 20s fresh faced white kids who didn't quite fit in. There was a group of them doimg face painting. Another group broke out a bunch of balls and jump ropes and was running around the playground playing with the kids.

They were all very engaging, learning kids' names and either organizing jump roping or involving themselves in what the kids were already playing. They seemed a little nervous about me as I was actively engaged with my daughter and her friends. They seemed to prefer the kids whose parents weren't paying much attention to their kids. But one girl, who looked straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, approached me after playing with my daughter and said, "we are having a little kids club here with toys and games. And later we will sing songs and tell stories. Your daughter is welcome to participate." No mention of anything religious. Now I had an idea where this was all going but wanted to give them the benefit of doubt, so I simply thanked her.

After a while, in what I can only describe as a very practiced and scripted maneuver, a couple of the teen girls who had the most kids engaged with them said "let's play duck duck goose!" and herded their kids into a seated circle. One of the girls nodded towards another teen and said quietly "we've got duck duck goose going." The word was spread and the other teens started getting as many of their kids as they could towards the circle.

After a couple rounds of duck duck goose they suddenly transitioned to "let's sing songs!" The first song was something about heaven being great after which my kid lost interest and I followed her to another part of the playground. When we next passed by the group she wandered over and the teen group leader was saying "now we're going to tell stories and we'll all be watching you kids. The one who pays the most attention will get a PRIZE!"

Of course my 4 year old kid hears prize and is right back in. Of course the story is a bible story and it's time to go anyway so I pull my daughter out to go home.

On our way out of the park I stop by Little Miss Norman Rockwell, who from my observation has been the most bubbly and cheerful person in the entire world. Very politely and quietly I say to her "next time you should really check with the parents before preaching to their kids."

I have never seen a face go from cheerful and bubbly to furious and ugly so quickly. To her credit she didn't fight with me, but took a second to regain her composure before saying "fine" through clenched teeth and turning away from me.

What say you, OG? Think what this church group was doing was appropriate? They seemed to be really targeting kids around my daughter's age, 4 5 and 6ish, in an immigrant neighborhood where a lot of the parents don't speak much English. They avoided the parents altogether, except when they had to as in my case.

To me, it seems underhanded to proselytize to young kids. Phone Post 3.0

Evangelical groups fail to understand the lack of 'long term success / impact' a one and done outreach program like this has.

This was probably a college group from another state and city and this is their summer mission trip. They might be partnering with a like minded church in the area, but if you didn't find that out in your short time it adds to their failure. Phone Post 3.0

Ive seen things like this before, but at least all the teens were wearing the same shirts representing their church/organization. . So parents new what they were about. Phone Post 3.0

Not cool. Only preach to my children if I ask you to preach to them. Stay the hell away from my kids otherwise. Phone Post 3.0

You should contact the Federal Religious Annoyance Taskforce and repeat everything you wrote in this thread. Phone Post 3.0

What's worse is when atheist groups do this. They sucker little kids in with games and prizes, and then tell them God is a lie and grandma is not in heaven with Jesus, but rather is being eaten by maggots.

The ones at my local playground actually had the kids chanting "Heil Dawkins" before some of the parents clued in and broke it up.

They're every bit as bad as religious fundamentalists in my book.

Freaky_Hibiki - You should contact the Federal Religious Annoyance Taskforce and repeat everything you wrote in this thread. Phone Post 3.0
Ha. I get you. Actually typed out the below text but the stupid app posted it in the wrong thread:


Sorry for the FRAT.

FRAT version:
Church group of fresh faced teens targets playground of young kids. Plays games, then sings bible songs and tells bible stories to 4 - 7 year old kids without checking with their parents.

Do you all think this practice is acceptable, or no? Phone Post 3.0

Dysqo - Evangelical groups fail to understand the lack of 'long term success / impact' a one and done outreach program like this has.

This was probably a college group from another state and city and this is their summer mission trip. They might be partnering with a like minded church in the area, but if you didn't find that out in your short time it adds to their failure. Phone Post 3.0
Yeah, no one was wearing a church group shirt and up until I left no one mentioned any particular denomination or church. In fact the whole thing seemed very scripted to lure kids in without divulging that info. Phone Post 3.0

UltimateKeyboardWarrior - Not cool. Only preach to my children if I ask you to preach to them. Stay the hell away from my kids otherwise. Phone Post 3.0
That's pretty much my thoughts.

Now if these teens were just there to play with and entertain immigrant kids in a low to mid income neoghborhood as part of a good works program, then I'm all for it. But once you start with the bible songs and stories, then that's a different agenda. Phone Post 3.0

Wifespowerbottom - I probably wouldn't take my kid to that playground again. Phone Post 3.0
Unfortunately it's the playground literally right across the street from our apartment and on the way home from school. Phone Post 3.0

Scythrop - What's worse is when atheist groups do this. They sucker little kids in with games and prizes, and then tell them God is a lie and grandma is not in heaven with Jesus, but rather is being eaten by maggots.

The ones at my local playground actually had the kids chanting "Heil Dawkins" before some of the parents clued in and broke it up.

They're every bit as bad as religious fundamentalists in my book.
Seems pretty much the same thing to me. I haven't encountered atheist proselytizing before, but had it been them at the park doing the same thing I would have made the same thread. It was the way it was done and the effort to avoid the parents that pissed me off. Not who was doing the preaching. Phone Post 3.0

Sub Phone Post 3.0

I am very biased in these situations, as you can tell from my SN, but yea my answer would be no, that's not ok at all. I have no problem with religious people in any way as long as they keep it amongst themselves, or if they can discuss it like adults in a respectable way. I tend to ask my religious friends a lot of questions about their faith just for my own personal curiosity, but I'm very clear in telling them that I mean no offense and if I cross any line then all they have to do is say so. Unfortunately one of the main ways that any religion spreads is by getting to children when they're too young to really think for themselves, and then by the time they're old enough they've believed for so long that they often don't question it.

And yes as one poster mentioned above, it's just as bad when atheists do it, but it's also significantly less common Phone Post 3.0

Fuck them.

There are few things worse in life than pushy religious fanatics.

Assholes. Phone Post 3.0

Yep they need to clear that with parents first! Phone Post 3.0

Not cool Phone Post 3.0

oldnslow - I live in a very diverse, predominantly new immigrant neighborhood in Queens, NYC. My typical weekday schedule is picking up 4 year old daughter at preschool and stopping at the park playground on the way home so she can run off some energy with her friends and neighborhood kids.

The playground is usually packed with kids if varying ages, many of whose parents are there but don't speak a lot of English. A lot of those parents just hang back and let their kids run around. I'm usually a little more involved and engaged with my daughter at the playground.

One day last week I noticed that there were a bunch of new faces at the playground, mostly late teens/early 20s fresh faced white kids who didn't quite fit in. There was a group of them doimg face painting. Another group broke out a bunch of balls and jump ropes and was running around the playground playing with the kids.

They were all very engaging, learning kids' names and either organizing jump roping or involving themselves in what the kids were already playing. They seemed a little nervous about me as I was actively engaged with my daughter and her friends. They seemed to prefer the kids whose parents weren't paying much attention to their kids. But one girl, who looked straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, approached me after playing with my daughter and said, "we are having a little kids club here with toys and games. And later we will sing songs and tell stories. Your daughter is welcome to participate." No mention of anything religious. Now I had an idea where this was all going but wanted to give them the benefit of doubt, so I simply thanked her.

After a while, in what I can only describe as a very practiced and scripted maneuver, a couple of the teen girls who had the most kids engaged with them said "let's play duck duck goose!" and herded their kids into a seated circle. One of the girls nodded towards another teen and said quietly "we've got duck duck goose going." The word was spread and the other teens started getting as many of their kids as they could towards the circle.

After a couple rounds of duck duck goose they suddenly transitioned to "let's sing songs!" The first song was something about heaven being great after which my kid lost interest and I followed her to another part of the playground. When we next passed by the group she wandered over and the teen group leader was saying "now we're going to tell stories and we'll all be watching you kids. The one who pays the most attention will get a PRIZE!"

Of course my 4 year old kid hears prize and is right back in. Of course the story is a bible story and it's time to go anyway so I pull my daughter out to go home.

On our way out of the park I stop by Little Miss Norman Rockwell, who from my observation has been the most bubbly and cheerful person in the entire world. Very politely and quietly I say to her "next time you should really check with the parents before preaching to their kids."

I have never seen a face go from cheerful and bubbly to furious and ugly so quickly. To her credit she didn't fight with me, but took a second to regain her composure before saying "fine" through clenched teeth and turning away from me.

What say you, OG? Think what this church group was doing was appropriate? They seemed to be really targeting kids around my daughter's age, 4 5 and 6ish, in an immigrant neighborhood where a lot of the parents don't speak much English. They avoided the parents altogether, except when they had to as in my case.

To me, it seems underhanded to proselytize to young kids. Phone Post 3.0
Dude, you checked a teenager? Lol Phone Post 3.0

not cool...typical mind control bullshit...gain trust, gain control, make it seem fun, offer an enticement.

That's uncool. It's my opinion that nobody should ever tell any children about god and religion. It's all brainwashing. The problem with people, they're hung up on shit they wouldn't believe, if they hadn't learned to believe it when they had the logic of a 5 year old. I wonder how many people would be religious, if they learned about god for the first time as an adult. Phone Post 3.0

Could have been worse, they could have sold them drugs or shot them. Phone Post 3.0