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Religious Ed Curriculum Upheaval

Interesting news coming from the religious education world today. A non-denominational Christian group, CFM Religion Publishing Group, recently purchased Benziger and Resources for Christian Living religious education programs. Both of these programs are what you expect to find in Catholic parishes: watered-down pap that is only on the USCCB's approved religious ed list because it doesn't contain anything explicitly heretical. If you don't grasp the fine distinction between orthodox and not-heretical, read this.

Last Friday the new company, RCL Benziger, announced the acquisition of the Silver Burdett Ginn religious education series, another nominally Catholic program. A partial review of the First Communion program is available.

The company behind CFM Religion Publishing Group is The Wicks Group, a venture capital company. The web site describes CFM Religion Publishing Group's offering as "The Company offers true-to-the-Bible materials including classroom and group-based curricula, books, and magazines, as well as Christian-themed toys and games".

Considering that the buyer has no experience in the Catholic market and the three absorbed publishers have no experience producing quality, orthodox, Catholic education material, it's a match made in Heaven.

Hat tip to People of the Book.

Funny, the People of the Book blogger mentions that "Loyola Press (for whom he works) and Sadlier are the other two publishers of Catholic religion curriculum" but doesn't mention the only companies that are actually producing high quality, no-question-orthodox religious education programs, Ignatius Press and Midwest Theological Forum.

Ignatius Press produces Faith and Life and Image of God series for grade school and Midwest Theological Forum produces the Didache series for high school. If you actually want your children to live the Faith and stay Catholic, I suggest that instead of taking your chances with everything else that passes for Catholic religious ed, you take a look at these series.

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4 comments
Margarite
Margarite

I am 18 and I have been trying for the past two years to get involved with my youth group and help them do something worthwhile, but they just don't care. The youth group leader knows nothing about the Faith and constantly waters down any point my sisters and I make. We were lucky enough to have parents who have taught us more than most adults know in preparation for our first Holy Communions. The other day I went to a class taught by the priest and he answered a few questions at the end. The level of knowledge that these older people exibited was horrifying. No wonder they endorse all these abuses. They simply do not know. My sisters and I hate attending youth group because all the kids there go to the only "Catholic" high school in Las Vegas. Our priest even said that it is Catholic in name only, so my parents, on the advice of another priest, put us into the public schools. Well anyways since we do not attend the "Catholic" highschool none of the kids in the youth group even seem to think we are invisible or just plain annoying so they ignor us. We have been going for three years and still we are treated in this way. It is good to know that there are other good people out there who care. Sometimes it feels like we are the only ones. Thanks

Imelda
Imelda

I wish you well, Milehimama. I tried what you are doing and found that: a) I spent too much time undoing what was taught in the classes at church: b) after 7 years of trying to get things changed and "dialoguing" with the powers that were in place, nothing changed and I took my kids out of the program and taught them at home. There was a lot less confusion in their Faith that way: c) there was a lot less aggravation in our lives and we weren't wasting time on frivolous classes in which the Baltimore Catechism was ridiculed as "old-fashioned" and irrelevant. Many acquaintances and family members of my generation who had their kids in those programs are now wondering why their kids have left the Faith. They were faithful parents who sent their kids to CCD and expected that their children would learn the details of the Faith. It was a high price to pay to lose them to the religious indifference which often results from generic Christian teaching which avoids specific Catholic traditions and truths. (The BIG one to be avoided in the First Communion classes was Transubstantiation). When I asked about it I was told it was too big a word and concept for children to grasp, and really not necessary to know. Caveat emptor!

lisa
lisa

Since my daughter started CCD six years ago we've been through three different parish programs: Seasons of Faith, RCL and now Loyola's Finding God. (That is, our parish has changed programs...) I went to a training session run by an RCL person and I was NOT impressed with her orthodoxy. I've like a lot of Finding God but I am no expert, simply a mom and a catechist in her second year. They tell me the emphasis on prayer is wonderful for the kids. And the prayer is - for the most part - better than the craft projects that are options with each lesson. I mean what does making sheep out of cotton balls tell a kid about the Good Shepherd. Finding God has a parent letter and parent pages which I like the idea of. They may reach parents who are barely hanging onto their faith and just going through the motions. Also, I'm wonder about the "red string meditations" and some of the approach to prayer but I don't know if this kind of prayer isn't my cup of tea or that there is something inherently not right about it. I work around it in my class.

Milehimama
Milehimama

Great. Next Sunday is my first day teaching lesson 1 from... you guessed it... RCL's Faith First. Of course, I use the old Baltimore catechisms and Faith and Life #1 and 2 with my own children at home... pretty sad when the catechism teacher doesn't rely on the CCD classes to teach her children the Faith! But, I want them to make friends at church, and this is the first step to getting things changed, so I'll perservere!

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