Indiana Christians Oppose Legislation That Would Help Children

Indiana Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis) is the chair of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee. Recently, she introduced a sensible piece of legislation.

It has to do with child-care facilities in religious places — churches, mosques, synagogues, etc. At the moment, none of them need licenses to operate and anyone can be a caregiver.

Summers’ legislation would require them to register with the state… and to meet certain standards. Caregivers would have to be at least 17 and enrolled in high school or 18 and have a high school diploma. The bill also would set ratios limiting the number of children caregivers can be responsible for and require ministries to report injuries to the state.

Another part of the bill would require the state government to conduct a criminal history background of the applicants before awarding them a license.

It all makes a lot of sense… right?

No one is telling the churches what to believe or what to teach the children.

This is strictly about the safety of the children.

So what’s the reaction to Summers’ bill?

Summers said she had become the target of a smear campaign by opponents of the bill who rallied even her own pastors against her and accused her of being an atheist.

“I have been called anything but a child of God because of this legislation,” Summers said, staring directly at Eric Miller of the conservative lobbying group Advance America.

(Hey, why is “atheist” an insult?!)

In any case, it’s just not true. Summers is a church-going Christian. Apparently, though, she’s the “wrong kind” of Christian. How dare she care about the children…?

Miller told his sheep that this bill would “lead to government intrusion into faith-based summer camps, vacation Bible schools, Sunday schools and after-school programs.”

Of course, it does nothing of the sort, but Miller doesn’t seem to care about the facts.

Look at how he spins this on his own website:

If House Bill 1036 passes, for the first time in over 30 years Indiana government would be able to tell a church:

  • Who they could hire for their child care ministry!
  • What education the workers in the child care ministry must have!
  • How many children the church could have in the child care ministry!

The government would in effect be requiring the church to be licensed by the state if they want to have a child care ministry!

With this bill, churches could still hire anyone they want… after a background check. If the church doesn’t want to hire gays, atheists, Jews and blacks, they would be allowed to discriminate as they wish (since no public funds are being used).

The workers don’t need a PhD. They need to be enrolled in high school (at 17) or have a high school diploma (at 18+)… that’s enough education, I would hope, to make smart, basic decisions about the care of a child. I know that, in the case of an emergency, I would probably not want my kids’ lives in the hands of a couple 14-year-olds. This is just a logical move for the church.

There’s a limit to the number of children because one adult cannot reasonably take care of an overflow of children in the event of an emergency. Again, this is in the best interest of the children.

I doubt the people who listen to Harris have even read this bill.

Summers’ own pastor attests to this:

… [Summers'] associate pastor “came up and told me he was very disappointed in me,” she said. “My first question to him was, ‘Did you read the bill?’ He told me no.

*facepalm*

At the moment, Summers has postponed discussion about this bill until this coming Friday.

If you can make it to the Indiana General Assembly to support this bill on Friday, I’m sure it would be a tremendous boost for Summers, who only wants what’s best for the children.

  • MathMike

    This would mean that home schooled children would not be able to act as caregivers. That’s the only thing I can see that might be causing their giant fits.

  • http://metalmeredith.com Meredith

    I would bet that there is wording for enrolled in high school/ high school diploma or equivalent.

  • http://sundialsaga.blogspot.com Modern Girl

    Wow, that is crazy and really shows how people don’t “go to the source” nearly as often as they should.

    We need more education – we probably means we need a better child to teacher/caregiver ratio.

  • abcd

    Other the blatant ageism I’m all for this law.
    I’d like to see a minimum ratio of caregivers to children, and injuries reported to the govt.

    I would NOT like to see younger adults enjoined from yet another job (babysitting).

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin

    @MathMike:

    Homeschooled children can get diplomas. I have one, and I was homeschooled. There are different laws in different states, but where I was homeschooled, a parent could issue a diploma as long as the school district accepted the student’s portfolio as adequate teaching.

  • http://gaytheistagenda.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    This is one of the many reasons I adamantly oppose any tax money going to “faith based” groups. They bend over backwards to avoid following any sort of regulations that might be imposed by the state/federal governments, claiming their status as a “religious organization” should exempt them. Funny how they never think their status as a “religious organization” should exempt them from our tax dollars.

  • Claudia

    Anyone thinking this isn’t a good idea should follow Dan Savage’s blog, in the section “Youth Pastor Watch” where Dan pretty much weekly comes up with a half dozen cases of Youth Pastors sexually or physically abusing children in their care.

    @MathMike, following up on Kevin’s comment, some places also allow homeschoolers to enroll in a “School” that essentially is optional in attendance and often doesn’t even have classes as such, but that allows kids to legally have a name filled out in paperwork demanding the name of your school.

  • RG
  • Ron in Houston

    Seems to me that this is more of a government intrusion issue rather than a religious issue.

    If they’re fundamentalists, those folks do tend to be the anti-government crowd.

  • Danny

    Wow, another reason to be proud I’m from Indiana. I really don’t understand people from this state.

    There is also legislation to add a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. I wrote my congressman about it, and basically all he said was I support it, I always have, and I don’t need your opinion.

  • http://lagunatic.wordpress.com/ Lagunatic

    So.
    Incredibly.
    Stupid.

    What a bunch of dumbfucks. Ugh.

  • http://notapottedplant.blogspot.com/ Transplanted Lawyer

    Hey, how about the law regulates non-family child care providers identically regardless of whether they are affiliated with a religious institution or not? What a concept…

    Oh, that’s right. It strip religious institutions of their special privileges and exemptions from the law and therefore it discriminates against religion. Now I remember.

  • Beckster

    I was in charge of a group of five year olds during a summer bible camp when I was thirteen. Not a good idea. I spent most of the time leaving them alone and trying to sneak off with my friends.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    People should go up to these numbnuts and shake them, screaming, “Catholic Priest!*”

    I know that there has been other abuse cases besides the Catholic problem, but that one was so massive in both scope and cover-up that it should give pause to anyone entrusting their to a faith based organization.
    Nautileaster

  • http://www.zuuthreads.com Wade Order

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

  • Mary

    State licensing will not prevent child abuse or guarantee good caregivers. If you want what’s best for children, find out who is working at your daycare before you use it. How old are they? Are they responsible? What are they teaching your children? Will they provide a background check to you? References?

    The state cannot take care of your children. For the most part, it just creates paperwork, delays, and costs to both employers and taxpayers. Bad people as well as good people can get licenses. I read somewhere recently that the vast majority of abusers and pedophiles do not have criminal records.

    If someone wants to put their child into a religious daycare that is being run by 16 year olds, that is their choice. There are worse things than that! Think of all of their other options that are virtually impossible for the state to prevent. They could leave their child with an abusive or drunk family member. They could leave their child home alone. They could even abandon their child at the hospital to go into the system. And if daycare charges go up because of the costs incurred by getting the government involved, they will go with one of those routes.

    If you don’t think children should be left at religious daycare, don’t leave yours there. But don’t think that you are doing the world a favor by creating a licensing program. Parents make bad decisions all the time, and our licensing programs will not magically create good kids OR good caregivers. How many parents regularly leave their kids with unqualified babysitters? Are you going to require babysitter licensing next? Think of all the difficulties THAT would create for parents who do choose wisely and just need a break for a few hours.

    The real problem is that we cannot control who has kids and how responsible they are. And we will never be able to do that!

  • midnightgirlinthesun

    This legislature is a stupid idea. YES, they should do background checks. YES the government should lay down the expectations, BUT THEY SHOULD HAVE TO DO WITH CHILDCARE.

    Like does the person in question have:

    1) first aide experience?
    2) experience baby-sitting, and for more than one child?
    3) any criminal record?
    4) a vehicle to get to and from work?
    5) a record with drugs and booze?

    High school education has nothing to do with the above.

    I am so tired of this discrimination. Everyone I know that are drop outs are harder workers, and much more intelligent than the ones in my age group that don’t drop out. Same with my brother’s group, and he’s five years older than I am. People are always shocked when they find out, because the ones who don’t drop out are so lazy and stupid that they expect drop outs to be worse – but life gets in the way of school.

    I had to help raise my sisters, I had to help my dad because of his diabetes, and I couldn’t finish school because I had to work and help my sisters in their own schooling. I had to take care of the house. This is a common theme – high school student drops out to help family. And then we a penalized for it – for being adults. Does anyone else see the irony here?

  • Miko

    The workers don’t need a PhD. They need to be enrolled in high school (at 17) or have a high school diploma (at 18+)… that’s enough education, I would hope, to make smart, basic decisions about the care of a child. I know that, in the case of an emergency, I would probably not want my kids’ lives in the hands of a couple 14-year-olds. This is just a logical move for the church.

    It certainly is logical, which is why the church is almost certainly already doing it. I can think of some reasonable exceptions, such as having younger teens involved under the supervision of adults as a way of teaching responsibility (such an idea, if in place, would of course be banned by this bill, and for no good reason), but the chances are they’re already taking good care of children. After all, if they weren’t, who would leave their kids there?

    The state would love to do background checks of just about everyone, but unfortunately that pesky Constitution says that we don’t live in a police state, so instead they have to do it one little piece at a time, “for the good of the children,” of course.

    Licensure laws exist solely for the purposes of expanding state revenue and for limiting entry into a profession (for the benefit of those already in the profession). They should be opposed for any and all professions.

    The funny thing is when you hear some stupid idea being promoted under the disguise of “for the good of the children,” it’s usually a Christian trying to foist the idea on us. A better title for this post would be “Indiana Christians Oppose Legislation that Would Create Needless Red Tape, Leading to Reduced Services for Children.” Nothing you’ve said gives any evidence that this bill would in any way help children.

  • DemetriusOfPharos

    Lets see if we can take the title of this post out of context with some clever editing:

    “…Christians oppose… children.”

    Yeah, that’ll do.

  • http://paigebruce.wordpress.com/ Paige Bruce

    I *know* I’m going to find cases like this in Canada, because we’re not immune to bigotry either. The pro-life/pro-choice debate is just as strong up here, for example, but Canadians are just more ‘polite’ about expressing it.

    It’s just ridiculous. Stupidity is built in, but ignorant opinion is a choice – and people who choose not to get the facts should be smacked in the head with a mace.

  • Siamang

    “Licensure laws exist solely for the purposes of expanding state revenue and for limiting entry into a profession (for the benefit of those already in the profession). They should be opposed for any and all professions.”

    Wait. Doctors too?

    Did we just have an influx of radical libertarian/anarchists?

  • Jennifer

    Very well put Mary. The world is filled with idiots, and those idiots have children. We can’t save them all with government regulation!

  • Siamang

    “A better title for this post would be “Indiana Christians Oppose Legislation that Would Create Needless Red Tape, Leading to Reduced Services for Children.””

    ….And they do this by not reading the bill, and by calling its author ungodly and an atheist.

    Riiiiight.

  • synergy

    Danny: That’s the response I get everytime I contact my state Senators, Cornyn and Bailey Hutchison. I contact them just to have it on the record and for form, but I know they don’t represent me.

  • http://yamipirogoeth.blogspot.com/ Sakura

    …wow…the stupiditiy of theists, yet again, surfaces to rear it’s head.

    But hey, I guess if they had all these precautions in place (like background checks), how would leaders of the church get their fill of little kids…maybe that’s why there’s such an ugly turn to this.

    Or maybe these “Christians” are just a bunch of sheeple with absolute no logical reasoning skills.

  • jemand

    @Miko, I have no idea where you are getting that a younger person, 14 or so, couldn’t help take care of younger ones. They would just be counted as one of the minors that the real adults would be watching. They would obviously not have to pass background checks because they would be minors/children themselves.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    Great post.

    Further proof that these Christians are only interested in media attention, especially after admitting they didn’t read the bill.

    I support Summers in what she is doing, which truly is a concern for the children.

  • Jeffrey Henderson

    This is pretty crazy for me but I’m actually siding with the church on this one. The govt has no right to tell us how to raise or care for our children.

    The same principles in this law are being used to shut down private day cares and even fine parents who watch their friend’s kids for an hour before they catch the bus to school.

    It is overreaching and not the responsibility of government to involve itself in how parents choose to care for their children.

  • http://smalldogbigstick.blogspot.com Brittany

    *Sigh* Oh, Indiana…

    I agree that the response to this legislation is dumb, but I’m also with @midnightgirlinthesun – I think that this legislation -should- be more geared towards making sure all child care providers are properly licensed.

    And while I don’t agree with @abcd that this is “ageism” I can say that I think some young adults should be able to obtain a license (But have an age restriction. Maybe 15-16?). The mother of one of my friends ran a daycare, and my friend worked there with her mom when she was a teenager.

    It just depends on the teen. Some are pretty responsible. Of course, it’s not to say that teens should run the place- These aren’t Taco Bells; these are child-care facilities.

    Baby steps, though. Obviously, these people can’t handle what’s being set in front of them now. Makes you wonder who the real children are.

  • Anonym

    I am so lucky to live in Scandinavia. america is just crazy..wow

  • Kaela

    As a parent, I have always refused to leave my child with an unlicensed care-giver. The training to become licensed is fairly simple and includes cpr, first-aid, and helpful advice for handling the myriad child-care workers find themselves in. How could any church, let alone any parent, have a problem with regulations that would improve the safety and caliber of their child care?

  • muggle

    The crazy it hurts… little kids…

    I just can’t wrap my mind around being pissed off that the day care you entrust your offspring with has to meet certain minimal standards.

    But then I love my daughter and my grandson.

    And the suggestion that we shouOhld shrug and say oh, well, let’s gamble because there’s no 100% fool proof way of screening out people who hurt kids?

    And did someone actually suggest it’s smart to drop out of high school? Hon, frankly, your parents should have been taken to task for putting so damned much on your too young shoulders. I feel sorry for you.

  • muggle

    Anonym, I’m jealous. And, yes, we are freaking nuts here.

  • http://viewfromtwopoles.blogspot.com/ Steph

    Fingerprinting adults who are going to watch children seems reasonable to me. Maybe if the churches did this (and took other measures) voluntarily, there wouldn’t need to be legislation.
    As Maude Flanders would say, “Think about the children!!”

  • Siamang

    “The govt has no right to tell us how to raise or care for our children.”

    Um… really?!! Like, for example, if you were to decide not to school them, or take them to the doctor?

    Are children property to you?

    So many absolutist statements, which make me think we’be been inundated with some extreme libertarians.

    “and even fine parents who watch their friend’s kids ”

    Cite source please. I’m calling bullshit on that claim.

    “It is overreaching and not the responsibility of government to involve itself in how parents choose to care for their children.”

    At ALL?!?!? Who’s over-reaching here?

  • Mary

    You’d think the church would support the legislation if it meant protecting them from liability. Can you picture the lawsuits that could be waged if a child was injured in a setting where there were no published minimal standards of care? And by published, I mean a sheet you sign in/out for your child, or a sign on the wall with ’10 commandments’ of the church nursery. Something! As Troy McClure would say, “Think of the civil damages!’

  • Demonhype

    Nobody is telling anyone “how to raise or care for their children” in this legislation. No one is saying the government is going to come to your house enforcing these standards on parents. All this is saying is that if you have an organization that provides a child care service, you have to meet some very reasonable minimal standards in order to maximize basic safety. It’s the kind of standard you’d expect a regular child-care to have to work with in order to run their business, but somehow all you need to do is flash the FAITH card and you don’t need to uphold any basic safety standards. That’s the issue here.

    And with all the claims of moral superiority we hear from the religious crowd are true, why would they be so upset about having a criminal background check? Wouldn’t that just be a way to weed out all the damn atheists and gays, since we’re all just a bunch of godless child rapists and serial killers, by their own claim? I get pretty tired of the religious carte blanche “I’m religious and morally superior to you, but I don’t have to account for it and you should be ashamed of even asking me that.”

    Makes me think of that thing in Losing Faith with Faith by Dan Barker, where he was describing the heavy accounting they have to do as a non-profit, but that churches generally don’t account for a cent and are just assumed to be morally superior and therefore trustworthy.

    Well, faith is about the virtue of denying reality. With all the evidence that faith doesn’t increase morality, it would take a hefty buttload of faith to continue believing that the simple act of believing in a cosmic sky fairy makes you a good and trustworthy person by default.

  • stogoe

    If you want what’s best for children, find out who is working at your daycare before you use it. How old are they? Are they responsible? What are they teaching your children? Will they provide a background check to you? References?

    That’s what a state license does, Mary. That big, bad, mean ol’ mister Gubmint is just us individuals working together to save us all time and money. If every parent had to do their own detailed background check for every daycare, nothing else would get done. Instead, all the parents (and the non-parents, too) pool together some of their money (taxes) and pay someone to check up on daycares, and keep records of which ones are good enough and which ones will kill your children.

    Same goes for roads, and food safety, and fire departments, and snow plows, and the safety net for when the banks destroy America from the inside and you lose your job.

  • Mary

    Quoting Stogoe: “That big, bad, mean ol’ mister Gubmint is just us individuals working together to save us all time and money.”

    Are you serious? The government saves us all time and money? Wow…do you know how much your state government spends on education per child? Look into it – it will amaze you. And you say if parents had to do their own research into who was caring for their children, nothing would get done? I can’t even imagine that. I guess that means that you would just randomly go to a childcare agency and drop off your kid without asking friends about its reputation, doing a visit, getting references? Do you trust just any doctor or driver just because they have a license? I sure don’t. I think for myself and do my own research.

    There are many ways to view personal and societal problems – and many ways to solve them. That is all I’m trying to point out in my response. Even if we all pay higher taxes to create a licensing program, responsible parents still have to go through the work of finding reputable childcare for our children. So how much is the license really worth? Probably not what we pay for it.

  • Siamang

    “Wow…do you know how much your state government spends on education per child?”

    About 8 grand. I wish it were more.

  • Lisa

    Ministries are registered with the state, are required to do background criminal and sex offender checks, as well as first aide, cpr, universal precautions, TB test, drug testing, pass Fire Marshall inspections and do monthly fire drills. Ministries must also pass regular visits by the state governing health and sanitation. Failure to comply with any of these rules results in a noncompliance status and a revoke of their registered ministry status. There are those who give the notion that ministries operate without any guidelines and this is just not true. A caregiver must be at least 21 to be left alone with the children. Any ministry that hires teenage children, do so mainly during the summer months to help train them for future endeavors in childcare. Alot, of them partner with schools helping develop young future working adults.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X