There have been three new rules in the Church in the last year that have really angered and saddened me. Especially since, if I were in a position to do so, I would have made the same rules.
The first is from about a year ago: news came down that Institute classes could no longer offer babysitting (which was usually accomplished by the parents in the classs taking turns in the nursery). This spelled the end of the ‘mommy class’ popular in many stakes. I asked what the rationale was and was told that the problem was legal liability.
The second is from a few years ago: Enrichment meeting could no longer staff its nursery with other ward members (or sisters from another ward), but only with the women who would otherwise be attending that enrichment meeting. Again, liability issues.
And finally, this First Presidency Letter is circulating on the Internet:
April 19, 2005
Some members of the Church teach their children at home rather than
sending them to a public or private school. Groups of these parents often
combine to offer activities for their children and increasingly request
that Church meetinghouses be made available to host such activities.
While the Church strongly encourages education, Church facilities are
dedicated for the purpose of worship, religious instruction, and other
Church- related activities. Church meetinghouses should not be used as
home school or day care facilities, or for hosting home school
activities. Adherence to this policy will help avoid safety and tax liabilities
for the church.
The First Presidency
While I am not involved with the LDS homeschoolers in Austin, I know that they have a coop that has been meeting at the stake center. They are now looking for another location. I am a part of homeschooling groups that meet at local Baptist and Unitarian churches.
Again, I’m sad and angry about these rules but would probably have instituted them myself. If I were given stewardship over tithing money (or a CES budget) the last thing that I would do is open myself up to multimillion-dollar lawsuits.
So I don’t blame the Brethren. I blame the lawyers.
But then I take a deep breath and think about one of my favorite P.J. O’Rourke notions: that in a country where you cannot enforce legal contracts, you end up having to enforce the other kind of contracts (think former Soviet Union).
I suppose this is just part of the deal of fallen mortality: lawsuits, lawyers, and it all.
But if anyone knows how to get young mothers to an Institute class, please let me know.