As it was her first Christmas, I wanted Eve to go to Church. My friend in Tokyo, A, had found a local English protestant church which was holding a children's carol concert on Christmas Eve. As a newcomer to Tokyo, A had not been before, but it seemed nice enough so along we went. It seemed a little formal when we arrived (the ushers had name badges), but we found some seats at the back and I found the readings in the pew bible so A's elder son could read along. Eve was her merry little self and she and I trundled along at the back while she said hello to people and generally was chatty and smiley.
As I was wandering past the main door during one trundle, one of the ushers came up to me and suggested I take Eve to the nursery. I said that I thought this was a children's service and so her chatting happily and walking around wouldn't be a problem. I was told that it would have to be quiet for the Pastor's sermon and prayers so it may be best if I went to the nursery.
I was utterly shocked. I have been going to church all my life and can think of very few that would ask a child to leave in any situation, let alone from a service billed as one for children. I am proud of Eve and how engaged she is in her surroundings (how much better that than sitting mute), and I am careful that she never makes a nuisance and is always accompanied by me so I can stop her more friendly excesses. She was not causing a problem, was barely audible above the other babies crying, and was merely being friendly.
With hindsight I wish I had some pithy comment and could have quoted him from the many biblical passages that would have made good retorts. However, I could merely mumble and say I had thought it was a children's service and leave.
It upsets me now to think of it. Partly because I didn't get to share a religious Christmas with my daughter, but also because I hold my faith very dear and spend a lot of time defending organised religion. Behaviour like this makes me wonder how other people must see churches.
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