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ireland, irish, ulster, ireland, irish, ulster, Sinn Féin, Irish America

Get kids into the paramilitaries ... that's the Christian youth groups

(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)

Get kids to join the Christian paramilitaries – that's the best way to beat yob culture!

Before you all choke on your coffee, I'm not advocating a return to violence.

Christian paramilitaries was an unfair and hurtful term used during the Troubles for church-based uniformed youth groups, such as the Scouts and Boys' Brigade.

Yob culture and youthful anti-social behaviour seems to be spiralling out of control, and it's only a matter of time before tempers snap and we see vigilantes back on Northern streets – hell-bent on going head-to-head with the teen terrors.

With the Brits downgrading to peaceful garrison status, calling for a return of national service to breed a dose of discipline in all teenagers is a lost cause.

It's now time for the Catholic and Protestant churches to show some united responsibility and use their uniformed youth organisations to take the tearaways off the streets.

Maybe if the Scouts and BB ran badge work in motor mechanicing, we'd see less "joyriding" around towns and cities.

Perhaps if the Guides, Brownies and Girls' Brigade organised more "responsible citizens" classes, we'd see fewer young women binge drinking, as well as gymslip mums or females suffering from sexually transmitted diseases.

Then again, is it a case clerics couldn't really be arsed trying to encourage these troublesome young sods into their flocks for fear of upsetting the fur coat brigades who litter so many of our pews?

A telly evangelist once told me he didn't want to go after the "down and outs", but wanted to seek the "up and outs".

What he meant was it was easier to tout for religious business amongst the rich rather than be bothered with the common people.

Unfortunately, this "turn up your nose at the undesirables" attitude has seeped its way into many churches.

Maybe the church-based uniformed groups need a serious rethink about what they are offering young people.

Could it be that many of these organisations are stuck in a 1970s format – before anti-social behaviour became a real menace to society?

Church youth leaders and clerics need a reality check.

Maybe today's kids are no longer interested in church because their activities are so out of date and boring?

Is that why many kids now turn to drugs, alcohol and all-night partying?

Surely it's time for a Northern forum of church-based organisations to set up a co-ordinated strategy to rescue our youth?

Simply dismissing the situation by dooming them to hell is not the answer.

Clerics will have to roll up their sleeves and get into the streets and find the young people.

Such a policy will make the snooty worshippers puke on their pants.

But did Jesus Christ Himself not command his disciples to go into the roads and ditches and find people?

When the Christian paramilitaries set themselves a goal, they usually score.

It's time they stopped shooting blanks at today's youth, otherwise the churches will be forced to disband and decommission them.

August 7, 2007
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This article appeared in the August 6, 2007 edition of the Irish Daily Star.

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