And Joseph Begat Mr. Rogers and Mr. Rogers Begat Elmo… June 23, 2012

And Joseph Begat Mr. Rogers and Mr. Rogers Begat Elmo…

The article starts out pretty typical…

[Ezekiel] Stoddard said he was motivated to become a minister after God spoke to him in a dream and told him to read Psalm 23.

“God gave me that particular scripture because a lot of people, they try to draw you away from the lord, trying to get you on the wrong path,” he said.

So now he’s been ordained as a pastor. Just one thing: he’s 11-you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-years-old:

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“A lot of people think of me being a kid, that my parents are forcing me to minister the gospel,” he said. “But the first time I did a sermon, I was 7 or 8.”

He said he plans on being a minister his entire life.

I’m sure his parents — who, totally coincidentally, happen to be pastors at the same church — had no influence on him whatsoever.

Before you jump to conclusions, though, realize that he has a completely normal childhood!

Stoddard is homeschooled by his mother, along with three other siblings. His mother says he spends at least three to four hours a day studying the Bible.

Maybe he got an advance copy of this book

At least there’s a voice of hope from one person quoted in the article:

There have been child preachers through the decades, and more than one of them has grown up to be quite embittered by the experience and turned away from the faith,” said [Dartmouth professor Richard] Balmer. “I think that’s a cautionary tale to anyone who wants to rush in and be ordained.”

Taking the Richard Dawkins approach here, if this kid was speaking out in favor of taxing the rich and having universal health care, people would call him brainwashed. They’d say he’s not mature enough to understand things like politics — and they’d be right. So why isn’t there a bigger uproar over this?

It’s not unusual for kids to recite things they hear all the time in their homes. It is unusual for them to have any real understanding of what they’re talking about. And young Ezekiel shows no signs of having that comprehension. He’s just parroting what the adults around him say.

It’s not his fault. He doesn’t know any better. (Yet.) He’s just a charming kid in a suit who has good public-speaking skills. If only his parents would find a way to make better use of his talents.

(Thanks to Paddy for the link)


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  • Fargofan

    On the subject of child evangelists, I highly recommend the movie Marjoe (his name is a cross between Mary and Joseph). It tells the true story of a child preacher who was molded by his parents and exposed them as an adult. I hope Ezekiel’s upbringing isn’t like Marjoe’s.

  • Definitely a classic. Google video. Marjoe started at age 4.

  • unclemike

    Because IOKIYAC.

    It’s OK If You Are Christian.

  • mikespeir
  • Reasongal

    Insane.  Aren’t there defined duties for a pastor, including counseling and guiding his “flock” in terms of the scripture and life’s challenges?  And a child knows how much about life?  I had a student who was fifteen who was ordained as a Mormon elder; he was very intelligent, proud of it, but an inflated ego in a teenager and knowledge of religious texts don’t seem to me to be a solid foundation for the decisions and challenges I would assume are involved in providing “guidance” for people of all ages.  Of course, many adult ministers are sorely uninformed and clueless as well…no standards for being “called” are required, I guess. 

  • These are the same people who’d be screaming about someone who declared they were gay or transgender at that age.  “Nobody can know what they are at that age!”  Yet when they’re 11 or even toddlers and claiming they’ve been “called” it’s adorable. 

  • Blanc_Slate

    The kid said people try to take him away from his god’s path, but what real life experiences has he had to have felt that way at the early age of 11? 

  • Julie S

    I don’t find it remotely strange that he dreamt about a passage in the bibble – because that’s simply what he had been reading that day.  I often dream about opening a garment factory because I sew my own clothes and then dream about making clothes.

    What I do find strange is that when I wake up I know it was a dream (and chuckle to myself about it) but the religious see it as some sort of sign – even though I have absolutely no doubt that they ignore 99.99% of all the non-religious dreams they have.   

  • Au_catboy

    Maybe his parents have whined about how horribly persecuted they are because they aren’t allowed to publicly set gay people on fire, and he just accepted their delusions as fact.

    Or maybe someone suggested that threatening a child with unending torture if he doesn’t do as he’s told isn’t the best method of parenting, and that was billed as the most horrible assault on faith in the history of the universe, so very much worse than crushing people with rocks or feeding them to wild animals…

  • Mdwelch27

    I don’t know why we are so upset about this one kid.  Thousands and thousands of our kids are being brainwashed everyday and their abilities to analytically reason are being diminished.  Everyday these indoctrination centers are teaching our young people not to think about the problems we face as a species.  What’s one more ?

  • You’re never too young to start raking in love offerings.  This is show biz.  No expensive college, no years of working menial jobs, trying to find a career where you can bootstrap yourself.  What parent wouldn’t want this for their child?

  • Deven Kale

     Being a Mormon Elder just means that you’re able to administer the blessings of the Melchizedek priesthood. Boys get that around 15 all the time, and it’s actually pretty meaningless. It basically just means they get to cast some spells, like the “laying on of hands.” There may be a couple “callings” that require you to be an elder, but I don’t know what those are, and there are other qualifications for them beyond that.

    The role of an elder is nothing like the role of a pastor. The closest corollary to pastor in the Mormon church is the Bishop. Even then, it’s not a very good match.