In a previous post I embedded a video of a small child worshipping, arguing that it illustrated how children learn “the culturally-specific rules guiding the performance of devotion.” The video below is a similar case, showing how a young child of about the same age, who has yet to learn to speak, has nonetheless absorbed the rhythms, emotional expression, and gestures customary among preachers in the particular faith in which he is being raised:
Discovered thanks to Dmitriy T.M.Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Jared — January 11, 2011
How long until someone claims that this has nothing to do with socialization, but it's just cute that the baby wants to be like their parents?
robynlicious — January 11, 2011
That baby sounded very angry to me. My husband walked in the room asking me why I was listening to a screaming baby!
TheBear — January 11, 2011
I think it's rather humourous that the behaviour of public speakers, of any sort, can be so stereotyped that infants can imitate it so well.
And yes, it's adorable.
bellacoker — January 11, 2011
I would not say that this is bad for that kid, but similar things have had bad effects on children in the past.
Baby Preacher: An Example of Religious Socialization … | Baby Images — January 11, 2011
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Jonah — January 11, 2011
I prefer it with subtitles:
editrix — January 11, 2011
Yes, we are religious Jews and my 2.5 year old imitates his father praying, swaying the way he does and mumbling along to the sound of the words he says out loud. This is a very common developmental aspect of a growing child and I'm sure a child will imitate whatever environment he's in. Whether it's the horrific YouTube of the smoking child or toddlers dressed up as gangsta rappers holding a guns. Why is this noteworthy?
jules — January 11, 2011
...Because people don't understand that a) children imitate what they see and b) CHILDREN IMITATE WHAT THEY SEE; they don't have profound religious experiences that call them to preach to a congregation in nonsense babytalk.
Willow — January 11, 2011
The interaction of the adult (parent?) and child is an interesting contrast with that in the video you posted yesterday of the toddler pageant princess.
Sisi — January 11, 2011
I didn't think that would be as cute as I thought it was. I figured I'd be really disturbed by it, but it's kind of adorable. : )
nina — January 11, 2011
Terror because parents hold so much power over children? That's life. The same mama cat who teaches her kittens to politely defecate in a box of sand and cover it, also teaches them to chase rodents and rip them apart with their teeth.
This is terrifiying why? Because those who don't like religion have a problem with it? Have a problem with what is being taught,but not that parents teach and kids are teachable. The same thing that allows kids to learn this is also what causes them to be capable of going to school,standing in line, covering their mouths when they cough,saying excuse me and performing the act of being polite little children. This is probably surprising because it is not one of the roles they are accustomed to see children playing.
A child getting up from the table,saying excuse me, going to the bathroom,closing the door, sitting on the toilet, wiping itself,flushing the toilets, washing his hands,and then returning to join the family is something none of us would notice.But the proper way to relieve one's self is just as much a learned ritual as what this child is doing.
Spend some time with some autistic kids and you will soon see how much of "normal" everyday completely unremarkable behavior is actually due to children being socialized and learning what is acceptable behavior.
rhea d — January 12, 2011
chh — January 12, 2011
This reminds me of Marjoe, I don't know if this has been brought up before, I'd be surprised if it hadn't been because it's a clear example of the downside to encouraging this type of behaviour.
Anyway, here's a link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marjoe. Extremely interesting documentary about the influence of religion and adults on children.
SociologicalMe — January 12, 2011
This is actually a great example of paralanguage, which I just got finished teaching in a social psychology class. The child is clearly learning not just words, but everything else: gestures, tone of voice, pitch, body posture while speaking, inflection, etc. Take the words out, and you can still understand that this was intended as a particular kind of preaching. This is really useful to me, because the college kids I teach often have a hard time understanding just how much of our language is unrelated to words.
(For my purposes, the fact that this occurs in a religious setting is totally irrelevant. The kid could be imitating a salesman or a parent or teacher and the effect would be the same. But there's only so many times I can use "a kid playing teacher" as an example in class, so I'm glad to have another one.)
SociologicalMe — January 12, 2011
Also, as a general comment, I should point out that in sociology saying something is a performance does not necessarily mean that it isn't genuinely felt. All non-instinctual action is performance, at least according to some theories. I have no idea whether a preverbal child can have religious feelings, but saying that s/he is "performing" doesn't mean s/he is just putting on a show and doesn't feel anything. It just means s/he has learned a particular set of behaviors that are considered appropriate for a specific situation. Same for adults. For example, I can have genuine feelings of love toward my husband, and sociologists would still say I'm "performing" the role of loving wife. Doesn't mean I don't actually love him, just that I'm using a specific set of behaviors (kisses, hugs, gifts, acts of kindness, whatever) to express those feelings.
MaggieDanger — January 13, 2011
Ask any Muslim who performs the prayers at home--little kids consider that part of a routine and have their own "kid reactions" to it. Sometimes they mimic the bowing behind you, sometimes they clamber onto your back while you're bowing, sometimes they wait for your raised ringer as you're on your knees and push that finger down. Even my cat acts strangely when I pray, because I'm suddenly not paying her any attention and thus she lies out on the floor directly in front of me, hoping to catch my attention when I bow.
Practicing religion is like debating politics over the dinner table or doing your hair in the morning--a part of life that kids recognize but don't quite "get" yet. Sometimes they're very good at impersonating it without knowing what they're doing, like in the video.
Rick Thorne — January 10, 2012
When Obama signed the NDAA Bill on New Years eve while you were partying...America's U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights were DESTROYED FOREVER.If YOU or your MINISTRY is truly from God then you and your flock had better prepare for literal---HELL ON EARTH in the coming months.My REVELATIONS OF TRUTH website will provide all the information you need to prove Satan is using Obama and our government to DESTROY this once great nation of ours.The Patriot Act destroyed half of our Constitution and the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) finished the job on New Years Eve! Here's some of what its designers, Levin and McCain concocted in this fascist law..."Snatch and Grab" means YOU and your loved one's can be snatched off the street by the government anytime it wants you or your loved ones."Beastiality" It's now legal for American troops to have SEX WITH ANIMALS!ANYONE LABELED A TERRORIST! Can be DETAINED WITHOUT DUE PROCESS AND DISAPPEAR FOREVER IN AMERICA'S INTERNMENT CAMPS! Christian's, Veterans and the elderly are now targeted for these fascist death camps.NAZI GERMANY has now come to America!American citizens are now paid a BOUNTY by law enforcement for SQUEALING on their NEIGHBORS for having GUNS.REMEMBER THIS: First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Communist.Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.HISTORY IS REPEATING ITSELF ONCE AGAIN...Americans are more concerned about material and sexual pleasure than standing up for their precious freedoms! The "LUKEWARM CHURCH" is ushering in our "END TIMES." Their rewards will be here on earth and after he or she draws their last breath they will end up in the "PITS OF HELL!"Did you know if your ministry is a 501 Corporation the government has every right to take over your ministry? Did you know some preachers are being paid by the government to help bring in MARTIAL LAW when the president declares it? The "DOGS OF WAR" are now on the run!Did you know the "INTERNET---KILL---SWITCH" is now in place? It won't be long before "TRUTH REVEALERS" like myself will be silenced forever...Instead of preaching the "PROSPERITY GOSPEL" real preachers should be sounding the "ALARM" before IT'S TO LATE...Inside sources have revealed the U.S. Dollar with be devalued by 40% by the end of the year through INFLATION! Also revealed is the fact the the U.S. DOLLAR will be completely DESTROYED by the end of the year. Also revealed is a good chance there will be WAR between IRAN--AMERICA---and---ISRAEL.This will be accomplished to re-elect Obama. Of course the president now has the power to SUSPEND ALL ELECTIONS...Did you know all phone calls and E-Mails are being tracked by the N.S.A? America's secret technology is 25 years ahead of what the average citizen has seen. This means our government has computers 25 years more advanced than the average PC!INTERNMENT CAMPS THROUGHOUT THE U.S. ARE NOW BEING MANNED for CIVIL UNREST rapidly coming with the dollar is destroyed... If you've seen the LUNATIC RANTINGS of elected officials like Lieberman---MeCain---Lindsey Graham, then you know they represent Satan's ONE WORLD ORDER. They want citizens arrested without do process of the law.All the VAST EMPIRES of today's "LUKEWARM MINISTRIES" will be taken over by the Anti-Christ during the Tribulation. These "HYPOCRITE MINISTERS" should be "SOUNDING THE ALARM" instead of building vast empires for the Anti-Chrsit...YOU DON'T HAVE TO BELIEVE ME! Wait and see what happens by the end of 2012...You will either serve the ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT or God Almighty! Your position in life or material possessions won't save you from literal hell coming to America....9,000 MILITARY CHECK POINTS ARE BEING SETUP IN AMERICA...AMERICA IS A NATION OF LIARS----AMERICA'S POLICE STATE IS NOW HERE-----------SEND TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW BEFORE IT'S TO LATE!!!REVELATIONS OF TRUTH WEBSITE: http://web.me.com/rthorne2/Site_2/REVELATIONS_OF_TRUTH.htmlRick Thornerthorne2@mac.com
Briana Gladhill — September 21, 2012
As clearly shown in this video, part of socialization is expression (through body language and tone for example) and this child is clearly picking up on it. She's got the strong use of voice going on plus, and most especially,the charismatic hand gestures. She is learning that part of being social and being noticed is about how you display yourself physically.
Additional Links from “What is Culture” Unit. | Introduction to Cultural Anthropology — September 22, 2014
[…] baby preacher: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2011/01/11/baby-preacher-an-example-of-religious-socialization/ […]
case — June 16, 2016
I have seen my own son do something similar setting up my camera tripod so that it looks like a microphone. And it is definitely a case of copying behaviors he has observed. Even the flamboyant flourish of a hand as a nervous gesture. Interestingly many young homosexuals have the same environmental factors thrust upon them also. And since scientists doing research in the field say there doesn't seem to be a genetic reason for being gay it all comes down to early childhood influence and choice.
Just because a child is raised by a religious family or for that matter a gay couple doesn't mean that there kid is going to follow in there footsteps. yes he or she may develop accents and patterns of speech. Or postures and eating habits. But personality doesn't influence what you believe. If anything should be discussed as an influence perhaps infant baptism should be considered. those children grow up being told they already are catholic or protestant or whatever denomination and they haven't been given a choice. Why are you that denomination? usually gets the answer that's what my mom is. An interesting group to look into as far as long term exposure are the Jehovah's witnesses as they have to make a choice and decision to dedicate themselves and will only be accepted as candidates for baptism if they can show that they understand what it means. There are still young ones but usually over 12 but they also have older members who are from every background you can imagine.