I read the other day about some children who were given as gifts “testimony gloves.” Maybe I’ve been out of the loop too long, but I’ve never heard of such things. So, I looked over on the LDS church’s web site and found the source, a 2008 article in the Friend, which is the church magazine for children ages 3-11.
Gloves, the article tells us, are worn on the hands to protect them and keep them warm, and specialized gloves are used for sports. A testimony glove, however, is there to “help you remember five parts of your testimony”:
1. I know that God is our Heavenly Father and He loves us.
2. I know that His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer.
3. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. He restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth and translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God.
4. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church on the earth today.
5. I know that this Church is led by a living prophet who receives revelation.
This strikes me as very strange. A testimony is defined among Latter-day Saints as a sure knowledge of the truth. Specifically, according to the article, “a testimony is a spiritual witness of the gospel’s truthfulness given to us by the Holy Ghost.” That’s how I understood it, and I testified many times that I knew the gospel was true and that the five statements listed above were true.
Every first Sunday of the month, we had fast and testimony meeting, essentially an “open mic” meeting where church members were encouraged to share their personal testimonies. Maybe it’s just me, but it always bothered me when some well-meaning parents brought their very small children (some barely talking) to the pulpit to share their testimonies. Of course, they didn’t really have a testimony as we understood it, but the parents would stand next to them and whisper in their ears what to say. I never understood why a parent would do that.
In a way, this “testimony glove” activity seems like pretty much the same thing. Small children are being told that there are five things they need to remember, so the glove is kind of a visual aid for helping them to remember them. The article doesn’t explain to these children how they should “develop” their testimonies, only that their testimonies will “grow stronger” as they tell their friends “I testify that …” or “I know that …” In short, children are being taught that a testimony consists of remembering five items and then repeating to others that they “know” these things are true. That hardly seems like a testimony of anything.