So here it is. I'm watching the AFC Divisional Playoff game between the New England Patriots & Denver Broncos enjoying the sight of the almighty Tim Tebow getting knocked down a few pegs from his heavenly high pedestal and CBS goes to a commercial break as there was a timeout in the action (more than likely a change in possession from the number of touchdowns that Brady threw). During the commercial break my children were playing upstairs and my wife was in the living room with me not paying attention to the game. She was playing on her computer with her headphones on giggling to some YouTube video or something.
Remember, the Denver Broncos are playing in this game who's quarterback is none other than Tim Tebow, God's personal messenger and advocate for Focus on the Family, a Christian based group that is anti-gay, pro-life and anything in the Bible, with the exception of piercing of ears and cutting of hair because their founder looks very clean cut. Anyway, on comes this 30 second spot that has a "Children of the Corn" type of feel to it. These children start reciting John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." After screaming obscenities at my television, during a commercial nonetheless not the game, I startle my wife who is sitting idly in her chair who lectures me not to scream so loud unless there is something really important. I let it slide for a little while and then I share with her the very link above that I shared with you, my dear readers, and I find her screaming to her computer the same as I was to my television, minus the obscenities (only because the children were in the room now).
This commercial is wrong for two primary reasons (I can list others, but I'm sticking with two); 1) Religion brainwashes children and this publicizes this practice and 2) humans DO NOT need religion to be good or to raise a family. First I will make the argument for the brainwashing. We sit and tell our children that the Boogey Man, vampires, werewolves and monsters are not real but Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are. Society picks and chooses what lies are okay to tell for the best of commercialization (Read about Valentine's Day and its origins, you'll be surprised). On the other hand, society tells these very same children that they better believe in Jesus, God and Satan or they will be tormented forever in the bowels of Hell. Jesus is the adult's Santa and Satan is no more of a threat than the Boogey Man. The only argument presented to this idea is that the Bible says so. Contrary to popular belief, the Bible was written by man, not by the hand of god. There is no evidence for an almighty, omnipotent, omniscient being for faith is not evidence. Society has a responsibility to its children to nourish and develop functioning individuals of society and allow them to choose their own faith. I personally have not belief in a superior being, I believe in the power of science and natural selection that brought about our existence. Faith is a personal relationship and brainwashing children ruins that. When they get to the point to start questioning faith and thinking rationally they are tormented with guilt because they are going against all the propaganda that they were force fed through the fictional ancient works. To address my second reason on why this commercial is bad Focus on the Family stands on the premise that you cannot be good without God. How can you raise a good American family without Christ in the mix? Let me tell you, it's easy and there's a lot less burden in doing so. It is awesome being able to sleep in on a Sunday morning, it is phenomenal being able to teach my children about different philosophical views on life without any dogmatic consequences. It is an innate human trait to be good. God does the opposite, I argue that God makes people bad. Look at how many innocent lives are ended short in the name of God. Look at all the wars that have been fought throughout history in the name of Allah, Yahweh or Jesus because each side felt that their imaginary friend was better than the others (I would like to point out that there have not been ANY wars fought in the name of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, RAmen). Given the opportunity, most people will do the right thing, not because of a superior imaginary friend, but because it is in our DNA to do right, we want to do right because we have that want to build trust among our neighbors.
Back to my story. My daughter, who will be 10 in a few months, started asking questions, like "what is brainwashed?". So, I tried to make a friendly analogy for her to try and understand what we were talking about regarding said commercial. The scenario I presented to her is as follows:
- Father: "Ok, what would you do if I told you that you could have M&M's only if you prayed to me everyday and if you did not pray to me then you would have to stand in the corner for a week"
- Daughter: "Well, when you went to work, I would just sneak out of the corner."
- Father: "Ok, I forgot to mention that there would be chains in the corner preventing you from moving"
- Daughter: "So there are chains on the wall?"
- Father: "Yes"
- Daughter: (after a few seconds of thought) "Well, I would just tell you that I don't need M&M's anymore. I can live without them."
Hearing her say that made me one happy atheist, but we had to elaborate more to help her understand what she was asking. She asks a lot of these questions because kids can be cruel at school, especially in the Bible Belt. We explained how those kids are forced to believe in Christ as their parents do or they will be tormented forever by the eternal flames of Hell. The advice that we gave her when kids give her a hard time at school is that they are not the ones to judge, as that judgement shall be passed on by their God and that it is their loss that they are letting religion get in the way of a potentially fantastic friendship. Yes, seeing Tim Tebow's God not show at the game tonight and only have 9 completions (at the time this was written) was great, but it would not top hearing a child of our society stepping into free thought and questioning societal norms. Focus on the Family, my pagan wife and I are doing just fine without your imaginary friends and myths. We will accept free thought and science and adventure into learning.