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Friday, June 18, 2010

My Letter Concerning Sunday School

I live in Whitman, a town of 14,500 souls and a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. Like many suburbs Whitman has a town newspaper. It's a hotbed of social discourse about: budget gaps, the police log, and high school sports. I'm a news junkie of sorts and was reading it when I found this disturbing ad.  It has been shortened so not to cause any eye bleeding or seizures.
Sunday Sundaes Program at First Congregational Church
....Starting this Sunday... there will be a special summer Sunday Bible School sessions for children, age 3, to grade 5. Old and New Testament characters/books to be studied include: Adam and Eve, Noah, Moses - Escape from Egypt, Moses and the Ten Commandments, David and Goliath, (the list goes on)... ice cream cups with toppings will be enjoyed by participants.
I was concerned and shocked! Here is my letter to the Editor.

Dear Sir or Ms.,

As I was reading Whitman Express Volume 8 No. 24 a particularly disturbing advertisement caught my eye. This ad targeted the most defenseless portion of our community - the children. I have two happy, intelligent ragamuffins (ages 5 and 8) and wish to keep them safe. The advertisement in question is from the First Congregational Church, UCC, 519 Washington St. This organization wishes to indoctrinate children, "ages 3, to grade 5" in a variety of aberrant and inhumane doctrines.
  • Genocide I assume the story of Noah is about the Great Flood. This story, as we all know, is where God kills countless women, children, and the disabled (much as the Nazis did). Even if the story is only a metaphor what is the message? Genocide is OK when God gives it his stamp of approval.
  • Moses and the Flight from Egypt How many first born males did God kill because the local non-democratically elected leader decided to disobey God? Were these children to blame for the wrong doing of Pharaoh?
  • Moses and the Ten Commandments Should I assume that the story element of the Golden Calf will  be included in the curriculum? The story (as I'm sure you all know) ends with Moses melting the Calf down and forcing its worshippers to drink a mixture of water mixed with the ashes of the aforementioned Calf. Moses also ordered the killing of 3,000 Jews because they had worshipped the idol. As an American who treasures Freedom of Religion I find this deeply troubling.
  • It goes without saying, that this organization is luring children in with free ice cream and this is reprehensible.
In closing, I hope the publisher(s) consider this letter and reflect on the points listed above. I do not wish to impede on the Church's Freedom of Speech. If they wish to spew these vile stories to our youth that is their decision. Rather, as a responsible member of our community, I recommend the Whitman Express to place a disclaimer akin to the ones found on tobacco products around any future ads of this nature.

Sincerely,

Andrew Hall
(I'm going to place my address here since the newspaper does not take anonymous letters.)

So, there is my letter. The newspaper states it, "welcomes all views."

We shall see.

After all...

this is Purgatory. 



25 comments:

  1. Excellent letter. Although, I suspect the reaction will be akin to finding a bag of burning dog crap on your porc.

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  2. Perfect. If nothing else they will have to face some facts.

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  3. Brilliant letter. Hopefully the facts will actually hit home.

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  4. I love it! I'll be shocked if they have the stones to publish it, but that would be fantastic.

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  5. Good job Andy! I am interested to hear the reply/if there is a reply....

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  6. Pharoah did not decide to disobey god; god hardened Pharoah's heart so that he was unable to do otherwise.

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  7. Better as:

    How many first born males did God kill because God hardened Pharoah's heart?

    Peter B

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  8. I know the editor of the Whitman Express (I used to work there), and trust me when I tell you, your letter is unlikely to get published, simply because it is a complaint about a paid advertisement rather than a comment on a story or editorial page item in the newspaper.

    I'd eat my hat if I thought for a minute that the editor was sympathetic to conservative religion, so if your letter goes unpublished, it won't be for that reason.

    The problem is the churches that teach a watered-down version of the Old Testament for childhood consumption, not the local newspapers that accept the ads (or have lists of local church activities), which are quite common.

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  9. Wait a darn minute there Andy...don't you want your kids to hear that heartwarming story about God sending 2 bears to horribly maul and kill 42 children who made fun of Elisha's bald head? (Kings 2.23-4):)

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  10. Good letter, Andy.

    Congrats from México.

    Daniel F.P.

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  11. hmmm I wonder ... can someone actually go to a court and petition that bible should have a big "PG-16" label on it. I mean if movies and music are rated based on the level of violence why not this. This is how it should be "The Holy Bible" PG-16 contains stories of extreme violence and sex. Viewer digression is advised.

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  12. We can all hope -- as I suspect this was your reason for writing it -- that your letter causes someone to THINK about what they believe. That's one of the great things about writing: the reader call mull it over and, unlike when someone is TELLING them what's wrong, examine it without the immediate need to respond. I'm convinced that most religious people don't think about what their bible says. It's reprehensible in so many places, and the best they can do is take it allegorically. But why even do that? Why not see it as the manmade construct from antiquity that doesn't even deserve a second read?

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  13. Good job there, Andy :) keep us posted on how things go over there!
    Also, on the topic of having the bible given a "PG-16" label: http://www.mopo.ca/2006/11/holy-bible-disclaimer-exposure-warning.html

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  14. Awesome!Awesome!Awesome!

    Go Andy.

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  15. Well, was it published?

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  16. Great letter! You could have gone on about how God populated the world through incest (Adam and Eve's kids, Noah's kids, Lot's daughters)and mentioned the blindingly obvious and nasty misogyny that pervades the whole tale from beginning to end, but the xtians would probably just stop reading after the first paragraph or so. Thanks for sending it - the more the light of reason shines on these nasty little fairy tales, the better!

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  17. That was incredible! I hope you don't mind if I steal parts of it. I liked the "luring children in with free ice cream" part the best. Thanks for the laugh and the thoughts!

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  18. Can't laugh at this, it rings too true! This letter is one of the many reasons why I am an enthusiastic and (happy) atheist!

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  19. i remember back in the day when the devil and like minded people got me to believe your way of thinking. hope some day you'll see the light and see that while we don't understand everything that God has done or the things that satan has inspired others to do, a perfect person paid the price for all our mistakes and will come again. if you don't believe me, just ask God to show you He's real, to prove to you, and mean it with all your heart, & you'll see. what can it hurt... you don't believe He's there anyway, right?

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  20. Excellent letter. Strangely enough, I saw a couple of signs advertising a local VBS near my workplace today. The theme is the story of Joseph: From Prison to Palace. There's a nice story for kids - sibling rivalry, imprisonment, attempted seduction... My goodness! What better moral lessons could we possibly offer to elementary school kids?!

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  21. This is great. I wonder if they'll print it.

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  22. The Bible says both that God hardened Pharaoh's heart, and that the Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Each quite a few times. I'm not sure that makes it any better, though...

    Love the letter, Andy!

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  23. Thanks for commenting NFQ.

    I am aware of the King James rendition of the story. The bible that I was using is the NIV (New International Version). I used it because I did't want to argue with theists about translation issues - the story is horrible enough.

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