Over the Fourth of July weekend, a guy named Chris who lives not all that far from me attended a parade in downtown Aurora, IL.
At one point, he noticed his five-year-old son holding a small booklet…
… It was at this time that I noticed Caden holding a little booklet. It had an eagle on the front, and American flags. I figured it was some politician’s handout, or some informational thing from the city, that someone had given him on their way up the street while I was busy with other things.
He looked at it for a few minutes. He can read quite well, so I knew he was reading it. Then he asked me, a little nervously, “Dad, what is this?”
I came over by the wall where he was standing and stood next to him so I could see what he was reading. Ah, I see. It was a tract from Cornerstone Church. It was many pages long, mostly text, mostly talking about how the reader is sinful and must repent.
This led to an awkward conversation Chris wasn’t ready to have — though he handled it well, I think.
I asked him if he wanted me to put it away, and he said no, he liked the pictures. I wasn’t going to take it away from him against his will. Better that he check it out a little bit with some parental guidance than have it enter the realm of “you can’t have that.”
Back home, though, he was upset with the church:
It wasn’t until we’d gotten home after the fireworks last night that I had more time to think about this incident. What had happened while neither me nor my wife were looking? Someone came along and handed my five year old son a Christian religious tract without permission from anyone.
Suddenly, I wondered how that person would feel if I’d handed their kid a pamphlet outlining all the inconsistencies and horrors of the Bible. Or about Vishnu. Or Thor. Or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I was a little pissed.
And how sneaky was this thing? A giant eagle and flying flags on the cover and the back. A little sticker on the back from the church and its address. No indication apart from that that inside would be descriptions of how people are innately bad, and need the grace of an invisible spirit to overcome that.
Hand it out to adults, fine. Adults are responsible for themselves. You’ve got no business handing that stuff out to minors without their parents’ permission. And kids who aren’t even in kindergarten yet? You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Personally, I like the way he handled the situation.
Would you have done anything differently?
Do you think the church being purposely sneaky by preying on the child, or were they simply going about their normal business?
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