Atheist Group Objects to Elementary School Taking Kids to See ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ at Local Church

A Charlie Brown Christmas isn’t known as a very controversial play, but there is that one scene

No one really cares about the dialogue when it appears on TV because no one’s going to get mad when you change the channel.

But when an elementary school wants to take your children to see a production of the play — at a local church — you can understand why non-Christian parents might be upset.

That’s precisely what’s happening at Terry Elementary School in Little Rock, Arkansas:

“We’re not saying anything bad about Charlie Brown,” said Anne Orsi, a Little Rock Attorney and Vice President of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers.

“The problem is that it’s got religious content and it’s being performed in a religious venue and that doesn’t just blur the line between church and state, it over steps it entirely.”

Orsi’s group was notified by a parent who received [the field trip] letter. That parent, who did not want to go on camera, told us KARK in a statement that even though she can choose not to allow her child to go, she’s letting her daughter attend the stage production out of concern her daughter could be singled out.

That last point is the key to the whole argument. It’s tough to speak up against something like this because you’re going up against the majority as well as a tradition. It’s even tougher when you’re putting your child at risk of being ostracized instead of just yourself.

That letter home to parents even talked about how religion would be promoted through the play — bold-faced and underlined:

This production does expose your child to Christianity through some of the songs and scenes.

“Expose” is an understatement. It promotes it. And when you have to include that line in your letter to parents, that should be a big red flag that what you’re doing doesn’t belong in a public elementary school.

Can you guess how the church is responding to this?

Some of Agape staffers did say they have held holiday productions for students in the past and no one raised concerns about those shows.

No one ever said anything before, so why would it be a problem now?!

Maybe because Christians just assume everyone agrees with them and it’s downright dangerous in some areas to disagree. You risk losing friends, social status, and respect.

Despite the whining of some conservatives, the atheists haven’t stopped anyone from attending the show. Parents are free to take their children to it on their own time. But the school shouldn’t be sponsoring a trip like this.

Christians would be up in arms if school officials took kids to a holiday production at a local mosque. They should be the first in line objecting to a class field trip to a local church. They’re not, though, because that would be the respectful, right thing to do — and they just can’t bring themselves to do that.

It takes a brave atheist like Anne Orsi to put herself out there publicly in objection to this practice so that the problem can be solved. And she’ll do it alone even if no good Christians in the area are there to back her up.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Willy Occam

    “Christians would be up in arms if school officials took kids to a holiday production at a local mosque.”

    It would be so easy for Christians to understand the issue at hand if they were intellectually honest enough to consider this kind of substitution every time they feel like promoting their religion in government-sponsored situations.  Really, how hard would it be for them to ask themselves “Would I be comfortable if my child were forced to watch a play promoting Islam [or Hinduism/Scientology/etc.]?” If they were truly honest about it, they would understand the issue clearly.  But between intellectual dishonesty and willful ignorance, I’m afraid this would be too much to ask of them.

    Instead, we get to hear them reply with such gems as “But we live in a Christian Nation,” “It’s tradition,” “Nobody is hurt by this,” “Why do you hate God so much?”, and “[insert cliched religionist retort here].”

    • ONE2

      OH YES I WOULD BECAUSE MY UNITED STATES WASN’T FOUNDED IN A MOSQUE, OR ANY OTHR RELIGION. NO CHILD WOULD BE FORCE TO WATCH A CHARLEY BROWN CHRISTMAS JUST DON’T SEND THEM TO SCHOOL YOU HAVE A OPTION TO KEEP YOUR KIDS HOME ON THAT DAY. WHY RUIN EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE. TAKES ONE BAD PERSON.  GO OVER SEAS AND TRY TO COVERT ISIAM TO BELIEVE IN NO ONE. YOU WOULD BE KILLED.

  • Jennifer

      “You risk losing friends, social status, and respect.”

    And the possibility of having your property or yourself damaged by people so blinded by hatred that all civility goes right out the window.

  • Cecelia Baines

    The parent is a fucking pussy. Stand up for your beliefs ESPECIALLY when your kid is involved. Being afraid the child will be singled out is no reason to send her off to something you fundamentally oppose. It shows the child you are spineless and more concerned with appearances.

    • sunburned

       That or in many places in this country it shows that you actually care more for the welfare of the child than making an ideological statement. 

    • amycas

       Let’s refrain from the gendered insults please.

      Also, no, the parent shouldn’t have to single out their child. She can easily talk to her child about what she saw afterward so her child isn’t the only one who didn’t get to go on the field trip. That’s called parenting. Granted, it shouldn’t be happening at all, and she shouldn’t have to send her child to this play, but that’s why we have courts.

      • FSM

         Agreed, no better way to get your child to think critically than to expose them to the logical fallacies and then discuss it with them.

    • TheExpatriate700

      OK then. You put your child through a childhood of harassment, and then act shocked when said child resents you as an adult, possibly even becoming religious out of spite.

      • Cecelia Baines

        My kid is tougher than the lot of your little sheltered crotch turds! I have made sure that my son sees me standing up for my beliefs even in the face of adversity.

        Frankly, people who espouse the behavior you advocate get exactly what they deserve.

        Stand up and be counted.

        And I can say PUSSY if I want (this is for the poster who tried to dictate speech). PUSSY PUSSY PUSSY.

        • Superdove

          Troll much?

          • Antinomian

            I wouldn’t say Cecelia is a troll in any way, shape or form.

            As far as the gender insult goes,  by her name, I’d assume Cecelia is a woman and the owner of said insulted gender  slang indentifier and is free to insult or assault it all she wants .

        • http://twitter.com/rlrose328 Kerri Russ

          I agree with you in theory.  I’m an out atheist.  My son, following in my and my husband’s footsteps, bravely told kids at school he was, too (in 3rd grade, no less, which I disagreed with but he was trying to fit in by being something).  He was ostracized and bullied until we had to remove him from the school.  We had a terribly high percentage of right-wing, evangelical families at that school, so I wasn’t really shocked… but his self-esteem took a dive.  No amount of counseling, discussing, or standing up for our beliefs would help with that.

          If I had it to do over again, I would tell him to never tell the kids that.  It wasn’t worth the heartache and pain in his face, knowing he was not accepted by his peers.  Some kids are strong and can withstand that (I did), but with him, that’s just not the case.  Not all kids can be judged by how strong their parents are or how strong the parents WANT them to be.

          • MamaJ

            The last paragraph you wrote is SO true. Far too many parents try to re-live their childhoods through their own kids and try to make their kids into whom they wish they were :(

            I am so sorry for you and your son’s pain. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1594697551 Patrick Tinkham

      Easier said than done.

      • Cecelia Baines

        Said like a true coward. You people sicken me. You sit on the Internet and whine and bitch, but when push comes to shove you cower under the fridge.

        • TheExpatriate700

          Said by a person hurling insults over the internet. How ironic.

        • http://twitter.com/rlrose328 Kerri Russ

          Cecelia, you need to back off.  People are different and handle things different ways.  Just because it’s not what you would do does not make it wrong and it certainly doesn’t make us cowards.  Some of us pick and choose our battles so we are not constantly fighting with everyone.  That is a trait that kids need to learn.  The world won’t always bend to our will and our desires, no matter how much dirt we kick up having a tantrum, logical or not.  I act just as much as I bitch and whine… I just don’t act on every little issue that crosses my path.

          I would let my son go to the play, even at a church (his public charter school rented rooms from a local church and had all-class events in the sanctuary).  We’ve read the bible with him (he’s 12 now) and he knows what is BS and what is historical.  He knows that some people believe because they don’t know any better and he knows that some people, even some of our extended family, NEED to believe, and that does not make them the enemy.  We would discuss why the writers of this play felt the need to add the religion to it, how it makes the characters feel, and what things make US, as nonbelievers, feel that way.  Perhaps love, safety, family, etc., and we don’t need a belief in an invisible being to feel those things.

          I would also address the inappropriateness of the outing itself, but without the involvement of my son.  Middle school is hard enough these days (even elementary school!) without making your child a target for the intolerance from the believers.

        • Really

          Cecilia is soooo tough. That automatically makes your kid tough? 

          a) You’re not tough. You just talk like you are. 
          b) You’re kid isn’t that tough either. Ha ha! Puhleaze!

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      Were you born a thoughtless douchecake or did you have to work at it?

    • RobertoTheChi

      Seriously?

    • Deven Kale

       I really hope you don’t have kids.

  • Nick Best
    • Cincinatheist

      This has long been one of my favorite things on the internet. Even though I’ve read it a hundred times, I still laugh every single time.

      • ReadsInTrees

        Same here. Every once in a while I stumble across it again, and my faith in humanity is momentarily restored.

    • http://www.facebook.com/deb.fohringer Deb Fohringer

      OMFSM, that is hilarious.  I wonder if he got his car?

    • http://www.aramink.com/ Anne Orsi

       Instead of going on TV, I should have directed the parent to David Thorne’s site. Dopey me, grabbing my 15 minutes of fame just to go hatin’ on Charlie Brown.

    • BeasKnees

      LMAO that is fantastic.  I especially like the cactus drawing at the end. 

  • Noone

    Any day now, you’ll succeed in bullying all references to religion out of the public square! 

    • Gary B

      Peter Noone from Herman’s Hermits, is that you?  If by public square you mean government, government-run institutions, and government-owned land, then good.

    • http://www.facebook.com/deb.fohringer Deb Fohringer

      If you want to believe in the Magic Jewishperson, that’s perfectly fine.  That’s why there are religious institutions.  But please don’t try to force it on those of us who don’t.  I promise, I’ll stay out of your church, mosque, etc.

    • C Peterson

      It is rare for religion to be excluded from the public square. As private citizens, anybody can discuss religion in public. In most places, you can take your soapbox to the public square or a street corner and preach to your heart’s content.

      A public school is not the public square, however. It’s a government institution, and cannot give even the appearance of endorsing any religion, and cannot place its charges in the position of hearing religious messages that appear to be supported by teachers or administrators.

    • RobertoTheChi

      I hope so, if what you’re referring to is public schools, government land/buildings, etc.

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      Not references, just promotion. Religion in mentioned every single day in every public school across the country. It’s a vital part of history class. What isn’t okay is telling students that religious stories are true.

  • C Peterson

    Data point: I remember as a kid watching this program. I basically liked it, along with Rudolph, Frosty, and the other Christmas shows that helped define the holidays. I still remember, however, feeling uncomfortable and fidgety when that preaching by Linus came on… even at 8 or 9 years old. And I grew up in a non-religious household, an atheist from my earliest memory, and never felt any social pressure or alienation because of my views (which by that age I was probably starting to articulate).

    I realize I’m only a sample of one here, but at the least it demonstrates that the potential for a show like this to cause discomfort is very real. If the Linus monologue were rewritten to simply emphasize the humanist ideals of the season, I’d be fine with it. But as is, it really isn’t appropriate for a public school field trip.

    • 2terrytom2

      HERE WE GO AGAIN. THESE PEOPLE WANT TO REWRITE THE UNITED STATES AGAIN GO AND CONQUER SOME WHERE ELSE WHERE YOU CAN SPOUT THIS NONESENSE.  GO  TRY AND CONVERT ISIAM INTO A NON- RELIGION STATE YOU WOULD BE KILLED. 

  • CanadianNihilist

    I love that movie and watch it every Christmas.  It”s mot a long scene and it tells the audience what  christians think Christmas is about. Most secular parents have probably explained the myth to their children anyway, so that will present no new information to them.

    The only problem I have with it is the Hosting venue. Can they not just use the school gymnasium? That’s what my school always did.

    • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

      “It”s mot a long scene and it tells the audience what  christians think Christmas is about.”

      The problem is, it doesn’t present itself as “what Christians think Christmas is about,” but as “that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” I don’t mind my kids learning about myths in school, but they need to be presented as myths, or at least along the lines of “some people believe this, but this is one religion among many.” Plenty of people celebrate Christmas in a secular fashion, and plenty of people celebrate other midwinter festivals instead (and Christmas itself originally derives from pagan midwinter festivals).

      • CanadianNihilist

        So if you educate your child on this before he/she watches to movie it should be fine, right?

        • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

          Talking to our children is always a good thing. I still don’t see why a public school should be enabling proselytizing or giving the impression they promote Christianity, which is how I see this situation. As people said above, I doubt Christians would be delighted if the school took kids to a similar play talking favorably about Yule or Ramadan, even if they were allowed to opt out. It’s not unreasonable to ask the school to refrain from promoting one religion over another, IMHO.

          I posted about my thoughts on this yesterday, though as always Hemant is more articulate than I am:

          http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-war-on-charlie-brown-christmas.html

          • MamaJ

            A common assumption that I keep seeing is that Christian parents would not be okay with their children seeing a play on another religion. Why the assumption? Just like you are talking to your kids about what you believe on the topic, Christian parents are perfectly capable of doing the same thing. 

            I would be excited if there was a play about Islam or a Islamic celebration. I might even try to attend with my son if the school allowed it. And then, yes, we would talk about it possibly before and after. 

            Sorry to call you out on this. It’s not just you. This is at least the 3rd time I’ve seen someone post, “I bet Christian parents wouldn’t like it if…” Stop assuming such nonsence. We live in a world that is becoming increasingly antagonistic towards Christian beliefs. If we can’t talk to our kids about others’ beliefs and in the process, logically defend our faith, then our faith and belief in God is isn’t worth much.
             

            • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

              Of course not all Christians are like that. But there are huge numbers who go insane at the mere thought that little Johnny or Susie might come across something in public school that conflicts with Mommy and Daddy’s worldview. These are the parents who try to slip creationism into science class, ban Halloween celebrations, complain about gay parents, and on and on and on.

              • Peekaboo

                True. The assumption is being made for a reason. I just dislike when people assume that 1 Christian will act and behave exactly like another one. 

                I welcome my son (when he gets older) to question why I believe what I do. If he sees it and understands it, then his belief and understanding in my religion will be that much more real and not just following what I do as a lost sheep follows. 

                I don’t want to raise my kiddo to be a follower. I want him to be a thinker. If that means that he decides to believe something else, that’s his decision. 

                • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                  I think when most people complain about “Christians” on this blog, they’re talking very specifically about a certain subset, namely the evangelicals and fundamentalists.

                  Moderate, mainstream, and progressive Christians also exist, of course. The mild-mannered Methodists or lukewarm Lutherans aren’t going to be the target of as much criticism, simply because they’re less likely to be out pushing their views in the public square.

                  Christian parents like yourself, who accept diversity and are willing to respect their children’s autonomy and decisions on religious matters, are certainly not people I have much of a problem with.

      • Blacksheep

        It actually is what Christmas is all about. That’s why it’s called that. You’re right – there are other mid winter festivals, and Christmas was set at the same time of year that they took/take place, along with borrowing things like a tree. But “Christmas” is indeed all about what Linus says.

        • C Peterson

          Actually, that’s not really the case. Certainly, Christmas started as a purely religious holiday. But it was quite a minor one among the other Catholic feast days. It did not start assuming its modern popularity until the 19th century, when it became increasingly secularlized. Today, in most of the world (including the U.S.) it is much more a secular holiday than it is a religious one. A huge number of people celebrate the day with no thought at all to its religious roots, but purely as a winter holiday with trees and ivy and Santa Claus. Quite a few Christian sects refuse to celebrate it at all, considering it unimportant from a religious standpoint, and far too secular for their comfort.

        • 2terrytom2

          thank you blacksheep that is what i think as well. you said it to the point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jt.eberhard JT Eberhard

    Hemant, you know that Anne Orsi writes over at WWJTD, right?  :)

  • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

    I’m actually completely OK with the kids seeing “A Charlie Brown Christmas” AS LONG AS all the xian kids also watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” along with it.  Sally’s berating of Linus for conning her into wasting time on pointless belief is one of my favorite filn clips of all time.  “What a fool I was!  I demand restitution!  You Blockhead!!!”  Brilliance.

    • Blacksheep

      I’ve never known a Christian kid (or family) having an issue with “…Great Pumpkin…” we all watched them both.

      • Demonhype

         That’s because they’re totally comfortable with the idea of someone with OTHER beliefs being berated for having stupid and harmful beliefs–because xianity is, obviously, so not stupid and harmful.  In their minds, they’re hearing Linus being berated and imagining Moslems or Hindu or something in Linus’s place.  The double-standards and hypocrisy are strong with that sort.

      • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

        Well, there are millions of evangelicals and fundamentalists who won’t celebrate Halloween because they think it’s demonic. I’m sure those Christian families wouldn’t let their kids anywhere near It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

        • 2tommy2

          that is a lie anna I don’t believe in halloween but we watch halloween shows we don’t go and protest them because of people haters.  christmas is from christ.  He gave us christmas.

          • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

            What do you mean it’s a lie? There are people who think Halloween is demonic and won’t let their children dress up in costumes, go trick-or-treating, or attend Halloween parties. I’m sure watching the Charlie Brown Halloween special is not an option for those children.

            The rest of your comment doesn’t make any sense. You don’t “go and protest them because of people haters?” I don’t know what you mean. I never said these kinds of Christians were protesting in the streets. I said that they they wouldn’t let their children watch Halloween specials, the same way they won’t let them watch Harry Potter.

            As for “christmas is from christ. He gave us christmas.” you might want to do some reading on the history of the holiday. But however you choose to celebrate Christmas is fine with me, as long as it doesn’t involve promoting religion to public school children.

  • Diannel_04

    I am an athiest who was raised in an athiest household.  I love Charlie Brown and have always thought of the part about Jesus the same way I think about stories of Frosty, Rudolph or Santa.  If you teach your children to think of it that way there should be no problem.  As my 10 year old, athiest nephew pointed out “the story of Jesus is the whole reason for Christmas the same as the story of witches and ghosts is the whole reason for Hallowe’en.”

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      And if anyone asks him why he celebrates Christmas without believing in Jesus, he can just tell them it’s the same reason that they celebrate Halloween without believing in witches and goblins.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306655921 Rolf Boettger

    I was wondering when I read this this morning how many good Christian parents would be totally fine with it if the
    school did a trip to a local mosque to see a play about Ramadan and its history.  But then I realized that the two situations are completely different.  I’m just guessing, but I think quite a few Christian parents would refuse to let their children attend and they would probably get the support of friends, neighbors and maybe even local media.  So, no, unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the same at all.  Oh, and if you want true Christian outrage, delve into the comments of the article.  I swear I could feel the spittle on my side of the screen,

    • Demonhype

       I had someone give me this crap that “it’s different because xianity is MAJORITY, and if the muslims were majority I’d have no problem with them proselytizing my kid in public school, and they’re all the same god anyway, so there!”

      I told her point blank how absurd I find her kind, that they can be so generous in hypothetical situations that they know perfectly well they’ll never have to make good on, and that the moment her kid came skipping home with her lunch pail and informed her that Jesus was not the son of god, nor was he god, and anyone who equated Jesus with god was going to burn in fiery torment, and also that Jesus never died on the cross, she’d put on her best outfit and march her butt right down to that school to demand they stop teaching her kid that the tenets of her religion are damnable offenses, majority or no majority!

      Then I schooled her on some civics, informing her that we are actually a constitutional republic that utilizes the democratic system to make certain decisions, but that certain things written out in our constitution (such as the rights of minorities, including religious minorities) are not up for a popular vote.

      The result?  She looked uncomfortable and decided to change the subject really quickly.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    I don’t know how different the stage play is from the television special, but I first saw that when I was 6 years old and still didn’t have a god-concept in my head after it was over. Linus quotes from the Bible, but to me at that age it was just a lot of fancy words that didn’t make sense. I didn’t have any idea it was about religion. I don’t think I even knew what religion was.

    And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the City of Bethlehem, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.’”

    I’m sure I’d heard “god” on television or in conversation before, but I still had no idea that it was anything other than a word. I didn’t have a mental image to go along with the word. So my innocence was intact after viewing the cartoon.

    Of course, I don’t think this is appropriate for a public elementary school since it’s being held at a church, and I’m sure the church’s purpose in putting on the play is to emphasize and promote the religious aspect. Otherwise, it would be at the local children’s theater, not a church.

    • 2tomterry

      lets take away everything that is good. then see how this world will be. when you take god out of everything. we won’t be safe anywhere it will be like overseas where are boys are fighting . we don’tneed that god haters move overseas. live the united states alone.

      • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

        You’re not making any sense. In case you haven’t noticed, we have freedom of religion in this country. I’m an American, and I believe that gods and goddesses are imaginary. I have every right to live here and to expect that our government refrain from promoting religion or deities. If you want a theocracy, move to Iran.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    Charles Schulz stuffed his cartoons full of “Christian values.” It’s impossible to argue that there is no attempt to convert or enforce christian views when watching the movie. 

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      While it doesn’t affect the content of his earlier work, at least he “saw the light” in his later years!

      From the late 1980s, however, Schulz described himself in interviews as a “secular humanist”:[47] “I do not go to church anymore… I guess you might say I’ve come around to secular humanism, an obligation I believe all humans have to others and the world we live in.[48]”

      • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

        In that case, what we need to do is publicize this fact, and evangelical churches will fall all over themselves to disassociate themselves from anything Schultz ever wrote. To them, secular humanism is indistinguishable from Satanism.

        • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

          I’ve always wondered why they still seem to like him so much. You would think they would look at him as a bad example of someone who lost his faith.

          • sijd

            I’m sure he recanted on his deathbed ..

  • Seth Peterson

    Honestly, even as an atheist, I would LOVE to go see a production of A Charlie Brown Christmas, not a church though. While I do agree that they shouldn’t go to a church and see this I wouldn’t mind if my kid (If I had one) went and saw it at a local theatre, like the Barter or Paramount or our local community Theatre Bristol.  As long as I got to be a chaperon to this amazing work of Charles M. Shulz. 

  • Aaron Scoggin

    Saying “It’s been going on for like, EVER, and nobody has complained about it before!” is NOT a legally sound argument. Is it illegal? Yes or no? 

  • DougI

    Churches have a reputation for being hotbeds of child rape and abuse, great idea to smuggle the kids over there.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-Rosa/1059360979 Anthony Rosa

      So do any places where children are taken. Like their uncle’s house. 

      The only way to get away from places that have or should have a reputation for being hotbeds of child rape and abuse is to go to a place where you can’t take kids…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-Rosa/1059360979 Anthony Rosa

    I… really don’t see the problem with this.

    Oh no, how dare a child be exposed to a culturally significant children’s story! (I say that, because how many other kids stories continue to get played yearly?) One that mentions Christianity!

    This is almost as bad as the Christians who are afraid any mention of anything other than their faith will corrupt their kids…

    And yes, I know that the fear is that someone who doesn’t believe it will be singled out… but you know what? It’s just a fun Christmas play. This isn’t a problem, of all the things to fight against, this just seems petty, and gives us all a bad name.

    • Demonhype

       I think the issue is that it is a play with religiosity that is sponsored BY a church and on top of that being presented AT a church, which makes it not so much like when my public school drama club put on a production of Godspell and a lot more of a major church-state violation.  And, as has been pointed out above, the same people who have “no problem” with this and can’t see why we do tend to be the types who would be infuriated if we so much as exposed kids to what Muslims believe, for example, much less presented it as THE TRUTH in a play sponsored by a mosque, with the children being taken to said mosque during school hours as an official school-endorsed trip.  These same people would bust at the seams if that happened, no matter what the non-xian religion was.

      And the fact is that a kid who is not allowed to go to some of these religious outings endorsed by the public school will be singled out and bullied, not only by other students but sometimes by teachers as well, because not participating is like outing yourself as an atheist to them, which makes you a target for them to attack to prove to God how much they love him.  Many, if not most, of us have personally experienced this situation, wherein we are given a choice to either go to the highly illegal school-sponsored religious event against our wills or face ostracism, bullying, sometimes attacks on our property or our bodies by fanatics who are infuriated at the idea of someone thinking differently from them, much less someone daring not to play along anyway and make them feel special.

  • jflcroft

    I actually wonder whether this really is so bad. My feeling is that offering kids the opportunity to view something which has a section in it which explains the supposed origins of Christmas is very unlike encouraging them to join in a group prayer or other religious activity. The film is a work of art, and I would want, I think, even young kids to encounter artworks expressing different religious points of view in public schools in order to start the development of religious literacy.

    This is something I’d have to think about more, but I don’t initially feel this to be an issue of great concern.

  • Georgina

    Firstly, if it is a cartoon, the children are more willing to believe it is only a story.
    Secondly, if the mosque visit does not involve actually praying in Arabic (Warning: Stealth Conversion!) I see no problem with the inoculation, under the supervision of a responsible adult.
    Thirdly, some of my favourite films are full of silly religious symbols, including
    It’s a Wonderful Life, with James Stewart, (I mean angels, really)

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      I love It’s a Wonderful Life! Angels aside, it’s a deeply humanist film.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7apPikQQPlc

      • Braniff

         A teacher talking about angels in a public school. That teacher would get canned in no time!!!

        • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

          Well, only if they talked about angels as if they were real. ;o)

          • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

            And even then, they wouldn’t be fired. Heck, with all the discouraging evidence of public school teachers promoting Christianity in the classroom, in many parts of the country they wouldn’t even be reprimanded. Instead, parents and administrators would cheer them on.

  • Jackmoriana

    ummm…this post makes me embarrassed to be aligned with these “freethinkers”….I just puked in my mouth a little

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      As an atheist, you don’t have a problem with elementary school children being taken to see a church production of a play?

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    Has anyone looked up the church in question?

    https://www.agape-church.org/

    Frankly, I wouldn’t trust this church to refrain from targeting public school children. That’s their entire mission. It’s not a mainstream, lukewarm denomination like the Methodists. This is one of those churches that goes all-out with the conversion efforts.

    And I’d guess that this play is one of their efforts. It’s not the television special. It’s an adaptation called Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown. I’d be willing to bet that significant religious material has been added, perhaps an exhortation for the audience to accept Christianity, as was present at a “secular” Christmas show I attended at a Baptist church years ago. Can anyone find a script or a review of this play? I’d be interested in learning exactly what it contains.

  • ONENAME2

    I AM SO TIRED OF THESE PEOPLE LIKE HEMANT MEHTA ATHEIST. TELOLING US WE CAN’T HAVE GOD. THIS LAND WAS FOUNDED ON GOD . BUT THESE PEOPLE ARE RUINING OUR COUNTRY. PLEASE LET TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK  THERE IS NO SUCH FRIENDLY ATHEIST . THERE IS JUST VIEOLENCE THEY BRING. tHE SHOOTINGS THAT IS HAPPENING AROUND HERE ISBECAUSE PEOPLE LIKE HIM.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LaDracul Joanna Boese

    Really? This would’ve avoided if the parent had any common sense and just not let the kid go. I’m sorry, but I thought tolerance meant being accepting of everyone’s views, even if you don’t support them. Seriously, they were bullying the church! That isn’t tolerant at ALL. It’s a two way street, it baffles me that people have not figured that out by now.


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