Kids, Commercials, and Focus on the Family

I wrote the other day about the problems of using children as political pawns. The Friendly Atheist spotted another example of this that I thought I would point out, namely Focus on the Family’s commercial during the football game last weekend, which consisted of children reciting John 3:16 Click the link to see the video and an analysis of how this sort of thing comes across to a non-believer. Here are the two best points:

When you don’t have logic and evidence on your side, just go for an emotional appeal. It might get through to the gullible viewers.

Can you imagine the uproar that would’ve ensued if the children of Muslims read a verse from the Koran in the same way? Hell, Focus on the Family probably would’ve called it indoctrination themselves.

Disclaimer: Yes, I know, everyone uses children like this to some extent, going for the emotional appeal. Heck, this is why politicians kiss babies. That doesn’t make it right, or a good thing, and I think it’s something we should think about and evaluate.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Meggie

    Not really the point to the ad but I am wondering;1) Why do fundamentalists use the King James Bible? The language is 500 years out of date. Do they think they are clever because they are using old language? Why would a translation done 500 years ago be any more accurate than a translation done last year? Does it ever occur to them, when they preach from this bible, that most people have no idea what they are saying?2) Why don't fundamentalist Christians learn ancient greek/hebrew/latin and read the original documents instead of depending on translations? As a history/religious studies student, my lecturers insist we always go for original sources. This often means learning the old languages and translating documents for yourself. I am surprised none of the home schooling Christians seem to study these languages. Reading Genesis in Greek gives you quite a different understanding of it to reading it in English.3) Why do fundamentalist Christians all wear such LARGE hair bows? I am reminded of a 'Goodies' quote about looking like a rather butterfly has died on their head.

  • Libby Anne

    1. It's old! Fundamentalists LOVE things that are old! Beyond that, there's this idea that newer translations have "sold out," especially with reports of gender neutral language, etc. 2. They do. I did, actually. 3. Um…that's a really good question, but you're right, they DO. My sisters and I always looked like a flower garden with our huge colorful bows…

  • Anonymous

    Libby Anne,What percentage of fundamentalists learn ancient greek/hebrew/latin etc do you think? I just wonder, because it seems like (in a logical world, which I do realize doesn't always apply there) if so many of them learn those languages, they wouldn't care as much about the English translations, because they know the original words. I have a theory that the hair bows are simultaneously the desire to emulate the past (check out the giant bows on Victorian and Edwardian girls) and the super girlyness of bows.

  • College At Thirty

    I'm just going to go out on a limb and say that a group of kids reading from the Q'ran would never make it onto TV in the first place. And I dislike commercials that use children. I understand that feed-the-children and other organizations like that need to appeal to emotions, but it always feels so exploitative to me. And I hate the ASPCA commercials showcasing abused and neglected animals…keep in mind that I'm in college for veterinary medicine…but I really don't like those commercials. See also: War Horse by Stephen Spielberg. Anytime someone appeals to my emotions rather than my logic, I feel used and dirty.

  • shadowspring

    I know of at least one home schooling family that insists the children learn Greek and Hebrew so they can study the Bible appropriately. Not sure if they learned Latin or not. All the Catholic home schoolers in my old state home school group taught their children Latin. Latin is also popular among the Classical education home school families. I don't have numbers, but it does happen.

  • Meggie

    I am actually really glad to hear that some families do learn the biblical languages. (None of the families I know do and my husbands cousins, when they went to bible college, failed greek & hebrew!)I would love to see Muslim kids on Tv. Any Muslims, in fact. Maybe society isn't ready to hear them reading the qu'ran but what about just a few positive images. Try and break down the stereotype that all Muslims are terrorists.

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    In Spain, High school is usually geared towards Science, Technology, Arts, socio-economics or what we call "Letters" (it includes Literature, Philosophy, History, …) and in this last one they study Latin and Greek. Everybody no matter the branch has to study a seocnd and third language (usually English and French). My step aunt teaches Latin and his boyfriend Greek and the problem is they tell me that in the end students end up having learnt very little.

  • shadowspring

    There is show on TV, American Muslim. I watched it the other day. It was great. Just regular middle class religious people. The mom was lamenting her kids tattoos and piercings! :p

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    A (christian) family association successfully got several advertisers pull from the show because they thought it only showed "nice" muslims and that was unacceptable so yeah… not exactly the same treatment…

  • MrPopularSentiment

    One of the things I always found really funny about the privileging of the KJV is that some of the language has leaked into "god-speak" (the specialised jargon the evangelical movement uses internally), in particular when they obviously don't actually what the words mean. A really big example is the use of "thee." It's very problematic because "thee" is actually the familiar form. There are some groups (the authors of the KJV, for example) who use this deliberately for theological reasons, but many in the evangelical community don't know about this and think that it's actually honourific (cause it's so old-timey, and old-timeyness is privileged). I don't know if it's appropriate to advertise myself, but I wrote about it over on my blog:

  • MrPopularSentiment

    Here in Canada we have a sitcom called Little Mosque on the Prairie. It's actually quite funny, and it tackles the "moderate vs fundamentalist" issue really well.