Child abuse under the guise of love.

Here’s an educational video put out to help Christian parents deal with kids imagining things.

How evil Satan is!  God is telling his followers to blow each other up in many Islamic societies, to suppress education the world over (including in the USA), to deprive normal citizens of equal rights, and let’s not even get into what he’s telling the Catholic Church.  Satan tells you to play with a wizard doll.  Flee from the deceiver at once, ye poor lost souls.

Take a moment to consider the irony of a parent who believes the way god conjured up the whole cosmos or answers prayer is by magic and then telling their child that magic is sinful.

Since when does imagination = magic?  I’m as big a disbeliever in magic as there is, whether it’s in D&D or the bible.  Still, I enjoy D&D because imagination is fun, and I can entertain notions of “What if it were real?” without going all the way to “This is totally real!  Sorry, I can’t come into work today, I’m staying home and practicing magic missile.”

Frankly, believing in magic is the real shortcoming.  It’s the whole problem with religion.  In this video the kid was only pretending with his wizard toy.  The parents, on the other hand, chastised him for imagining things right before explaining that pretending magic is real is wrong because it would sadden the jealous, magical being who really exists and made plants before the sun, and whose son rose from the dead.  But a piece of plastic with a wand and pointy hat?  Mom to the fucking rescue!

Pretending a wizard is fighting bad people?  Bad.  Actually believing in a god who killed virtually every human being on earth by the excruciating means of drowning and worshiping him as good?  Mandatory.  “Stop playing with that wizard doll, that’s not reality, that’s magic!  Come over next to the TV and watch these talking vegetables instead, and later we can read about how a guy walked on water 2,000 years ago.”

It’s not enough to fill a child’s head with all manner of crazy before they’re old enough to have the proper cognitive faculties to resist, you also have to deprive them of the wonder of imagination.  It’s like child abuse that’s legal.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Zinc Avenger

    If your “reality” is indistinguishable from imagination, imagination is a threat to your reality.

    • GCBill

      This has to be one of the best succinct summaries of Christian paranoia ever written.

  • Jayn

    This reminded me of a passage in Naamah’s Curse, but in looking for it I found one even more apt.

    I raised my hands, chains dangling from my wrists. “It seems to me that these chains are very like the silver chain with which we attempted to bind the Focalor, only they were wrought without flaws. Tell me, how is this not witchcraft?”

    The Patriarch frowned. “Because it is done in the service of God’s will and with the intention of saving your immortal soul. It is not even remotely the same.”

    “No?” I let my hands fall to my lap, chains rattling.

    “No.” He didn’t like that question, I could tell.

    So much of this worldview comes down to the premise that something is evil because God says it’s evil, except when God says that it’s good (frequently because the ends justify the means). And sadly, this extends to fictional magic–though admittedly, some people can’t seem to find the line between ‘reality’ and fiction here–because anything that glorifies non-God-ordained magic is wrong.

    • Jeff

      Ah, good ol’ objective morality.

      We really are fools for trying to gauge the value and goodness of any given action based on things like “context” or “extenuating circumstances” or “whether or not it hurts anyone”. True morality is the hard-and-fast set of rules that never ever changes: the whims of Jehovah at any given moment. That’s *objective* morality.

  • invivoMark

    If somebody casts solipsism on your D&D character, then even your character won’t believe that D&D is real!

  • Ryan Hite

    Trading in one imaginary thing for another that is not as interesting and forced down your throat as “truth”

  • Composer 99

    See, the big difference is that, within the confines of a fictional D&D universe, magic works – people trained or talented in its use can actually conjure strange creatures, fire off magic missiles and fireballs, and warp reality to suit their will. Magic has demonstrable, independently verifiable effects on the world around it.

    (Indeed, the same applies to deities within the confines of D&D – unlike the futile intercessory prayers of religious people on Earth, a skilled cleric of, say, Selune or Torm on Faerun (excuse the lack of accents) actually can call upon her patron’s divine power and cause a demonstrable effect, such as smiting undead foes or curing diseases. Unlike the afterlife asserted by Christians, independent third parties can travel to D&D deities’ homes and verify their existence.)

    • Feminerd

      Some of the best adventures happen in Hell (Abaddon). True story.

      Of course, you can always go home afterwards :).

    • EvolutionKills

      I’ve always toyed around with the idea of playing a straight laced skeptic in a d20 Modern ‘Urban Arcana’ campaign, just for this reason. What would your reaction be if magic did suddenly start working, and could have measurable affects on the modern world? And how much could you delve into the scientific and magical paradox of the setting before you killed the interesting in details and minutia? :P

      Then I’d usually go back to playing a Fighter/Cleric of Tempus, because following the ‘Lord of Battles’ is pretty fun and straightforward in Faerun.

  • smrnda

    The idea of religion being hostile to anything imaginative is nothing new. Different religious have denounced visual art as idolatry, the theater as evil, movies as sinful, and fiction books as an abomination.

    Part of this might be that a lot of religion, if you look at it, just looks like a kid playing magic. The priest isn’t doing anything that a kid playing a wizard isn’t, except that people take the priest *seriously* when he transforms bland tasteless crackers and wine into actual blood and flesh. ‘Speaking in tongues?’ That one’s hilariously unpersuasive. Or you can look at holy books and realize they’re just long fantasy novels that aren’t really that entertaining.

  • Jasper

    I kept thinking this would be satire… but it never satired

  • SansDeus

    The part that really pisses me off is that they threw it away! A child gave it to that child and they can’t even respectfully pass it on to someone else who may appreciate it.

    My mother would do the same crap, guilt trip me into not wanting something because it doesn’t respect some magic butthole who doesn’t respect me enough to answer my telepathy calls. She would also toss out all the weapons and cut the hands off the figures that had guns welded into their hand (ironic side effect of having figures with real war injuries).

    Boglins. Those were one the toys I yearned for but was told they were too satanic. Growing up there was such a confusingly fine line about it too. Dark Crystal and The Labrynth allowed! Boglins, Gremlins and Garbage Pale Kids? Forbidden. Oh wait Gremlins 2 was allowed…

  • Alice

    Yuck, pretty much the same scenario happened to me as a little kid. I was playing with a toy, and I said I was going to cast a spell on it because it was a bad toy. My parents freaked out but they tried to hide it. My dad said sternly, “No! Magic is bad.” Then I said, “But Daddy, I’m going to make it a GOOD toy, not a bad toy.”

    Then my parents sat me down and explained how magic is from Satan, and I started crying hysterically because I had been taught that Satan is the big bad boogieman, and behaving like Satan is the worst thing you can possibly do. I couldn’t articulate this at the time, but I was confused because Disney characters did magic all the time, so why shouldn’t I? My parents had even bought me a toy wand with a star that lit up and played music for god’s sake!

    When I was a little older, I regularly played a game similar to Simon Says, but it was Satan Says. I pretended he gave me mundane commands like “Don’t step on the white floor tiles or you’ll fall into hell.” I imagined him as a friendly ogre, but slightly dark. The game wasn’t all that exciting, but the “forbiddenness” of it thrilled me.