Thursday, November 02, 2006

The one where Shell loses it a bit

I hope everyone had a nice Halloween. We had a fabulous time right up until the moment when my son reached into his plastic jack-o-lantern bucket and pulled out...


It's a good thing he didn't see who did it, or his father and I would probably still be in jail. We were that furious.

So yesterday I fired off an outraged letter to the local paper. I balked when it came time to send it, though. I hate to admit this, and I hate to be such a coward, but I'm simply not a bomb thrower. Never have been, don't see the appeal, just want to be left alone. Here it is anyway; I'll take suggestions. (The name of my town has been changed.)

Dear My Town Christians:

October 31st, 2006, goes down in my personal history as the night I officially Had Enough. That night, as my husband and I squired our 9-year-old son through the charmingly communal tradition of neighborhood trick-or-treating, basking in the lovely autumn weather and the glowing excitement of the intrepid candy-hunter, one of my fine Christian neighbors snuck a Chick tract into my child's plastic pumpkin.

You remember when we used to panic about the Bad Strangers who might slip poison into our children's treat buckets? A cheap moronic pamphlet about burning in everlasting fire isn't physically poisonous, admittedly, but only a maniacal zealot would give such vile trash to a child, and only the lowest, meanest maniacal zealot would make a point of doing so during a children's holiday.

I was not a religious person when I moved here three years ago, but my life without gods was not something I spent much time pondering. I certainly had nothing against believers. I co-existed effortlessly with people of various perspectives on life, the universe, and everything. It never occurred to me to do otherwise, and not merely because my dedicated avoidance of conflict borders on the craven, but because I have a visceral aversion to causing other people discomfort. I can't even bring myself to hang up on telemarketers.

Also, I like people and I respect the fact that they aren't all like me.

Unfortunately, that naïve attitude did not prepare me for what I found here. The tract incident is only the most recent indignity. For example, a couple of months after we relocated to My Town, my son was invited by a soccer teammate to attend Guest Night at the local mega-church. I was happy to let him go, eager for him to make friends. I spoke to the boy's mother and told her frankly, like the fool that I was, that my son had not attended a church service before; she laughed and told me this event more closely resembled a carnival than a church service.

Imagine my shock when my son, then 6 years old, came home and explained that they had played carnival games and eaten snacks and then been instructed to stand and close their eyes and "ask Jesus to come in our hearts so we can go see him after we die." They took a 1st grader, not a member of the church, unaccompanied by his parents, and "saved" him? Talked to him about his own death? I was appalled.

Then, of course, there's his 3rd grade teacher who encouraged her students to compose their Thanksgiving declarations of gratitude using her suggestions, written on the board for their copying convenience, resulting in my son's arriving home with a paper about being thankful for "God's blessings" and for how "God is always there for me." My Town "Public" Schools, they call them. Yeah, right. (The nativity scene in that year's "holiday play" was precious as well.)

I swear I never felt this anger toward Christians before. I never had a reason; where I grew up being "Christian" mostly just meant being kind and participating in a lot of bake sales. And I spent my entire childhood in small-town Texas. I lived under blue laws, where the toy and tool aisles of the local Safeway were chained off on Sundays! But I truly have never seen anything like this aggressive hustling of children. Never. And I'm done. I'm not naïve anymore.

You want to terrorize your own kids with comic strip portrayals of eternal torture and gruesome stories about fathers who sacrifice their children? I'll pity them but I won't interfere with you. You stay away from my child, though. I mean it.




At 4:38 AM, Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

I am completely and utterly appalled that this sort of thing would be handed out at all, but especially to childen. Holy shit.

I am pissed off now.

At 8:02 AM, Blogger CrankyProf said...

Yeah, the local Landmark Baptist church (at least, that's the stamp on the vile thing) handed out Chick tracts to kids in our area, too. As Catholics, we got a copy of "the Death Cookie," and the one about the Pope being the Whore of Babylon. It's not just the athiests getting the Chick crap-- Catholics aren't considered Christians, either.

They also sponsored a "Hell-o-ween Devil's House" for kids -- a scary preview of thier afterlife if they DIDN'T accept Jesus as their personal savior.


I'd have sent the letter, but you live in small town OK, if I recall. Scary place (and I had family in Guthrie and Edmond, so I know of which I speak).

At 12:23 PM, Blogger Sassy Pants said...

Send the letter. Send it anonymously if you have to but you'll feel like you've taken a stand. If someone feels they have the right to push their beliefs on small children an adult has to take the stand and say, "No, this is not ok." If it was a racist or sexist book you'd have no qualms about saying something. But that feeling of "rightness" against racist and sexist material wasn't always there. People had to take small stands when it wasn't a comfortable thing to do. Consider yourself a pioneer!

I've seen some of those books in my day and you should be VERY relieved it wasn't one of the more graphic, tortured people in hell ones. Those are practically unfit for any consumption, never mind forced and unexpected.

At 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, the more thoughtful sects of Christianity are now in the minority and, it's sad but true, these nuts are the new face of the religion. This angers the liberal Presbyterian in me.

In Texas, as I understand it, nuts like these have taken over the textbook selection committee and banned any biology book that mentions evolution. They only have one judge holding them back, and as soon as they can figure out how to knock him off and get a Perry appointment in, it's bye-bye evolution, hello creationism.

I think you should add something, so I offer it here:

p.s. While we're talking, what's up with right-wing religious conservatives and anal sex? Is that one of those forbidden fruit things?


At 6:12 PM, Blogger Shell said...

I sent it using my maiden name (how I hate that term) instead of the one I go by now. They probably won't print it, but maybe they'll pass it around a bit.

I wouldn't give a rat's ass if I weren't worried about having my kid in the crossfire. Which is depressing in and of itself, to be that worried about the power of others to hurt your family.

They are fuckers, cranky. They really, really are.

At 8:11 PM, Blogger Tense Teacher said...

My husband and I are Christians, we take our daughter to church, but I also would be PISSED if I'd found that crap in my daughter's Halloween bucket. They have no right to try to force their belief systems on other people's children. It is no wonder that the world in general is sick of Christians; the stupid ones speak the loudest and are the most persistent, and they give the rest of us a bad name.

At 10:41 PM, Blogger Babs said...

One of my blogging friends had that happen to her kids too. She was so pissed. Also, political ads were in their treats as well. Sad.


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