By now you may have seen the hubbub regarding the Arkansas elementary school versus the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers. Basically it goes like this: the school wants to plan a Dec 14 field trip to a local church to watch a Charlie Brown Christmas and the Freethinkers (atheists) want to put an end to it because they think that the school is trying to indoctrinate kids into believing in God. See the whole mess here: Peanuts versus Atheists
First of all, no one can force you to believe anything. Either you believe that you are a puppet or a real human being. Puppets can be made to think and do anything a puppeteer commands. That's why they are puppets. Human beings, on the other hand, can think freely, on their own. There is no hand up the back of the shirt. Even children (and this is where the argument is), can think on their own. They can choose to believe or not to believe. Wasn't it Christ Himself who said...let the little children come to me? I don't think we give our children nearly enough free-thinking credit here. Either they will come to view the cartoon (animated brilliance) by Charles Schultz as a fun, festive way to usher in the Christmas season or maybe, they will see a deeper reality glimmering out of a circle of friends who are just asking the same questions and dealing with the same struggles as all children, families and friends deal with. It puts the question squarely in their midst. Either God is or God isn't at the center of human existence.
Second of all, maybe it's just me, but don't you think that children have a right to learn the history behind why Christmas is Christmas? I mean, even if you're not a Christian, it would probably be helpful to know how Christmas came to be. Even I know a little about Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and the new religions of our day....secular humanism and moral relativism. I am not a KKK member, but, sad to say, I do know what the hoods are about. So what is so wrong about teaching our children the fundamental origins of Christianity? Are we afraid they might see something profoundly beautiful in it? Profoundly life changing. What's more...the school is offering this as an optional event. Basically, kids of "free-thinking" folks can opt-out of the Charlie Brown cartoon as it may be too dangerous for innocent eyes.
I think the Freethinkers are not being intellectually honest with themselves. I think they should get on the bus and attend the cartoon with the kiddos on the 14th of December. Even if they miss the God-spoiler at the end, they might see the benevolent horticultural theme that I'm sure would captivate their imaginations.
Let the little children come...