A facebook friend* recently posted a video to my page. It was part of a cartoon aired by EWTN, a Catholic TV programming network, geared toward infants and toddlers. It shows a cartoon like baby Virgin Mary or a baby nun (see photo above) gleefully smiling and singing under the crucified body of her “son”. There are a series of these DVDs available to Catholic parents, geared toward the ages “0 to 5 yrs.” That’s ZERO to FIVE years old! One can imagine that the parents who buy these things are living in fear of their newborn child falling under the spell of Satan, or being possessed by a demon, or worse... stumbling across a secularist with their filthy immoral ways and their rejection of religious nonsense before they get out of diapers or into pre-school.
Then there is this delightful video. Gawd only knows what this image is intended to convey to an infant or toddler http://www.throughthefamily.org/holybaby2.jpg
A child priest? Clearly being a priest is just the “funnest” thing in the world. Jesus loves child priests. Priests are just big kids. Now there’s a message you want your toddler to embrace in this day and age. Maybe growing up to be a priest is the bestest thing in the whole wide world! Note the puppy.
What says Jesus loves you better than colorful wooden baby sized rosary beads with cross for your infant to suck on or stick in her eye? The intent is clear: to take this blank slate infant’s mind and accustom it to handling religious paraphernalia so it becomes second nature in a few years.
I have considered this phenomenon carefully and have come to the conclusion that indoctrination of babies and toddlers to mindless superstition ranks as one of the most obscene, despicable, and grotesque religious perversions ever conceived. I cannot imagine what the comparable efforts of similarly fanatical atheist parents would be. Perhaps giving the infant a miniature copy of The Origin of Species? A stuffed Darwin doll? A video of a child-like Madalyn Murry O’Hair , or Hitchens or Dawkins figure singing and dancing with puppies while praising the wonders of secular thought, science, reasoning and questioning?
No, atheists aren’t so insecure in their grasp of reason and their rejection of superstitious foolishness to be compelled to perpetrate such things on their children. Freethinking parents understand the value of allowing a child to grow, explore, question, and think.
There’s a fine line between imparting social values, providing guidance, and cultivating a well adjusted child; and co-opting a child’s mind to infest it with his parents’ beliefs or non-beliefs in an effort to avert any possibility of independent thought through the developing years. Marketing religion to infants crosses that line.
But maybe I’m being too rash. In fact, perhaps this represents an opportunity. I’m picturing a line of religious relics for ages 0-5 years. Catholics are big on relics. I’m picturing a mobile made up of baby sized replicas of Jesus’ foreskin; a rattle made from replica nails used to crucify Jesus, blood stained of course; maybe a smiling child like Saint Peter doll, who, in keeping with tradition is crucified upside down naked. A series of devotional DVDs, with forty-two children being torn to pieces by cute teddy bears, or a little girl having her hand cut off by a smiling neighbor boy child; or happy smiling Hebrew children putting happy smiling pagan children to the sword - all documented in the bible as good things.
* Thanks to my friend Kay Patterson for providing the inspiration for this article.