the new puritans

It was 1997. Bill Clinton was president. Michael Jordan was the GOAT. Celine Dion was reminding us all that the sinking of the Titanic was really a love story. Ellen came out. Chad Ragsdale was repelling females as an awkward freshman in college. And the church was gearing up for the Harry Potter wars. In a world full of broken families, drug abuse, pornography, poverty, and a million other evils the church decided it would be a good investment of its time to discourage children from reading. I don’t remember if there were lawsuits, but a stink was most definitely raised. There were protests, sternly worded letters, breathless sermons, and generally a lot of righteous hand-wringing. It was the conviction of some that Harry Potter was a sort of seductive, British gateway drug to the occult. After all, didn’t he have the mark of the beast on his very own forehead? Harry Potter was going to create a generation of sorcerers, witches, and Satan worshipers who disrespected their parents and turned their teachers into frogs – or something like that. As a parent of a child obsessed with Harry Potter myself I can tell you that that worst thing about Harry Potter is having to hear about Harry Potter every moment of the day that you aren’t already hearing about Minecraft.

The 1900’s seem so quaint now. We are a 50 Shades of Grey/Game of Thrones people now. Long gone are the days of Puritanical Christian protests over the lack of virtue or the presence of evil in culture. You can decide for yourself whether this is a good or a bad thing. The point is that it is undeniable that a culture shift has happened and Christians have largely lost the will to protest.

But Puritanism isn’t dead. The new Puritans are now on the secular Left. It is now the secular Left that polices culture for any signs of unauthorized fun or joy. Halloween? That’s cultural appropriation! (I’m old enough to remember when it was Christians who would protest Halloween.) Christmas parties? You’re worse than Hitler. Homecoming Queen? Kill the patriarchy. Kill it with fire! Expose school kids to the possibility of maybe at some point perhaps hearing the word “Bible?” I’ll see you in court.

Today it was announced that the Joplin Public Schools lost a lawsuit brought by a disgruntled parent and the American Humanist Association because the schools had the sheer audacity to take a group of kids to Victory Ministry and Sport Complex as a reward for doing well on their standardized tests. While at Victory the students were potentially exposed to the evils of perhaps being invited to a Bible study. The horror. I say we find those school administrators responsible and put them in stocks in the center of town. You can read the AHA press release here. You can read the Joplin Globe article here.

So where would a reasonable, well-adjusted parent rank “they’re taking my children on a fun field trip to that Christian place across town that all the kids love” on the list of things to be concerned about? Would it come before or after drug abuse, unwanted pregnancy, and broken families? Would it come before or after the evils of pornography, bullying, and poverty? Who in the world, even the humanists among us, would look at the state of our schools and conclude that the problem is surely that these kids are being exposed to too much GOD?!

What would a reasonable, well-adjusted, and generally non-crazy parent do in such a situation? Would the parent perhaps choose to simply NOT SIGN THE PERMISSION SLIP? Or better yet, would the parent chill out and teach his kids about the good humanist ideals of tolerance, respect, and living in a world where people might hold different beliefs than you do?

Unfortunately these parents and the American Humanist Association chose instead to treat these children like bait in a trap. It seems appropriate that the American Humanist Association would go by the acronym AHA because they are sort of like that insufferable and legalistic tattletale who walks around screaming “AHA!” whenever they catch someone experiencing unauthorized joy. Not all heroes wear capes. Thank you, AHA and deranged parents everywhere for choosing ideology over joy and lawsuits over being a normal parent. Thanks to you there will be a lot of kids in Joplin and other school districts next year who will be protected from experiencing a reward for hard work and achievement at school.

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