Let's get to the core of why the Gideons want to distribute Bibles to 10-year-olds in the Chilliwack school system.
Is it a benevolent urge to spread the "good news" or is it simply mining young minds for converts?
I suppose "both" is the answer since spreading the word means gaining new church-goers.
Keeping one's religion private might seem sensible to many, but for evangelicals proselytizing is part of their DNA. The Bible says: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
One doesn't have to look to hard to find evangelical Christians out and about telling us how to live.
Recently I was approached by a couple of blond-haired, doe-eyed young Mormon men asking if I wanted to hear about Jesus.
We've all had the Jehovah's Witnesses at the door, sometimes leaving pamphlets on car windshields.
There was a woman who used to stand on the sidewalk around town with a piece of cardboard that said: "Read Isaiah 60: 1-3 The messege [sic] is for you and me God is colling [sic] us to repentance."
A few weeks ago, a young couple on the Rotary Trail handed me a colourful, glossy, cartoon pamphlet admonishing me to "read the Bible and obey it." They were from The Way of the Master, the U.S.-based evangelical organization most well-known for being headed by former child star Kirk Cameron.
So there are no shortage of evangelicals running around trying to gain converts. Only the Gideons have been savvy (or gutsy) enough to try to win the hearts and minds of 10-year-olds in schools.
The marketing material they distribute in the schools call the New Testament an "answer book." What Grade 5 student, coming face-to-face with increasing testing, wouldn't like the answers?
I imagine some poor kid is going to sneak out his Gideon Bible during a math test looking for help with his long division.
"John 3: 16? Is that a fraction?"
There are those who think faith should be a private matter and we shouldn't promote Bibles in schools, go door to door pushing religion upon people, or hand out cartoon stories telling us why we will go to hell if we don't join the church.
Let's open up the "market" of the schools to any and all faiths and see what comes out the other end.
If winning hearts and minds is the end game for Gideons distributing Bibles to 10-year-olds, I think they'll have some competition.
I say we give students copies of The Savvy Convert's Guide to Choosing a Religion. With 99 religions to choose from, you can consider each religion, get the best faith your dollar and learn about the time requirements before making a commitment. From African Independent Churches to Zulu you can compare and contrast the perks and drawbacks.
Try out the Amish life and you can get out of fighting in times of war-although, you can't wear jew-elry and you might have to learn Pennsylvania Dutch.
For Zoroastrians, a perk is that it's your duty to enjoy life, marry, have family and do things that bring joy. On the other hand, some purification rituals entail drinking bull's urine.
But since we are talking about getting kids hooked on a particular faith narrative, I've got my money on one horse in particular: In the 2001 census, 21,000 Canadians put down their religion as Jedi Knight.
There is no book to go with Jedi-ism, but if you visit www.orderofthejedi.org and fill out the online member application form, you're in! It's that easy.
Hand out religious marketing to 10-year-olds, but if you leave it up to them, Skywalker might just beat out the guy who walks on water.
Never mind Matthew, Mark and John, all you need is Luke.
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