“New Atheism” for kids

by Todd Hebert

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“The faith in God around our globe
Is just bad magic, just a joke
Rabbis, priests and muftis, too
Are “naked apes” like me and you
Only, they see floating ghosts
And wear quite funny caps and clothes”

The excerpt above is from a German children’s book called Wo bitte geht’s zu Gott?, fragte das kleine Ferkel, translated: “Which is the way to God please?, little Piglet asked.” Germany’s Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth the book placed on a list of literature deemed dangerous for children.

The book that tells the story of a piglet and a hedgehog, who discover a poster attached to their house that says: “He who knows not God, is missing something.”

The two young animals thought their lives were perfect. “Couldn’t be any better,” said Hedgehog. But after seeing the poster they got scared. They didn’t know they were missing anything. So they set out to find God.

First, they meet a rabbi standing in front of a Jewish temple.” Piglet asked to come inside so that they might meet God. “Only Jews are allowed to enter the temple,” the rabbi says. “And little piglets can never enter!”

Next, they meet a Catholic Bishop. They enter the church. “It was quite dark inside and it also smelled kind of weird.” Piglet and Hedgehop get exited when they see cookies and start stuffing them in their faces. The bishop yelled at them, saying they are not cookies but the body of Christ, which make the animals sick. “These are cannibals!” cried Piglet. “Away here immediately!”

Finally, the two come across a mufti and are invited into the mosque. The mufti explains that in order to meet Allah, the two animals must wash thoroughly and pray five times a day. Hedgehop rolls his eyes at this. “I will certainly not pray five times a day!” he says. To which to mufti yells, “If you don’t obey the Lord, you will end in hell and roast in hell’s fire forever!”

The two run scared outside, only to be chased by the angry Muslim. Outside waiting for them are the angry bishop and the angry rabbi. Hedgehog and Piglet sneak away when the three clergymen start fighting amongst themselves.

The story ends with Piglets realization: “I believe there actually is no God! And if there were, he certainly wouldn’t be living in these ghost castles!”

“In the book, the three great world religions Christianity, Islam and Judaism are scorned,” the German ministry said in its application for putting the book on the danger list. “The distinctive characteristics of each religion are ridiculed. Especially the Jewish faith is slurred by the portrayal and characterization of the rabbi.”

The book’s author Michael Schmidt-Salomon rejects the criticism. “I don’t ridicule religions, they are ridiculous all by themselves.” As for the charge of anti-Semitism, he says: ”Since 1994, I Michael Schmidt-Salomon have regularly been cursed as a ‘Jewish pig’ and threatened massively because of my Jewish-sounding name. So I claim the right for myself to openly criticize those Orthodox Jews, as well as fundamentalist Christians and Muslims, who are struck by divine madness. This naturally has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.”

Considering the amount of religious children’s story books, each biased according the author’s own beliefs, one might think that an atheist children’s story is a refreshing alternative for Godless parents. The only problem is this book seems as fundamentalist, or more so, than most religious children’s books.

“Children also have a right to enlightenment,” Schmidt-Salomon wrote on a website dedicated to the book. “They should not be left defenseless to the scientifically untenable and ethically problematic stories of religion.”

Sources for this story: Reuters Faith World, and Deutsche Welle.

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