[Vision2020] For Heaven's Sake, Stop Preying on Little Kids

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Thu Sep 24 06:49:48 PDT 2009

Courtesy of today's (September 24, 2009) Moscow-Pullman Daily News with
special thanks to William Brock and "Sarah".


HIS VIEW: For Heaven's sake, stop preying on little kids
By William Brock

Pssst, evangelists, could I have a word with you, please? Pay attention,
because this is important.

Leave the little kids alone!

In case you missed it, I'll repeat the message. Leave the little kids alone!

My warning is prompted by a steady drumbeat of incidents, and the latest
thump occurred Saturday at the Moscow Farmers Market. A friend of mine,
whom I'll call "Sarah," was there with her daughter and a little friend.

The girls were enjoying themselves on the play structure in Friendship
Square when Sarah's attention was diverted momentarily. When she respotted
them, the girls were near a door to the bathrooms in New Saint Andrews

The girls, ages 4 and 5, were accepting balloons - pink, no less - from a
50ish-year-old woman. The girls had eyes only for the balloons, but the
woman was bending close to speak to them. As Sarah approached, she heard
balloon lady declare, " and then you'll be saved."

Sarah is among the most mild-mannered and reasonable people I know, but
this incident overloaded her civility circuits. I can't say if flames shot
out her ears, but she let balloon lady know in unambiguous terms that she
was wildly out of bounds.

Amen, sister.

In fact, peddling big ideas about spirituality to little kids isn't simply
out of bounds, it's creepy. And using balloons and ice cream to lure them
in is a little bit sleazy. You read that right: creepy and sleazy.

Local evangelists may think their $22 weekly outlay for balloons, ice
cream and Dora stickers qualifies them as philanthropists, but they are
wrong. Plenty of child molesters spend more than that, but they don't try
to pass themselves off as do-gooders.

Like rats to a granary, there's no shortage of people who want to nibble
at the minds of succulent children when Mommy and Daddy aren't looking.
This is why a lot of people in Moscow and Pullman are revolted by
evangelists who target elementary and preschool kids.

Why? Because if you want to talk with young children about anything more
sophisticated than finger painting, then you need to talk with their
parents. Period.

Why? Because parents, or their surrogates, are the ones who feed and
shelter and nurture these children. Parents are the ones who buckle them
into car seats. If you are interested in "saving" or "protecting" a child,
then all roads lead to Mom or Dad.

This holds true if you're talking about swimming in the river, riding a
bike without a helmet or that pesky matter of eternal damnation. When I
tell my 3-year-old to look both ways before crossing the street, I don't
want her to reply, "I don't need to, Dad, because the balloon lady says
I'll be saved."

Regular readers will recall my last column, framed in mild and
conciliatory terms, was about this very topic. As I did then, I'll repeat
now that I am not criticizing religion. I'm genuinely happy for members of
the flock who have found spiritual faith.

But faith isn't the issue here. The issue is predatory behavior toward
children. Those of you who think such behavior is OK need to step forward
and identify yourselves to the police.

In case you're not sure, here's a hint: It is not - nor has it ever been,
nor will it ever be - OK to prey on young children, no matter how
altruistic you think you are.

Unfortunately, some folks cannot grasp this concept, which means they will
do whatever it takes to put the word of God - or the fear of God - into
the ears of children.

Developing a system of spiritual belief is a delicate and personal
process, particularly for youngsters who are still learning how to use the
potty. That's why it's a job best left to parents and family intimates,
not strangers handing out balloons and ice cream.


Seeya at Farmers' Market, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"The Pessimist complains about the wind, the Optimist expects it to change
and the Realist adjusts his sails."

- Unknown

More information about the Vision2020 mailing list