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« And The Rubber Band Played On... The RantsPar For (Staying) The Course »

And Now For Something Completely Different
2006.11.16 (Thu) 21:14

We admit it — we do a lot of complaining around here. No, don't disagree, it's true (but thanks for the thought). Of course, the reason for our prodigious amounts of bitching is the prodigious amount of bullshit that there is to bitch about. But — and this is important — it's also worthwhile to point out when people employ common sense and logic to make good decisions (as rare as that may seem these days). Case in point, the Marine Reserves' Toys for Tots organization:

A talking Jesus doll has been turned down by the Marine Reserves' Toys for Tots program.

A suburban Los Angeles company offered to donate 4,000 of the foot-tall dolls, which quote Bible verses, for distribution to needy children this holiday season. The battery-powered Jesus is one of several dolls manufactured by one2believe, a division of the Valencia-based Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co., based on Biblical figures.

But the charity balked because of the dolls' religious nature.

And why was this donation turned down?

Toys are donated to kids based on financial need and "we don't know anything about their background, their religious affiliations," said Bill Grein, vice president of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, in Quantico, Va.

As a government entity, Marines "don't profess one religion over another," Grein said Tuesday. "We can't take a chance on sending a talking Jesus doll to a Jewish family or a Muslim family."


According to the company's Web site, the button-activated, bearded Jesus, dressed in hand-sewn cloth outfits and sandals, recites Scripture such as "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" and "Love your neighbor as yourself."

So it isn't like the Messiah With The Kung Fu Action Grip is saying "honor your mother and father" or "don't kill or steal" — he's going for the "you'll burn in hell unless you accept my plastic ass as your savior" angle. Potentially offensive? Check.

It's important to note that if the Marine Reserves' Toys for Tots group had accepted these Jesus dolls and given them out to children, we would certainly be calling them asshats, but we wouldn't be calling their actions unconstitutional. Deciding not to send back the donation of miniature prophets would have been tacky, but we don't think it would have violated the separation of church and state in any way. That said, kudos to the Marine Reserves for realizing that when one gives a gift, one should do one's best to ensure that the gift given doesn't offend or piss off the person the gift is being given to, and it's clear that many people who might have received this bearded bible-thumping doll also might have taken offense. As we've said many times, there is no right to "not be offended," but for an organization whose aim is spreading happiness, trying not to offend is a pretty good idea.

So what was the response of the manufacturer of this proselytizing plaything?

Michael La Roe, director of business development for both companies, said the charity's decision left him "surprised and disappointed."

"The idea was for them to be three-dimensional teaching tools for kids," La Roe said. "I believe as a churchgoing person, anyone can benefit from hearing the words of the Bible."

Yeah, we understand what the idea was — it was to proselytize to a bunch of needy kids who probably have no other toys to play with, thus forcing them to reach under Jesus' robes and yank his...pull cord all day. Thanks, we got it. The problem here is that just because this idiot believes that everyone can benefit from hearing the words of the bible doesn't make it so. Hey, we believe that any evangelical could benefit from reading The God Delusion and, more to the point, from a hammer to the base of the skull, but you don't see us cramming those things into their stockings, do you? Frankly, it takes a particularly loathsome individual to try to twist the giving of toys to needy children into an opportunity to hard-sell their asinine religious beliefs. Thanks, Michael La Roe, for warming our hearts during this pre-holiday season.

And while the one2believe division is, by its own admission, all about proselytizing, the Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company does seem to have other interests. You can see the Jesus doll on their site, wedged between Fiona the Ogre and a couple of football player dolls. Hey, why not donate those other dolls instead? You know — fun toys that kids might enjoy. Oh, but where's the potential for recruiting and brainwashing young minds in that approach? Fucking hypocritical asshats.

Okay, so we ended up bitching anyway. This Rant wasn't all that different, after all.

— • —
[  Filed under: % Religion  ]

Comments (7)

Chris, 2006.11.16 (Thu) 23:37 [Link] »

Just kidding - they accepted them after all: [link]

Chris, 2006.11.16 (Thu) 23:44 [Link] »

Sorry to disappoint, but they accepted them after all: [link]

Infophile, 2006.11.17 (Fri) 13:09 [Link] »

Oh great. Someone actually makes a logical decision, and social pressures force them to reverse it.

[This space reserved for a follow-up rant by the Two Percent Company]

The Two Percent Company, 2006.11.18 (Sat) 17:48 [Link] »

Well, that's what we get for trying to be positive. Lesson learned.

Here's the comment on the Toys for Tots web site:

The Talking Jesus doll issue has been resolved. Toys for Tots has found appropriate places for these items. We have notified the donor of our willingness to handle this transaction.

Basically, there are two possibilities. Since their original reason for declining to accept these religious "toys" was that they had no way to determine the religious affiliation of the children receiving them, it's entirely plausible that they still have no way to do so, and they're just accepting the toys to avoid a far-right media pig-sticking à la Bill O'Reilly, and planning to send them out blind and roll the dice. If that's the case, then we defer to our Rant above, and label this group as tacky asshats.

The other possibility is that they truly do have a way to distribute these "toys" to children whose stated religious affiliation is Christian. If that's the case, then our only real feelings are intense sadness for the needy children who, because of a label that may or may not mean much to them, are going to open one of their few holiday presents this year only to find an annoying plastic evangelist who condemns them to hell at playtime. Even that kid next door who gets a fucking Jack-in-the-Box will seem lucky compared to the sad owners of these plastic pseudo-messiahs. So even in the best-case scenario, we're pretty sure that Toys for Tots will be ruining the holidays for more than a few children. Yay, team.

Fan-man, 2006.11.18 (Sat) 18:03 [Link] »

Well said. Yes, regardless of what the doll spews, it's still a worse gift than fucking Boggle.

Todd Sayre, 2006.11.19 (Sun) 10:40 [Link] »

We need to rapidly prototype a talking Richard Dawkins action figure. And we'll need some good quotes, too.

Belinda, 2007.01.24 (Wed) 17:40 [Link] »

Todd - How about "She is not a Christian child, she is a child with Christian parents." Something that Toys for Tots seems not to have realised. Even if the kid's stated religious affiliation is Christian, you can bet your arse it wasn't the kid that so identified themselves.

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