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An unwanted item in a Halloween goodie bag in Jamaica Plain

Christian proselytizing on Halloween

Don't be scared of goblins, the tract tells kids: Admit you're a sinner and Jesus will save you.

A Jamaica Plain tradition is the Halloween parade along Centre Street, where kids in costumes patrol as local businesses and residents hand out treats. Yesterday, one parent reports, she was a bit miffed when her daughter showed her one goodie bag that had a come-to-Jesus pamphlet stuffed in it as well, down near Mozart Street.

Her daughter reported a man gave it to her and said he was with "the church around the corner."

As far as religious literature goes, it's pretty innocuous: essentially, if you ever feel scared, Jesus is there kinda stuff. However I really feel that a line is crossed by slipping it into my kids' trick-or-treat bags without my knowledge or consent.

You can read the tract's text here.

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Comments

Could have been a Chick tract.

I actually got these a time or two. They didn't fly well on my block (extremely large majority Catholic, Episcopalian church on the corner, Jewish people filling in the corners and JUST GIVE US THE CANDY DAMMIT).

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Voting closed 27

.... the Church of JUST GIVE US THE CANDY DAMMIT was very popular too.

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"Just give us the candy goddamnit" sounds pretty good to me.

Signed, an Atheist.

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"Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself."

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"When someone hands you a flyer, it's like they're saying 'here, you throw this away.'"

I was offered some religious tract outside MIT the the other day. I pointed them at the nearby trash can but then asked that they please recycle.

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Religion is like a penis: it's fine to have one, it's fine to be proud of it, but please don't whip it out and start waving it around in public, and please don't try to shove it down my children's throats

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You give up a tenth of it.

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While it is most likely this is just some loser slipping in some faith-based landfill to a kids sack of sweets to do best by their (probably misguided) beliefs, this could also be someone's idea of a good "spooky joke" and I'm sure I've known a few folks through the years who would do this for a laugh. In any case it's really not a bit deal and going off on "consent" is the biggest joke of all. Anyway, go ahead and throw that trash in the ocean.

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People shouldn't be exposing my children to things that run counter to my world view.

I mean, that's the point of her gripe, right?

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…is my takeaway.

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The phrase "things that run counter to my world view" is an example of exceptionally sloppy thinking and mushmouthed language. When applied to matters of belief or faith or opinion, it's simply obfuscation, and would be better replaced by a blunt declaration of, "I don't believe that." Objecting when someone places a tract in your kid's halloween bag that attempts to proselytize or recruit them to a belief system is in this category, and it's a perfectly reasonable objection.

Unfortunately, "things that run counter to my world view" is also applied to matters of fact (the earth being round, the United States having a history of white supremacy, etc.) and to the human rights of other people (women and Black people being allowed to vote, Asian people being allowed to become citizens, same sex couples holding hands as they walk down the street without having their heads smashed in). That's where you're firmly in the territory of not wanting your child exposed to inconvenient facts, and that's not something that a parent has a right to.

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Are you saying that anything put into a kid's Halloween bag that serves to further someone else's worldview is wrong, or just religious tracts?

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My kids happened to think the tracts were hysterically funny, so no worries there. They collected them and my older guy remixed them into collages. We discussed them and the issues that we had with them.

Two times I drew the line:
1. A certain church in Medford was handing sexually explicit homophobic tracts to tweens dining in the square of a half day of school (pretty much tradition for middle schoolers). It wasn't just the liberal parents who got pissed off over that - people with kids at St. Joes got the cops involved due to the nature of the content. Near absolute consensus about that!

2. A woman had her kid handing out tracts at a large admission event. My kids engaged her kid over the tracts, read through them with her, and the woman started screaming at me and my husband because she did not like the ensuing kid-to-kid discussion because it somehow "violated her parental rights" in ways that handing my kids a religious tract did not (???). I told her that I wasn't going to argue with her and located the nearest security person to explain the rules. The security person elected to remove them as the venue clearly prohibited such activities.

I can understand why some are upset by their ridiculous and inappropriate content, but it can also be a time to discuss WHY they are inappropriate, and what values parents stand FOR.

Would you be fine if Waquoit Jr. netted himself some Satanist lit?

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Since those appear to be good boundaries.

That said, what was handed out here cannot be compared to what you are talking about.

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What would you do if your child came home with a religious, Satanist, or even atheist tract?

Do tell.

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Nothing.

My job, as far as things like that go, is to impart why we are the religion we are. My job is not to keep knowledge from any other religions from my child. That's being closed minded.

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You have to consider the history and context of forceable conversion to Christianity and the denial of practicing religion and culture under white supremacy and colonization.

When we have people suggest we should consider a different religion, it's really different than it is for you.

(Same goes for folks like LGBTQ folks, Native Americans, and people who are otherwise marginalized by these forms of Christianity in ways aside from specifically religious ones.)

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While we are on the subject of toxic evangelization, I picked up a book at the Tamastslikt Cultural Center in my recent travels that tells a lot more of the history of the clusterfuck that was the Whitman Mission than you or I likely learned when being dragged there on school trips.

When I'm done I would be happy to pass it along.

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I would love to read that.

(BTW, did you know the college finally got rid of the "fighting missionaries" mascot a few years back?)

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A thing like this would be okay to you if you were a Muslim living in Malaysia?

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A thing like this would be okay to you if you were a Muslim living in Malaysia?

What exactly does "this" mean?

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Drop the hyperbole and strawmen and just think of it from a public health standpoint.

Something that promotes belief in a specific imaginary skyman is not something to be giving to children (or adults who haven't consented to learning about it). If someone's religion requires fear and coercion to get people to join, um, well...

Something that affirms people as valid and beautiful members of society is fine to give to anyone. It can literally be life-saving for people who aren't always affirmed, educational for those who are on the fence, and it's completely fine if it makes people uncomfortable who are (actively or passively) marginalizing other people. It's a good public health practice supported by tons of research that we let marginalized folks know they are valid and welcome and supported. If someone thinks including everyone and letting all people know they are valued somehow takes away from a fun day for children, um, well...

(For the record, I'm an actively practicing religious person.)

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Dropping something into a kid's treat bag that says, "Be sure to wash your hands before eating any of this candy or you might get sick, and be sure to brush your teeth afterwards, or you might get painful cavities," seems, on the face, somewhat reasonable. And it does involve a scare tactic to try to modify behavior....

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One is based on faith, one is based on science. Opinion vs. fact.

We do seem to have a surfeit of bros around here today who don't know the difference between facts and opinions...or who find it convenient to pretend they don't.

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I agree completely; I was merely pointing out that the criterion probably shouldn't be "stuff that uses scare tactics to modify behavior is inappropriate to hand out," and should probably be "stuff not based on evidence is inappropriate to hand out."

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Are you saying that anything put into a kid's Halloween bag that serves to further someone else's worldview is wrong, or just religious tracts?

Hey, nice attempt to pivot away from a clear distinction between a "worldview" (again that mushy sloppy word that you seem to love) based on faith/belief/opinion and one based on facts? Try harder, please. I didn't say anything even remotely connected to this assumptive question of yours. You're trying to create something out of whole cloth, and it would really be better if you just came out and said in plain language where you're going with this.

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Look, I may be digging a bit deeper, here, but I still would love to get a straight answer from you.

Personally, I do think that there are some things that are appropriate to share with the young and things that are not. I don't see how these little leaflets are harmful at all, just like there are other things that are seen as controversial that perhaps come from a different, yes, worldview that I don't see as such. That said, there is one thing I like is consistency. It kills me when people get all bent out of shape about something and use the same reasoning to oppose it that others use to oppose things they support.

There is one thing that should be clear, though. Giving out any non-candy item not accompanied by some kind of actual treat is wrong, but again, I don't care what the cause is that the person is trying to further.

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I still would love to get a straight answer from you.

My dude, the feeling is mutual. And I haven't got that answer. Ever.

My questions have been straightforward; yours have been leading, as they so often tend to be. The nature of the attempted derail is clear, even if you will never own it.

That said, there is one thing I like is consistency. It kills me when people get all bent out of shape about something and use the same reasoning to oppose it that others use to oppose things they support.

It is fallacious to suggest that "consistency" is a virtue when dealing with matters that differ not just in the immediate subject but in their essential nature. Again (even though this has already been explained in very clear language): facts (historical, scientific, whatever) are in an entirely different category than beliefs or opinions.

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I'll throw this your way. Do you believe that the government has the right to tell you what you can do with your body? That's a question that I've seen asked by people who only ask that question when certain issues arise, yet are very quiet when other issues come up.

Now, if you are going to try to do semantic exercises with my new question, I'm just going to assume that you actually think that it's okay for some people to spread their message but not others, because rightness of thought is more important than freedom of expression.

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Since we are moving away from my point

You never had a point. You refused repeatedly to clarify what it was. Your original intention was to derail, and now you are claiming that since "we" are moving away from your alleged "point"...hey, full speed ahead, let's start talking about the government telling you what to do with your body, which is connected with a parent objecting to a religious person proselytizing to their child...how? Oh, I get it! It's connected when you don't want to address the latter and you think you can go somewhere useful to your agenda with the former!

You are not arguing or engaging in good faith. Move on your own, my dude.

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But since you lack the intellectual development to figure it out, there's not much I can do to help you.

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My intellectual development is just fine; it's your intellectual honesty that's lacking.

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I mean, if you were in my shoes, that's how you'd reply, right? Because that's your thing. not very intellectually honest, but I suppose people view the world in different ways.

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I'm going to say this one final time. Your questions, throughout this travesty of a discussion, have been poorly framed, sloppily phrased, and irrelevant to the matter at hand. When requested, you refused to clarify your terms or restate your questions clearly; instead, as above, you gleefully pounced on the opportunity for juvenile insults. Even if your questions hadn't been leading questions to begin with, they were not worth answering. Learn to communicate clearly and in good faith if you want your question answered.

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People shouldn't be exposing my children to things that run counter to my world view.

Not on Halloween, no. They shouldn't be exposing my children to anything except candy and decorations.

It's kind of insulting/presumptuous of them to assume that they can do a better job of managing the kids' moral/religious education than their parents, and even if that were true, it's extremely stupid of them to think that they could facilitate that re-education through handing out some pamphlets on Halloween.

Also: Imagine the uproar if some family was handing out pamphlets that said "God is Make-Believe!"

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with the death-fixation, and the houses cheerfully adorned with gravestones and skeletons and the undead, and the secular repurposing of a pagan ritual about death and rebirth into a candy extravaganza, but adding RELIGION to this night? Sir. You go too far.

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I think kids understand having fun with spooky themes. I don’t think younger kids would understand the ulterior motive behind “Don’t be scared, Jesus is your friend” literature.

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pagan ritual about death

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hallows day is actually on the catholic canonical calendar

It is now.

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The Field of Dreams, as built in the eponymous movie, is nothing but a giant Ofrenda.

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What's your favorite method of disposing of leftover Halloween candy that doesn't involve eating it?

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Bring it to your work breakroom.

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but it would probably be awful.

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Gave out Little baggies of breath mints, :)

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But so is candy.

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Most visions of the afterlife (for the blessed, anyway) are variations on the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyQLSvt54EQ

Don't take candy or religion from strangers, kids. There's some real weirdos out there.

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However I really feel that a line is crossed by slipping it into my kids' trick-or-treat bags without my knowledge or consent.

This is what of sending your children forth in search of somethimg for nothing. You get what you don't pay for.

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