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Sacrificing the Children By: Mark Tooley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, September 04, 2008

Marian Edelman Wright’s Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) is organizing churches, synagogues and mosques once again this year for the annual “Children’s Sabbath” on October 17-18. As the Welfare State’s chief prophetess, Wright infamously admitted years ago that Americans are supposedly not concerned about poor people, therefore “children” must be the declared objects of concern for CDF’s political demands. Naturally, the Religious Left hails Wright as though she were an Old Testament heroine, jousting not against the Philistines but against their perceived callous modern equivalent, the Republicans and other skeptics of Big Government as panacea.

The CDF explains its justification for the Children’s Sabbath:

* In our wealthy nation today, one in six children lives in poverty while the rich get richer and millionaires reap tax breaks they don't need.

* In our powerful nation, we still resort to guns and violence rather than the power of non-violence to solve problems in our homes, neighborhoods and among nations.

* In our nation, founded on the truth that all people have the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, rampant racial and economic disparities in access to quality health care and education combined with zero tolerance laws that criminalize children at younger and younger ages put Black boys born in 2001 at a one in three and Latino boys born the same year at a one in six lifetime risk of being incarcerated.

On the Children’s Sabbath, religious believers are summoned by CDF to the altar of Big Government, to pray for government controlled health care, for government enforced gun bans, for expanded government welfare programs, and for higher taxes and greater government regulatory control. Ostensibly, the children finally will be safe when the even more empowered gods and goddesses who reign from their temples in Washington, D.C. will smile down upon a completely pacified nation. Or at least, that is why Children’s Sabbath worshippers will pray for next month.

Among the faithful endorsing the Children’s Sabbath are: Catholic Charities U.S.A., the Islamic Society of North America, the National Council of the Churches, several Jewish groups, the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, and 200 other religious groups who are largely happy for the state to displace religious institutions as the moral guardians of children. (In fairness to the Islamic Society, it probably is not quite so secularized as the other religious groups. Instead, it likely sees political cooperation with left-leaning Christian and Jewish groups as vital to its larger political goal of mainstreaming political Islam.)

Revealingly, the Children’s Sabbath never really talks about nurturing children in religious faith, or protecting unborn children, or providing children the security of two-parent families, or guarding children from the heightened risk of poverty, physical and sexual abuse, and reduced quality of education that illegitimacy and divorce precipitate. Nor does the Sabbath address the failed public schools to which poor children are often held hostage because private education is unavailable. Equipping children with virtues and the motivation for hard work, self-control and service to others also does not seem to rank high in the Children’s Sabbath. Instead, care for children seems to entail persuading them that they are the victims of American greed. As one CDF pamphlet, written by a Presbyterian “Children’s Advocate,” explains:

“In the years since Dr King sounded the alarm about the triple evils of racism, militarism and materialism, the interaction of these factors and their effects have only gotten more entrenched. Whether we realize it or not, all of us have been shaped by these forces in complex ways. The power of racism and its intersection with poverty are undeniable, but painful to explore.”

How odd for CDF to pronounce that racism et al are “more entrenched” now than 40 years ago. Was Martin Luther King then a complete failure? That would seem to be the CDF’s implication, hardly an inspiring message for children, or for adults. The CDF urges its Sabbath celebrants: “Seek discernment so that you may plan the most constructive ways to help children, youth, and adults alike to confront these issues in ways that will move your congregation to action on behalf of children.”

Helpfully, the Children’s Sabbath lesson plan for grades 3-5 instructs children how to write letters to Congress to demand legislation. “A child I know had an ear infection and his parents couldn’t afford to go the doctor,” is one suggested example for letters writers pushing for socialized medicine. For CDF, it’s never too early to enlist children into direct activism! In the lesson plan for junior high schoolers, the adolescents are encouraged in their correspondence with Congress to cite CDF’s specialty: a litany of how many children suffer every day in America. It calculates how many babies are born without health insurance, how many children suffer corporal punishment, how many babies are born into poverty, how many children are arrested, how many children are killed by guns, etc. The implication is that Congress and the deities of Big Government can heal these tragic numbers with additional federal spending.

The Children’s Sabbath lesson plan for high schoolers encourages the teenagers to discuss how “militarism” is hurting them, with this example: “Enormous amount of money being allocated to military spending is keeping our nation from investing in programs and benefits that would assure that children in poverty have the food, health care, housing and other things they need.”

The Scripture cited is from the Gospel of Luke’s story of a rich man who goes to hell and poor Lazarus who goes to heaven. The adult guide for the lesson is warned that young people may want to discuss the afterlife but should be steered instead towards discussing the “implications of our national priorities on how we use our financial resources. Not only do our decisions as a nation about how we use our money have eternal consequences for our nation’s very soul, but they have life-or-death consequences right now for man children in the richest country on earth.”

In fact, none of the monotheistic faiths assert that nations have eternal souls. Only individuals have eternal souls, according to the Scriptures of these faiths. But the CDF and its Religious Left cohorts in the Children’s Sabbath, with their vapid theology, reject transcendence in favor of cold materialism and the Welfare State’ coerced redistributionism.

In the wonderful 1964 Burt Lancaster World War II movie The Train, the retreating Germans are spiriting stolen French art back into the Fatherland. In desperation, they lash French civilians onto the sides of the locomotive to deter attacks on the treasure laden train by the French Resistance. Similarly, the CDF and its Children’s Sabbath celebrants strap children onto their otherwise discredited locomotive of Big Government, hoping to discourage questions about the CDF’s antiquated Great Society-era politics. The CDF may have no shame, but the cooperating religious groups should.

Mark Tooley is president of the Institute for Religion and Democracy. He is the author of Taking Back the United Methodist Church.

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