Saturday, 25 February 2012

Happy to be Mr Gruff

Have a look at this extraordinary leaflet that was doing the rounds of Twitter this week:

Naturally enough, it was soon attracting an appropriate amount of ire from atheists and religious people alike. But you can't always believe everything you see on the internet so I decided to find out a little more about it and I soon found the source. Here's another leaflet they produce, apparently aimed at Hindu children:

The source for these leaflets, and others, is a website apparently run by an organisation called Objective Ministries  ... but it's a spoof. The first thing I will warn you about is NOT to visit the main page of Objective Ministries as it contains a virus. Most pages are okay, if you can load them, but there are lots of blind links and weird jump-offs. Here's a safe entry to the website via the Kids page where the leaflets are - look around at your own risk! If you do wade through the various pages (and have decent anti-virus software) you will eventually find this disclaimer:

'Biblical Artefacts and Studies (sic) does not necessarily agree with all the doctrines promoted by Answers In Genesis, but their scientific and Biblical information about Creation, the Flood, fossils and the family is very informative.'

I got a sense of it not being quite right when I read the opening paragraphs on the 'Just 4 Kidz' page which state:

'And for all He's done for us, all Jesus wants is for us to love Him back! He wants us to love Him soooo much that any other love would be like hate: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." I love Jesus more than ANYTHING... how 'bout YOU?

My OBJECTIVE is JUST 4 KIDZ! The "Z" is for "ZEALOUSNESS," 'cause Jesus wants us to be hot for Him, not lukewarm. I read in the Bible that He said: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent"... '

Hmmm. Hot for Jesus eh, kids?

Do have a read of Rational Wiki's dissection of the site here. It appears to be a very good 'Poe' (see below).

The first person to send it to me via Twitter simply tagged it, 'Is this true do you reckon?'. The second person said 'Have you seen this?'. But very soon, the tweets were saying things like 'A church in America is giving these out' or even 'This is what kids are being given in schools'. While not committing myself, I did make the comment, 'Imagine substituting Muslim or Christian for atheist. There would be uproar' but I now wish I hadn't. Inadvertently, I may have added fuel to the fire. Stories like this take on a life of their own and are often embellished before being passed on. Hopefully this blog sets the record straight. As a sceptic (or skeptic if you prefer) it's as important for me to debunk fake Creationist and fundamentalist sites as it is to hold real ones up to scrutiny. The hard part is telling which is real and which isn't. As Poe's Law states:

'Without the use of a winking smiley or other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to make a parody of Creationism that someone won't mistake for the real thing.'

Sadly, isn't this so true?

The real crime, of course, is the author's excessive use of Comic Sans.

P.s. Good news! Even though the site is riddled with viruses and blind links, you can still get the origami instructions for making Mr Gruff the Atheist Goat and his grumpy non-believing chums here. It's a safe clone of the original Objective Ministries 'Kidz Crafts' page. You can even make an origami nail like the one that was hammered into Christ. Praise be to Jo Potocki and her God Debate blog.

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