THERE’S a worrying ripple in the atmosphere; it’s one that makes my hair stand on end and promotes that heavy, sinking feeling deep in the pit of my stomach.
Anyone who knows me will vouch for my strong views on spiritual and religious freedom (and no, I don’t believe spirituality and religion are the same thing), but when one particular branch of organised religion creates a Pixar-style short movie, with the aim of teaching children to be homophobic, I fear that freedom is moving into dangerous territory.
The video, produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses, features a young child coming home from school with a drawing of her family. She tells her mother about one of the other kids who drew a picture of her two moms, and reported that the teacher had said love was the most important thing. Mum then begins to quote scripture and a cartoon scene of paradise begins to play out, as well as a story correlating ‘choosing’ sexual identity to trying to get through airport control with substances that just aren’t allowed. Of course, in order to get to their chosen destination, the animated character has to leave some things behind… just as we have to leave anything other than heterosexual relationships behind to gain access to paradise. Mum explains that people can change, and then begins to help the little girl work out what she can say to her friend with two mummies.
If you’d like the full, technicolour experience, you can watch the movie here.
Whatever your personal beliefs, when we start to indoctrinate our children to have any kind of ill feelings towards any other section of the human race, I believe it’s wrong. Imagine the movie playing out with the slant against muslims, or people of colour, or people with disabilities, or people with ginger hair, or people who are ‘overweight’, or ‘too skinny’ or any other particular group you might choose to pick on.
Let’s teach our children HOW to think, not WHAT to think. Let’s not teach our children to be racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic or to have any less than absolutely inclusive, peaceful and accepting feelings towards any other member of society.
Propaganda like this – clever, subtle, well made and costly propaganda – has no place in today’s world. It’s inciting hatred – or, at the very least, prejudice – among some of our most innocent and impressionable members of society. It’s a massive retrograde step in a world that has come so far over the past few years, and I don’t believe there is any place for this in 2016.
I’ve taken copies of The Watchtower, read and digested with respect; I’ve spoken to JWs on the doorstep, politely and again respectfully – even when they cackled and screamed ‘witch doctor’ on my doorstep after asking about my spiritual beliefs (true story!), I’ve tried to understand and even defend their beliefs over blood transfusions, but this. THIS. This is a step too far. And it’s not even remotely awesome.