For some reason, reading about the kerfuffle about Left Behind Games reminded me of a mind-blowing experience I had some months ago. Following a link from (who would have thought!) Sensible Erection, I came across The Truth For Youth comic series.
OK, mini-comics would be a more apt label. We're talking about ten multi-page comic strips aimed at capturing the hearts and minds of teenagers for Christianity of the fundamental sort.
Each of these comics tells a story about a topic that ends up being related to Christianity. I wouldn't have to tell you about the contents if I had a working link to these comics, but alas, you can't get there from here any more. Seems the publishers figured they'd spread the word better if they charged money for these little strips. They were free back when I looked, but now we only have my memory to go on.
I started reading these comics because I was bored and curious; then a kind of morbid, masochistic urge got the better of me and I read my way through all ten. I came away from the reading deeply disturbed, and now I'll try to convey why this was so. Here are the titles, what I remember of them, and later a little personal commentary. Yes, this is going to be entirely biased. Deal with it or stop reading.
The upstandingly WASPish and righteous teenage hero visits his classmate on the not-so-well-lit side of town, hoping to do a little witnessing. We are horrified to find that the buddy's scar-faced, drunken, jobless, womanizing father allows his son to use his PC to view (gasp) pornography! By the end of the strip, we have learned that people who look at porn are wicked and lonely, end up ruining their lives and those of their family and finally fall prey to evangelism.
Some guy at the High School discovers he's attracted to other men. His devoutly Christian friends try to convince him that it's wrong to be gay, but he remains torn. Then he has an accident and a role-model medical worker relates how he used to be gay but with help from Christ found his way back to the straight life.
- Safe sex
The school nympho bimbo is thinking about getting it on with the school jock stud, confident in her belief that a rubber will keep them safe from pregnancy and disease. Her Christian friends, citing statistics unavailable north of the Bible Belt, make it clear to her that condoms break all the time and that AIDS viruses pass through rubber like kittens through a hedge. Lest anyone fail to get the message: The only safe sex is no sex, and the only alternative to sex is prayer.
Don't remember what went on here. I'm sure they blathered about how abortion was murder and that everyone should raise their little accidents no matter what their circumstances.
- Rock music
Good Christian teens attend a rock concert and are unwittingly exposed to messages from the Devil. A close call, but Christian friends don't let friends listen to rock music; they convert them to Christian Country.
- School violence
There is fighting all over the school yard. The solution is to deal Bibles to all students.
The biology teacher and some of his smart-aleck students dare to mock Creationism. Fortunately, the clean-shaven Christian Crew can show them the error of their ways. With Bibles handed out in every class, who needs a biology text?
Drugs are bad. Jesus is good.
Jesus won't cure your hangover, but his modern-day disciples can drive you to drink.
- Peer pressure
We learn that we shouldn't let our peers pressure us into doing wicked things. Instead, we should let our peers pressure us into reading the Bible, finding Jesus, pressuring other peers and going to church with them.
I'm incensed at what these comics are attempting to do: Given a poorly informed and none-too-bright audience of potential Fundie followers, they try to monopolize on their position as sole information source to inject half-truths and outright lies into their heads.
E2 readers are of course well informed and in a good position to make rational choices. But just in case you missed some, I'd like to point out a few of the more flagrant violations of the truth:
Pornography: The stereotype they paint applies to a minority at best. Successful, happy men and women in loving relationships enjoy the occasional porn to spice up their love lives and to fill the occasional dull moment. The biggest downside to porn is the guilt trip some people would like to put you on for it.
Homosexuality: They try to impress on the reader that homosexuality is an unnatural thing. Au contraire, it happens between all kinds of animals in the wild. They claim that being gay is a matter of personal choice, and can be "cured" by an effort of will. Sorry, that's an outright lie; homosexuality can be repressed but the underlying inclination doesn't go away. Besides, again, there's nothing terrible about being gay, other than what Christians try to tell you. Less children for Jesus? What the hell, a billion isn't enough?
Safe sex: This is where they lie the most, and where in my humble opinion they are doing the most harm. They claim a failure rate of 20% for condoms, when in actual fact it is 3%. In my book, that's not a harmless exaggeration or a little white lie, that's out-and-out falsehood! Being well educated and informed, I also call bullshit on their claim that "AIDS viruses are tiny molecules that can pass through the pores of a condom". The fact of the matter is, water molecules are tiny, having a molecular weight of 18, and condoms keep them in. Teenagers use them as water bombs! AIDS viruses have molecular weights of many thousands, they are HUGE! To misquote the Bible, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle and all that. Interestingly enough, the Catholic Church has made a similar claim; it remains bullshit all the same.
What I mean by "harm" is this: The Fundamentalist stance on sex and venereal disease stands on the single leg of abstinence. Abstinence is the one measure most likely to fail, simply because humans are humans, and hormones often stronger than good intentions. Studies show that students who take vows of abstinence are more likely to have sex than those who don't entertain such foolish notions. Women in the US are contemplating the painful step of abortion because their faith (or somebody else's) denied them proper contraception. Innocent people in Africa and elsewhere are dying of AIDS because Christian fundamentalists are suppressing contraceptive-based preventative programs. By speaking out against contraception, the Pope kills more people than convicted war criminals like Milosevic and Hussein.
Abortion: Abortion is the measure of last choice for women faced with a pregnancy that would ruin their lives and bring an unwanted child into a life of poverty and misery. The fetus being aborted has less consciousness than a jellyfish. If killing an insentient clump of cells is murder, one wonders why more Christians are not vegetarians.
Drunkenness: Alcoholism is a indeed a big problem worldwide. Imbibed by people who are susceptible, Alcohol can destroy lives. If you think you may have an alcohol problem, run, don't walk to the nearest AA chapter. But stay away from Christian alcohol rehabilitation programs; they are more annoying and less effective.
The Christian Fundamental Conservative Right is becoming ever more aggressive in their quest for world dominance. I don't mind if they tell each other that sex is bad, pleasure is sin, thinking is not allowed and that they should let a corpse on a cross tell them what to do. I find it ironic but none too surprising that they ignore their ninth Commandment (the one about lying), which exposes them for the self-serving hypocrites they are. I get uptight, though, when they go around infecting innocent children with this crap, and when they want to tell me how I should live my life.
Google for "Christian comics" and find reams and reams of this claptrap. They're coming soon to your neighborhood. It starts with comics and ends with legislation to outlaw [ insert your favorite sexual activity here ]. If you value science, education and your liberty, stop them before they stop you.
One person and some softlinks point out the Jack T. Chick Tracts, a similar set of religion-pushing comics. Believers are encouraged to "witness" by dumping these things on strangers in the hope of bringing them around to Christianity. As far as I know, Truth For Youth is a different and lesser outfit with a different agenda. As the name implies, they aim mostly at teens.
If you're into spoofs, Google for "Lies for Guys". Cute little comeback site by some righteously irreverent people.
Someone felt I should let the material speak for itself without adding my own tired old arguments. Eeep, he's right – wade through enough of this "propaganda for dummies" shit and you start to insist on pre-digesting every thought for your readers. I've hence removed a few of my less informative counter-rants.