The Toys for Tots program that is run by the US Marines is pretty straightforward in its mission: collect new toys and distribute them to needy kids during the holiday season. Did you get that? The holiday season. Not Christmas (even though it’s the most popular holiday), not Chanukah, not Ramadan (if it happens to drift into December), not Kwanzaa (which really isn’t a holiday in a religious sense), and not even Festivus. Rather, Toys for Tots does not align themselves with any religious or cultural tradition. They just hand out toys and try and make kids feel a little better about this time of year when hyper-consumerism can quickly make them feel horrible because their parents don’t have a small fortune to spend on crap that will be thrown out by Spring.
I bring this up because the Toy for Tots program recently turned down a rather large toy donation from a Christian manufacturer of teaching tools for true believers who call themselves “one2believeâ„¢.” These people make dolls that recite passages from the Christian Bible, and they want to put them into the hands of poor children because, it seems, they think these kids will enjoy playing with a toy that looks like GI Joe Jesus with Kung Fu Grip. I wasn’t exactly sure how Kung Fu Grip Jesus would trump more ordinary toys, but then I read what Michael La Roe (who heads up development for the dolls) said about why this doll is better gift:”The idea was for them to be three-dimensional teaching tools for kids,” La Roe said. “I believe as a churchgoing person, anyone can benefit from hearing the words of the Bible.”
Well, I’m not religious, and I don’t really push my non-religious views on people because I think that everyone can benefit from secular views. But, I have to wonder how many children would truly be delighted by a doll/action figure that says things like: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” No disrespect to those who are true believers, but come on! Do you think the creators of this doll could have had a passage from the Bible that was, um, less sexually charged?
I’m just sayin’…