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Taking children for a ride

Thanks to Linda Ward Selbie for the link.

Taking children for a ride

Will a theme park based on Biblical tales of rape, incest and mass murder, really help to reform our violent, binge-drinking youth?

Our society is fast plummeting downhill. Our cities are plagued by a gang culture perpetrated by kids with guns. Youngsters binge drink in our streets and parks. There is too much sex and violence on television. God has deserted us, and we must bring him back. Or rather that is what a group of rich evangelical businessmen are going to spend £3.5m on, as they plan to create a Christian theme park to trump their creationist cause and decry evolution.

Led by AH Trust, a charity that makes Christian films, the idea is to find a site somewhere in the northwest of England and build a £3.5m theme park to tell the story of Genesis. Rollercoasters and ghost trains on railways surrounded by devils with red-hot pokers travelling to hell (and back?) spring to mind, but this park will, in actual fact, be a multimedia extravaganza, featuring two interactive cinemas and a television recording studio.

The AH Trust says: "On television today there is so much sex and violence, it is no wonder our youth are binge drinking ... this is a revolutionary scheme requiring innovative people with the vision to bring about change and a new direction." As Richard Dawkins would probably say, only the religious mind could make such a link without substantiating it in any way. Although the trust correctly identifies that there is a drinking problem endemic in the culture of young people today, to believe that by providing religion as an alternative so that youngsters will put down the White Lightning and pick up a bible, seems quite naive and out of touch.

The charity believes that to save our society, we need to tell youngsters the story of Genesis. Apparently, this is just the moral guidance young people have been lacking. Will this therefore entail the interactive telling of the story of Noah, and how God decided to drown the world? Will it go a step further and interpret the floods that hit the UK last summer or more recently Bangladesh, or, as one Presbyterian church minister said, the tsunami just three years ago this month, as punishment from God?

To correct the wrongs of society, perhaps the theme park - using its multimedia to maximum effect - will tell the story of how Lot was prepared to give up his daughters to the Sodomites and eventually slept with them himself? Is it appropriate moral guidance to show how Abraham was going to kill his son because God ordered him to? Will it also tell the story of Cain killing his brother Abel? How will tales of rape, incest, infanticide, fratricide and mass homicide become the antidote to binge drinking and a society that watches too much sex and violence on television? Theologians would say they are not meant to be taken literally but how are they meant to be taken? Are these the kind of family models we want "our youth" to look up to?

This clique of rich creationists believes that by paying millions of pounds they can brainwash youngsters with pieces of Christian fundamentalism and cure society of its ills. This cannot be right nor can it possibly work. Would the deaths of the likes of Damilola Taylor, Rhys Jones, Garry Newlove, Ernest Norton, and more recently David Nowak have been avoided had the £3.5m gift of God been in place at a theme park in Lancashire? One thinks not. The main motivation of the theme park is to point society in the right direction. But surely religion shouldn't be and is incapable of being its saviour.



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