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Sometimes It's Hard to be an Atheist

Particularly when you have the example of the couple in this story, who've pulled their children out of school in Ontario. Their problem? Their 10 year old daughter was in a school pageant and had to sing the 60's anti-war anthem 'One Tin Soldier' - they objected, calling the song 'violent and religious'. Now, I'll grant you that the song does have some religious overtones - heck I can remember it being sung in church when I was a kid, and it does have some violence in it - but no more than most and it has some important lessons to teach children, namely that violence isn't the best answer to things. Contrast that to what the children have learnt from their mother, which is that if something happens that you don't like, what you should do is whine about it and run away....

Listen Children to a story, that was written long ago.
'bout a kingdom on a mountain, and the vallery folk below.
On the mountain twas a treasure, buried deep beneath a stone,
and the valley people swore they'd have it for their very own.

Go ahead and hate your neighbour, go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of heaven, justify it in the end.
There won't be any trumpets blowin' come the judgement day
on the bloody morning one tin soldier rides away

So the people of the valley sent a message up the hill
asking for the buried treasure, tons of gold for which they'd kill.
Came an answer from the kingdom: "With our brothers we will share
all the secrets of our mountain, all the riches buried there."


Now the valley cried with anger; mount your horses, draw your sword,
and they killed the mountain people, so they won their just reward.
Now they stood beside the treasure on the mountain, dark and red,
turned the stone and looked beneath it. "Peace on earth" was all it said.


So yeah, typed that from memory, scarily. But there is no religious or violent overtones to the song. In fact, it is a completely non-violent song that even says no matter who you are, even if you blame it on religion and God, you are still guilty.

More people should listen to it in my opinion.

that's awesome, Anon, and not that scary actually, I could probably do it as well - it's definitely one of the songs that touched me deeply when I was younger. I certainly agree with you that it's a song more people should be exposed to.

Well, clearly the song does have religious and violent overtones. "Heaven" and "Judgement Day" are both religious concepts, and it describes a battle in which the mountain people are killed and the mountain is left "dark and red".

Having said that, I've never found the song objectionable, and I think the overall message is quite positive. But I remember an ex-girlfriend of mine felt much the same about the song as the mother in the article. My ex loved the song, and liked to sing it to her 6-year-old son, but she changed the lyrics in the chorus because she thought the message was too "subtile" for a young child and that he wouldn't get the irony.

Personally I think neither of these mothers give their kids enough credit (heck, I was 8 when it first came out, and I got it), but parents can be pretty irrational.

Nitwits, nitwits everywhere....

"Heaven" and "judgment day" may well be religious ideas, but these parents don't seem to grasp that they are also part of our culture. As an atheist, I frequently refer to religious concepts for that reason. It's not the same as forcing kids to pray.

And texts which refer to the general subject as `He' are just part of our culture? Or a part which needs to be recognized as devaluing a group of people?

Christianity does not have monopoly on peace (I'm trying to restrain my laughter). `One Tin Soldier' is analogous to `He'; they help to convey a message, with unintentionally demeaning side effects.

Preposterous. I'm agnostic and firmly secularist when it comes to public life, but this is just sad. On par with the routine bannings of Huck Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird and so forth.

A song about stupid misunderstanding being stupidly misunderstood? Points for irony, anyway.

I've read the linked article and it doesn't actually seem to be the alleged religious content of the song, rather the violence that has the overprotective fools, er, parents, up in arms. At least the way the article is written, it looks to me like any religious content was only brought up after these parents already had their asses up about the song.

The father
objects to the violence in the song, and the words "heaven" and "judgment day," as well as the exhortation to "go ahead and hate your neighbour, go ahead and cheat a friend."

He says that he knows that there is a "twist" in the song at the end, but isn't sure that the kids are going to catch it. I guess he figures that the kids are too stupid to listen to the whole thing and that the teachers are too lazy to discuss the lyrics with them.

Sounds like these atheist parents have no faith in their kids and teachers.

In any case, Dan is right. It's rough out there for a self-respecting atheist with fools like this running around. I dread to think what it must be like to be a christian with those whack-job anti-gay freaks that run around protesting soldiers funerals and whatnot in the States.

As Doug once said to me: it doesn't take all kinds, we just have all kinds.

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