Now, Religion in the News—a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media. This week’s item is from Reuters, May 29, 2003, with the headline: “O Heck, Hell Hath No Place In American Primary and High School Textbooks—But then again, you can’t find anyone sailing a yacht or playing polo in the pages of an American textbook either. The texts also can’t say someone has a ‘boyish figure’ or is a bus boy or is blind or suffers a birth defect or is a biddy or the best man for the job, a babe, a bookworm, or even a barbarian.
“All these words are banned from U.S. textbooks on the grounds that they are either elitist (‘polo’ and ‘yacht’), sexist (‘babe’, ‘boyish figure’), offensive (‘blind,’ ‘bookworm’), ageist (‘biddy’), or just too strong (‘hell,’ which is replaced with ‘darn’ or ‘heck’). ‘God’ is also a banned word because He (or She) is too religious.
“To get the full 500-word list of what is banned and why, consult The Language Police, a new book by New York University Professor of Education Diane Ravitch, a former education official in President George H.W. Bush’s administration and a consultant to the Clinton administration. She says she stumbled on her discovery of what’s allowed and what’s not by accident because publishers insist that they do not impose censorship on their history and English textbook authors but merely apply rules of sensitivity, which have expanded mightily since first introduced in the 1970s to weed out gender and racial bias.”
Tom: Dave, this article goes on—we don’t have time to read all of it, but there are other things—the concern of this author is that we are being manipulated. This is sort of like George Orwell’s “newspeak” come to life, that the manipulation of language is going to control the people the way they think and how they react to it. Do you think this is dangerous?
Dave: Well, who has the right to do this? Well, I guess the publishers of books. I’ve had a few complaints about publishers. When we did Seduction of Christianity, we had some lengthy arguments and the publisher insisted that certain things be left out. They thought we overstated our case. As it turned out we didn’t, it should have been in there. But then that deprives the readers of the full truth.
Now there are concepts here—I mean, some people do sail in yachts, some people do play polo, and that happens to be the wealthy few.
Tom: Some people believe in God.
Dave: That’s right, but now we’re going to put God out because He’s too religious.
Tom: Or she, as the article indicates. Don’t want to offend one side or the other side—let’s not be intolerant.
Dave: You know, Jesus says in the scriptures, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.”
Paul says in 2 Timothy:3:16,17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, is profitable [or to be used] for doctrine, then reproof, rebuke, correction, instruction in righteousness.”
Tom: Paul also had problems with those of Crete. He said their mouths must be stopped—they were teaching false ideas and he didn’t mess around.
Dave: So now we have publishers who are going to control the minds—that is literally what it means—they are going to control the minds of our children growing up in school by eliminating certain concepts from their thought processes. I don’t think it’s right, Tom. It’s very bad, in fact.
Tom: Well, Dave, we have seen—this idea then moves from secular publishers, and in some cases, secular publishers who are publishing the Bible are now coming up with neuter gender versions.
Dave: And on the other hand, Tom, not only are they withholding some words, but they are then teaching their own concepts. I mean, look what you get on television; look at some of these sitcoms.
Tom: I try not to, Dave.
Dave: Yeah, I mean I don’t, but I’ve happened to try and look for some news—you come across them now and then. There is a caricature of the American family—a caricature of what people really are. They are creating a whole new consciousness, a whole new idea of what people’s role should be in life and how we live our lives, and when you begin to model—and I guess many of our young people do, they think this is life—model after what they see on television, what they hear on radio…
Tom: And if not life, it seems to me an excuse to do what they are seeing.
Dave: And the rock stars, the pop stars, and the so-called music that we get now, and the horror of it—you could do a month of programs on that, Tom, and the results of it, the suicides that have come out of it, or murder, and so forth. See, we have a world—you remember the old saying that “the pen is mightier than the sword,” but we don’t just have a pen now—we have computers. They can publish books a lot faster, and we’ve got more publishers and they put out millions of books literally, magazines, and we have radio, we have television, we have powerful, powerful means of manipulating people, changing their thinking. It’s a very dangerous world, and we’ve gotten away from the Bible, even in the church.
Tom: Dave, I’ll tell you what I’ll stick with—John:8:31-32: “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”