Parents Don’t Need To Flip Out Over The Rapture Sect

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I appreciate that the whole looming rapture has been covered to the hilt, leaving very few new angles for writers to explore. I get that. It’s been a media circus. But still, this “Keep Your [Expletive] Apocalypse Away From My Kids” by Beth Boyle Machlan leaves a bit to be desired. It begins “I’m back. And I’m pissed.” and ends with “Sex is not scary. Gay people are not scary. Bad words are not scary. An announcement that the earth will soon be consumed in flames? That’s scary. And my kids and I shouldn’t have to pay $2.50 apiece to look at it.”

Her view is that Americans should not be so into that little old thing called the First Amendment that we let The Family Radio Network folks advertise about their bizarre religious views in the subway. And besides, genitalia and cigarettes do less harm than weird religious views.

Because, you know, death is scary to kids.

Here’s the thing: death is scary. And it’s our job as parents to deal with that fact — and the reality of death — when talking to our kids about it. If you can handle explaining why a given ad features two naked men fellating a pickle or whatever, you can probably handle the Family Radio Network. They’re not that big of a deal. Their views are unbelievably easy to explain or dismiss — they’re just that ridiculous. But if they give parents an opportunity to explain the power and wonder of life — and the reality of death — this is not something to freak out over.

Freedom does mean that all parents constantly encounter things contrary to our value systems. But unless you want to live in a bubble, you have to just step up and deal with it. I mean, I live in a city where approximately nobody shares my views on politics, religion, sex, fashion or the importance of John Denver. And being that I want to raise my children with my values, this means that I’ve grown very accustomed to explaining “Other people do X, We do Y. Here’s how that works.”

But the one thing I can’t do is pretend that something like death doesn’t exist, just because it’s scary. My mother’s family was in the mortuary business (yes, just like Six Feet Under). And my dad is a Lutheran pastor. This means that I grew up in an environment where death was something we discussed. One of the parsonages we lived in had a cemetery for a backyard. Yes, it could be scary. But mostly it was awesome to visit graves, have picnics, and learn a little history.

The world is full of people with false ideas about everything from whether Forrest Gump was a good movie to how many wars we should be involved in at a given time. My daughter asks me “why does she not have a shirt on?” every time we pass a magazine rack. Contrary to what Ms. Machlan thinks, I think the message that this objectification of women sends to a 3-year-old actually is scary. But sticking my head in the sand or calling for a ban on the free speech rights of Us Weekly is probably not worth the time. Better to spend that time explaining where women’s value comes from and what’s wrong with a world that doesn’t get it.