RELIGION: What’s the harm in telling children mythological stories?

Pastor Ross says it is a matter of principle

The other morning, I caught CTV’s Marcia McMillan’s closing comments on a court case involving a Christian couple, their foster children and the Easter Bunny. It sounded like something worth looking into.

The story is somewhat dated, but what I found was that Hamilton, Ontario foster parents, Derek and Francis Baars, in 2016, had their two foster children, aged three and five, removed from their home.

The children were removed because the Baars, “Refused to either tell or imply that the Easter Bunny was delivering chocolate to the Baars’ home.”

In other words, they would not tell the foster children that the Easter Bunny was real. The children’s aid worker believed this to be traumatic for the children and with little to no notice, removed (in my view very traumatically) the children from the home. The Baars were also blacklisted from being foster parents.

The Baars took the matter to court in April 2017 and just this past week Judge Andrew Goodman, released a 62-page and somewhat stinging document ruling that the actions of the Hamilton Children’s Aid Society had interfered substantially with the couple’s religious beliefs, including their belief that it is wrong to lie.

He also stated that the Children’s Aid worker had been “capricious” in her dealings with the Baars.

The Baars, seeking no financial restitution, sincerely expressed their gratitude and thanked Christians for praying for them. They now live in Edmonton and are seeking to adopt a child.

In my research, I found no evidence of the Baars being fanatical or obsessive in this matter. They simply felt that teaching myths as truth, from a biblical and Christian perspective, would be lying.

We followed a similar pattern in raising our children.

We did not launch a vendetta against the Easter Bunny, Santa, or the Tooth Fairy, but we never taught that any of them were real. Chocolate bunnies and eggs were accepted in our home, gifts always appeared under the tree and money under the pillows.

Our children were free to imagine whatever they wished in these areas, but when they asked we honestly explained that these were things that we do for fun. We also encouraged them not to become critical or aggressive on these issues at school, because everyone has the right to hold their own beliefs.

What is the big deal?

What is the harm in telling children these fun little mythological stories? Well, it is a matter of principle. We, like the Baars, felt that if we taught that these characters, and the myths attached to them were factual, then technically we would be lying.

But also, later on, as the children ascertain that these characters are indeed mythological, invented to help them feel good and have fun as children, why would they not, psychologically and legitimately, conclude that we have done the same thing by teaching the existence of God and the promises of Jesus?

“Lies last only a moment, but the truth lasts forever.” (Proverbs 12:19).

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