by Gary Hardaway
As a kid in Sunday school, like millions of others, I learned to sing “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.” As a child I believed those words. As an adult, I believe them with even more conviction. So do millions of likeminded parents and grandparents.
We of similar faith do not find it amusing that teachers in Burlington Township in New Jersey have pirated the idea of the text and attributed it to President Obama. Video which can only be described as scary has surfaced showing kindergarteners chanting, ““Barack Hussein Obama. He said Red, yellow, black or white all are equal in his sight…” Another verse begins “Mmm, mmm, mmm, Barack Hussein Obama/He said that all must lend a hand/To make this country strong again.”
The Associated Press also reports that the video shows the kids “praising Mr. Obama for his ‘great accomplishments’ and efforts ‘to make this country’s economy No. 1 again.’” A chant set to the Battle Hymn of the Republic includes the cheer “Hooray, Mr. President.”
This kind of political worship takes place in Kim Jong Il’s North Korea, Fidel’s Cuba, Hitler’s Third Reich or Saddam’s Iraq. It has no place in American education. We have no human king, no godlike leader who deserves his own personal religious cult.
The guilty teachers in Jersey would no doubt scream bloody murder – backed by the ACLU and the National Education Association – if one of their colleagues taught their impressionable students the original song about Jesus. Or if a similar paean of praise was lifted in honor of Ronald Reagan or George Bush. In fact, I would join in the protest myself. Parents alone have the right to instill their religious beliefs and practices in their children. Schools have no business erecting alternative idols.
If there’s one core message in the Hebrew Scriptures it is the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods …” The lesson echoes hundreds – no, thousands of times — throughout the Old Testament. Idolatry is depicted as a moral abomination, a nauseating stench in God’s nostrils. Kings with aspirations of divinity were struck down, overthrown, and often destroyed because of their megalomania. Babylonian emperor, Nebuchadnezzar, was rendered insane for seven years, consigned to graze with the cattle. Monotheists – Christians, Jews, and Muslims – especially avoid any hint of incipient idolatry.
Presumably, the President had no knowledge of these worshipful exercises, which were developed and led by his over-zealous admirers. Now that these songs have come to light, he should condemn them as inappropriate and instruct his fans to concentrate on their real job: inculcating academic excellence. Mere silence would convey a message of indifference to all who honor the Commandments.