Reading, Writing, ‘Rithematic–and Revival Fires?

390350345_a0a04a139d.thumbnail.jpgThrough the American Family Association, in conjunction with Tim Todd Ministry/Revival Fires International, high school kids are being encouraged to pass out Todd’s "Truth for Youth" version of the Bible at school during non-instructional time:

Help us bring the message of the Gospel to America’s youth and counter the ill effect of the liberal agenda being promoted aggressively in America’s public schools by helping to provide Truth for Youth Bibles for every teenager in the United States.

The Truth for Youth consists of the entire New Testament in the God’s Word Translation along with 100 pages of powerful, full color comic stories that present the "absolute truth" about issues that young people are confronted with, such as: Sexual Purity, Sorcery & Witchcraft, Homosexuality, Abortion, Pornography, Drug Addiction, Drunkenness, Peer Pressure, School Violence, and Secular Rock Music. God’s wonderful plan of salvation is incorporated into each of the stories.

Oh noes! The evils of Blink 182 and Green Day!

The American Family Association says that their partnership in Todd’s evangelical effort

has resulted in more than 350,000 Bibles being given away in school and more than 2500 young people sending decision coupons, emails or letters confirming they have surrendered their hearts to Christ. A total of more than 1.25 million Truth for Youth Bibles have been distributed since the conception of the Truth for Youth Bible for teens.

Okay wait, that’s a really lousy rate of return–2,500 teens recruited out of 350,000 Bibles being passed out? That’s less than 1%! And at a cost of $3 per Bible –based on what Todd charges adults– he’s giving away one free Bible per household for Traction or Abilene to hand out in the lunch line. For that amount of money, these ministries could be feeding a lot of homeless people, preventing tens of thousands from catching malaria, or treating just as many people on the African continent with HIV/AIDS. Just saying.

But if the schools allow it, I’m all for letting kids give away religious texts outside of the classroom. It’s a great way to learn about other religions and cultures! Just think what would happen if a group of teens handed out the Koran in the hallway! What about the Torah by the lockers? The Sutras?

Oh heck, new religions could get a real boost from this–why I bet there are scores of pubescent, proselytizing Scientologists chomping at their e-meters to pass out copies of Dianetics. Surely teen Thelemites will be eager to deliver Aleister Crowley’s Book of the Law and Magick in Theory and Practice to their peers; and naturally Wiccan youths may want to share their philosophy, perhaps giving away Phyllis Curott’s Witch Crafting, or maybe the more high school-oriented Where to Park Your Broomstick: A Teen’s Guide to Witchcraft or Sons of the Goddess: A Young Man’s Guide to Wicca. 

And if you’re gonna be passing out Bibles, God’s Word Translation is a little too loose and easy, losing so much of the poetry found in other translations. Look at two translations of Ephesians 2:8,9. The first is the much referenced King James Version; the second, God’s Word Translation:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It is not the result of anything you have done, so no one can boast.

"Grace" is  not "an act of kindness" semantically or theologically. Plus, the God’s Word version is really clunky– ZOMG, the God’s Word translation of Song of Solomon! Hideous! Here’s the KJV:

1The song of songs, which is Solomon’s. 2Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine. 3Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee. 4Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.

Now here’s the utterly cringe-worthy God’s Word Translation (and oh how I shudder when it have to type the title, because really I think God is lots more articulate, plus not all of the Bible is God’s word, per se, though it was inspired by God; for example it’s traditionally believed the Psalms were written by a person, not by God talking about God; same with the New Testament–no one claiming to be God wrote that, it’s a series of recollections about what God did or might want us to do!). Anyway, this pretty much bites as inspired text:

1 The most beautiful song of Solomon. 2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth. Your expressions of love are better than wine, 3 better than the fragrance of cologne. (Cologne should be named after you.) No wonder the young women love you! 4 Take me with you. Let’s run away. The king has brought me into his private rooms. We will celebrate and rejoice with you. We will praise your expressions of love more than wine. How right it is that the young women love you!  

Verses 2 and 3 sound like bad ad copy for cheap men’s fragrance. Cologne that should be named after you!? Facepalm.jpg srsly.

And besides, "ointment" is not "cologne." Totally different chemical compositions. But maybe "scented oil" or "fragrant oil" was too hard a concept to grasp? Though I’ll give them credit for translating "virgin" into "young woman," since back in ye olden times, virgins were women who weren’t currently married, as opposed to a person who had never had sex.

I wonder if any group of teens would be willing to pass out other religious texts just to make a point if the AFA/Revival Fires stuff shows up in their schools? Heck, atheist teens could certainly make a point with  their literature too!

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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.