LOS ANGELES - A talking Jesus doll has been turned down by the Marine Reserves' Toys for Tots program.I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Toys for Tots and the U.S. Marines for doing exactly what they should do. This is about simple decency and having respect for people of different religious persuasions.
A suburban Los Angeles company offered to donate 4,000 of the foot-tall dolls, which quote Bible verses, for distribution to needy children this holiday season. The battery-powered Jesus is one of several dolls manufactured by one2believe, a division of the Valencia-based Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co., based on Biblical figures.
But the charity balked because of the dolls' religious nature.
Toys are donated to kids based on financial need and "we don't know anything about their background, their religious affiliations," said Bill Grein, vice president of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, in Quantico, Va.
As a government entity, Marines "don't profess one religion over another," Grein said Tuesday. "We can't take a chance on sending a talking Jesus doll to a Jewish family or a Muslim family."
The fact that some religious fundamentalists want to turn an effort to make the lives of some underprivileged children better into a political stand-off is disgusting. The fact that Toys for Tots is already engaging in what can easily be seen as something in keeping with Christian principles isn't enough for them. It has to be about pushing their agenda. They couldn't just give a teddy bear, they had to donate Bible-verse repeating, battery-powered Jesuses. (Jesi?)
I've been very lucky to always have something to open on Christmas morning and a loving family to share it with. I'm also lucky to have parents who taught me that it's important to help those less fortunate. More importantly, they showed me that it's important to give freely. If you've decided on a charity, don't claim the tax deduction. If you're working at a church soup kitchen, don't preach. If you want to go build houses for Habitat for Humanity, do it because it's the right thing to do, not because it looks good on college applications.
I don't mind Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company producing a Jesus doll (though it's kinda creepy and definitely a little bit idolatrous) but out of their entire inventory, couldn't they have found something else - something less divisive, less politically pointed - to give? If this is about bringing joy to little kids who are already short on happiness, why distract from that?
Toys for Tots Jesus Doll Marines Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company