Little Jihadist - Update: First Pres. Responds

This might be just another cute picture of little boys playing war if it weren't for the fact that it's church sponsored.

The details are below the fold....

This picture is by AP photographer Jerry Wolford and a thumbnail was running in the The Day in Photos section on the left sidebar.

The caption made my heart sink.

Preschoolers at the First Presbyterian Church march in "Army Day" in Greensboro, N.C. The children competed in "basic training" events such as the balance beam, hoop jumping, and crawling through tunnels to earn their walkie-talkies, plastic rifles and vests.

It might seem impossible, but it has left me as close to speechless as anything I've read, heard or seen in a long time.

I understand little boys (and girls) like to play with toy guns and they like to play army. My brothers did and so did I. We also played cowboys and Indians. These were neighborhood games and we weren't in preschool!

Never, in my wildest dreams could I imagine a church sponsoring an event where little boys are given guns. Last I checked Greensboro isn't a military town. That might make it a little more understandable. Spring is a time for field day activities at schools, but usually fun is its own reward. That a church would choose to give out guns, helmets and kiddie kevlar is simply stunning.

The picture leaves you wondering where the little girls are and what their activies and prizes were. I'm sure they got to do something fun like roll bandages.

I'm not even going to touch on the parenting issues this raises in my mind. Anyone who has had a child in a church preschool knows that nothing happens without parental participation. What in God's name were these people thinking 'cause you know they didn't sit these kids down and talk to them about responsible gun use now did they?

And the kid with the gun in the air? Just who taught him that jihadist pose?

Update: The good news is that this is not church sponsored. That was my main concern. First Presbyterian has said they do not allow children to play with toy weapons. Their response is pretty strong and is in the comments below and at Ed Cone's site.

We just arrived home from school activities this morning, so I'm about to call the church. I wanted to get this update posted as quickly as possible and will post anything additional that I get from the church. Also I removed "Presbyterian" from the title, since it wasn't church sponsored, but left the rest.

Update II: I just spoke with the Associated Press office in Raleigh and the caption is being changed. I was the second person to call about this. Sadly, this photo was seen in quite a few markets all over the country. Hopefully, they will continue to run the photo for a while with the new caption.


Some will find this acceptable

I think it raises serious questions about where our society is headed. I simply can't imagine a church sponsored war game. My children went to two church preschools and their spring field days involved bike riding, finger painting and special snacks.

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GI Joe clashes with Barbeeeee in Cultural Wars of Dolls

And the kid with the gun in the air? Just who taught him that jihadist pose?* SD

It appears that the GI Joe marketing program has made
amazing advances in the recent years? I understand they
will be coming out with a flag that is attached to
the pistol that says " Shoot one for Jesus"

Heh....tooo funny

Shoot one for Jesus...

I'm just having a hard time understanding this. I mean...I'm a hawkish Democrat at that. It's one thing to be pro-military. It's an entirely different thing to send your child to a preschool that hands out guns.

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SD you think that is funny!

Apparently concerned about party divisions, state GOP Chairman Ferrell Blount barred the news media from covering official convention business -- consideration of resolutions, platform and other matters -- where the 546 delegates had a chance to talk from the convention floor.

Reporters were permitted to hear only speakers officially sanctioned by the party.* N&O today

I thought secret societies were outlaw in North Carolina,
The MSM should be eating them alive about the GOP kicking
out the media...... and the Demos should be pounding the
GOP on this outrageous suppression of free speech.
Straight out of the Orwellian playbook!

I guess A was right about the GOP and the Pope fronts
having secret handshakes...

That doesn't sound funny, though

That sounds downright scary. As much as I feel we need to concentrate on the Shuler/Taylor, Kissell/Hayes races, we need to watch our state house races very carefully.

Anglico is right about Art Pope and his puppets.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Where did you say the Tea was store?

That doesn't sound funny, though* The Southern Dem said,

That sounds downright scary.

That is why I made the point! Wait until they seize the
power of state government. Do you really believe they will
have open government? If you have to discuss politics in
secret, you are either a tyrant promoting bunch or either
a " real" patriot getting ready to toss the tyrant into the harbor.


When Christians start promoting war and violence, they've jumped the shark.

Here's the contact information for the First Presby Church of Greensboro:

First Presbyterian Church of Greensboro
617 North Elm Street • Greensboro, NC 27401
Phone (336) 373-0445 • Fax (336) 275-9398

Scrutiny Hooligans -

Thank you Screwy

I had already planned to make it my first call of the day on Monday. I wasn't sure how many would agree with me on this.

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First Call on Monday

I think they might be in today. :P

Well...they might be in

but I'm sure the bidness office is closed. I also be the guns are put away too.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

This may not be so awful

As with anything, the devil is in the details. When you're selling something to kids (especially something they aren't automatically inclined to want, like religion or broccoli), you start with a hook, something they already think is cool. Depending on how it was handled, this might not be any worse than using, say, racing as a theme, or dinosaurs. For better for for worse, little boys love guns (I'm not qualified to speak about little girls). My mom, a good liberal, wouldn't buy toy guns for my brother and I. When we (somehow) got a hold of them, I loved the hell out of running around the backyard blowing the shit out of anything that would (in my imagination) explode.

Maybe if our church had offered an army day, my religious training would have "took." I'm not complaining about the way things turned out, mind you. And I understand that the idea of an "army day" is fraught. I'm just saying that it's possible that it was handled well. I'm also assuming that, being the "First" Presbyterian church, they're PCUSA. If, instead, they are PCA, I withdraw even the most tentative support. If PCA, they're probably teaching the kids to use guns to keep uppity women in line.

It was preschool, not Sunday school

It isn't appropriate either place. Hell, parents have to sign forms for their kids to learn about sex, but they can learn about killing people and war any time. At least they wait until 7th grade (5th in some schools in CMS) to learn(formally) about sex.

They could have passed out syringes to teach them to just say no to drugs.

They could have passed out condoms to teach them to just say no to unprotected sex.

They could have passed out fifths of liquor to teach them to just say no to drinking and driving.

They could have passed out cigarettes and lighters to teach them the evils of smoking.

They could have passed out gasoline and matches to teach them the dangers of fire.

Alcohol, drugs and sex would attract folks back to church too. So war and killing is OK, but sex, drinking and drugs is not...hmmmmm

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I realize the guns were toys

and the other things I mentioned aren't. I'm making a point. Heh

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Those aren't good comparisons

I agree that a world in which kids this young don't know about war would likely be an improvement over reality, but it's basically culturally acceptable for little kids to play war in a way that it isn't for them to play at sex or intraveinous drugs or smoking or drinking or pyromania.

Imagine someone who really feels strongly that we should do away with cars and live in tight-knit communities relying on feet, bicycles and public transit to get along. That's not crazy or wrong, and it may even be right -- after all, cars probably kill a lot more Americans than war in any given week. I can't argue with those priorities, but I wouldn't have much sympathy for them if they complained about kids being given toy cars by an organization (cars that, I'm sure, would be driven off cliffs, into one another, underwater, and wherever else kids can think of).

You write: "So war and killing is OK, but sex, drinking and drugs is not." A better statement would be "So playing soldier is OK, but sex, drinking and drugs are not." That's definitely open for discussion, but as a statement of where our society is, I think it's accurate. At least, the toy section at the Wal-Mart seems to say so.

I left this out:

Just to be clear: I'm not sure that's a bad thing. Unlike drinking, using drugs, and sex (except in Las Vegas), soldiering is a profession that I can't see our country doing without any time in the near future. I would commend a parent for not wanting their pre-schooler to be educated this way (and you can be sure that my kids won't be), but I just don't find this to be all that shocking.

Just because Walmart carries plastic guns

doesn't mean a church should give them out to preschool aged children.

Just because Walmart says our society has certain values - which you say is represented by the stock they carry on their shelves - doesn't make those values acceptable.

Playing army with friends may be what little boys do. Having their church supply them with the guns?

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

SD, I really enjoy our disagreements.

You hit a balance between passion and politeness that is rare on the web. You wrote: "Just because Walmart says our society has certain values doesn't make those values acceptable." I agree. It just means that it isn't all that shocking when those values are expressed by other social institutions.

You remind me of my brothers

They would disagree with me just to see me get riled up.

When my older brother was in law school we would get into these debates and I would go do all sorts of research to back up my assertions and when I was finished he would agree with me. Not because I changed his mind...but because he had agreed with me all along and just wanted to see me running around trying to prove my point.

Polite? That's a new one for me. I guess you can teach old dogs new tricks. :)

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By polite I mean not suggesting that I'm a fool or a liar. That may not seem like a high standard, but you know enough about comment discussions to know that it's about right. And for the record, I really do disagree. I'm not trying to get you riled (not that I don't like you when you are riled).

Oh, I know you disagree

and I don't think you are a fool or a liar...but I do think you are wrong. :)

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Christian Values

Since, as we know, there are thousands of devout Christians who serve in our United States military - how can the loving, compassionate, turn-the-other-cheek message of Jesus be harmonized with militarism?

Here's what I'd like to ask the First Presbys:

Does your faith support militarism and violence?
If not, why were you encouraging militarism at your pre-school?
Does your pre-school teach violence?
When is it appropriate for Christian churches to advocate militarism?
Is violence in keeping with the teachings of Jesus?
Are the pre-school children also taught that Republicans are more godly than Democrats? If not, why not?

The list could go on and on.

Scrutiny Hooligans - make my point so much better than I do

Now I at least have something to say to the director tomorrow other than.., "What in God's name were you thinking?"

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

The Bible might be better

If they'd thrown out the first 3/4 or so, but it's still in there. That leaves Christians the task of harmonizing a forgiving savior with a vengeful god, and turning the other cheek with tales of conquering kings like David. Asking whether Christianity can be reconciled with militarism is like asking whether bread is good with butter. Since the days of Charlemagne Christians have carried weapons. Of course they go together!

Look at the picture

I realize that the photographer only captures one split second in time and I'm just certain that these boys were stretching their legs after a long lecture on gun safety and the use of weapons as a means of self defense.....but look at the picture. These little boys aren't going to battle for Christ.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.


I'm going to let the main discussion go -- I've made my points, and they boil down to "it just doesn't bother me, and I don't think it will bother most people."

Here's an aside, though: many churches in America teach homophobia, misogyny, and other forms of intolerance. When I look at the picture, I can just hear some Sunday school teacher (perhaps with more enthusiasm than sense) saying "sometimes it's a fight to do the right thing, and just like the army gives you a gun, God gives you the scripture." Whatever. This isn't very high on the list of shady things churches teach.

As for the picture, I think you're seeing something in it that I'm not (i.e. the sinister). I can see myself in that picture at that age, and I believe I'm having a ball, what with Sunday school giving away free toys and all.

This Baptist boy

sides with the Southern Dem on this particular issue. One of the big reasons I left the church in the first place was all the heathen commie shit that went on back in the 60s. It was enough to make a good god cry. And probably not at all what the big guy had in mind when one of his ghost writers penned this:

1. Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!

* Refrain:
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

2. At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.

3. Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.

4. Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never ’gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.

5. Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud, and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.

Somehow I don't think the idea was to put an M16 into Jesus' bloody hands.

OK Folks, Here is my nickel's worth........

For what it’s worth ,Here is my take on the prospective. By the way, Good reporting Dem!
Is this picture our own fault? Well Yes! I mean, Here we idly sit by and allow the glorification Of guns,violence ,Murder & Mayhem in our society. We live in a world where our children see Us daily exhibit the attitude of “Well, It’s OK as long as it doesn’t happen to us! If it is happening in the Middle East or South America then “Shoot em all, Let God sort em out”! The old just don’t bring it into my home attitude starts to prevail.

It’s kind of like the Monkey see,Monkey do thing! No, our kids are not monkeys. But I went through raising 3 sons. Hollywood makes tons of money from producing movies full of combat action. And yes, when I was young,or so Mom tells me ,I did play shoot em up cowboys and soldiers! And my favorite TV show’s next to Star Trek was “The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Mission Impossible”. Had to see them each week. Missing them was not a option!

But now , Really Dem, You know I haven’t ever disagreed with you but to the reference of being Jihadists , not really. I think they have a long ways to go before becoming Jihadists. Just as Lance
Said “Playing soldier is socially acceptable these days”. Probably just as much as it was back in the 60’s & 70’s. I can remember taking my cowboy cap pistol to church and seeing other kids with theirs also. And I can also remember seeing it at school.

You know, The old ,Hey my gang is tougher than your gang deal on the school playground. Funny, as we went to school here in the mountains I can remember back to the late 60’s /early 70’s ,if you just so happened to be going home after school with a friend and you just so happened to be going to go rabbit or squirrel hunting you brought you gun to school with you and turned it in to the Principal who locked it & your shells away safely until 5 minutes before the bell rang and you picked it up and went home with your friend.

I don’t really think there is much wrong with small kids playing with toy guns and playing Soldier. After all, about the worse thing that can happen is when someone looks at you and says ,”Bang,Bang! I shot you!” and the melodrama kicks in as you fall to the round and kick you legs dying a pathetic death! However ,I do think the other issues of guns,bombs ,the art of war & killing as a whole has become big business for the Networks,CNN ,MSNBC& FOX! My wife loves to have her usual mild little growl at me if I just so happen to watch a combat or police flick.

Usually about all of the Killing & Shooting. Of course she will sit and watch CNN & Fox every morning! SO I finally got the nerve to turn things around on her the other morning. With my cup of java in hand ,I sat down, lit a smoke and turned the tube to the Sci Fi channel. When asked why I did it, I simply replied ,OOH, Cause of all that killing & shooting! ( For a moment I did consider getting up and running away from her at a high rate of speed after the return glance I received).

But I do feel that the Media as a whole need’s to take a greater, more responsible role in what they report,when they report & how it’s reported. There are certain time when the kids are around when we just don’t need the news and would be much better watching Bugs Bunny!

And Brother Anglico My Friend.....

Man, I'm going to get in trouble here! Usually I don’t mix religion & Politics but today I have done both and I certainly hope I don’t upset anyone by doing this. But I have dug down deep into my soul to find the best I have to offer folks and found a new attitude along with it! Not that I was lying or anything I was holding back sometimes. So I am going to lay all my cards on the table now. I really admire Anglico for his honesty and open attitude when he speaks of religion. And I find myself wishing more folks would be more like him! Anglico is and always shall be my Brother in arms and Brother in Peace! You know I really don’t have to say this as Anglico and I have discussed it before. But on the Subject of the Baptist Boy, this is a point where we both support each other! As you knew but the rest didn’t, I left the Baptist church for the same reason’s as you so I have to stand in support of what you say plus the fact we were both warriors for Uncle Sam.

Someone once told me, to be honest in my writing. Well ,I am about to. The Baptist church we did attend has a nasty habit, a habit of ,rut-ro, Did the preacher just say what I thought he said? He was preaching on Joe being here on Sunday & Sunday Night ,sings in the choir ,puts his money in the plate while being sure to let everyone see it . Then Joe is so nice to everyone, never says a bad word SO, we will keep him as a member despite the fact come Monday he makes it a point to scream at his kids and hit his wife. Then he leaves for what the family thinks is work, Stops at the store to get a 12 pack of Bud and heads to the pre-arranged spot to meet Bill’s wife!Well that does it, Preacher just got fired!

And then there is Ms. Susie, Man now she is a really great person! Never seems to get upset ,never talked about anyone but you know old Jim the plumber was doing some work down at the VFW Post Bar last Monday morning and told me there she sat ,drinking 7&7 and talking trash about everybody!

Well folks, I guess that now you all know why Anglico & I both left the Baptist church. Does that make us heathen warmongers ? No! Does that mean we now believe one bit less in God?NO! That means we have enough common sense to do that which we are instructed to do in Scriptures! Be Ourselfs and Be One with God! And remember, God is not known as GOD everywhere. He is called by many names by many people which inhabit this earth along with us! I had a Sherpa friend from Tibet. He ad accepted the Scriptures and gave up his belief in Buddhist ways. Although he doesent call himself a Christian he says he believes in the master creator of the universe, He also honors Mother Goddess of the world ,Mt.Everest and Father Sky. Of course ,the Native Americans have always acknowledged a great creator,Mother Earth & Father Sky.

Me, Well I have a really great friend by the name of Art Fritog who I met at VA. He and I were in-Patients. Art is Messianic Jewish, not by birth but by faith & choice. ME? I'm now the same belief . I don’t expect anyone to endorse me or down me because of it. But back to Anglico, I agree with his comments whole heartily 100% and I don’t see me changing my mind anytime soon. As the old saying go’s, I won't change my mind for love nor money!

Like my Brother & Friend Anglico and my friend Art I feel it is safe to say I do not believe in the time honored belief that you must go to a church to get you into heaven! I want you to tell me, How is a building of wood,mortar & Brick going to put you into heaven? My personal belief is this; It is what exist’s between you and God, no matter which name you call him by, that gets you through the great void between this earth and what the creator has in store for us. Some would argue that the scriptures tell us
To dwell among those like us. Well, If those folks are as Anglico & I have described, warmongering, backstabbing, gossipers & full of deceit would God really want them around us? So hang in there Anglico , I got your 6 on this and felt that as your friend I needed to let you know I was in agreement with you 100%!!!! Now after what I have said before someone asks , Do I hate or harbor ill in my heart for these people I have talked about? No, I don’t. Personally, I forgave them a long time ago, Has God? I
Cannot answer that my friend, only he can. But this also just go’s to prove to you where some of our current day problems stem from!

Amen, brother.

Good on you . . . and beautifully said. From the heart, as always.

Lordy, I just love you


Usually about all of the Killing & Shooting. Of course she will sit and watch CNN & Fox every morning! SO I finally got the nerve to turn things around on her the other morning. With my cup of java in hand ,I sat down, lit a smoke and turned the tube to the Sci Fi channel. When asked why I did it, I simply replied ,OOH, Cause of all that killing & shooting! ( For a moment I did consider getting up and running away from her at a high rate of speed after the return glance I received).

Regardless of what is commonplace, there has to be somewhere in our society where peace is promoted, where adults and children can escape from the stresses of every day life, where we are taught and encouraged to love our fellow man instead of to shoot him down. I always thought "this place" could be found in church.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Glad to know Ed weighed in

I've asked him for lessons on communicating with my online audience (all three of you) using my eyebrows.

I'm hoping he'll give me lessons soon. It will save me a lot of typing.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.


That's good. We like it when our very own SD hits the big time. Nothing like god and politics to bring out the fire.

Gee A

Your easily impressed. Ed Cone is the big time? ;)

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In the world of NC blogging, yes

Not that I'd expect a featured author on Kos and MyDD to appreciate the significance! :-P

First Pres responds

I know it's not as much fun as torching people on the web without making any attempt to find out the whole story, but here's a response from First Presbyterian.


If the business office had been opened, I would certainly have called. I relied on the crack reporting skills of the AP photographer to get his caption right. He didn't identify this as the fit n fun camp, or I would have and this piece wouldn't have been written.

Ed, nothing I wrote constitutes "torching" someone or something. The only thing you seem to have picked up on is the title of my piece. Maybe it's extreme, but you don't raise the level of debate by "cocking an eyebrow". In your reporting you said that this topic had raised interesting questions. Do you think those questions would have been raised if I had sat on my couch cocking my eyebrows?

Also, just for your own personal edification. A journalist isn't "reporting" when they refer to someone as "freaking out". That is called editorializing. Maybe you should have come to me for my side of the story instead of having so much fun torching me on the web.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Give him hell SD.

And NEVER take any shit from a cocked eyebrow. Probably wears suspenders, too.

Oh, I love you! I needed that laugh....

Rest assured, I always stand up for myself. I learned early on that very few folks will get your back. Thanks, by the way. :)

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Please visit Ed's site via the link above

However, I am reprinting part of the response from First Pres. It is what I hoped to hear.

A word from First Presbyterian:

You might have seen the clarification on page A2 of Sunday's News & Record. This photo was not of a church program, and we did not know it was appearing in the newspaper.

A private company leases space from FPC for its summer camps, and this photo was of one of those camps.

We do not promote the use of weapons or teaching our children that guns are toys. We are reviewing our policies on how we handle groups that rent space in our church. Here in this church, we DO NOT allow children to play with any kind of weapons or materials that promote violence.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I had the same thought

but also figured churches could tell their guests (and tenants) to leave their toy guns at home. Doesn't seem like too much to ask at all.

AP is changing their photo caption

I contacted the AP office and apparently I wasn't their first phone call of the day! They are changing the caption on the photo.

Still, Anglico. I do agree with you. There are some interesting comments at Ed's site. It seems I wasn't the only one left a bit disturbed by the photo.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Screwy, Thank you

Thank you for getting my back at Ed Cone's site. I appreciate your kind words.

Now that I know the church's position I feel much better. I'm still a bit puzzled, though. It wasn't OK for me to point out the disturbing nature of the photo and label the kid striking the pose as a jihadist, however it's OK for an adult to promote the mimicking of violent behavior or war play in a small child.

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There's no double standard!

This is a false equivalence. An adult might in honesty and good faith give a kid a G.I.Joe toy while admonishing him not to engage in name calling. I'll bet it happens all the time.

It seems to me that Ed's "torching" was no more or less inflammatory than calling the kindergartner a "jihadist," and I don't see anything particularly wrong with either. This may not be the most appropriate place for a military metaphor, but you're either playing with live ammo or you're not. There's no monopoly on spicy language and there's no sense getting upset about having to take what you're dishing. missed my point

It wasn't that Cone said I was freaking out as much as it was he called what he did "reporting" when what he was doing was "editorializing" or opinion writing. It also wasn't accurate and I was there to correct him. It was like he wanted to get his little dig in but then hold himself up as Mr. Objectivity. It wasn't playing.

I wasn't torching anyone and I will admit that neither was he, but I was turning his drama back on him. It was a pot meet kettle situation and I was simply trying to point that out.

And...there is a double standard. The same man who was disturbed by my title and said it went too far wasn't that disturbed that adults had organized war games for children. My title aroused him enough to put fingers to keyboard while the Kiddie war games only caused a cocked brow.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I mean...I did a poor job making my point

but then...if you missed already know that.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.


Didn't have preschool in my day, but we had summer school, at the church's school. We got stuff like Religous medals, crosses, bookmarks with Bible script on them. It's possible, I guess that preschoolers at a Church's school might not all be Christians. There are a lot of stereotypes, such as little girls like to play with dolls, and boys like toy guns. I've found both sexes prefer to play with empty cardboard boxes, the bigger the better, run around outside, climb, jump, swim. They'll play with Lincoln Logs, Legos, board games more often then the dolls & guns. If a kid has a choice of playing war or sleigh riding, bet they'd choose the sled not the gun.

I had a door to door Minister visit me once, and he invited me to a church re-enactment of the Civil War. I questioned him about war & thou shalt not kill, and he didn't seem to think that obeying god, precluded war. As of this moment a Christian religous leader is on tour with his soldiers, yes, they bring toy assualt weapons on stage. DeLay led a group to teach how to fight the War on Christianity. I think children need to be taught how to create love, peace and harmony, and no religous organization should be helping them play war, or in anyway glorifying it.