Recently the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that violent video games enjoy First Amendment protection—even when sold to our youth. Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 113 S.Ct. 2729 (2011). The Court struck down a California law that prohibited the sale or rental of these games to children under 18. At first glance this might sound like a victory for those who want to poison our young people.
Not so fast! Decisions like this cut both ways. The First Amendment protects a lot of speech that we as Christians find highly offensive. But it also protects our right to
preach the gospel—to people of all ages. I used to live in California, where I participated in volunteer ministry to children. I volunteered for Child Evangelism Fellowship, an organization that directs its efforts to children at state fairs and other public places. On Sunday mornings, I accompanied other volunteers from Pacific Youth Correctional Ministries to a county facility for children removed from their homes for neglect and abuse. We held chapel and Sunday School for those children. I was also part of a large chaplaincy program at Olive Crest, a private nonprofit that operates group homes for abused children. If atheists in America had their way, there would be laws prohibiting this type of religious evangelism to minors. Look at what the Supreme Court just said in the Brown decision:
And what is good for First Amendment rights of speech must be good for First Amendment rights of religion as well: It could be made criminal to admit a person under 18 to church, or to give a person under 18 a religious tract, without his parents’ prior consent.
Modern atheism has taken on an “evangelistic” fervor. Atheists do not merely reject religion for themselves—they insist that religion is dangerous. Authors like
Christopher Hitchins, Richard Dawkins, and Samuel Harris are on a rampage to stamp out religion. In the legal arena, atheists have removed prayer and Bible reading from our public schools and filed a multitude of lawsuits to eject religious expression from the public square. Meanwhile, anti-Christian materials corrupt school curriculum—evolution, sex education, homosexuality. Parental complaints fall on deaf ears in the courts of “Christian America.”
Parents have the constitutional right to direct the upbringing of their children in their homes and schools. They should be able to opt out of objectionable programs and actively participate in decisions about what the schools are teaching their children. Government ought to support them—not cram corrupted teachings down the throats of our families. The recent Brown decision affirms this, observing that
…the state has the power to enforce parental prohibitions — to require, for example, that the promoters of a rock concert exclude those minors whose parents have advised the promoters that their children are forbidden to attend. But it does not follow that the state has the power to prevent children from hearing or saying anything without their parents’ prior consent.
If the government starts making it illegal to present certain material to minors on the basis of content or viewpoint – the results won’t necessarily be what Christians would want, especially in today’s secular climate. Christian parents must be vigilant. If they don’t want their children playing violent video games, they need to supervise them—bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It isn’t the government’s job to do that for them.