The Frontline Fellowship wants your kids

The most recent newsletter from Dr. Paintball Hammond recycles one of his articles from 2004, which claims that universities are “hijacking our youth“. At the end of another long year of teaching, involving having to confront plenty of mindless prejudice, fundamentalism of various sorts, and deep confusion on how to reach justified conclusions, it’s really quite gratifying to read that we’re apparently doing a fine job. According to Hammond, tertiary education manages to turn three-quarters of believers into sane people (well, to some extent at least):

If any army was to lose three quarters of its forces it would not be considered a defeat -but a disaster. Statistically, 75% of young people from Christian homes who enrol at university are lost to the church.

He unfortunately does not cite the studies that show this, but I’m going to treat it as true, and pin this inspirational paragraph above my office desk to see me through those days when it seems like you’re not getting through to the students at all. Thank you, Dr. Hammond.

Unfortunately, he and his wife are committed to undermining our good work through home schooling and events like their upcoming Summit, which I had the pleasure of speaking at a couple of years ago. If you’ve seen Torchwood: Children of Earth, then you know what my night there was like – lots of sinister, glassy-eyed youth staring at me with confused malice in their eyes.

Dear Lenora (Pastor Paintball’s wife) says that

Men who follow Jesus Christ the dragon-slayer, must themselves become lesser dragon-slayers. And this is why it is absolutely essential for boys to play with wooden swords and plastic guns.

While I don’t have any principled objection to home-schooling, it is saddening that Lenora and Peter’s 4 children are being handicapped so thoroughly by their parents, and that having to tolerate this sort of abuse is a consequence of living in a (roughly) liberal democracy. But given that Frontline is both the name of Dr. Paintball Hammond’s group of evangelical nutters, as well as the name of a product dedicated to ridding your pets of fleas, we should all be quite nervous about rumours of Hammond having previously been involved in gun-running for Sudanese rebels. After all, us reasonable people may appear somewhat flea-like and evil to them at times, and

We want to instill in them a hatred for evil and to have a deep desire to fight it

The Christian faith is in no way pacifistic. The peace that will be ushered in by our great Prince will be a peace purchased with blood.

(that’s Lenora again, on your parental duties to let your kids play with tog guns and swords).

The recipe of a pro-gun stance in a violent country, and encouraging kids to play with guns, while teaching them all sorts of nonsense about their duties to defend that nonsense in the world is a pretty scary one. But if we’re lucky, the Hammond brood will come to UCT, and we’ll see what we can do to save them.

P.S. A colleague from the UCT Atheist and Agnostic Society points out the Frontline Fellowship’s “lying for Jesus” campaign is still going strong: their fictitious account of the aborted debate is still the second link on their home page.

By Jacques Rousseau

Jacques Rousseau teaches critical thinking and ethics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is the founder and director of the Free Society Institute, a non-profit organisation promoting secular humanism and scientific reasoning.