German family ministry slams “atheism for kids” book

February 4, 2008

Cover of the book “How do I get to God? asks the little pig”Is this book too subversive for children to read? How do I get to God? asks the little pig looks like a typical children’s book, with a cover drawing showing a cute little pig gazing skywards. But the subtitle hints there may be something different inside. It reads: A book for all those who don’t want to be fooled. This is a book about atheism for children, a “Dawkins for kids” as one reviewer dubbed it.

The book tells the story of a little pig and a hedgehog that go looking for God. They meet a priest, a rabbi and a mufti, all of whom are portrayed as crazy. More on that below.

Germany’s Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth wants the book placed on a list of literature deemed dangerous for children. Not just because it is atheist but, the ministry said, because it mocks religion. “In the book, the three great world religions Christianity, Islam and Judaism are scorned,” it said in its application for putting the book on the danger list. “The distinctive characteristics of each religion are ridiculed. Especially the Jewish faith is slurred by the portrayal and characterisation of the rabbi.” Further on, it clearly says that the portrayal of the “mad rabbi” and the details mentioned about Jews make the book anti-Semitic.

Author Michael Schmidt-Salomon says he has received so many emails since the book came out in October 2007 that he can’t answer them all. In an FAQ on his website, he flatly rejects the criticism: “I don’t ridicule religions, they are ridiculous all by themselves.” As for the charge of anti-Semitism, he says:”Since 1994, I Michael Schmidt-Salomonhave regularly been cursed as a ‘Jewish pig’ and threatened massively because of my Jewish-sounding name. So I claim the right for myself to openly criticise those Orthodox Jews, as well as fundamentalist Christians and Muslims, who are struck by divine madness. This naturally has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.”

Deutsche Welle has a story in English about the little piggy book and the uproar it has caused. Salomon’s website in German has several illustrations showing the priest and rabbi and an FAQ responding to the emails he’s received. There’s also a website for the book called ferkelbuch.de (“piglet book”) with a zipped press kit (Download der Pressemappe) with the ministry’s letter and other information.

The “new atheists” have been quite successful recently with books criticising religion for adults. Do you think there should be atheist books for children as well?

4 comments

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I’ll reserve judgement on the book until I read it- but for atheist books for kids, of course! Books are for whoever is willing to read them.

Posted by Samuel Skinner | Report as abusive

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If books are for all who want to read them, should we then allow children to choose pornographic publications also? Get REAL!

Posted by Anne | Report as abusive

Why shouldn’t there be books about atheism for kids? I haven’t read the book in question (I can’t read German), but I see nothing wrong with the general idea. There are thousands, if not millions, pro-religion books for kids. And people get into a fuss about one (one!) anti-religion book and start comparing it to pornography?

I can read german and I have this book. What really needs to be understood is that this book is not about Atheism.
It is Antitheism. It’s the attempt to explain to children that religion is something for fools, idiots and/or mad people. Nobody argues here why he doesn’t believe in god or why he things religion is wrong or incorrect. It’s a direct attempt to bring the same argument that every teenager has to face today when they go to college, to even younger minds: “Your are stupid if you belief”
The good news about this book is, that it is an excellent tool to teach our young kids Apologetics. This book shows even young kids the difference between a rethorical and a logical argument. Even so this book was ment to promote disbelief, it helped me to teach my six year old and made his belief in God even stronger.

Posted by Volker | Report as abusive

[...] for this story: Reuters Faith World, and Deutsche [...]