Many of us remember Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Brother Bear, Sister Bear, and Honey Bear. Up until 2005 when Stan Berenstain passed away the Berenstain Bears had appeared in well over 100 books, three TV series and several specials and half a dozen computer games. They entertained and educated children on countless topics important to them from homework and friends to stealing, teasing and other life issues that affect them. When Stan Berenstain died his son Michael Berenstain took over and, unfortunately, is a Christian fundamentalist. So instead of being interesting and useful to children we see titles such as: The Berenstain Bears: God Loves You, The Berenstain Bears Say Their Prayers and The Berenstain Bears Faithful Friends.

While I appreciate and would fight for the rights that allow Michael Berenstain to publish just about anything he wants there are two major issues with this kind of change in a children's classic:

Indoctrination

This is as put in the Wikipedia: "Indoctrination is the process of inculcating ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or a professional methodology (see doctrine).It is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned" (Stress mine).

Even if Christianity wasn't a leftover ideology of uneducated, desert peasants over two thousand years ago that promotes intolerance and ignorance to use an already popular children’s book series to expose vulnerable, growing minds to religion before they are old enough to decide to on their own is disgraceful.

Legacy

What would Stan think? He never once used his children's books to further a religion. I could not find any evidence that he wanted the Barenstain Bears to go in the direction his son Michael has taken them. Stan used his bears to educate children on matters that are important to them. To use them instead to further a religion is to shame his legacy. Shame on you Micheal Barenstein

I grew with the Barenstain Bears and I am very disappointed to have to say that my children will never get to experience them for fear of confusing and quite frankly boring my children. Children need to learn how to share, tie their shoes and do their homework not how to pray or that an unprovable, supernatural being loves them.

So, I say again: Shame on you Michael Barenstain, shame on you.

 

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Comment by Megan Church on August 23, 2011 at 12:08am

I find this to be a wretched blow to my childhood. Like many, I grew up with these characters and they managed for many, many years to stay wholesome without lending to one specific religion. I was able to let it go that at the very end of their Christmas movie, they referenced the classic Nativity Christmas star, but this is going way beyond that boundary. I suppose the next thing to happen will be Spongebob Catholicpants...*sigh*

Comment by Doubting Thomas on August 23, 2011 at 6:52am

I get a little angry anytime children are deliberately being influenced in this way. I also kind of wonder: do kids even care? do they really want to read about religion? I would imagine for most the answer would be no. So this, on top of everything else, is a total waste.

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