It was during the 1970’s that I saw my first horror movie. I was still in primary school and it scared the life out of me.
Bizarrely, it was a Christian movie, A Thief in the Night, and I saw it at church. The movie centers around a woman named Patty Knight, a half-hearted Christian who wakes up one morning to discover her husband, along with millions of other people, has disappeared. They have been “raptured”, removed from the earth to be with Christ while the rest of humanity suffers under the reign of the Antichrist. In the movie the Antichrist is UNITE, United Nations Imperium of Total Emergency, which demands that every person receive its mark or be arrested. Realising her committed Christian friends were right about faith in Jesus, Patty refuses to take the mark and spends the movie being hunted by UNITE. At the end of the movie, Patty finds herself on a bridge surrounded by UNITE. Rather than receive their mark Patty jumps to her death.
At this point Patty wakes up to discover she was dreaming…only now that she is awake she discovers her husband has gone, the rapture has taken place, and everything she dreamed is now coming true.
This B-grade Christian horror flick left me disturbed. If I got home from school and I couldn’t immediately see mum, I’d anxiously call “Mum! Mum!” until she answered and I knew I hadn’t been left behind.
I look back on it now and can’t believe the leaders in my church thought it was appropriate to show this movie to kids. Maybe it was because it was a time when fear was seen as a legitimate way to motivate people into following Jesus. But really? Scaring kids?
What’s more, the whole thing only served to undermine faith, to make me wonder if I was committed enough. And who knew how much enough was?
But it’s not only B-grade horror movies we should ask about. I reckon there are some parts of the bible that are not appropriate for children. Do we really think 8 year olds have the maturity to process the attempted genocide in the Old Testament. Is there not something disturbing about 7 year olds reenacting the slaughter of Goliath?
Just because it’s in the bible doesn’t mean its right to teach it to kids. Because as well as scaring them, we risk scarring them.