Athanatos Christian Ministries (ACM) is hosting a writing contest for the fifth year. This year the contest involves Christian children’s books and their goal is to fight against secular humanism, “vaccinating children against” secularism. They believe there is a battle over children’s minds and they intend to win, using Richard Dawkins, his children’s book called The Magic of Reality, and his complaints about religious indoctrination as an example of humanism’s war for children’s minds.
ACM's Executive Director Anthony Horvath explains, "There has always been a battle over the minds of children. Atheist Richard Dawkins once complained about 'religious indoctrination,' even while admitting it worked. He said, 'The Jesuit boast, ‘Give me the child for his first seven years, and I’ll give you the man,’ is no less accurate (or sinister) for being hackneyed.' And then Dawkins turned around and published his own children's book. That said, Dawkins doesn't need to worry. Secular Humanism has the situation well in hand. Athanatos Ministries looks to change that, and that's one reason for our new children's book contest."
Horvath considers Christian children’s stories as a means to vaccinate children against secular humanism. They want to present humanism in a “dead form” in the hopes that by presenting it in this manner to young impressionable minds they will grow to view it as toxic and remain Christians for a lifetime.
"By defending various aspects of the Christian worldview early on and presenting the secular humanistic view in its 'dead' form, we'll build a healthy resistance to what we as Christians perceive is a toxic worldview. Most children's books by Christians don't have secular humanism or other challenges to the Christian faith in view at all. Our contest aims to change that."
Horvath and his website encourage Christian parents to participate in the Christian culture in meaningful ways, including with art and literature that exhibits excellence. They want to unite quality storytelling with an understanding of the Gospel.
Horvath says, "It isn't enough to have a good message. In fact, if the quality of our work is poor or mediocre, that in itself constitutes a 'message.' Quality writing and illustrating, which our contest rewards, will more likely succeed in the marketplace. We hope to marry excellence in our craftsmanship with quality of our storytelling and a sound understanding of the Gospel of Christ."
Because the contest involves writers to write a children’s book, ACM will extend the entry time three months longer than past contests. The entry time is usually six months, but this year they lengthened it to nine months.
ACM published past winner’s work and ACM may offer the winners of this contest a chance of having their work published, but their main goal is to affect the culture and win “the raging war on young minds”.
"We have cash awards and some recognition and that's definitely an encouragement to authors, and that's worthy in itself, but if our quest at ACM is to impact the culture, then publishing our winners is a natural step. Innovations in color printing make it possible for us to consider children's books, so with the war over young minds raging, offering this category was probably inevitable," Horvath says.
"Through it all," Horvath says, "we remind our authors to be mindful of the power of stories to shape our culture and our readers. Hopefully, the authors and illustrators in this contest will take to heart ACM's unique emphasis, and we'll see it reflected in the stories they submit."
ACM, founded in 2008, deals with apologetics, which defends and promotes Christianity.