Toys for Tots rejects talking Jesus dolls
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A talking Jesus doll has been turned down by the Marine Reserves' Toys for Tots program.
A Los Angeles company offered to donate 4,000 of the 1 foot-tall dolls, which quote Bible verses, for distribution to needy children this holiday season. The battery-powered Jesus is one of several dolls manufactured by one2believe, a division of the Valencia-based Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co., based on biblical figures.
But the charity balked because of the dolls' religious nature.
Toys are donated to kids based on financial need and "we don't know anything about their background, their religious affiliations," said Bill Grein, vice president of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, in Quantico, Virginia.
As a government entity, Marines "don't profess one religion over another," Grein said Tuesday. "We can't take a chance on sending a talking Jesus doll to a Jewish family or a Muslim family."
Michael La Roe, director of business development for both companies, said the charity's decision left him "surprised and disappointed."
"The idea was for them to be three-dimensional teaching tools for kids," La Roe said. "I believe as a churchgoing person, anyone can benefit from hearing the words of the Bible."
According to the company's Web site
, the button-activated, bearded Jesus, dressed in hand-sewn cloth outfits and sandals, recites Scripture such as "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." It has a $20 retail value.
Grein questioned whether children would welcome a gift designed for religious instruction. "Kids want a gift for the holiday season that is fun," he said.
The program distributed 18 million stuffed animals, games, toy trucks and other gifts to children in 2005.
This story is true "holiday strangeness" on so many different levels...
Jesus isn't "fun" enough by Marine Corps standards?
Of course the Marine Corps doesn't want to expose tots to the Prince of Peace! If they take his teachings too literally (especially the Beatitudes), the tots won't grow up to be Marines.
Who would actually buy such a tacky gift for their kids (besides Ned Flanders)?