On Easter Sunday, my family and I attended services at a local church. For the purpose of this blog, the church will remain nameless as will the people we met there to avoid any unforeseen backlash. I will say this is a church we've been to a few times before, however it had been somewhere in the neighborhood of a year since we last attended services there. What transpired near the end of the roughly one-hour service was enough to keep me from going back.

Let me start by saying there are two discussions I generally don't get into, those involving politics and those involving religion. For one thing, I'm a terrible debater, but the main reason being that I've found everyone has different beliefs with each, they're quite passionate about those beliefs, and there's usually nothing that can be said to sway their opinion. While I may not agree with what you belive, I respect your right to have those beliefs. This blog has nothing to do beliefs. No, this blog centers around a decision that was made for the Easter service that I don't agree with.

Everything started out normally. The band played a few songs to start things off and the pastor's sermon focused on those among us who are aware of Jesus' story and on the outside appear to be followers, but may not have truly given themselves to Christ, you know, normal church stuff.

Then things took a different turn. At the conclusion of his sermon, the pastor nodded to back of the room. The lights dimmed and on each of the two projector screens on either side of the stage, the entire crucifixion scene from Passion of the Christ began to play.

I should mention that I have never seen the film, so I don't know if the clip shown was as it runs in the film or if it was a few different scenes spliced together for this particular presentation. In the event that you're like me and haven't seen it either, allow me to paint the picture of what we saw. The scene opens with a close up of a badly battered and bloodied Christ (played by actor Jim Caviezel, above) as he his being violently whipped by Roman soldiers. Each crack of the whip opening a fresh wound complete with blood splatter. A graphic scene even by today's standards. After about 2-3 minutes, the clip cuts to Jesus struggling to carry the cross through the streets, his face slashed and bloodied with his right eye black and blue and nearly swollen shut.

This leads to the actual crucifixion. Jesus is laid upon the cross as they show a close up of the large metal nails being hammered through one of his hands and his feet. From there his side is pierced open with a spear where a wine-like substance sprays into the faces of the mourners below. The scene ends with a shot inside the tomb with the shroud he was wrapped in collapsing to the ground as he re-enters the shot.

Before I go any further, let me say that I don't get offended easily and the scene itself isn't what bothered me. It was the fact that they decided to show this nearly 10 minute footage (from a 'R' rated movie, by the way) with children younger than 10 years of age in room, my own 5 year old daughter included, with absolutely no warning.


Scariest. Costume. Ever. (Youtube)

Over the past year or so, my daughter has been known to get freaked out quite easily. Halloween costumes send her into a tizzy. After my wife and I explained (as best we could to a 5 year old) the plot of The Hunger Games before seeing it a week and a half ago,  she didn't want us to go based on whatever imagery she managed to conjure up in her head even after we explained it's all make believe. With that in mind, as soon as the first sight of Christ's bloodied face was shown, I immediately looked down at her sitting next to me. She was fixated on the screen, clearly caught of guard by what was being shown. My wife leaned down and told her to close her eyes. Shortly thereafter, I told her to put her jacket over her head. That jacket never moved until I leaned in and told her the video was over which is when she climbed up on my wife's lap and buried her face into my wife's shoulder. "She's shaking," my wife said. That's all it took to get my blood to a steady 212 degrees. You can do whatever you want to me, but do something that has a negative effect on my kids and we have an issue.

At the conclusion of the video, the pastor returned to the stage and acknowledged that the scene was graphic, but that he felt it was the best depiction of what took place that day some 2,000+ years ago. At that point, it didn't matter what he said, I was ready to go.

It's perfectly natural to ask why I didn't just take my daughter out of the room. The honest answer is that I don't know. It could have been that I was trying to wrap my mind around the fact that the video was being shown or maybe I thought it wouldn't last that long. Either way, hindsight being 20/20, I would have left the room with her had I known what was getting ready to happen.

I realize everyone raises their children differently. There may have been parents in the room perfectly OK with their children watching the video solely based on it's historic significance and I'm fine with that. How they raise their children is none of my business. However, for those of us that don't allow our children to see that type of imagery because we don't think their minds are quite mature enough to separate fantasy from reality, a head's up beforehand would have been, at the very least, a nice courtesy.

I don't know, maybe I'm blowing the whole thing out of proportion. Maybe I'm sheltering my kids from the harsh realities of life, what do you think?