New Christian Children's Book Contest to Vaccinate Against Secular Humanism

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Like the other writing contests that Athanatos Christian Ministries host, their new Christian children's book contest looks beyond the entertainment value of stories, and to their ability to promote or defend values and beliefs.

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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.'

Writing contests abound on the Internet and Athanatos Christian Ministries is no stranger to them, heading into their fifth year of hosting them. As with their other contests, they aren't interested only in good storytelling. Like them, the children's book contest encourages the author to consider the book's impact not just on the reader, but the wider culture.

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 likens a quality Christian children's book to a vaccination: "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."

On their website, ACM describes that one of the purposes of the contest is to "encourage" Christians to participate in the culture in meaningful ways with works of art that exhibit excellence.

Executive Director Anthony 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."

To give authors time to submit a quality book, ACM is allowing a longer submission period than they typically allow for their contests, nine months instead of six months. The deadline is June 1st, 2013. The website with more information

Past winners of ACM's contests have gone on to be published by the ministry. That includes Shirley Tucker's "Diamonds in the Dust" and Jamie Greening's "The Haunting of Pastor Butch Gregory." Three more will be published in in the coming months. Horvath points out that their children's book contest holds out the possibility that the winners may also be published by ACM, or at least an offer may be extended.

"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.

The encouragement to authors is significant, though. ACM has distributed over ten thousand dollars in cash awards since they began hosting contests. Winning books and anthologies are then distributed at no additional cost to entrants, generating recognition and helping the rest of the contest participants learn from the winning entries.

"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."

Athanatos Christian Ministries is an 'apologetics ministry' that is oriented towards defending and promoting the Christian faith. It was founded in 2008 and hosts online conferences, an online apologetics academy, and publishes a variety of diverse authors.

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