For many of us who were raised Christian, among our favorite memories are those of watching VeggieTales from a VHS tape on a big clunky square TV screen. This was something I did a lot growing up in the 90’s and early 00’s. To be honest, I really enjoyed learning bible stories from talking and singing fruits and vegetables. I fondly remember so many of its silly songs, but there’s one that has always stuck out to me from the rest.
The Bunny Song originates from an episode of VeggieTales called Rack, Shack, and Benny (yes, they’re easier-to-pronounce versions of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego), which is a kid-friendly, veggie-centric adapdation of the story of Daniel 3. In the episode, Rack, Shack, and Benny are employees at a chocolate factory under the supervision of Mr. Nebby K. Nezzer. In celebration of the factory’s 2-millionth chocolate bunny made, the boss requires everyone to bow down and worship a giant bunny statue every time The Bunny Song plays. The three protagonists refuse, and Mr. Nezzer throws them in a furnace, but God saves them. The boss then changes his mind about his evil ways and promotes the three workers.
If you’ve got a half an hour, you can watch the full episode here. It’s pretty funny at times, and it’s not half bad, all things considered.
I’ve wanted to write a post about this song for over two years, because I’d always remembered the catchy but very odd Bunny Song and its message of indoctrinating its listeners into joining a cult where they worship a 90-foot-tall statue of a chocolate bunny. It’s not the kind of thing that you forget. But the real reason that I wanted to write about it was that I see so many parallels between the Bunny and Jesus.
This episode, which is essentially a story of Christian martyrdom in the face of persecution (reminiscent of the religious climates in North Korea and Afghanistan that I described last week), only works for Christians because it is about Christians that are being asked to give up their faith by someone more powerful than they are, but they stand up for God because they really, really believe that he exists.
But the story is stripped of its meaning if you think objectively about the situation. Group A believes in Proposition A. Group B believes in Proposition B, so much so that they try to force Proposition B on everyone, including Group A. Group B even sings, and tries to get Group A to sing, The Bunny Song, which says:
“The bunny, the bunny
Whoa, I love the bunny
I don’t love my mom or my dad, just the bunny
The bunny, the bunny
Yeah, I love the bunny
I gave everything that I had for the bunny
I don’t want no health food when it’s time to feed
A big bag o’ bunnies is all that I need
I don’t want no buddies to come out and play
I’ll sit on my sofa, eat bunnies all day
I won’t go to church, and I won’t go to school
That stuff is for sissies, but bunnies are cool
I don’t want no pickles, I don’t want no honey, I just want a plate and a fork and a bunny
I don’t want a tissue when my nose is runny, I just want a plate and a fork and a bunny
I don’t want to tell you a joke that is funny, I just want a plate and a fork and a bunny
I don’t want to play on a day that is sunny, I just want a plate and a fork and a bunny”
As a kid watching VeggieTales for the first time, I knew this song was messed up. Who loves a chocolate bunny more than their mom or dad, or their education or friends!? (Not to mention the absolute crime of eating a chocolate bunny with a fork, but that’s irrelevant.) It was written to be messed up (and actually had to be rewritten because little kids kept singing “I don’t love my mom or my dad!” out in public). But Group A isn’t always Christians, and Group B isn’t always dictators, or pagan worshippers, or atheists, or whoever else God thinks is evil.
As an adult, I remembered this song, and I just thought, “Wow. Christians act about their religion the same way that Mr. Nezzer acted about The Bunny.” It was the greatest of ironies. The Bunny Song sounds to me just like a Christian hymn. Does the bible not teach people to put their faith above their family, or their friends? It does, several times, most clearly in 2 John 1:9-11:
9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. (NKJV)
Christianity conveys the same message that the Bunny Song does, only that the groups have now been flipped. You’re not to allow any unbeliever into your house, because he is evil. It doesn’t matter if they’re family, because your religion comes first. Suddenly this VeggieTales message isn’t so cute. It’s just messed up. If the apostate equivalent of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego simply do not believe, because they can’t bring themselves to believe in something that they don’t see evidence for, is it right for the Christian equivalent of Nebuchadnezzar to throw them in the furnace?
Religious differences will always exist. I’d venture to say that no matter who is on which side, no one should ever be throwing anyone else into the furnace. And no one should be putting their religious beliefs above their family, friends, or education. Debate and interfaith relationships are healthy, and isolating others with different beliefs is tribalistic, archaic, and no way to live.