Buddhism Lite

They may look like ordinary teenagers, but Adam and Kimberly have a secret: They can turn themselves into Ninja superheroes. I’m talking, of course, about the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," of the hugely popular cartoon series. The Rangers have turned up in films, young-adult novels, and as toy action figures. Their likenesses have been splashed on millions of dollars’ worth of T-shirts and pajamas. But parents should beware: The Rangers’ Japanese creators have morphed Buddhist spirituality into the Saturday-morning cartoon. According to the Power Rangers storyline, five teenagers have been recruited to help an intergalactic general named Zordon defeat a sorceress named Rita Repulsa. Whenever Rita shows up, the teens morph into their alternate identities. There’s plenty of back-flipping, karate kicks, and sheer silliness. But mixed in with the stunts are elements of Buddhist spirituality. Each of the five Rangers is identified with a mystical animal spirit, called a Zord. For example, Power Ranger Jason draws his power from a red ape, while Adam calls up a black frog. The Rangers dress in the colors of their Zord allies. They often call themselves by the names of their Zords, and even take on animal-like patterns of behavior. When danger threatens, the teenagers use coins and crystals to summon their animal counterparts, who help them morph into superheroes possessing supernatural, animal-like abilities. Where do these ideas come from? They echo the training of ancient Japanese Ninja warriors, who learned a mystical, esoteric form of Buddhism. Ninja warriors were expected to abandon all personal identity in order to become one with the elemental power that they believed pervaded the universe. To connect with this power, the warrior called on an animal-like spirit guide, or Wisdom Being, each having a distinctive symbol and form of dress. The Ninja warrior summoned the spirit guide by dressing like it, behaving like it, and meditating on its symbol. Do you see the parallels? When the Power Rangers call on their animal spirit guides, they’re echoing the behavior of the Ninja warriors who summoned up demonic spirit guides. This appeal to spirits illustrates the way that even the most innocent-looking children’s programs introduce our kids to alternatives to the Gospel. This is not just harmless, Saturday-morning make-believe. Programs like the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" familiarize kids with alien belief systems. They establish a beachhead for false spirituality. If you don’t want your own kids absorbing Buddhist spirituality on Saturday morning, introduce them to some different action heroes. For example, slip into the VCR the adaptation of the Book of Virtues video series. These videotapes give kids images of true heroes: men and women who rely on courage and perseverance—not on supernatural powers. Or give your kids The Chronicles of Narnia videotapes, about four children who face witches and wizards with the help not of a demonic spirit guide but of a Christ-figure. Don’t let false religion gain a beachhead in your kid’s entertainment. Turn off the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers"—and turn your kids on to superheroes who glorify Christ.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary