Yesterday, I met with the mother of one of my potential players for the library Dungeons and Dragons game. She had sent me an email a week or so ago saying that she did not want her son playing in the campaign for somewhat cryptic reasons (having to do with 'leveling up (?)' and 'not their kind of game').
After clarification, she told me that it was for religious reasons. What she and her husband knew of Dungeons and Dragons was that it was a gateway drug into unsavory, non-christian activity and that kids who played couldn't distinguish fantasy and reality. Thus, it was something that she wanted to keep her kids away from.
I can't say that I'm not disappointed. As much as we would hate to admit it, Dungeons and Dragons still carries a stigma among most people that it will never get away from. If anything, the game's disappearance from the public eye has ingrained these assumptions among mainstream America. So far, since I've started asking kids who visit the library if they'd be interested, I've heard about its age, its nerdy nature and now its unchristian associations. In order to break these assumptions, you've just got to be as honest and open as possible. I told the kid's mother that role-playing games have been a really positive, creative influence on my life in the 10 or so years that I've been reading and playing them. I may not agree with her decision, but I respect it and I hope that she'll at least think about it more positively in the future.
In closing, I'd like to post the Dungeons and Dragons controversies page from Wikipedia, which is what I showed my boss after we talked with our concerned mother. We may think of stuff like Dark Dungeons and Mazes and Monsters as ridiculous, but we must always, always remember that for some, this is all that they know about D&D.
It is up to us to challenge that perception.