Exodus 20:5, "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me."
I've been thinking a lot about idolatry in our society today. Even though in Acts 15 we are clearly instructed that we are not to commit idolatry we still do. It happens so often that unless we open our eyes and LOOK for it, it seems to pass us by unnoticed. Here are some examples I've been thinking of...
1. Waldorf Education and Graven Images
When studying the Norse myths, the Greek myths, or cultures like Egypt we often have children draw pictures of these stories and their gods. As an alternative you can read the myths and discuss their context culturally and historically but have your children draw pictures of the people from the culture, the architecture, the animals or the landscape instead of the gods.
2. TV and Media
Shows like American Idol are clearly idolatry but watch out for other pop culture icons like Hannah Montana or Justin Bieber. If it's a real person or character played by a human and they are on your children's PJs, or bedding, the "like" of this character may be staying dangerously close to idolatry.
3. Comics and Toys
Comic characters such as Thor are based on pagan gods but others are more subtle. Figures that appear as "all powerful" that insight worship-like attitudes in your child (where they MUST own every thing related to it, they must collect it or they must own "all" of it) I think are best avoided. People have hurt each other in stores over things like Dancing Elmo dolls and Furbies. This is subtle and dangerous idolatry. We should discuss this with our children.
I caught myself just the other day saying "So-in-so is my idol." Nope, not cool. Gotta knock that off.
5. Statues, Posters and pictures
When we decorate our house what are we decorating it with? It's fine to like movies, stories, characters and art but if they are filling the imagery in your home instead of the imagery of home, family and God then you may be putting your emphasis on the wrong things. Be careful when buying statues for decorating places like gardens. Some examples are Aphrodite, Buddha, Cupid, etc.
6. New Age and Native America Idols
Yoga has some stances which relate to the Sun God, some Tarot cards feature pagan gods as do some necklaces and art on book covers. Native American gods have been reprinted in art, books and logos. While a picture of a buffalo isn't a problem if that buffalo was created, labeled or intended to be the Lakota god Tatanka then it's an idol. Also some people may choose to avoid ceremonial items such as dream catchers or engraved stones.
7. Company Logos
The Starbucks logo is the Goddess Astarte. The Chicago Bulls logo is a red bull (quite Satanic), same with the drink Red Bull. Many liquors feature Roman or Greek gods.
"By Neptune's beard!"
...and the like. Also our calendar and days of the week is based on Roman gods. When convenient you may wish to use a Jewish calendar.
The Percy Jackson series revolves around the idea that the Greek gods are real and other fictional stories, particularly in the sci fi fantasy genre utilize other gods in their plots.
10. Boy Scouts
Oddly yes, some Boy Scout camps and mascots are named after mythical gods and some badges require the making if things like totem poles.
11. Statue of Liberty, Scales of Justice and other American Symbols
The Statue of Liberty and the Scales of Justice are pagan gods. There are also pagan gods featured on monuments such as Thomas Paine's grave, the Statue of freedom atop the Capital building, the statue of the god Mars in the entrance to the capital building, and the Spirit of Justice in the Great Hall of Justice.
The XFL team the San Francisco demons.
XFL Las Vegas Outlaws is a bull skull with red eyes.
The Rugby team the Melbourne Storm depicts a god-like figure throwing thunder bolts form a cloud. The NCAA Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils logo is a devil.
The NBA Golden State Warriors features a guy wielding power over a thunderbolt.
NCAA Arizona State Sun Devils.
The Utah State Aggies is a bull with a human like body.
NCAA Duke Blue Devils.
Even when sports team logos aren't specifically other gods or devils any logo can be used in a fanatical and idolatrous fashion so caution is needed.
Things I personally don't consider idolatry
Symbols Loosely Associated with Paganism
While the depiction of another god is quite clearly problematic often the symbols are not. Many cultures borrowed symbols from each other and many symbols have modern implications that didn't exist 100 years ago due to movies, books and media. Suns, stars, pentacles, pentagrams, sunstones, spirals, chevrons, fairies, gnomes, trolls, dragons, etc unless depicted specifically as a god are really not a problem in my view and many of these symbols have deep roots in Christo/Judaism.
Harry Potter does depict witchcraft however no other gods are mentioned and they celebrate Christmas so I think clearly it's not idolatrous.
Halloween can be a problem if one dresses up like a god or hangs up pictures of devils but on the whole Halloween to me, is not a problem. It is based on a pagan holiday but it's also based on a Christian one too (Dia del Los Meurtos) so again, for me it's not a problem unless you make it one.
Yes, we all know Christ wasn't really born on Christmas, or wasn't likely to have been anyway, and there are a lot of pagan symbols that are used in Christmas however, again, none specifically gods so I think it seems A OK. Most cultures have had holidays in the deep winter time, holidays celebrating light (which was scarce at the time) that doesn't mean that any and all winter holidays are pagan or idolatrous.
The name of Easter is really the only problematic thing. The name can mean a Germanic goddess but it can also mean east, dawn or opening. The symbols of fertility such as painted eggs and rabbits are symbols but not the gods themselves so it seems fine with me.
Just some personal thoughts. We must all come to our own conclusions through prayer :)