Re: Jesus Camp

Jesus Camp: a.k.a. Be Afraid—Be Very Afraid

So I just saw the documentary Jesus Camp. And it was eye opening. And shocking. I’d had a little bit of exposure before, because my neighbors in Goldsboro, NC were similar to the kids featured in Jesus Camp. The eldest girl, who was maybe 11, was all about this stuff. No Harry Potter or rock and roll for her. No jeans—they can wear these type of longer shorts (I can’t remember the name) and they went to church every Sunday and did the Sunday school thing… and in fact I believe their school was a part of the church.

Oh, and my sisters and I actually attended one of their children centered Sunday programs. Did I feel uncomfortable? You better believe it. But I did not then imagine what I saw on Jesus Camp.

To be fair what Jesus Camp illustrated was a pretty biased view. But the summer camp and those kids do exist. People like Becky Fischer do exist.

So I’m probably about to give spoilers in this—so if you think you may watch this and don’t want to know too much pre-seeing the film then please don’t read this.

Here’s the problem with what I’m seeing.

These children are not given a chance to be kids. Becky Fischer’s thought process is this: our enemies (read: Muslims) are using children as a primary fighting force with their religion, so why shouldn’t Christianity?

The kids are told things I would not tell my sister until she is ready to hear them. an example: the abortion issue.

These children are told without question that abortion is wrong. That the fetuses aborted could have been among them as good worshipping Christians. I understand abortion is a hugely controversial issue and do not want to turn this into a discussion about the issue.

What I want to say with this is that these kids are being exploited into being used for a cause they cannot fully understand. They do not understand every side of the issue, many because they are too young for it and those that would be old enough to grasp the complexities have not been told about the opposing sides.

I saw some kids used this way and have heard about it in other cases. Imagine being 7-years-old and being told something like this: “Those homosexuals are getting together to do sinful acts (Pride Parade) and you should come with me to tell them just how wrong this is, and how sinful this is.”

But apparently this is okay. As Becky Fischer notes, “every other religion is indoctrinating their kids” (so why shouldn’t we?)

She also seems to think that equality is overrated.

“I think democracy is the greatest political system on earth, but that’s just it—it’s just what’s on earth and it’s ultimately designed to destroy itself because we have to give everyone equal freedom and ultimately that’s going to destroy us, you know, and so the perfect world is not going to be perfect until Jesus is Lord”

Now what is more scary than Becky Fischer?

The fact that these kids are being spoon-fed this.

One young girl, named Rachel, was so into this evangelical belief that her dream job would be that of a way to get people to listen to why they should accept religion.

“When I grow up I always thought it would be fun to be one of those people who paint nails and stuff because you would get a chance to tell people about the Lord, you know, with Christian music in the background…they wouldn’t have that many walls at that moment, they’d just be able to accept.”

And to those kids who didn’t necessarily think along the same lines, Becky Fischer would let them have it:

“There’s some kids here,” she begins, “who go to church all the time, but you’re one thing to your church and another thing when you’re at school with your friends—you’re a phony and a hypocrite. You do things you shouldn’t do, you talk dirty…and it’s time to clean up your act…because we can’t have phonies in the Army of God.”

There was a panel discussion after the screening of the film featuring quite a few religious people—faculty from the religious department, pastors and the most out of place panel member—a graduate student in the history department.

In fact, some students in a comment on the Facebook event wondered if perhaps this event was staged as a “damage control” kind of thing. I definitely don’t think it was that.

Some of the panelists, including a professor in the Religious Studies Department here at UNC, Dr Yaakov Ariel, had not seen the film until this screening. And he too was disturbed, but more on the account that he felt that the filmmakers assumptions were all too evident and not politically neutral.

While I, as I make blatantly clear to anyone who asks, am not religious, I am also not the kind of person who dismisses religion based on a documentary like this. I, as an educated person, am fully aware that there are nuances to every issue, and what one sees on the surface of an issue does not define the issue as a whole.

Evangelical Christians are not always this crazy. They don’t all leave their kids with feelings such as expressed by one of the children in the movie—“Whenever I run into a non-Christian, there’s always something that doesn’t seem right, that makes my spirit feel yucky.”

Some may even go against the conservative right and vote for liberal people.

It all depends on the people and the circumstances that they live in and how they practice their religion.

Some of the panelists made me uncomfortable, as they made clear that there was only one thing they thought was right. one such example was a campus minister, who in response to a comment concerning how people, in believing so strongly their beliefs, went to push their beliefs on others, admitted that he believed that there is indeed “one truth.”

“One is right and one is wrong.”

While he did agree that the film was sad—fear, he said, should not be used in such a way. “It’s sad to see people abusing the power of Jesus,” he said.

I understand that people have their beliefs and think they are more than welcome to them. But my problem lies with the people that think a)their belief is the only correct one and thus divides the people who believe as ‘us’ versus the nonbelievers—‘them’ and b)that those without their beliefs must be converted to believe the same, because what they think has no value because it is completely incorrect and thus contemptible.

One of the mothers of the children in the film summarized the us versus them idea.

“(It’s) us against them—you’re with us or against us,” she said calmly, having made just made a sandwich for lunch.

San Francisco—March 23, 2007. Hundreds of teenagers gathered at the City Hall to make their voices heard.

A good thing?

Sure, it’s nice to know that the youth are taking a stand.

But the question is—what is it they are standing up for?

The students were part of an organization known as BattleCry. A Christian organization headed by Ron Luce, it is little more than another version of Fischer’s Jesus Camp.

Here are my final words on this topic and then I am done. Completely.

It’s hard to bring rational thought into a belief when it is so tied to emotion and fear.

It’s hard to question one’s beliefs when a preacher is one that has the charisma to make you listen and to call you hypocrites and phonies and makes you feel wretched if you aren’t conforming. Face it, people do want acceptance, and unless they are given the opportunity or make an opportunity for them to get out of such a situation, they will stick with it, in order to belong.

And without some rational thought in one’s beliefs, I find it hard to respect their beliefs. I do respect Christians and otherwise religious people, but not if they are under the idea of blind faith. I respect those who have questioned their faith, have had a serious dialogue with themselves, the people they talk to, learn from, etc. I respect those that through that dialogue have come to understand what it really means to be religious in the modern century and have also come to the understanding that most religious, beneath it all, really are not that different. and that people are people, regardless of their faith, their skin color, their sexuality, their chasteness versus promiscuity.

Seriously people, wake UP. Learn to respect people.

And I will reiterate this quote upon finishing:

Fischer:

“I think democracy is the greatest political system on earth, but that’s just it—it’s just what’s on earth and it’s ultimately designed to destroy itself because we have to give everyone equal freedom and ultimately that’s going to destroy us, you know, and so the perfect world is not going to be perfect until Jesus is Lord”

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2 thoughts on “Re: Jesus Camp

  1. Rev. Don Spitz March 27, 2007 / 2:11 pm

    Re: Jesus Camp Christians have as much right to vote as you pro-sodomite, pro-abortion babykilling, anti-Christian bigots like you.
    SAY THIS PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I am a sinner and am headed to eternal hell because of my sins. I believe you died on the cross to take away my sins and to take me to heaven. Jesus, I ask you now to come into my heart and take away my sins and give me eternal life.

  2. Bec May 6, 2007 / 2:12 pm

    ..Gawd! Creepy! People who are over-the-top, blindly, black-and-white-ly religious scare me.
    Oh yeah, ‘it’s totally logical that since our enemies are using children, we should do the same thing’ *rolls eyes*. I think it’s really unfair to get kids to campaign against heavy issues like abortion and homosexuality when they haven’t even had the life experience or chance to decide for themselves what they believe in. It’s like brainwashing. Which is exactly what this Rachel girl sounds like she wants to do with the Christian conversions while nail painting!
    Reminds me of this creepy “God Warrior” lady off Wife Swap – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCODIhAXbQM

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