can’t see the forest

Evangelism Gone Horribly, Horribly Wrong: Jesus Camp

Of available clips from the new, highly controversial documentary Jesus Camp, I had a hard time choosing which one was more disturbing to me: images of young children screaming “one nation under God” before a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush, or this:

So I put up the less disturbing clip.

The bad news about this flick is that people without personal experience in and among American Christian life may be led to believe that this brand of sickenengly extreme and inappropriately nationalist evangelism is anything approaching the norm. It’s not. What you are seeing here is, in my view, tantamount to child abuse.

The good news is that—if I may be so optimistic—perhaps this look at one slice of what Bush has referred to as another coming “great awakening” will give pause to all Americans as to the dangers of further encroachment by the Church upon the State. Especially when nine year-olds are being preyed upon.


8 Responses

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  1. namasikho said, on 9/30/06 at 2:28 pm

    I think that’s an optimistic view. I’m South African and in 1984, at the tender age of 11, I was exposed to something not totaly dissimilar. During a service at our large ‘interdenominational’ church, we watched a play that essentially condemned us to hell if we didn’t give our lves to God. This was a church full of adults and children but at the end, when people were asked to stay behind, the majority of us were under twelve. Our indoctrination was complete and thorough. It was propaganda at its finest.
    This was an event that occured over 20 years ago in a very unsophisticated place with no access to the type of multimedia technology available today. I can’t help but imagine that the practice is extremely pervasive worlwide.

  2. tellitlikeitis said, on 9/30/06 at 2:33 pm

    You’re right, it’s an optimistic view. Because, particularly when we’re talking about young children, most of them just couldn’t imagine, no matter how hard they might try, that this lady might have some sort of sick personal agenda–or, even more subtly, that she might genuinely believe in what she is doing, and is just deranged. Those possibilities don’t occur to them, nor, evidently, do they occur to the parents involved. It’s very frightening. And very sad.

  3. Gracie said, on 10/1/06 at 2:01 pm

    I believe you’re being optimistic, Curt.

    Maybe it has to do with my location as we’ve seen an increase in extreme Christian fundamentalism that’s staggering. Two of my closest friends, (former friends now) have fallen prey to these vultures. I watched the transformation evolve quickly and it was NOT a pretty picture. The damage these groups are causing to individuals and society in general can’t be easily dismissed. Also, they would be considered mentally ill according to the guidelines listed in the DSM-IV. Scary!

    Sorry for the rant. I realize this sounds harsh but it’s an issue I feel strongly about.

  4. tellitlikeitis said, on 10/1/06 at 3:13 pm

    Well, I don’t think that’s a rant, I think it’s a fairly objective point of view.

    Let’s call my optimism “closely guarded.” My thinking is that many of our more respectable Christian friends might take offense at this kind of trash and decry it for what it is. As one commentator put it in this very film, “If evangelicals vote, they determine the election.” And in this country we’ve seen that there’s a lot of truth to that.

    The big danger here, I think, is the kind of social impact this sort of thing is going to have not next year but ten or twenty years down the road. Because in clips like these you see the intensity of the mental warfare, but you don’t really objectively get to look at the effects it has on the children as they go about their daily lives…in other parts of the film you do, and that’s what’s truly scary to me.

    So I agree with you, I’m being optimistic on this one, for sure. Not without serious caveats. I don’t have the link handy, but if you haven’t yet, you shoudl check out Steven Colbert’s comments on the film.

    And you’re right, another real danger is that these kinds of transformations generally occur very rapidly and very insidiously, because of basic psychological considerations. Talk about the DSM!

    It has to do with what Chomsky and Trivers were talking about in that post from a couple of weeks ago. So much goes back to that line of reasoning. It’s what Trivers was referring to as the “whether or not to marry Suzy” syndrome. As long as an individual is in deliberation over an issue, the analysis that’s going on is more or less rational, however slanted it might be. But once someone commits to a viewpoint, particularly something heavily infused with so-called “religion,” there isn’t any easy turning back.


  5. Bluebear2 said, on 10/1/06 at 4:46 pm

    Here you go Curt: Colbert – Jesus Camp

    Recently I was at a campground resting in my bed when I over heard the campers next to me. It was several adults with a group of about a dozen teenagers.
    The adults began preaching and intimidating the teenagers much in the same way as your video here.
    The more I listened the more I realized how it was mind control and brainwashing techniques.

  6. tellitlikeitis said, on 10/1/06 at 4:57 pm


  7. Skip Conover said, on 10/20/06 at 1:24 pm

    Curt: I just found this as I was writing about evangelical Christianity today. I tell the story about my own daughter (who I do not clearly identify), who I took out for dinner on her 22nd birthday. At the end of the evening, she told me she thinks I am going to Hell. On my way back home that night, I thought to myself, if Mephistopheles was plop down in the seat next to me and make me the Faustian bargain that my daughters would not believe I was going to Hell for the rest of my life, I would sign in blood! He didn’t; and I haven’t yet. In my blog today, I call this militant evangelism.
    Best regards, Skip
    PS My daughter visited some of these Christian camps during her mid-teens–not at my behest!

  8. Jennifer Otis said, on 1/18/07 at 1:44 am

    Google is the best search engine

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