I know, I know, the title is terrible and mean-spirited, but they are horrible. I just finished watching the movie "Jesus Camp". A friend had recommended it to me a year or so ago, and I saw it tonight at the movie store and decided to rent it, thinking I would be laughing my ass off. For the first two scenes or so, I was. But very soon I realized the film was not a comedy, but rather a tragedy, or maybe a horror, I haven't decided yet.
It is a film, very well made by the way, about the evangelical demographic in America, and how the adults of this demographic are "teaching" their children to literally pray for America to be "revived" and to "return" to being a christian nation. I have never wanted to live in another country more than I do right now; however, I have also never wanted to offer resistance to lunacy more than I do right now either, and it would be hard to justify criticism of a certain populace within this country if I no longer were in this country.
I am so sad for the children in this movie. These kids have bought the evangelical bullshit message hook, line and sinker, and they think (as do their parents) that they "decided" on this position of their own accord, through the diligent efforts of both their parents and the pastor of a christian children's camp, to willfully indoctrinate them into thinking the things they now have no choice but to think. I mean the parents really believe they have raised their kids to "choose" to be evangelical christians. These are preteen kids, kids who joyfully and willingly preach to other kids, put on puppet shows about how the world is going to end just as soon as enough people pray for jesus to come back and think they have supernatural abilities such as jibber-jabbering literally in blatherous nonsense (which they call speaking in tongues, mind you, the sounds they make (as do their parents) are NOT long-deceased languages or even remnants of languages, they are just nonsense vocables), being able to prophecy (mind you, the prophecies these kids give are always given in the most vague and generalized manner, exactly like astrologers give their "readings", and never are they checked up on later to verify their accuracy) and "discerning of spirits", whatever the hell that means (the little girl who claimed she had this "gift" also clearly had no idea what the hell such a set of words were possibly referring to, you could see it on her face and hear it in her voice). The kids go to a camp in North Dakota for, I guess a week, and get preached to every night about sin and the punishment that accompanies it. The "pastor" lady even consciously picks a graphic of the word death (the wage of sin according to Romans 6:23) that has, what she described as, dripping blood falling off the letters of the word. I mean she actually typed the word, and then purposefully chose the bloody font for this particular slide in her powerpoint show she was preparing for the kids to see that evening. The kids were psychologically beaten up with the idea that if they had ever been or were currently being "phony" in their claims to "righteousness" that their hypocrisy was in need of being cleansed, literally. She had those kids come up and hold their hands out so that she could pour water from a water bottle over them to "wash" the kids' hands clean of the sin of hypocrisy. Needless to say, but I'll be damned if I'm not going to say it anyway, these kids were in tears at these sessions, and they clearly wanted to be. That is what has incensed me so much. These poor children, only a little older than my own son, were bawling over their sinfulness, how bad they were as people, and the adults were not only allowing this to take place, they were actually CAUSING it to take place. The had not only hoodwinked their kids into thinking they were terrible people, but they had, even worse, taught their kids that by recognizing their own horridness, they could then be "fixed" if only they prayed real hard for god to "forgive" them. And so, these kids weren't crying because they were afraid, they were crying because they were happy. They had a way out of going to hell. These were tears of unbridled relief and subsequent gratitude. I absolutely hate the practice of ridicule in education, and the evangelical contingent in this country is absolutely mired in it.
First: Get them to believe they are going to burn in hell for forever, just because they were born. Make them think that through no fault of their own, they have to suffer the worst tortures imaginable, eternally.
Second: Get them to accept this fate through constant reminders of their innate sinfulness, until they have no mind to analyze the validity of such an accusation.
Third: Tell them that they can escape this fate, if they do the religious thing i.e. Verbally "accept" jesus as their lord and saviour, and confess their sins to everyone who will listen, so that their humiliation will be complete, and they will have no ability to "choose" otherwise.
Fourth: Get them to go and tell everyone they know the exact things they themselves have been inexcusably exposed to, so that they become "warriors of christ".
And I'm not talking about teenagers here who struggle with the decisions brought on by peer pressure, decisions like "should I or should I not", or "I know better but all my friends are doing it so maybe I should to". Teens can analyze for themselves, even though most do not, they at least have the ability to. No, these are 9, 10, and 11 year olds. Kids who will adopt whatever behavior they are asked to adopt, if there is a clear reason to do so. Evangelical adults are bullying their children into corrosive and destructive mindlessness, and they think this is an acceptable child-rearing technique. Indoctrination is TERRIBLE!!!! it's inexcusable and should be a criminal offense. All it does is disengage the victim from the process of critical thinking. No 11 year old should think they are capable of preaching, to anyone, about anything. They are not experts at anything yet, except for howto be a kid. For crying out loud, 11 year olds can't drive a car, they can't vote, they can't drink alcoholic beverages, or smoke. They are disallowed these, for one simple reason, they are not cognitively developed enough to be able to understand all the ramifications and responsibilities of these behaviors. So how in the world do the evangelical parents of this country think that although their kids can't do all the above mentioned activities, they can and should be poisoning other equally impressionable kids with unsubstantiated nonsense like they do in this movie? I would like to shoot these parents, or better yet, go back in time and sterilize them.
They have these kids actually touching buildings and praying that jesus (even though he is rather inconveniently dead, and has been so for thousands of years, if he ever existed at all, which is questionable) will cause the planned parenthood clinic housed within to close down. These kids have been lit with a flame of ignorance and sympathy for the unborn by their parents. They can't possibly be educated enough on both sides of the debate to be able to say, as the children they are, that they are pro-life. They claim to be pro-life, because they have only seen the side of abortion that the churches show. The inflammatory side, the one with all the dead babies, and the little plastic fetuses that look just like a tiny baby, etc... they have not seen the other side, enough to weigh for themselves the data and decide on their own. Their parents think certain things, and then choose to indoctrinate their kids in a similar vein.
This movie touched on a lot of subjects of which I am well aware, having grown up in an evangelical christian home. Creationism vs evolution, abortion, national christianity, the end times, the need for constant repentance and the ultimate need for salvation. All of these are topics which have driven me away from the ridiculousness of christianity. You could see the fear in these kids eyes, and felt the resonation of memory, having been bombarded on a bi-weekly basis with these toxins for nigh on twelve of the most impressionable years of my life. And that is the basis for the whole sham, as I have written about in some of my earlier blogs. FEAR. There is an assumption that there is a continuation of our life in some capacity after we die, and that capacity is directly determined by our choices and activities while we are alive now. This assumption comes from the fact that we feel like we are conscious beings, and that our consciousness is a manifestation of an invisible greater world of spirituality, one which we cannot see. Based on this assumption of spirituality, christians assign a place of good or ill to our post-life selves. It is this heaven and hell that outlines the real basis for the fundamentals of the christian faith. Christians don't fear hell,because they've chosen the right path. They also "know" that non-christians have everything to fear because they have not chosen the right path. They have constructed this farcical fantasy world, which is wholly dependant on fear, and in doing so have ensured that those who are exposed to it have to choose one way or the other. It is all based on the false assumption that we go somewhere after our deaths. Once that assumed foundation is forged, the good vs evil scenario is as valid a scenario as any other, and it is the one christians hang their hat on. But the foundation is false, and consequently the structures built upon it, such as the christian faith, are also. Even for those religions or spiritual people out there that are not of the christian faith, the fundamental assumption that we are transcendent of our corporeal selves, is not true. How do I know, because I am not a child, and I no longer have to fear the boogeyman of death. I and my wife have taught our son that when living things, like people die, they turn back into dirt, over time. He is four and thinks that is really cool. When he is older, more capable of abstract thought, he will inevitably come to us with the familiar questions of what happens to "us" when we die. Thankfully, I know our answers will remain unchanged. We are not filling him with bullshit, and I am so glad that I was able to jettison all the bullshit I injested in my youth. But I still feel like vomiting after having watched that putrid filth tonight.