March 8, 2007

Onward Christian (child) soldiers

Have you seen "Jesus Camp" yet? Then get off the couch and go to the store or Blockbuster or your favorite movie rental joint and check it out.

Take a peek into the world of "evangelical Christians" and their indoctrination camps where they produce child future warriors for Christianity and the Republican party.

It includes some scenes with the good Rev. Ted Haggard, shot much before his penchant for gay prostitutes and chrystal meth was brought to light. The irony in the scenes is astounding and leaves you marveling that it's real.

Just watch the clip from the documentary below, shot at Haggard's mega-church in Colorado while he was still fleecing the flock while getting freaky with a gay prostitute and buying meth.

Though the above clip doesn't include it, they continue with a short interview with Haggard after the service where he boasts of how huge the movement is, it's growth and the importance of getting kids involved. At one point he explains, "If the Evangelicals vote, they determine the election.", and sums up by exclaiming, "This life is FABulous!" Well, rank hypocrisy pays I guess.

The film's focus is primarily on a woman and the Christian camp she runs. The camp is called "Kids on Fire" and it's held, perhaps fittingly, in Devil's Lake, North Dakota.

The militaristic indocrination of these kids is truly disturbing, and verges on child abuse to my mind. If this were being done without the shield of Christianity, I'm certain authorities would shut it down, and society would condemn it.

It even includes at one point church leaders hauling out a life-size cardboard cut-out of George W. Bush and demanding that the kids praise him and pray for him as if he were actually there. (you might want to keep a barf bag handy)

And you get a close-up view of Christian parents home schooling their kids that they can safely ignore science in the matters of global warming and evolution and essentially turning them into ignorants for Jesus.

The theme of war and the kids being warriors against the "enemies in government" and other "ungodly" menaces is stressed heavily throughout, with the kids at one point noting with awe and envy how people who are willing to die for Christianity don't even care and aren't scared to die.

The comparison to the Taliban is too obvious to miss, despite the fact that the woman who runs the camp repeatedly refers to Muslims indoctrinating their kids in a militaristic way as a justification for her banging it into these kids that this is essentially a holy war, and they're the soldiers in it.

Without realizing it, she essentially argues that emulating the Taliban in her efforts if not only justified, but necessary, and though she doesn't strap grenades to the kids, one doesn't have much trouble imagining that she would if she felt the situation demanded it. She leads them in chants of "This means war! This means WAR!" and repeatedly invokes battle and warriors, soldiers, and dying for the cause.

It's twisted, disturbing, more than a little creepy, and as real as it gets.

I heartily recommend it to everyone who wants a look at a movement that has already gained a tremendous amount of power in this country.


From the review on Amazon:
The feverish spectacle of a summer camp for evangelical Christian kids is the focus of Jesus Camp, a fascinating if sometimes alarming documentary. (Shortly after its release, the movie gained a new notoriety when Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, who appears near the end of the film, resigned his post amid a male prostitute's allegations of drug use and sexual misconduct.)

For most of the film, we follow a charismatic teacher, Becky Fischer, as she trains young soldiers in "God's Army" at a camp in North Dakota. Some of the kids emerge as likable and bright, and eager to continue their work as pint-sized preachers; elsewhere, the visions of children speaking in tongues and falling to the floor in ecstasy are more troubling.

Even more arresting is the vision of a generation of children home-schooled to believe that the Bible is science, or Fischer's certainty that America's flawed system of democracy will someday be replaced by a theocracy. (In one scene, a cardboard cut-out of George W. Bush is presented to the children, who react by laying their hands on the figure as though in a religious procession.)

Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady maintain neutrality about all this, maybe too much so (they throw in some interviews with radio host Mike Papantonio to provide a liberal-Christian viewpoint) and one would like to know more about the grown-ups presented here. Power broker Haggard is the creepiest person in the film, an insincere smooth talker whose advice to one of the young would-be campgoers comes across as entirely cynical. Time will tell whether the film's Christian soldiers will be marching onward.

As an aside, something I'd seen and didn't note during the Haggard affair was that one of panel of three or four pastors who were "counseling" Rev. Haggard after his little slip up in order to get him back in the game was none other than Tommy Barnett, a pastor who got his start building a mega-church in west Davenport before moving to greener pastures in Texas I believe. He's now one of the top dudes in the Wal-Mart type branch of Christian churches with spawling gargantuan churches and tens of thousands of members who make many, many, many millions of dollars from their flock and who then translate that into political clout as well.


At 3/12/2007 8:04 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

I have seen the film Dope and it's something our kids need to see so they don't buy into the crap some of our "religious" leaders are spewing....

At 3/12/2007 10:18 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Didn't you find some of it almost horrifying? It was like child abuse the way they pounded this crazy stuff into these sweet kids heads.

It really creeped me out.

At 3/12/2007 10:21 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Didn't you find some of it almost horrifying? It was like child abuse the way they pounded this crazy stuff into these sweet kids heads.

And most of what they seemed most concerned about teaching these kids had little or nothing to do with Christianity at all, but more about how to fear and consider other religions and "non-believers" to be the enemy that they had to fight a war against.

Kinda sick and it really creeped me out.

It was just like watching a bunch of idiot white supremacists or Ku Kluz Klan people pounding their hateful non-sense into young kid's heads, only more disturbing because they, like a lot of white supremacists, were using Christianity to do it.


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