Documentary – Jesus Camp: “Had it been in the old testament, Harry Potter would have been put to death.”

I’m just watching a 2006 documentary – “Jesus Camp”. It’s about evangelical Christians in the USA, and the way in which they train their children to become evangelical Christians. In particular, it’s about a summer camp run in Kansas by a woman called Becky Fischer. Having seen the way that extremist Muslims train their own children to die and murder in the name of Islam, she’s apparently been inspired to train Christian children to die and murder in the name of Christ. She’s filmed saying:

“It’s no wonder, with that kind of intense training and disciplining, that those young people are ready to kill themselves for the cause of Islam. I wanna see young people who are as committed to the cause of Jesus Christ as the young people are to the cause of Islam. I wanna see them as radically laying down their lives for the Gospel as they are over in Pakistan and Israel and Palestine and all those different places, you know, because we have… excuse me, but we have the truth!”

Has she not realised that people killing themselves in the name of Islam are doing so specifically in order to kill others? Or did she think that if she left that part out people would be too thick to notice, or too self-delusional to acknowledge it? I find it mind-boggling, terrifying stuff.

I’ve just watched her speaking about Harry Potter. She said:

“Warlocks are enemies of God. Had it been in the old testament, Harry Potter would have been put to death.”

She was shaking with righteous anger as she said it, and small children around the room echoed her words when she’d spoken them. It was absolutely chilling.

The documentary shows the zealots teaching the children to behave violently by smashing mugs with hammers: “in the name of righteous government”. Hysteria is also encouraged, so the children are expected to cry as they do it, and when they smash their mugs the rest of the congregation cheers and ‘speaks in tongues’. By the end of the evening, all the children were crying (it was clearly required), and a small girl — who when interviewed earlier had said that when she grew up she’d like to be a nail/beauty technician because it would give her an opportuntity to try to convert people who were feeling relaxed — cried, and raised her small fist into the air, sobbing, “and we proclaim the Lion of Judah.” And this is meant to be a healthy way for children to behave?

Towards the end of the documentary, Pastor Ted Haggard was filmed addressing a congregation at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, a huge building. He’s apparently president of the National Association of Evangelicals, representing 30 million people in the States. It was stated by the documentary makers that he speaks to President Bush and his advisors every Monday.

Pastor Haggard told the congregation that they didn’t need to discuss what to think about “homosexual activity” because, “it’s written in the bible,”. He then emphasised the importance of settling a “few core beliefs” within the country in order to guarantee their freedom, and after that he invited the congregation to pray for President Bush. (Earlier in the documentary, an assistant at the children’s camp had been filmed waving a cardboard cut-out of President Bush around and urging the children to speak to it and applaud it.)

Pastor Haggard was then interviewed. He explained how they give the children a message that the children love to hear, and that it’s very different from that given out by the public schools i.e. “So while the public school’s telling them they’re animals, they’re the product of natural selection, we tell them, “God loves you. God’s created you. You have a purpose in life.” I mean the kids are… just loving it!”

He concluded: “And so… so it’s an awful lot of people and we’re growing. Churches like this? There’s a new church like this every 2 days in America. It’s got enough growth to essentially sway every election. If the evangelicals vote, they determine the election.”

Meanwhile, the British labour government is introducing the concept of creationism/intelligent design into our schools, which is the first step towards brain-washing British children in a similar fashion.

I’ve believed for some time now that the government should in fact outlaw all religious schools in this country. What’s now happening with the evangelical Christian right is an illustration of precisely why.

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7 Responses to Documentary – Jesus Camp: “Had it been in the old testament, Harry Potter would have been put to death.”

  1. Welcome back Peewiglet.

    Did you know that last year Ted Haggard had to resign after it turned out he’d been having an affair with a male prostitute and using methamphetamine.

    I agree with you on religious schools.

  2. peewiglet says:

    Hello Chris 🙂

    Wow, I had no idea about Ted Haggard. How utterly and ironically bizarre the world is!

    *attempts to smother a grin, but fails*

    Thank you for the welcome back. I can hardly wait to get out there again! Tarping, here I come… *g*

  3. peewiglet says:

    *piggly squeal*

    You’ve got a blog now! How extremely exciting 🙂

    *trots off to read it*

  4. Baz says:

    You’re right to highlight these extremes, and extremes in anything can be dangerous. These chaps certainly seem warped and weird. I think we have to remember that documentaries are specifically designed to acutely focus on their topic areas, and this one seems to do it well, but not all North Americans are religious nutters and a minority of practising Christians are nutters too. Nutters are all over the place…. I mean, just check out those who are in love with the TGOC, for example! :oP

    The term ‘laying down.. lives for the Gospel’ and the such is used a lot, and I have never taken it to mean other than to ultimately die for what you believe in, and an awful lot of people would subscribe to that. Christians believe that Jesus laid down his life for us all – and only one chap got killed there. I mean, I would lay down my life for my wife, but it doesn’t mean I’m a nutter – I just love her very much. The Gospel is (should be – was when I last read it) a message of love to one’s fellow man.

    That having been said, and as we well and painfully know, people do have a way of trying to re-interpret most scripture (the chaps in the documentary seem to be trying to do that), but ultimately the ten commandments should hold and not killing is one of them.

    It isn’t so long since ‘Witches’ were generally considered criminals…. perhaps this odd woman was just saying this for effect? What next – do we hunt down Getafix (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recurring_characters_in_Asterix)?

    Again, whilst it is unsettling (and particularly distasteful to some such as myself) to pray for the president, many religions pray for the head of state or prime minister, so that they may be guided in their decisions. Talking to effigies…. man, that’s just…. hmm… a bit mad.

    The Guardian article states “…the QCA wants pupils in England to debate the relationship between science and religion in their RE lessons” and it seems to be in the context of debate in which ID is being introduced. Whilst I don’t subscribe to it myself, I am mindful of it and discussing it during a religious education lesson isn’t necessarily a terrible thing.

    I take it from your article that you’re not entirely religious yourself; I happen to be Christian myself. It just means that we have slightly differing views on the documentary content, and if you’re not ‘used’ to churchy things some of the language used may be perceived in a different way.

    Whilst a bit undecided about the removal of religious schools, I can see how others find them either plain annoying or dangerous. There have also been institutional problems with such establishments, too.

    So, yeah. I came here to check out Walky things and ended up thinking about religious extremists! Funny old world. Did you see the documentary on TV or get it out on DVD, btw?

    I hope I sound reasoned and this is a pleasant debate rather than a shouting match! Anyway, great to see you on-line again – missed seeing you around on the OM forums (something related to ‘boxing matches’?) :o)

  5. peewiglet says:

    Hello there 🙂

    I’m glad it’s not only me who finds this an interesting subject. Have you seen the documentary, btw?

    The term ‘laying down.. lives for the Gospel’ and the such is used a lot, and I have never taken it to mean other than to ultimately die for what you believe in, and an awful lot of people would subscribe to that. Christians believe that Jesus laid down his life for us all – and only one chap got killed there. I mean, I would lay down my life for my wife, but it doesn’t mean I’m a nutter – I just love her very much. The Gospel is (should be – was when I last read it) a message of love to one’s fellow man.

    Of course: it can certainly be used in those ways. My posting was about the way it was used by Becky Fischer in the documentary, though, and that’s not how she used it.

    Here’s what she said.

    I can go into a playground of kids that don’t know anything about Christianity, lead them to the lord in a matter of just no time at all, and just moments later they can be seeing visions and hearing the voice of God, because they’re so open. They’re so useable in Christianity.

    If you look at the world’s population, one third of that — 6.7 billion people — are children under the age of 15. One third. Where should be be putting our efforts? Where should we be putting our focus? I’ll tell you where our enemies are putting it. They’re putting it on the kids. They’re going into the schools. You go into Palestine and I can take you to some websites that will absolutely shake you to your foundations and show you photographs of where they’re taking their kids to camps like we take our kids to bible camps, and they’re putting hand grenades in their hands, they’re teaching them how to put on bomb belts, they’re teaching them how to use rifles, they’re teaching them how to use machine guns. It’s no wonder, with that kind of intense training and discipling that those young people are ready to kill themselves for the cause of Islam.

    I wanna see young people who are as committed to the cause of Jesus Christ as the young people are to the cause of Islam. I wanna see them as radically laying down their lives for the gospel as they are over in Pakistan and in Israel and Palestine and all those different places, you know, because we have… excuse me, but we have the truth!”

    That was quite specific, and (imo, at least) absolutely nothing about love. On the contrary: it’s all about warfare. She chose to draw a parallel between the laying down of Muslim lives which is currently happening, and an equivalent laying down of Christian lives that she hopes to bring about by brainwashing (my word, of course) children. Why do I consider it ‘brainwashing’? Well, see her introductory paragraph again, about how easy it is for her to influence children, and how “useable” they are in Christianity. She knows exactly what she’s doing. She’s clever and calculating. Again – I find it pretty terrifying.

    Again, whilst it is unsettling (and particularly distasteful to some such as myself) to pray for the president, many religions pray for the head of state or prime minister, so that they may be guided in their decisions.

    They were praying for President Bush not because he’s the President per se, but because he’s a Republican President. The Republican party best reflects the political outlook of evangelical Christians — in particular in relation to abortion, and possibly also in relation to homosexuality as well as other issues — and so at the children’s camp and in the mega-church the children and congregation were being encouraged to see George Bush’s government as a religiously ‘righteous’ government. Earlier I quoted something that Ted Haggard said in the course of the documentary (he was formerly president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and spoke regularly to President Bush and his advisors), namely:

    “And so… so it’s an awful lot of people and we’re growing. Churches like this? There’s a new church like this every 2 days in America. It’s got enough growth to essentially sway every election. If the evangelicals vote, they determine the election.”

    My concern about the introduction of the notion of ‘intelligent design’ into the curriculum over here in the UK arises out of the way in which things are developing in the States in relation to the teaching of the same theory in schools. This post is already tl;dr, so maybe I’ll come back to ID on another occasion. The bottom line, though, is that I’m v. concerned to see a theory that relies for its ‘validity’ on rubbishing Darwin’s theory of evolution (and dismissing all the science and objective evidence we have to support it) taught in schools as though the two theories were of equal weight. Once again, it’s the evangelical Christian movement attempting to push it through. This is clear from just a little bit of reading around.

    I take it from your article that you’re not entirely religious yourself; I happen to be Christian myself. It just means that we have slightly differing views on the documentary content, and if you’re not ‘used’ to churchy things some of the language used may be perceived in a different way.

    You shouldn’t really assume that I’m unfamiliar with ‘churchy’ things simply because I’ve expressed real concern about the potential brainwashing of children by evangelicals. Although I’m now an agnostic, I have an Irish catholic mother and an English protestant father, and I was educated at a convent, so in fact I’m very familiar with churchy things.

    Also, I’m surprised to read you saying that because you’re a Christian we will necessarily have slightly differing views on the documentary content. Have you seen the documentary? It really seems to me that any objective observer would inevitably be disturbed by the things it contains. I can’t really see how the religion of the observer is actually relevant, (unless he/she is an evangelical Christian, of course, in which case they’d presumably think it’s all fine).

    At the end of the day, some extremists within Islamic society have developed a practice of blowing themselves up in the hope that they can kill other people on the way out. It’s a real and increasing problem. When other sections of society think it’s a good idea to join in then we have an even bigger problem. I think we need to do all we can to encourage our children to spend time with children different from themselves — different sex, colour, race, religion etc etc — so that they can learn how insignificant those sorts of differences really are, and that they’re massively outweighed by the things we all have in common. That’s why I believe the government should be outlawing religious segregation in schools, rather than actively encouraging it.

  6. David says:

    Hi Peewiglet

    Just redirected here from the Slowman’s blog. Great to see you blogging, and good to be back in touch! Interesting discussion above regarding fundamentalisms. As you know, I’m in the thick of it. Not so sure about outlawing faith schools, though I’m all for integration and relating to ‘the other’ especially when the are perceived as different or enemies.

    Cheers,

    David.

  7. Joe says:

    Yes there are some Christian nutters. But its become a right-on hobby to name and shame this, as a counterpoint to what is, actually, the deep, widespread, primitive, far more substantial totalitarian crap that happens in Islam.

    I’m not too bothered about a few Christian nutters, whose religion has undergone a reformation and loss of poltiical power as it should. Neither of those apply to Islam, and nor does the fact that a substantial minority of its followers want to murder the Infidel. That means you and me. And 4000 UK Muslims are under terrorist surveillance. THAT is a problem.

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