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jesus of suburbia
Jan 5th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

recently, i TIVO’d jesus camp, an indie movie documentary that lost out in the land of oscars to an inconvenient truth. i thought it would be something BS and i would watch at some point; however, when BC got hold of the TIVO and found it, she asked what it was about (evangelical kids going to evangelical summer camp! wheee!) and whether she could watch it. i told her that the only way she’d watch this was if i watched along with her, and voila! we watched this amazing documentary. (not the mother-daughter experience i was envisioning — little women is also on the TIVO — but no matter.)

hey — you out there — you citizen who reveres the separation of church and state. the charismatic christians in this movie will make you bark at the moon. you first meet some of the children at a children’s christian conference in missouri. one child passes out pamphlets while at a bowling alley (after praying to jesus to help her bowl well. no, i am not making this up.) one child wants to dance to christian heavy metal — she’ll dance not for the flesh, but for jesus. (the subject: go-go boots. the question: what would jesus do?::snerk::) and another child wants to grow up and be a preacher. you see kids crying, speaking in tongues, squirming uncomfortably. i was especially shocked to see parents in there, just standing by, letting their children undergo uncomfortable and upsetting experiences with no guidance and little support. i felt like i was watching parents throwing young christians to the lions.

most of the kids, by the way are — SURPRISE! — homeschooled. G-d forbid they actually have to interact with people who believe in things different from the beliefs touted by their church.

[note to self: the day will come when i will rant a HUGE, SUPERCOLLOSAL RANT about homeschooling. but not today.]

anyway, you end up at camp in ND, at a megachurch in colorado springs (which looks more like a concert venue — with diamondvision), and driving around scenic missouri with the camp organizer, pentacostal minister becky fischer. oh, and lest we forget washington, DC, where the children have tape on their mouths with the word LIFE scrawled across it as they pray outside the supreme court. (they wanted to make sure judge alito replaced sandra day o’connor. which, unfortunately, he did. today, a justice. tomorrow, abortion rights.) for me, the film is punctuated with occasional bouts of sanity from radio host mike papantonio, who even duels with fischer on the air over how children should be learning, not indoctrinated, at young ages.

anyway, i tried reallyreallyreally hard to keep myself quiet and available to BC should she have questions. we ended up talking about abortions, we ended up talking about heaven and hell, we talked about creationism. i carefully pointed out that this is a specific group of christians, that not all christians are like this. i did my duty for Dog and Country. (you’re welcome.)

but girlfriend couldn’t help but be creeped out by it all. mama, she pointed out, these people are terrorizing the kids! they’re making them scared and they’re making them cry! why are they doing that to kids?

because, i replied, it’s kind of like brainwashing. you have to break people down and then build them up again — but this time, with your ideas getting planted in their brains. they want them to not question the ideas but to just believe them. and then, make everyone else believe them, too.

we were both horrified. it’s one thing for parents to teach kids about their religion, to share their core beliefs. i support that 100 percent. it’s another thing to train them to be soldiers for G-d. these kids are not learning about tolerance. i’m not christian, but i always thought jesus was a pretty tolerant kind of guy — he hung with people like mary magdalene, right? i wonder how many of these people would go within ten feet of her now?

and when they started praying for george w bush… and when they started to smash mugs, which represented government, with hammers — well, my bullshit detector went off. i could barely stand this. hello, division of family and youth services? anyone out there? anyone home?

you don’t have to be a grownup to realize just how effing perverse this all is.


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