Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Where All the Best Little Crusaders Go
Jennifer Merin in the New York Press reviews a new documentary, Jesus Camp, directed by Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady, about Evangelical indoctrination of children in heartland America.
The documentary follows three
... home-schooled preteens, Levi (12), Rachael (9) and Victoria (10) delivered by their Evangelical parents unto Bible camp at Devil’s Lake, N.D., where Pentecostal Children’s Minister Becky Fischer "hooks them up" (her words) with Jesus.Fischer is the sort that apparently thinks that Satan has nothing better ... uh ... worse to pass his evildoing time than by making the light bulbs in the camp's auditorium burn out. And even that petty bad can be avoided by simply admonishing Ol' Nick to cut it out.
Much scarier than this gelded Lucifer is Fischer herself:
She boasts she can "have kids ‘saved’ in minutes because they’re so open" and comments "they’re so useful to Christianity."And no wonder she thinks so:
Fischer claims her program is apolitical but ...Levi, "saved" at age five, knows Creationism’s the only possibility and science doesn’t prove anything. Rachael thinks martyrdom’s "really cool." Victoria owns guilt about dancing "for the flesh," which leads to damnation. Worse, these and other campers are conditioned to believe they’re soldiers of God -- ready to die for Jesus..To warn children about what Christian America’s up against, Fischer preaches about how al-Qaeda’s kids fast, bare (sic) arms and sacrifice themselves for Islam.
If that’s true, then why are campers instructed to pray -- in tongues -- over a cardboard cutout of G.W.? And why stir them into such frenzied chanting about banning abortion and creating a Christian America that they enter trance-like states, some falling convulsively to the floor? These hair-raising moments are reminiscent of scenes from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and it’s imperative to recall the ending of that cautionary tale when Levi receives preacher-to-preacher advice from Ted Haggard (Evangelical pastor to 30-million people and a frequent George W. Bush visitor) who assails homosexuality and boasts he has the numbers to elect our government.This film promises to be a visual -- and visceral -- compliment to Michelle Goldberg's book, Kingdom Coming, which has had a number of press articles (see this) of late, arising out of the book tour. I am now in the process of reading it and it lays out an even more disturbing case than I imagined.
While we shouldn't overstate the danger of Christian Nationalists, neither should we forget that less than 60 years ago no one was worried about "Islamic Fascists" either. One point often noted is the delusion of the Religious Right that they are being persecuted, despite the enormous political and social power they wield. It might not take as much as we might hope to tip any number of these people over into becoming Christian Jihadists.
Stephen King has nothing on this stuff.
"The devil goes after the young," Fischer tells a scared-looking, wide-eyed audience, "those who can't fend for themselves. That's why we're trying to protect you."
Later, we see Fischer creating her audio-visual aids for her next sermon, computer-generated banners that read "SIN" and "DEATH." She manipulates the font to simulate the letters dripping in blood. "There, that's better," she says.