Butterfly Cauldron

Friday, September 29, 2006

Two, Four, Six, Eight -- Jesus Camp Teaches Kids to Hate!

So, I've been reading lots of stuff about this Jesus Camp movie -- check out my previous post for a clip -- and there's lots of reaction from fundamentalist Christians who are offended by the way the religious are portrayed in the film. Now, I will admit upfront that I haven't seen the whole film. I've only seen clips and read interviews from the participants and film makers. However, from what I've seen, I think I know what the problem is.

These people don't know they're fucking scary.

I've seen this played out in my own family. There's a certain 'code' that fundamentalists talk in. They make lots of allusions to warfare. Most of them mean 'spiritual' warfare, not physical. But that comfort with military themes, with the terms of death and destruction is scary to the rest of us. It's particularly scary to those of us who grew up in fundamentalism, because we know, we've seen first hand, how that absolute belief in owning the truth can manifest in actions that harm other people.

Most of the time, those actions aren't intentional. Or at least, they aren't done out of malice, per se. I honestly believe most fundamentalists do not actively hate people who are not of their faith. Because I don't think they really think about it that deeply. Most of them believe, in a rather passive way, that They are saved. They are right. They have a message other people need to hear. The world is against Them, it is out to destroy their faith and make them fall. (Although, how that's possible if they honestly believe, I don't know.)

So, when this preacher is telling the children they are frauds and hypocrites, she's not trying to hurt them. (She does, but that's not her true intent.) In her mind, she's administering 'tough love". Sure, it may hurt for the moment, but it'll be good for them in the end. It's like the shot of penicillin to cure your strep throat. It doesn't feel good, but in the end you'll be glad you got it. Only, this treatment is way more damaging than a momentary shot could ever be. At the age these kids are, their minds are pretty much malleable. They can learn to trust others, to treat other people as equals deserving respect or they can be instilled with fear of The Other, taught to attack those unlike them, to always be on the defensive. Whatever gets taught to them is going to affect them for the rest of their lives.

But the fundamentalists like those in this movie don't see it that way. They don't realize they're teaching fear. (Which is in direct contradiction to the Bible, btw. There's that verse that specifically says God is not the author of fear, that anything that envokes fear is not of God. But hey, why pay attention to that when there are Sinners to Terrorize?) They believe they are teaching survival skills, because they believe the world is going to end shortly.

We all have a certain image of ourselves that is, often, at odds with the way other people see us. This movie is like a mirror for some of these people. They don't see themselves the way they are on film. And so, because that's not how they see themselves, they immediately say the flimmakers have an agenda, they're biased. I've had this happen to me with people I've interviewed. They're not misquoted, their words are not twisted or altered and yet they don't like the way they sound in print. Because they don't realize how they sound to other people, they don't realize how what they do/say actually affects other people.

If they're lucky, or at least willing to accept the possiblity that they were not set up, maybe the people in this film can get a clue about why the rest of us think they're so fucking scary. (Because they are?) If you say you want to see Christian children as willing to die and kill as radicals in other countrys, what exactly do you think people are going to say? That it sounds like a good idea?

Anyway, I think we need more films like this and I think it's important that they not be altered or slanted in any way. It's not necessary. These people are scary, they are as bad (or at least have the capacity to be as bad) as any fundamentalist in any other religion and it's time the majority of this country realized that.

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posted by Zan at 12:15 PM


Hi there,

I just found your blog. Thanks for posting an "ex-insider's" view of the Jesus camp film. I haven't seen the film either, but from what I have seen/heard of it, those people need to be arrested for child abuse...psycological abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. Anyway, I liked your blog!



7:04 PM  

The clip you had referenced a review about how the film is evenhanded. That surprised me because it's so obviously despicaable to me.

I think of fundamentalists whenever I hear how the alleged terrorists are killing for their deity. It's only okay if white Americans do it.

When I was little, I really liked "Onward Christian Soldiers," but I noticed I was the only one who seemed disturbed by the second line: marching as to war

They don't mean it figuratively when they take kids to "God hates fags" demonstrations or to harass abortion clinics. Like in the film, where they tape girls' mouths shut with some sort of antiabortion message.

7:34 PM  

I was gonna comment on this, but i'm just not in the proper mindframe to even look at the trailer for this thing.

"Hell House" was another good documentary in this vein, i thought.

The problem isn't the religion; the problem is the authoritarianism.

9:27 PM  

If I tried that shit on any child in the public school system I would have been drawn and quartered already.

Why do fukknukkle fundo's always use "religion" as a wedge rather than bridge?

6:53 AM  

I really don't know. I've been trying to figure that out since I was a child, but I got nothing.

I'd think believing inn a Diety that is supposed to be love itself would make you less prone to being idiot assholes, but alas, I suppose I'm wrong.

8:34 AM  

religion is not necessary

spirituality is

10:57 AM  

It is things like this that make it seem like a good idea to outlaw religion completely. It does so much harm, and it is hard to see any good that it does.

12:17 AM  

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