Jesus Camp

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I finally watched a documentary I’ve been hearing about for some time. It’s called “Jesus Camp”, and takes a close look at Evangelical ministries aimed at teaching and using kids to spread the message of Jesus Christ.

I was expecting it to be a lot more challenging, a lot more provocative. Many people have said it upset them deeply; I found it to be very fair. It displayed certain issues very clearly, drawing a parallel between how Evangelical groups use their numbers to affect elections, and how these same groups educate their children to have an active role in creating a Christian nation.

The two children they followed for most of the story, Rachael and Levi, were great kids. Eloquent, intelligent, and friendly. I think they’ll be very successful in life, whatever they choose to do. Presently, at least as the movie was being made, they were spending time on the streets passing out fliers and talking about Jesus Christ. The parents and leaders around them, including the pastor Becky Fischer, also a main character in the documentary, were just trying to prepare their children to keep their faith in a world which often challenges it.

Becky Fischer seemed a lot more informed than most Americans. Yes, children will believe whatever they are taught. Should we let them go out into the world and discover things on their own? No! They need guidance and answers. The difference between Christian kids and normal kids is that Christian kids are confident in Jesus Christ. They have the answers. They know they’re going to heaven. They have a connection, a purpose, a meaning. Most kids just play video games and try to be accepted. (Although, of course, it’s easy to argue that “Christian kids” are also just doing whatever they’re surroundings tell them is acceptable behavior. If crying, speaking in tongues, and hopping up and down when motivated by the Holy Spirit is expected and praised – it doesn’t take long until they master it.)

Her point is, what do we want our children to become? Selfish? Terrorists? Drug-users? Christians? Whatever we want them to become, we better teach them. Fischer also makes a very valid point at the end of the movie. Anyone who’s a Christian must spend their life spreading the word of God. It would be vastly immoral for someone, who thinks they know crucial and vital information about salvation and eternal redemption, to withhold that information from anyone else. A Christian cannot be a good person unless they are always trying to spread the message of Jesus Christ.

Much of the proceedings at the Jesus Camp were familiar to me. I also accepted Jesus into my life when I was a young teenager. I went to many meetings and services on how to pray, talk to Jesus and invite the Holy Spirit to work in my life. I had all the answers. I was a formidable debate adversary. Heck, I even ended up getting a degree in Theology, for Christ’s sake.

And there’s a lot in Christianity I don’t have any issues with. I still believe in God. I still believe we can instantly and intimately talk with him, that we’re always with him. I believe we have an enormous amount of power to influence our surroundings through prayer, positive thinking, and action. I respect Christians for following and acting on their beliefs – most people believe things but do nothing about them. However, I don’t believe Jesus Christ is the only way into heaven, or even the best way into heaven. I don’t think Christianity offers a secret password, and is God’s only vehicle for salvation. I don’t even think Jesus Christ was a historical person, which challenges nearly everything Christianity is based on.

Am I going to heaven anyway? You bet your ass I am. Baptism makes a permanent, irrevocable mark on a person’s soul. The Bible says so. And if that wasn’t the case, Evangelicals claim the same thing about being “born again”, which I’ve also done. In fact, even though I don’t rely on Jesus Christ to deliver messages between myself and God, every once in a while I pray to Jesus anyway and invite him in and ask him to let me know if I’m doing anything to piss him off.

The only thing that can really doom you to Hell, besides being one of the 95% of the human population throughout history that didn’t know Jesus Christ, is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, something I’ve never done. The whole concept, in fact, is pretty damn silly. It means, in a nutshell, that you have this spiritual guiding essence in you somewhere, a moral consciousness, the voice of God or what have you, and that you should try to live in tune with it. It’s almost the same as saying “Be at one with the Tao.”

Actually, it is the same thing. Christian evangelicals in China actually use the Chinese word, “Tao” as the translation for the Christian/Greek word, “Logos”. So all those qualities of Jesus, as being the first born, animating spirit of creation found in John’s gospel, are introduced to would-be Chinese Christians through the already familiar spiritual concept of the Tao. But I’m way off topic.

Final thoughts on Jesus Camp – Yes, the Christians are trying to take over the country. Yes, they are growing in numbers, they are targeting children, they are ruthlessly spreading their ideology into schools, recklessly dismantling the separation between church and state. Unfortunately, there is no way to stop them. You can’t argue with them. You can’t debate. You can’t use logic or reason – and they will be the first to agree with me. They don’t choose what to believe; it’s in the Bible. While everybody else is arguing, debating, talking, but otherwise doing very little to change things, the Christians will take over. I say, let them have America. Take the military away, of course. Don’t let them get to the nukes. But then, let them have it. Fence it off, sever communication, and let the rest of the world develop in peace and prosperity while they suck their thumbs waiting for the second coming.