Jesus Camp
God Help Us All!

By Alton Raines

I've just finished watching one of the most disturbing documentaries ever produced. It's called 'Jesus Camp' (Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady/Magnolia) and deals with non-denominational ultra-fundamentalist Christian church groups and one of the bizarre, psychotic camps they send their children to for two weeks of intense brain washing. I label it as such as one who has been inside the ultra-fundamentalist Christian community and not as an outsider merely perplexed at practices or spiritual/religious activities foreign to me. Since I extricated myself from the ultra-fundamentalists some ten years ago, things have clearly gone from worse to abominable. Maybe Rosie O'Donnell wasn't being too radical when she said fundamentalist Christianity is as dangerous here in America as fundamentalist Islam is elsewhere in the world. And for me to cough up the slightest acknowledgement of a Rosie O'Donnell statement is really saying something, it barely makes it to the tips of my typing fingers without inducing a small stroke.
Let me say at the outset that there are many wonderful, inspiring, decent Christian camps for kids run by churches that are harmless, that foster intelligent inquiry and respect for the individual while instilling deeply cherished values. But what you will see in 'Jesus Camp' is so abusive, so cultic, so depraved you may not make it through the whole DVD. I had to stop it several times just to sigh and pray. You will see little children being indoctrinated with irrefutable mind control techniques and the use of emotional contagion and peer-group/group-think manipulations so dastardly, so underhanded and blatantly hypnotic that tears will likely come to your eyes, if rage doesn't settle in first.

Emotionally distraught children -- When she should be thinking
about yucky boys and hopscotch, she's weighted down with
intense emotions and worry over 'the state of the nation' by
the Pastors' incessant political, apocalyptic ranting
Now, I realize a great many of these people sincerely believe everything they are doing is not only "for God," but is the very "will of God." But it is simply a fact of life that religion -- any religion -- has the capacity for a level of human abuse so far above and beyond the norm that it is paramount that we all remain highly vigilant in watching out for the church-turned-cult, and especially for the sake of the children involved... children who know no better, who are absolute innocents, so easily manipulated and molded. When I see some bloated, boisterous, verbrato-laden preacher lording it over 5-10 year olds sending them into a hysterical frenzy of tears and anguish telling them they have sinned, I want to come up out of the my seat and take the rope of Jesus in the temple and lash that wicked false prophet within an inch of his/her life. There is nothing more despicable and devious than to monkey with the minds and emotions of little children (Jesus said "the Kingdom of Heaven belong[ed] to ones such as these"!) for ones own twisted cause, desired outcome or benefit. And that is precisely what these "counselors" and preachers at 'Jesus Camp' do, with delighted, obscene abandon, rousing their "army for Jesus" as they called this group of 100+ children cloistered away in the camp.
What was even more disturbing was to see many of the parents of these poor kids there in attendance with them, participating and involving themselves in the mass mind control, and subsequent at-home interviews revealing their complete commitment to this kind of psychotic manipulation; they themselves have been likewise brainwashed into submission to this radically irresponsible, dangerous neo-Christianity.
Perhaps the most disturbing moment was when one of the camp counselors brought out a life size cardboard popup of George W. Bush. and stood it in the pulpit, a waving American flag graphic projected behind him, saying "Here's President Bush, come to visit us...!" and then calling the children to come forward and touch his likeness, "pray over him! Make warfare over him" (note: to those not familiar with certain fundamentalist colloquialisms, "warfare" is in reference to the Apostle Paul's admonition "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places," and "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds" speaking of spiritual warfare -- prayer and intercession). Little children clamor and cluster at the feet of this cutout, straining to touch it like the woman with the issue of blood in the Gospels reaching to touch the hem of Jesus' garment. Though the weapons of their warfare are not carnal, there is no lack of the use of utterly carnal, even military symbolisms. In one scene several children had devised a 'dance' to go along with some Christian Heavy Metal music, clad in fatigues and faces painted in camo, brandishing fighting sticks which they were thrusting and flailing about, shouting "War! Warfare!" The girls in the group had war-paint faces and wore black.

'Pastor' Becky Fisher and her oft pointing finger
"Harry Potter is an evil warlock and would've been
put to death in Old Testament times!"
Pastor Becky Fisher, the master manipulator of this sect, is a frighteningly twisted character. The look in her eyes is overwhelmingly dark as she gazes out over the sea of little faces weeping and travailing and cackling in 'tongues' as she stirs her 'army' to frenzy, fear and then utter fanaticism. This significantly rotund woman has the audacity at one point to admonish the children for not having the strength of faith to fast, even mentioning a 40 day fast. If this woman fasted two hours she'd likely faint and then rise up and personally demolish a Dairy Queen. The hypocrisy is simply revolting.

One of the twisted 'methods' at Jesus Camp, mouths
were taped shut with red duct tape inscribed with the word LIFE
in part of a protest against abortion
There are no ifs, ands or buts in this documentary, the people involved say plainly they are raising up, indoctrinating and forming a generation of "Conservative Christian Republicans" -- WE know them as 'Neo-cons.' In one scene they bring the children to such an emotional mania over abortion that one could clearly argue that this is as much child-abuse as taking a child into a porno flick.
The mixed ages of the children is one very disturbing element. Some are merely toddlers barely out of diapers, others are in their very early teens. Not every message is suitable for every age, but these unthinking yahoo's, propelled along by the 'The Spirit' (may God have mercy on them for grieving the blessed Spirit of grace and truth in claiming their own perverted emotional and political rants to be the same 'Spirit'), splatter the whole group with machine-gunned verbal assaults with no qualms about its effect on the littlest and most impressionable. You simply do NOT tell toddlers and little ones that Satan, an invisible but terrifyingly evil monster that personally knows them and watches them, is looking to destroy them! Little children cannot possibly rightly process such a message without trauma. And that trauma is more than abundantly evident in 'Jesus Camp.' Among these ultra-fundamentalists, 'The Spirit' is an excuse for every manner of bizarre behavior, most of which looks frighteningly similar to the kinds of twitching, jolting and bellowing seen among primitives involved in trance-inducing voodoo. None of it makes sense, nothing about it is remotely biblical or uplifting and most of the children are beet-red faced with distemper, exhausted emotionally, strained to tears and nowhere near coherent; The perfect state to implant very powerful directives at the subconscious level.
One little boy named Levi, who looked to be around 10, was a focus for the adult manipulators. It becomes evident in the documentary that he is being groomed to be a big mover and shaker in the years to come. At one point he is heard saying, "I don't like being around people who are non-Christian, it just makes me feel... gross...I feel bad inside... in my spirit." This boy doesn't know the real Jesus from a hole in the ground! And that is the essential point here -- there is no Jesus in Jesus Camp. There's everything BUT Jesus in Jesus Camp. Though His name is tacked onto everything and every sentence ends with his name being bandied about like a magic wand, the real Jesus Christ of the Gospels is entirely missing; his teachings, his truths clearly are abandoned for a new and better Jesus. A fighting Jesus. A Republican Neo-Con Jesus. A Jesus Dick Cheney could know and love and probably make a few 'bidniss' deals with. A Jesus that is red, white and blue, and no other colors have any meaning or significance. THIS Jesus doesn't ride a donkey, He rides an elephant! As Pastor Becky Fisher puts it (while comparing radical Islamic training of children to fundamentalist Christian training of children) "...the difference being, we're right and they're wrong." The bombs these children are being taught to strap on are bombs of polarization, exclusion, discrimination, xenophobia and these are sure to 'go off' at some point when they are older.
As a bible-believing Christian, this documentary made me want to puke. It is even more disheartening to know full well that the documentary itself will effect millions of people and their attitudes toward all Christians, unfortunately. If this is the backbone of the great cultural divide in this nation, we're in for some really nasty confrontations in the next twenty to fifty years. Who will OWN the Constitution and the nation? Radical ultra-fundamentalist Christian Neo-Cons or a thinking, responsible republic of fair-minded, rational and magnanimous people from all walks of life and every religious persuasion? That is what is on the table, when you hear Bill O'Reilly characterize his "Culture Warriors," the "traditionalists" vs the "SPs" (Secular Progressives). Bill doesn't realize that in his camp are some serious crazies and among the "traditionalists" are people who have zero comprehension of the Constitution, much less real conservative traditionalism. The Neo-Con-spiracy is one big, bad mother... and it has got to be opposed at every step. Right now, it's a lumbering, idiotic baby making a big stink. But given a few years and exposure to nuclear radiation, it will mutate into a Godzilla of political, social and spiritual tyranny that will make the Taliban and Sharia Law look like mere beatniks.
(Shortly after its release, the movie gained a new notoriety when Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, who appears near the end of the film, resigned his post amid a male prostitute's allegations of drug use and sexual misconduct. - review)
And now, the good news....
Pastor will shut down controversial kids camp



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