Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Double Edged Sword: Two Ideas of Christianity, Part 2

The other documentary I watched on the subject of Christianity (see below post) was “Jesus Camp.”

Essentially, “Jesus Camp” follows a group of three charismatic Christian children who attend the Kids on Fire School of Ministry, a summer camp in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota. Although I was already aware of much of the information presented in the documentary, there were still a few things that managed, to borrow a phrase from “Family Guy,” grind my gears.

First, there were the children themselves. These children were surprisingly well-spoken and obviously intelligent, especially when asked about their beliefs. However, I find it difficult to absorb that these children understand precisely what they’re talking about. One of the kids, who was 12 years old when “Jesus Camp” was filmed, said he became born-again at the age of five. My question is how can you fully comprehend the meaning of salvation when you are five years old? As one of my friends put it, when you’re five, you don’t have anything to be born again from.

On that note, during the actual camp, there is much discussion and hollering about taking back America for Jesus. It’s somewhat bizarre listening to children talking about what’s wrong with America, especially considering I, as a 20 year old college student and aspiring journalist, still have only a basic understanding of our political system and the American psyche overall. It might be possible for a five-year old to know and accept Jesus into his or her heart, but still I highly doubt a young child can fully comprehend the complexities of American morality.

Also, I thought it was interesting for each of children the filmmakers followed, their respective mothers – but not their fathers – were also interviewed. For a group of people who place such an importance on the nuclear family, it seems rather strange the fathers’ voices were not heard.

Finally, there’s a scene in the film where the leader of a major fundamentalist Christian organization talks to the children at the camp about the evils of abortion. Object to abortion, fine, but I worry that instilling so much fear into children about it will cause some sort of slippery slope as far as reproductive choice, or lack thereof, is concerned. After all, the children are shown praying for the Supreme Court to end Roe v. Wade., which is a chilling image in and of itself. The path from opposing abortion to advocating abstinence only sex education isn’t so long, and it’s obvious how far that’s gotten us.

At any rate, I respect the people who appeared in the film insofar as fundamental Christianity is their chosen path, but I think I will continue to do what I’ve been doing, which is respectfully keeping my distance from them.

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