fanatics by any name are still fanatics

Speaking in tongues, weeping for salvation, praying for an end to abortion and worshipping a picture of President Bush — these are some of the activities at Pastor Becky Fischer’s Bible camp in North Dakota, “Kids on Fire,” subject of the provocative new documentary, “Jesus Camp.”
“I want to see them as radically laying down their lives for the gospel as they are in Palestine, Pakistan and all those different places,” Fisher said. “Because, excuse me, we have the truth.”
“A lot of people die for God,” one camper said, “and they’re not afraid.”
“We’re kinda being trained to be warriors,” said another, “only in a funner way.”
— ABC News

It seems to me that the Evangelicals are doing to their children what the fanatic end of the Muslim faith are doing to theirs — preparing them to fight and die for their version of god.
It seems to me that, while everybody can’t be right, everybody can certainly be wrong.
Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, the makers of the Jesus Camp film, made some fundamentally important statements in an interview posted on most notably:

Rachel: I think there is a fear, on my part, of any religious group to have political power. I’m Jewish. If the Jews took over America, if they overtook the government and no one could work on Saturday, I would be uncomfortable with that.
Heidi: There are certain things that are very American, that we all are used to, like massive amounts of American flags flying all over the country. There are certain things you grow up with. One of the things that we grew up with – which is part of the deal with being an American – is the separation of church and state. You hear it since the time you are five. And I think a deviation from that is a mistake. I am definitely aware and concerned that that line is being blurred and that makes me uncomfortable. [But] I don’t blame the evangelicals. They have a plan, they have a vision for how they think America should be, and, like any lobby group, they are going to try to make that happen. The protection should be in place by the three branches of government. I think blaming them is a waste of time.

Personally, I believe that we should blame them for further straining the tenuous line that holds church and state apart. I am often afraid that it’s already too late, what with Bush and his minions continuing to desecrate that sacred boundary.
And I also blame the anti-choice fanatics, like those who are promoting “abstinence only” instead of forthright sex education. The following from the Advoctes for Youth newsletter :

The fact that some U.S. teens report oral and/or anal intercourse while considering themselves ‘virgins’ underscores the fact that lacking information does not prevent young people from having sexual intercourse. It may, however, prevent them from making healthy choices about sexuality.
However, abstinence-only-until-marriage education goes further. It discourages young people from using contraception. It encourages young people to believe that condoms and modern methods of contraception—such as birth control pills, injectable contraception, implants, and the intra-uterine device (IUD)—are far less effective than they, in fact, are. Many abstinence-only-until-marriage programs discuss modern methods of contraception only in terms of failure rates (often exaggerated) and censor information about their correct use and effectiveness. Thus, many of these programs keep young people in ignorance of the very facts that would encourage them to protect themselves when they eventually become sexually active.
* By age 18, about 71 percent of U.S. youth have had sexual intercourse.6
* One recent study found that, by the age of 18, more than 75 percent of young people have engaged in various heavy petting behaviors.7
* Another study found that 25 to 50 percent of teens report having had oral sex.8
* A third study focusing exclusively on adolescent ‘virgins’ (defined in the study as teens who had not experienced vaginal intercourse) found that nearly one-third of respondents reported having participated in masturbation with a partner. In the same study, 10 percent of teens who defined themselves as virgins had participated in oral intercourse and one percent had participated in anal intercourse.9
* Data from a nationally representative survey indicate that, in 1999, 49.9 percent of all high school students have had sexual intercourse. The percentage rises by grade level—38.6 percent of ninth graders have had sexual intercourse compared with 64.9 percent of seniors.10
* By the time young people reach age 20, about 80 percent of males and 76 percent of females have had sexual intercourse.

I remember talking to my daughter about engaging in sexual activity. While I urged abstinence, I also laid out the facts and shared personal experiences. I had no illusions about her making her own choices; what I wanted her to understand were the consequences, both physical and emotional — to understand (again from the newsletter cited above):

* Every individual has dignity and self-worth.
* Sexual relationships should never be coercive or exploitative.
* All sexual decisions have effects or consequences.
* Every person has the right and the obligation to make responsible sexual choices.

My parents never discussed any of that with me. I found out about sex when I was a pre-teen from a magazine article I ripped out of a magazine when my Dad took me to the allergist to get my weekly shot. I remember how nervous I was as I folded up the torn pages and stuck the wad into my waistband.
That was the early 50s, and there were lots of things we didn’t talk about then, believing that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. That wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now.
Fanatics, whether religious or political (and they’re even more dangerous when they’re both) control their followers by only telling them what they want them to believe, leaving out all kinds of information that might shake their belief. That’s what indoctrination is, what brainwashing is.
And when you start the brainwashing when the individuals are young children — as the Jesuits supposedly say, “Give me the child before the age of seven, and I will give you the man” — you can easily mold fanatics in any way you want.
Are you scared yet? Hah. Watch this. And this.

2 thoughts on “fanatics by any name are still fanatics

  1. I am a follower of Jesus. I don’t call myself a “Christian” anymore…in fact, I don’t often call myself anything. I do seek to follow the teachings and the way of Jesus. I pray and go to church. I also wanted to cry and throw up after watching that sick trailer. Actually, I grew up in something similar to what you saw. The only hope for me is that as kids grow up…they see through that shit (pardon my french)…and leave the “movement”. Now, not all of them do, and the ones that do still stay relatively conservative in their politics (I am an exception there). So, in a sense, I guess the Jesus Camp kind of people are winning their little war. It bothers me that these people claim to follow the same person I do. There is no arguing w/ these kinds of people. Hate never wins though…and I believe THAT is taught by more than just Jesus. Overcoming evil w/ good is difficult when you deal w/ peopel like this…

  2. Well, I’m not a follower of anyone, but I probably live pretty close to what Jesus is supposed to have preached. I have often said that my kids, who were brought up with philosophical values but no religion are probably more “Christian” in their behaviors and attitudes than most Christians.

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