Holy war is coming. Thank you, Jesus.
That’s the tone of a disturbing new documentary called “Jesus Camp.” The film, by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, takes us to a Bible camp called “Kids On Fire,” where the children of evangelical Christians are indoctrinated in a militant faith that sees nonbelievers as opponents and secular government as an enemy to overthrow.
I saw a preview of the movie last week (it opens at the Lagoon Cinema in Uptown on Oct. 6, if the Rapture hasn’t come by then). And I will leave the film criticism to others. But “Jesus Camp” shows what may be in store for us when millions reject the idea of separation of church and state and want to create a Christian State ready to do battle for Christ.
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We get kids in combat fatigues, their faces painted in camouflage colors, who sob, speak in tongues and pray for Jesus to re-make America in his image. Or, more accurately, to re-make it according to the plan of the adults who are turning these children into good little Evangelical mujahaddin.
Pumped up in the Lord, the kids grab hammers and smash crockery labeled “government,” sending the shards flying while adult leaders urge them to “give up your lives for Jesus” and “break the power of our enemies in government.”
It’s not clear who the enemies are, but we know who they aren’t: There’s a scene showing the kids praying before a cardboard cut-out of President George W. Bush.
“They’re so usable,” Camp Pastor Becky Fischer says, without irony. “Today is a fulfillment of prophecy,” she tells the kids. “We’ve got to stand up and take back the land. This is a generation of purity and righteousness and holiness, and you are going to serve the Lord all the days of your life.”
The Lord and George Bush, too. It is a powerful team.
If you wonder why I am talking about a film about people in the Bible Belt, you haven’t been paying attention. “Jesus Camp” (go to jesuscampthemovie.com to learn more) is about a North Dakota camp attended by kids from throughout the country.
“They start taking control in small slices,” says the only person in the film who raises warning flags, a liberal talk-radio host named Mike Papantonio. “How anybody can say, ‘This doesn’t affect me,’ is completely absurd.”Jesus Camp” is not an “attack” film. In fact, Rev. Fischer is enthusiastic about its portrayal of her efforts. But the movie will give nonevangelicals a sobering glimpse of how a potent mix of politics and religion is being used to restore America to the kind of country “it was meant to be.” Or on making it into a place ruled by zealots who have no tolerance for religious diversity and who believe (in Fischer’s words) that democracy doesn’t work.
“If the Evangelicals vote, they determine the election,” one mega-church pastor brags, smugly. “It’s a fabulous life.”
It’s also a tone-deaf life.
When a precocious 9-year-old girl, on fire for the Lord, accosts some elderly black men and asks what will happen to them when they die, they answer they expect to go to Heaven. Rattled, and without a reason to preach, she walks away and mutters: “I think they were Muslims.”
Muslims are the enemy, along with liberals and the shadowy forces of secularism and humanism who want us to believe in evolution and the Big Bang.
Holy War is coming, TV preacher Pat Robertson said last week, while Muslims protested against Pope Benedict and “Christian” lobbying groups urged Congress to permit the use of torture. All while here, on the prairie, Christian groups were urging voters to “make wise Biblical choices about how to vote in November.”
Well, Christians, maybe it’s time to pray for peace and to vote not just on Biblical principles, but specifically on New Testament principles, such as the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
But that, of course, was back in the days before he started wearing camouflage.