Minds of Children

August 2, 2007 at 1:01 am (movies, opinions, rants, religion)

G and I watched a scary movie last night.  I am admittedly a total wimp when it comes to scary movies, but this one really made me shake in my boots.  It had brainwashing, and religious armies and … Pentecostals!!!  Yes, we watched that thriller “Jesus Camp” – and we’re ready to make our move to Sweden at any moment.

There are just too many subjects to cover with this movie, and I’d really recommend for people to actually watch it, rather than read some lame play by play of it.  And speaking of watching it, G and I both noted that we think either side (anti-religious, like us, or scary-religious, like them) could watch this movie and feel that it was giving them what they came for.  I think the film-makers did an excellent job of presenting the subject matter fairly.  It would have been very easy to vilify the Pentecostals, and to G and me, that’s kind of what it was doing.  But to those who firmly believe in the Evangelical way of life, they would see this as an inspiring call to action.

I would, however, like to comment on the aspects of the movie that struck me the most.  As the title suggests, the movie focuses on children, and the brainwashing (indoctrination, whatever you want to call it) that they undergo at the hands of their parents and youth leaders.  These children are never taught to think for themselves.  They chant and sing and repeat bible verses like little automatons.  At their church services and revivals they cry and break down and speak in tongues, not because they are truly possessed by the holy spirit, but because they receive positive reinforcement from their Pentecostal leaders and parents for doing so.  Like any children, they seek the approval from their superiors.  These children are led to believe that they know all that they need to know, because they have found the lord.  Many of them are home-schooled by similarly under-educated parents who teach them a falsified version of the world, thereby perpetuating their own ignorance and biases.  One of the girls (aged 10) featured in this movie frequently approaches strangers 10, 20, even 50 years her senior, to tell them that Jesus told her to speak to them.  Or she will ask them (with all the condescension a 10-year old can muster) if they really think they are going to heaven.  She is not only allowed to do this by her parents, but is actually encouraged to do so.  She is praised for belittling total strangers and acting as if she, at 10 years old, somehow has more knowledge and life experience than a 60 year old man.

These childrens’ faith is not taught to them by methods of reason and logic, methods preferred by which people who think for themselves.  Instead, they are taught lessons in a manner biased by emotion and fear.  In the movie, they are taught that abortion is murder by a pro-life leader who has visual aids including tiny full sized babies that get bigger and bigger, starting from the size of a large walnut.  Of course these are not accurate, since at 5 weeks post-conception we no more resemble a tiny human than does a chicken.  But do sub-ten year old children know this?  Of course not.  Do most of their parents know this?   Probably not.  These young children are taught about abortion and childbirth in a false and emotionally charged way.  Children who do not even know how conception occurs are taught to criminalize and vilify women whose circumstances they know nothing about.  Children as young as 5 vow to end legalized abortion.

Although I appreciated this movie for what it was, I really didn’t learn a whole lot of new information from it.  One of my biggest gripes with religion has always been its discouragement of free thinking and criticism.  I would also not expect for this commentary to sway any evangelical’s way of thinking.  They would view it as the same old godless liberal rhetoric.  So be it, I am pretty liberal and godless.  But fortunately, I can think for myself.



  1. samanthamj said,

    Hey – Great post and summary. I found you because I was just blogging on this too (sort of), and was tag surfing a bit. Jesus Camp is appaulling, isn’t it? Brainwashing at it’s best.

    I can testify personally to the part about kids breaking down and speak ing in tongues “not because they are truly possessed by the holy spirit, but because they receive positive reinforcement from their Pentecostal leaders”. You got it! And, I’m ashamed to admit, I did it. LOL.

    I wrote about it here: http://savemenot.wordpress.com/2007/07/31/putting-of-the-call/


  2. mysterybea said,

    Thank you SMJ. Glad to hear that my off-the-cuff remarks were at least partially credible! I have enjoyed some of your blog entries too recently, so that’s for coming over!

  3. Minal said,

    I cannot believe you were able to sit through that movie. I think I would’ve been too agitated and worked up to sit through that movie. But atleast that movie was made with good intentions of exposing the child abuse (as Dawkins puts it) in Jesus camp. When I watched ‘what the bleep do we know” my head exploded.

    It is a mad mad world!

  4. rehull said,

    Yeah, that movie really freaked me out! … the fact that the 10 year old girl you were talking about is “Rachael” was one of the main sources of getting the heeby-jeebies when someone would say her name. Too many things to discuss in the movie, but my thoughts on the “outlawing abortion”: There ARE medical reasons that people basically have to get an abortion, unless they want to carry a will-be-dead-at-birth baby to full term. For instance, my cousin found out at 3 months that her unborn baby did not have a brain and would die at birth… therefore, they “terminated the pregnancy,” aka abortion. This happened when I was ~14 yrs. old and was one of the many turning points of me learning to question the “absolute truths” that religion, government and whatnot try to jam down our throats … did I mention I used to be Pro-Life previous to this moment in time?

    I just can’t stand when people try to pass laws without understanding good reasons for exceptions to their “laws.” It frightens me for myself and future generation to hear this stuff being passed state by state, with all the medical exceptions not covered… which I know they could ever be able to create a list to cover all these exceptions. Therefore I would much rather have anyone who wanted/needed an abortion to be able to have one, than having restrictions placed on our life choices.

    Just my thoughts on stuff.

  5. mysterybea said,

    I definitely agree on all points. It frankly scares the hell out of me that there is only one person left on our Supreme Court with a uterus (non-functional as it is now). I can easily agree that there are argument against abortion, but none of the arguments I find acceptable are based solely in religion. You bring up a good point about not judging something until you have personal experience with the matter. I have definitely become more liberal throughout grad school as I have seen what it is like to live with poor health insurance and no dental or prescription coverage. I find nothing more disturbing than the fact that the policies which I live by are fashioned by mostly upper class white men, many of whom have never struggled with inadequate health care or having to put off buying groceries until they get paid next, let alone going through issues regarding child birth or sexual inequality.

    Thanks for you input R!

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