Jesus Camp – Ignorance is Bliss

23 10 2006

I went to see Jesus Camp yesterday.  It reminded me of a discussion I had with a theist once who maintained that it wasn’t fair that I kept picking on the Evangelicals because they were not a fair representative of Christianity.  Jesus Camp made me feel the same way – it shows how backwards and terrifying these people really are.   It’s easy to think of them as extremists – and though their views are extreme,  they’re hardly the minority.  There’s an estimated 40 million of them in the United states – and Evangelicalism is the fastest growing religion in the world.  This is not the fringe element – and they are a fair representation of Christianity in America.  That scares me.

The film also makes you realize how unapologetically illogical these people are.  At one point a youth minister is talking to a radio talk show host.  The host accuses her of indoctrinating children.  She responds that yes, she is indoctrinating them, but it is ok because she is indoctrinating them with the truth.

I think that with a person like this, you can never talk them out of their belief in god.  Their mindset is that they know the truth – so anything contradictory is unquestionably not the truth, no matter how much ‘evidence’ there is that says it is.  You can not win an argument with someone who as a direct result of their faith has rejected rationality.

These children reminded me of parrots, repeating what their guardians spend hours teaching them.  At the beginning of the film a minister is preaching to a group of children and their parents.  She asks how many of them believe that god can do anything.  Cut to shot of mother raising the hand of her toddler, and making sure her 9 year old is raising his.  Levi, a boy featured predominantly in the film, claims he was saved at 5 years old because he ‘wanted more’.

I’ve always thought that one of the most important parts of education is the process.  I.e. discovering how  things work, not just being told that they do.  This is one of the benefits of the natural world and its laws.  You can work things out.  You can go from a state of ignorance to a state of understanding.

With this kind of religion there is no understanding.  There is no way to work-out why homosexuality is evil – it just is.  Anything becomes true if you follow it with the words: because God said so.

And I guess this is one place of similarity between Evangelicals and their toned-down religious counterparts.  If you are religious you by necessity believe in the existence of ‘god’ and believe that he has dictated certain truths.  This means that the bible, Koran, Torah, book of the dead, whatever – has something true in it.  You didn’t invent your religion – you learned it via tradition more than likely.  What I’m getting at is that I find it somewhat disturbing that people can hold something to be true and just have faith that it is.  If religious people are really that gullible, I should open an elephant repellent store – I’d make millions.  God said don’t eat pork.  God said to stone your wife to death if she cheats on you.  Can’t argue – God said it.  It is true.




One response

24 10 2006

Ouch. That last paragraph seemed a little harsh. I am going to take some time to consider my response.

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