I Had an Ah-Ha Moment Today

 

I had an ah ha moment today by way of Twitter, of all places.

In reading through the feed, I stumbled upon a name that sounded familiar. She’d posted this picture:

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.36.41 PM.pngShe’s Becky Fischer, the preacher behind the children’s ministry that ran the controversial Jesus Camp. You may have seen the documentary that came out in 2006. I saw it several years ago but decided to watch it again this afternoon. (I’ve included all 6 parts below).

Watching the film was a huge trigger for me, catapulting me right back into the world I lived in for so long. Our children’s church ministry at our Full-Gospel/Charismatic church was a virtual carbon copy of this woman’s ministry as seen in the film. The raising of the hands in worship, the speaking in tongues and tugging on the children’s emotions with the shame of sin… it’s all in there. And more.

I was in the Full-Gospel/Charismatic church for roughly 20 of my 40 years as a Christian. Eventually I settled back into the United Methodist Church. The core of the teachings, (Jesus born of a virgin, crucified, resurrected for the sin of human kind) is all the same. But the Full-Gospel/Charismatic church veers away from more traditional denominations by teaching that Christians should expect miracles and acts of God like healing, deliverance, and tongues, among other things.

As I watched the film again, I cringed. I winced. I hung my head in shame for the ways in which I’d made my contribution to this twisted way of thinking. Blogging about my personal experiences has taken on new significance for me from watching the film today. This is a truly toxic brand of Christianity.

The kids in the Jesus Camp documentary just break my heart. I encourage you to watch it because people like Becky Fischer are hard at work, indoctrinating kids with dangerous dogma and I for one, know the damage this kind of stuff can do to a person.

No matter what your background, this film is fascinating. It’s worth your time:

I want to know what you think! Post a comment after you’ve watched the documentary.

What do you think?

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9 thoughts on “I Had an Ah-Ha Moment Today

  1. Ms. Way. I have seen it before. Nowadays, if their own statistics are to be believed, they claim that 88 percent of the kids raised in churches like this leave them at age 18 and never come back to these churches or churches like these for the rest of their lives. Along the line, they figured out that they had been brain-fucked with fundie garbage and decided to move towards assorted other things in life that were not brain-fucked.

    That is my 2 cents on it. The fundies are wringing their hands with anxiety over this national exodus of children raised in their churches. The only answer they can come up with is to triple-down and quadruple-down on hammering “right doctrine” into the kids now coming up—which means the trapped kids now are going to have an even harder time that the kids in these video clips are having. Yikes!!!

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  2. Mr. Dover… always nice to hear from you!

    The stats I’ve seen indicate that churches overall are in decline, including the UMC, a fact that troubled my pastor/husband every single year he was a pastor of a UMC church. While he was able to consistently grow our local church, the overall declining stats for the UMC felt like a dog nipping at his heels. Generally speaking, attendance in mainstream churches nationwide continues to drop as “Nones” (people not affiliated with any religion) are on the increase.

    My observation is that this age of information is illuminating the dark places of religion. Now, Average Jane like me can know the back stories of any religion with a little time spent online… and it’s a wake up call to those who dare to dig deep. By no means is everything you find online factual, but it does offer information that could be otherwise verified.

    Jeremy Runnells (an ExMormon) is a fascinating example of how the truth is coming to light. He recently excommunicated the LDS church (he flipped the tables on them getting rid of them before they could get rid of him). It started with his research of the LDS teachings in what has become the famous CES Letter. It’s leading people OUT of the church in remarkable numbers. Terrific read for anyone curious about the LDS: http://cesletter.com/ (I read every word…couldn’t put it down!)

    As far as these Jesus Camp kids, two of the primary ‘stars’ of the movie appear to be “going on with God” to the present day. Here’s a Facebook Page with a post as recent as April 10 about Levi (the boy with the long hair). https://www.facebook.com/Jesus-Camp-My-Story-218481244857296/timeline?ref=page_internal

    I have no doubt that many fundie churches are doubling-down their efforts, ramping up hell’s fire in an effort to “train a child in the way he should go” so he doesn’t depart from it. But it’s an effort the UMC is making, too, along with most other mainstream denominations.

    The UMC just has a different approach than your average fundie church. At our UMC, we hired a hip, cool youth pastor and he created a cool praise band that played contemporary praise songs in the hopes of appealing to the teen demographic. They played contemporary praise music in the Jesus Camp video, too.

    I’m tempted to generalize this way: Fundies scare the shit out of kids, United Methodists lure them by turning them into “the cool kids for Jesus.” But when it comes to Christian churches and their approach to youth ministry, a broad brush stroke doesn’t work too well. Apart from the core beliefs that Christians share, the culture of each church and their specific teachings beyond the core beliefs can and do vary. Including the ways in which they attempt to reach and keep their youth.

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  3. I watched that movie but will need to watch it again.
    I’m just thinking out loud with this… Is the Christian message abusive, or are things like this anomalies? I try to discern between extreme & moderate churches, but even the UMC core doctrine is the same as the fundie doctrine, albeit with different delivery. Is there really any appropriate, harmless way to tell kids “love Jesus or burn in hell”? Hmmmmm.

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  4. I’m personally of the opinion that religious indoctrination is harmful no matter how it is presented. This is because I am convinced they’re selling something that doesn’t really exist. And it’s a product that keeps selling itself as the threat of hell never ever goes away. I viewed all of this completely differently back when I believed the product of god existed.

    But I do view Jesus Camp as more of an extreme immersion in fear and intimidation. Whipping kids into a frenzy like this never happened at any UMC camp I attended. What Becky Fischer does is more of a smack between the eyes with god’s love and the devil’s hate, where our UMC camps were much more about fun and play with some Jesus sprinkled in.

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