Friday, September 29, 2006

Jesus Camp: Not "Utilizing Democracy to Its Fullest Potential"

Today's Wash Post has a review of "Jesus Camp", along with some commentary by the film's directors, Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing. The documentary, if you haven't heard of it by now, follows the indoctrinization (well, what would you call it?) of evangelical children at a summer camp in the ironically named Devil's Lake, North Dakota.

While I can sort of understand the desire of Grady and Ewing to relate to their subjects, if only for the purposes of winning their confidence, the directors seemed to have partaken of the spiked cool-aid.

Although the film documents scenes in which children, many below the age of 10, with war paint and wearing camouflage, smash ceramic cups portraying their wishes if not their aims for secular government and chant "this means war", the directors breezily say:

The evangelicals are "not doing anything illegal," Grady explained recently in a phone interview. "In fact, they're embracing and utilizing democracy to its fullest potential.

No, this is not "utilizing democracy to its fullest potential". Democracy involves, among other things, the art and practice of compromise and the securing of individual liberties, neither of which are represented by the Jesus Camp administrators or the children's families.

It's particularly astounding that in this day and age, when the beliefs and practices of militant Islam have come in for severe criticism, for the implications those beliefs have on modern civilization, that the similarly war-like, anti-democratic antics of American Christians would somehow be celebrated.

Militant Christianity and militant Islam are manifestations of the same neurosis--a willingness to adopt a worldview that is, as the author Sam Harris has noted, mind-numbingly impervious to evidence and murderously intolerant of criticism.

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