Monday, May 07, 2007

Spreading the Word

Last night I watched the documentary "Jesus Camp". The main focus of the film is a Pentecostal children's minister with the goal of turning children into "warriors" for Jesus. In the film, the minister defends her position saying that it is just because other religions indoctrinate their kids as well. If you really want someone to become a true believer then you need to get them young.

My own religious training was close to non-existent. Very similar to one of my friend's, whose young son once asked, "Mommy, why do all those buildings have T's on them?"

My parents explanation for why we didn't go to church was that we were Presbyterian but then the church burned down. After that we had a brief stint as Lutheran's but that didn't really take. So by the time the other church was rebuilt, my parents just weren't really in the mood anymore.

I do remember as a child knowing that some churches in my hometown were thought of as a little odd. If you attended any of these churches, your chance of any sort of popularity with your classmates was nil. I knew a minister's daughter at my school that had some peculiar personal hygiene habits. The only other thing that I knew about her and her family was that they raised rabbits. TO EAT. No one wanted to spend the night at her house.
But the last thing that any self-respecting grade schooler wanted was to be associated with the group of Christians that had signs up year round advertising the "live animal" Christmas nativity scene.

Much to my dismay, these zealous warriors for Jesus were relentless in their recruiting efforts. They spent hours upon hours knocking on doors with the hope of expanding their membership. They were so determined in their mission that they had their very own church bus, not just for special outings, but to drive around town picking children up for church.

I did not realize that I was personally in any danger of being associated with "the weird church" because we didn't really have much to do with that sort of thing. Our family had become more of the watching TV while eating Kentucky Fried on Sunday kind of crowd. So you might imagine my surprise the Sunday morning that I was informed that I was going to church. Just with my sister since my parents really preferred to stay home with the fried chicken.

It only happened the one time and I honestly don't remember much more than riding the bus to church. I later asked my mom why she made us go and she simply said, "Well, they kept coming to the door and asking."
Sure, that is a reasonable excuse for sacrificing your own children to the religious wackos, isn't it?

Certainly by now most of us have seen the appalling footage of the young children of radical Muslims repeating horrible things about Jews at very young ages. I do find it a little disturbing that the similarities between these two groups are the lack of tolerance for other views. Both groups believe that their way is the right way and want laws that reflect their religious views. Neither group appreciates the separation of church and state.

One other thing that struck me in the film was the mention of home-schooling. I knew that some of these home-schooled kids came from ultra-religious families but was not aware that it was because of their Christian beliefs. I thought that all kinds of kids ended up getting home-schooled, not just the ultra-conservative Christians.
I can now see that a lot of them could not go to public school because they would be seriously at risk of getting their asses kicked, what with that speaking-in-tongues business.

One section of the film discussed the evils of public schools. The list of evils includes teaching evolution, not allowing prayer and teaching global warming. I understand the first two objections but I am still confused over the global warming. My impression is that their position is that global warming is not real and even if it is, God will fix it. It never occurred to me that Christians would not think that it just made good sense to not destroy our planet.

Despite the fact that this film focused on very extreme Christians, I think common sense dictates that the radical Muslim groups are where our fears are justified. The Christians may want to convert everyone but they really have no interest in becoming suicide bombers.

One of my earliest childhood memories is of being at my Grandma's house and she was telling us to hide and not make a sound. This was pretty fun because Grandma generally didn't get down on the floor and play with us. It turns out that this was a game that Grandma played on a regular basis, it was not just for our benefit. Anytime the Jehovah's Witnesses were in the neighborhood, Grandma was busy hiding. If only it were so easy to deal with the radical Muslims.

The Jehovah's Witnesses are tenacious but fortunately, not known as a violent crowd. The most questionable one that I have ever known was a Jehovah's Witness who also sold Tupperware on the side.

Now that was a woman determined to get you, one way or the other. Still, your biggest risk was getting a copy of The Light Tower or being forced to buy a nice set of airtight cereal canisters.

You can always use Tupperware.

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