I’ve been wrestling with whether or not I should post my opinion or review of the new documentary called Jesus Camp. As a “born again Christian” but also as a moderate (liberal) I find that my beliefs and morals are contradictory to the views of the so-called “Neo-Conservatives”. To understand better of what I’m about to say, I suggest first that you go to your local video rental store and rent and watch Jesus Camp.
The wiki on Jesus Camp says that it is a 2006 documentary directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing about a Pentecostal summer camp for children who spend their summers learning and practicing their “prophetic gifts” and being taught that they can “take back America for Christ.” According to the distributor, it “doesn’t come with any prepackaged point of view” and tries to be “an honest and impartial depiction of one faction of the evangelical Christian community”. After watching it, I would agree with the first half, but the next part, the part that reads “doesn’t come with any prepackaged point of view” is only somewhat accurate. When doing any sort of religious review, opinion or points of view are make sense of what we’re seeing. How one describes “speaking in tongues” or “born again” to a non-member audience in a non-religious universal definition will always be riddled with opinion. This movie, however, left interpretation to the audience, but it was clear, if the audience was not a member of this group then it would likely be negatively shocked at the material and also would likely side with Mike Papantonio (the radio talk-show host) for his opinion that fundamentalism is too radical. On the other hand, members of this religious right would likely side with Children’s pastor Becky Fisher and praise her for being defiant while viewing this movie as a reaffirmation of why everything hinges on “keeping the faith pure.”
If it is not apparent by now, I’m talking about a clear binary schism between fundamentalists and the rest. The purely dichotomous separation has been split into self-proclaimed “neo-conservatives” or “neo-cons” and liberals/moderates. Our first “engagement” (as they could likely call it) was the 2000 election when the goal was to win 50 + 1% of the population for President Bush. Of course Carl Rove was the mastermind in finding such a constituency and converting these “sheep of Jesus” to “followers of Bush” whilst keeping inline with the faith and retaining their “moral agenda.” This all clearly reeks of politics, but oddly enough this group (at least in the film) identifies itself as completely non-political, but rather radical in keeping the morals set out by Christ. Politics aren’t the issue and making this post a commentary on politics would negate the greater truth about this group.
Fundamentalism has scarcely been herd in recent times to convey the attitudes of Americans, but rather it’s been used to characterize the extremist Islamic groups as radical and yes.. fundamental. To get a clear definition of fundamentalism, the American Heritage dictionary defines fundamentalism as “a usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.” Using this definition, the fundamentalist group talked about in this movie clearly fills this role.
The commentary on society, by the fundamentalists, says that society has sold out to secularism and has degraded the faith. Society has left morals and ethics to be defined by man’s laws and interpretations, rather then God’s laws and interpretation. Therefore we MUST turn away from the ways of man (who is weak and fickle) and go back to a time when
At this juncture when battle talk gets thrown around and the argument becomes rigidly dichotomous as “if you are not with us, then you’re against us” I find serious fault with by fellow brethren in Christ. The teachings of Christ are not to wage war with man, but to rather wage peace. This means that Jesus would rather have us love our fellow man as humans, rather then persecute humans for their choices. This means that a redefinition of the goals of Christianity is in order. Unfortunately, leaders of the our faith (with exception of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) haven’t clearly defined the goals of faith to be one way or the other. For that I look to a monumental figure in the world’s religions: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) better known as Mahatma Gandhi “the great soul.” Using a Hindu spiritual leader to address the goals of Christianity is not odd or out of place in our society. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was known to have used Gandhi’s teachings on the “path of non-violence as a means of protest” to lead his peaceful protest against the injustices of racism. Gandhi, in his own defense, didn’t limit himself to being a professor of one-religion, but of all religion. Gandhi says, “I have no desire for prestige anywhere…I am a servant of Mussalmans [Muslims], Christians, Pasis, and Jews, as I am of Hindus. And a servant is in need of love, not prestige. That is assured to me so long as I remain a faithful servant.” (From M. K. Gandhi, Collected Works, 26:415) Hopefully by his own words, we can agree that if Gandhi was important to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and that Gandhi, himself, proclaimed to be a servant of Christians then maybe what he says on what the goals of faith are, should be our goals.
Gandhi says, “All well-order societies are based on the law of non-violence. I have found that life persists in the midst of destruction and, therefore, there must be a higher law then that of destruction. Only under that law would a well-ordered society be intelligible and life worth living.” Christians must take heed, especially fundamentalists, to what Gandhi is saying here. Jesus also spoke of non-violence as being the better of two paths and to never take vengeance on your own behalf. On the later he said, “19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (KJV Romans 12:19-21) on taking the righteous path Jesus said, “38Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (KJV Matthew 5:38-42).
If we are to be good servants to man and to actually follow the words of Christ, as well as take guidance from Gandhi then we should heed these words and make them our creed. Gandhi spoke of our goal to follow the law of Love, “The law of Love will work” Gandhi said, “just as the law of gravitation will work, whether we accept it or not…having flung aside the sword, there is nothing except the cup of love which I can offer to those who oppose me. It is by offering that cup that I expect to draw man close to me…It is no non-violence if we merely love those that love us. It is non-violence only when we love those that hate us. I know how difficult it is to follow this grand law of love. But are not all great and good things difficult to do? Love of the hater is the most difficult of all.” (N. K. Bose, Selections from Gandhi, p.17).
The moral compass that fundamentalists follow is one of hate and ill repute of those who are not “morally pure” but if we are to be Christians in the truest sense then we MUST rid ourselves of such battle talk and war-mongering that fundamentalists of the past have took to justify their massacres.
It is my belief that that Gandhi was right and speaking from a greater truth that LOVE CONQUERS ALL not separation. Both what Gandhi spoke of and what Jesus spoke of was not to realign government with your own views, but to make faith a personal quest. This might sound like giving your children a change to have a brain and it should sound like that. Indoctrinating your kids in hatred of homosexuals, atheists, liberals, and even moderate Christians IS WRONG and not in line with the teachings of Christ… when I read Gandhi’s teachings or read the words of Christ I see that universally faith should bring us all together. It is not our privilege to persecute non-believers, but our obligation to love everybody. THAT is what God will truly judge us for… the deeds in your lives (good and bad) maybe important to God, but he sent his only son to not judge man for his wrongs, but to help us love man for being God’s creation. The direction for Christianity and the Goals of our faith should reflect this.
God Loves his creations, God in turn loves your Gay Neighbor, Co-worker, or peer AS MUCH AS HE LOVES YOU, so love and treat your peers and people who share different opinions of you the same way you would like to be treated because in the end.
We were all created the same and are loved the same by God.
Therefore, Love one another, I believe, should be the over arching goal of Christians.