Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Canal Plus, which is owned by Prisa, the same pro-PSOE media company that owns El País, showed a documentary called "Jesus Camp" a few days ago, and the America-bashing hysterics are out in full force. The makers of "Jesus Camp" claim that their documentary is a neutral look at a summer camp for charismatic Christian kids; here's the trailer so that you can judge for yourself.

But here's how Canal Plus advertised the documentary: "While other children go on vacation, Levi, Tory, and Rachel train to be soldiers of God. Every summer they attend Kids on Fire, one of the thousands of camps in which they are instructed in the most radical evangelical Christianity, preparing them for the conquest of America in the name of Christ. Brainwashing that millions of American youth are submitted to." Neutral, huh?

Note: Spanish TV loves showing documentaries about the United States that focus on religion, racism, and ultra-right-wingers. TV3 repeats over and over a documentary on those weirdos out in Idaho who are racist survivalist pro-Nazi extremists. The problem with these documentaries is that if they're all you see, you get a very warped and twisted picture of reality. Yes, everything in the documentary about these guys is true. No, they have absolutely nothing to do with ordinary American life, since about 0.01% of the population falls into this category. They are also not a serious threat to anybody but themselves, and are about #1394 on America's list of "Important Things We Need to Do Something About." It took me half of Christmas dinner to explain to Remei's cousin Jordi that these wackos are an infinitesimal minority who everyone else thinks is crazy, rather than in the mainstream of society.

"Jesus Camp" looks like it falls into that same category of documentaries: yes, it's true, but no, it has nothing to do with the mainstream. Check out this paragraph from Wikipedia:

Some evangelicals have taken issue with the filmmakers spotlighting such an extreme group and then associating it with the 90 million-strong National Association of Evangelicals. (Camp leader) Ms Fisher's organization Kids in Ministry International was founded by herself and has absolutely no ties with any other major American evangelical denominations or the National Association of Evangelicals. The film might cause viewers to conclude that Ms. Fisher's camp represents even a fraction of evangelical practice when this is not the case.

Also, check out this piece by Ray Scarborough of liberal cable news network MSNBC.

Even one of the filmmakers told Christianity Today:

At the same time, I did notice some very admirable qualities to the children in our film. They're extremely articulate, they're smart, and they do good things for other people. They think about others, and they lack vanity I've seen in other kids. So on one hand, they're being raised very well. And it's complicated, because one might not agree with the adult that this person might become, or the direction this child is going. However, as children, they're extremely pleasant, and have a lot of things going for them. So I think, again, this whole film falls into a really big grey area. Which is what I think makes it a good movie.

CT also links to this movie review:

Denny Wayman and Hal Conklin (Cinema in Focus) write, "When a documentary explores a subgroup of a large contingent and implies that this defines the whole, then it is appropriate to call 'foul.' This is the case in Jesus Camp. … The implication is made that Pastor Fischer is a prime example of Evangelical Christians' beliefs and practices. This is not only untrue but it also leads to a pervasive misunderstanding."

Now get this, by Ferran Monegal in yesterday's El Periódico, boldface mine:

Infantile brainwashing

My hair stood on end last night while watching the shocking documentary "Jesus Camp" on Canal Plus. It showed us a summer camp for children between 5 and 15 years old in Kansas, Missouri (sic). A woman leader, like a Dr. Menguele (sic), but chubbier, brainwashes them every day with a cardboard statue of Bush presiding the sessions.

First they are submitted to rigorous collective hypnotism in which they are made to repeat, while looking at heaven as if possessed, slogans like "You are the special generation! You will change the world! Raise your hands! Bless George Bush! Let him feel your ardor! Pray for his soul! Tell him, Mr. President, one nation under God!" And after this witches' coven of kidnapping and brainwashing, most of the children enter a sort of general epilepsy, fall on the floor, cry, shout, chant hallelujah, try to touch the Holy Spirit with their hands, and more than one, at the end, openly says that God has entered him and that he guides his hand when he writes in his diary, and in his steps when he walks.

There's more. The parents of these children say, proudly, that their children have never entered a school. This community of brainless fanatic pseudo-evangelists normally educates their children by themselves "to prevent their being contaminated with scientific explanations: the only valid explanation of the world is divine."

I was scared stiff after seeing this documentary. Those spiritual exercises they made us do here, years ago, frightening priests who terrified us with the anger of God and hellfire are nothing in comparison with what we have seen. And the most terrible thing is that we do not know how many American children enter these terrifying camps of mental extermination every summer.

See what I mean? This guy is terrified. He's so biased about America that he really thinks brainwashed evangelical Protestants are coming to get him. They've never showed him a documentary of normal people going to a normal church, or not going to church, so he thinks that the behavior of a tiny handful extreme fundamentalists is somehow dangerous.

Mr. Monegal, there have been a total of zero fundamentalist Christian American suicide bombers, and a total of about three murders of doctors who performed abortions. These people are not dangerous. Weird, yes. But dangerous, no.

For a much more reasonable look at the documentary in Spanish, check out the Catalan Catholic webpage E-Cristians.

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