My mother sent us to Vacation Bible School. It was a week long, in the middle of summer and, while she is a Christian, I am sure she sent us to have a short break. There were maybe twenty kids in each grade level and the activities were simple. My mom, who is deaf, taught everybody to sign the song, “Jesus Loves Me” and we made Christian themed art out of clay, pipe cleaners and yarn. While I no longer identify with any religion, I have mostly good memories about my VBS experience. It is hard to find fault in lessons of “love thy neighbor.”
But it seems that VBS has changed. I found this article at ABC News online about a documentary, “Jesus Camp” and am more than a little concerned.
Speaking in tongues, weeping for salvation, praying for an end to abortion and worshipping a picture of President Bush “” these are some of the activities at Pastor Becky Fischer’s Bible camp in North Dakota, “Kids on Fire,” subject of the provocative new documentary, “Jesus Camp.” “I want to see them as radically laying down their lives for the gospel as they are in Palestine, Pakistan and all those different places,” Fisher said. “Because, excuse me, we have the truth.”
Wow. If Ms. Fischer’s comments aren’t enough to make you scratch your head, maybe the comments of the little ones are.
“A lot of people die for God,” one camper said, “and they’re not afraid.” “We’re kinda being trained to be warriors,” said another, “only in a funner way.”
Nope, this is not the VBS I remember. I am certain that there are still camps where paper plate art is the norm, but camps like “Kids on Fire” in North Dakota have little ones taping their mouths against abortion and speaking out on political issues like gay marriage.
As a libertarian, I generally support parental choice on everything. Watching the video makes me cringe though. Between the clips of kids praying in front of a Bush photograph, Ms. Fischer openly screaming, “this is war” and boys in battle fatigues, I see a generation of kids being trained for a holy war. I have to wonder how well this would go over if the kids were calling on Allah.
I do think people of every political and spiritual inclination need to pay attention to this trend. This is our future and they know it.
One child in “Jesus Camp” goes so far as to say, “We’re a key generation to bringing Jesus back.”
Freedom to worship as one wishes is part of this country’s foundation. I would never speak out against it. Little training camps for children are different. Extremists are a problem no matter the god worshiped. Unless, of course, the worshiped is the god depicted best by macaroni art.