1. I find all this military stuff bewildering myself. Certainly there was little to none of that in my own conservative evangelical upbringing — and I don’t think it’s just the Canada/US divide that makes the difference, although that’s no doubt part of it.

    The thing that boggles me about the whole militaristic approach is that it’s really so far from the Biblical pattern, on the whole. Yes, Christians are told that they are fighting a battle and that they must “put on the whole armor of God”, but it’s a spiritual battle against temptation, deception, and the evil effects of sin in the world around them — not a battle against people who don’t believe. Rather, Christians are urged to respond to the questions and challenges of non-believers “with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience,” as Peter urged.

    Force and coercion, like deceit, have no place and no value whatsoever in bringing people to Christ… so I think it’s a serious mistake to use aggressive military metaphors in talking about evangelism.

    • “…but it’s a spiritual battle against temptation, deception, and the evil effects of sin in the world around them — not a battle against people who don’t believe.”

      That’s my sentiment exactly. Thank you so much for sharing your eloquent and heart-felt reactions. I really appreciate your willingness to weigh in.

  2. I watched the documentary the other night. It wasn’t as intense as JESUS CAMP, which really offended me.

    I thought it scary that the church in the documentary had teens go to third world countries to save souls. I related more with the one teen with an attitude. That was me at her age. I ended up dropping out of the Mormon church then because I didn’t like the rules, older men telling me what to believe in, and other things.

    I think it’s great that teens do have a passion for something. But I question the reasons behind using this to spread the word of Christ around. I did have an encounter with a group similar to this about twenty years ago. They are very passionate and truly believe. I got offended by the whole portrayal of how a Jew will go to hell because they don’t believe. I couldn’t help but think they probably think the same thing about my Muslim sister and brother-in-law. Or even my Mormon mother and family. I was taught to be tolerant of other faiths. That was one thing I feel was missing in the documentary.

    • I’m with you…I was really bothered by the way they treated non-believers (i.e., non-christians) with assaultive sales pitches and blatant disrespect for their cultures.

      Thank you so much for sharing your opinions with me/us. I know it’s not always easy to weigh in on controversial topics, so I especially appreciate your willingness to speak up.

  3. I have never understood the idea of Onward Christian Soldiers that was taught to me in Sunday school before my parents ‘converted’ to atheism and we stopped going to church. I’ve always thought, leave well enough alone, esp. with missionary work – as religion for many (ancient/modern) were/are tied to farming methods, the weather, and essentially survival.

    Religion now has a positive impact in my life as an Episcopalian, but it’s at the National Cathedral in DC, an open-minded denomination that teaches us to love and question and learn.

    In my heart of hearts: That’s at the heart of religion, not condemnation and indoctrination.

    • I think I’ve mentioned to you before how much I love the National Cathedral. It really speaks to my spirit…so soothing and, at the same time, majestic. And I also appreciate religions/spiritual leaders who (as you said so well) “teach us to love and question and learn.” Yes, for me too, that’s the heart of spirituality.

  4. Okay, I was supposed to be preparing a bank deposit, and you enticed me to check out these videos. Just last night, I was having a long discussion with the boys … it appears one of the neighborhood playmates has been trying to convert them.

    Nothing I saw surprised me. I live amongst these people. I did agree with the teen panel that Nicole, the girl with the drug problem, was probably the most Christian among them, although the blonde seemed to have a pretty good head on her shoulders. The 13 year old is a puppet.

    “Got another one!” Egads!

    I get postcards in the mail and taped to my door with the little conversion prayer. My kids get them in their Halloween buckets. I’ve seen them at the tail end of tv shows geared to toddlers and pre-schoolers. I’ve been handed tracts when I go out shopping. The church directly across the street from our elementary school used to stand at the end of the driveway and hand out things or invite people over for breakfast after dropping of their kids. That’s stopped. Or maybe it’s just because it’s been winter…I don’t know. The Gideons still pass out New Testaments to fifth graders here.

    I am a Christian, but behavior similar to those shown in the documentary have nearly driven me from my faith. I do my best to use the talents I’ve been given, and if you ask me, I’ll explain my faith to you. But no, I’m not going out to whack people over the head.

    Melodye, I think I’ve shared this quote of mine with you: God told us to be fishers of men; he didn’t say anything about harpoons. And my other..which dh has on his website: If Christianity were a consumer product it would have to carry a warning label.

    • “Converting” the Mormon girl in front of her mother was ridiculous, as was the older gentleman coming up to interfere. If I had been the mother, I would have grabbed my teen and left.

      My children, just days away from 9 and 12, are very confused by what they hear at school and in the neighborhood … and they are very afraid. All this talk of hell and endtimes has not been helpful for my son with the anxiety disorder.

      Oh wait…I should just get him to climb over a wall. That would work.

    • I so love that quote, and I’m really glad you reminded me of it again. Thank you.

      I wanted my own sons to grow up to be independent thinkers, so as much as I could, I shielded them from religious zealots as best I could, until they were old enough to begin their own spiritual quests.

  5. For some reason, I couldn’t get past the six minute segment of the video. I tried several times to reload and it just kept repeating the ads and beginning part. But even from just watching the first six minutes, I ponder the path these kids are taking. Not because they are passionate about their beliefs, but because this type of fervor is exclusive rather than inclusive. It supposes that their beliefs are right and everyone else’s are wrong.

    From what I see, these young kids are taking on many beliefs that they have not truly experienced. Because it’s not an inner sense for them, they have to uphold these beliefs with thought rather than heart, and so they can’t allow for variations and tend to shut down to different experiences. Here is where the separation between people begin. I saw it happen in my own family–love being meted out to those who believed and withheld from those who didn’t. The kids suffered deeply from that arbitrary division.

    I’m not a Christian, but my understanding of Jesus is that he did not withhold love to anyone. He treated them as he himself would be treated. True compassion is meeting someone where they are, not where we wish them to be. Who can possibly say who is right and who is wrong? There can’t be compassion or understanding or helping with that kind of assumption.

    • Oh, Lorraine, your comments are beautiful. I wanted to quote every line, every word and add “amen.” We are on the same path, the same page in so many ways. Thank you for sharing your perspectives. Even if we were 180-degrees different in our reactions, I’d love you 100%. Even so, your entry really spoke to my heart. Thank you…thank you. xo

      • Do you know the sanskrit greeting, Namaste? It literally means I bow to you. It’s both a gesture from the heart and an understanding of the self meeting the self. That’s what I say to you, dear Melodye–Namaste.

  6. This bothers me a great deal for it shows the power of religion to, not only preach hatred for others who are unlike ourselves, but to kill in the name of Jesus.

    I know I’m going to step in it again, big time, but this has to be said … Christianity is responsible for more deaths than any other religion in the world. Consider for a moment, the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the Holocaust. Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain kicked out the Jews and the Moors through brutal means. The Thirty Years War was fought between Protestants and Catholics all over Europe. In France you had the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (in one week, almost 100,100 Protestants, men, women and children, perished) and on and on and on, right up to the present day.

    Christians, are supposed to seek out and spread the gospel, and in the beginning, it started as a quest to save the world from sin, and purge the lands of darkness. That is all well and good, but it quickly turned to battles for land and power and lordship, forgetting in whose name they fought, and becoming master of all others, and yet slaves to their own greed.

    To me the religious right/extreme fundamentalists are getting way too drunk on religion. It’s all very well to say ‘only the bad few’ are killers but it’s all part of the same disease: for every killer motivated by religion there are a dozen others who are only to happy to push science out of the schools, and to be led, like sheep going to slaughter, into voting according to what their religious leaders tell them.

    It isn’t so much the act of killing in the name of the Lord that is the religious evil, as the way religion makes us put aside our humanity, our tolerance, and our common sense, as well as our ability to reason.

    • “…religion makes us put aside our humanity, our tolerance, and our common sense, as well as our ability to reason.”

      Yes. Yes. Yes. Faith and reason…I’d love to discuss the difference (and the potential intersections) sometime. I’m really overbusy right now, but someday soon, I’d love to chat about this — by phone, if not in person — if you would.

      Thank you for putting your thoughts into words for me/us. I appreciate your willingness to share your opinions on such a difficult subject. (((HUGS))

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