The name gives me awful flashbacks of Camp Logos, but I digress.
They talked briefly about how this was not brainwashing, as a popular North Dakota radio personality had suggested, but the honest, true-to-life living faith of these 6 to 9 year olds at Jesus camp, weeping over the nations' sins, blessing and praying over a life-size cardboard cut-out of Shrubya, speaking in tongues and crying tears of joy while praising the name of Jesus...
And we could sit here and discuss till we were blue in the face about whether or not these children believe their professions or were manipulated, but no one will ever know the heart of these children. But what we can discuss is: What constitutes "brainwashing," and what constitutes "teaching"?
- Brainwash: 1: a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas
2: persuasion by propaganda or salesmanship
- Teach: 1(a): to cause to know something (b): to cause to know how (c): to accustom to some action or attitude (teach students to think for themselves) 2: to guide the studies of 3: to impart the knowledge of 4(a): to instruct by precept, example, or experience (b): to make known and accepted 5: to conduct instruction regularly in
- Propaganda: 1: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person 2: ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect
Now, Christian fundamentalists certainly don't have a corner on the market of brainwashing, I think we all know that. And it certainly isn't limited to a religious experience. But does your average, run-of-the-mill person engage in brainwashing? Or is the average run-of-the-mill person a victim of it? And how does propaganda fit into the big picture?
Propaganda is, of course, the best way to brainwash. Repeatedly telling someone over and over again that something is the truth has been proven over and over again to be the way to go if you want to persuade someone (or a group). In fact, we all know that children are extremely susceptible to propaganda (see here & here), whether from parents, teachers, or other adult role models. When Diane Sawyer asked, "You ask for children to be 6 to 9 years old, yes?", Pastor Becky replied, "Under thirteen, preferably between seven and nine." I wonder why that is?
Now, I was never brainwashed as a child. I was taught about Jesus, his love, and all the wonderful stories that went with it. I was sent to a bible camp for three summers, along with all my other brothers and sisters, but it was nothing like Pastor Becky's little Propaganda Paradise. We built model rockets; played capture the flag; had bonfires; and prayed before we ate, and there was a devotional or two. Becky's got them crying, weeping, speaking in tongues, horrified about abortions and gay marriage... One wonders why Becky doesn't teach these kids to care for the homeless, the terminally ill, and the poor (you know, what Jesus did when he was on Earth) instead of trying to "take back America." Did Jesus ever try to "take back Jerusalem" from the Romans? You know, the empire that would shortly be feeding his followers (okay, technically Paul's followers) to the lions and crucifying him on a cross? No. He actually said render to Caesar what is Caesars, and love god and everyone else. Even Paul never advocated "taking over" anything (and we all know my thoughts about him) but just said to pray for your leaders... That's sounds pretty pacifistic to me... Onward Christian Soldiers my ass...
When you take children at prime propaganda age and slam their young minds with "Fight for Jesus," that is propaganda. It isn't simply saying, "This is what we think Jesus would want." They are saying "This is what Jesus wants and you must do it."
Now, of course dear sweet Becky is saying that's hogwash, they aren't using propaganda! From her GMA interview: "People think kids are going to grow up in some kind of ideological vacuum and then when they're 12 years old we can present them with these heavy ideas and they can make a choice. That's ludicrous. They are bombarded on every side from TV to the music they listen to, to the books they read--all types of ideas from witchcraft to evolution to morality. To say we shouldn't say anything to them because they can't understand it?"
Yeah, I bet their really bombarded at Jesus Camp with the evil Harry Potter and his Minions of Devilry...
I remember when I was at bible college, I had to take a course on psychology. You want to take a guess on what the textbook for the course was in 1995? Why Christians Can't Trust Psychology. (You can buy it at Amazon.com here.) And the books I had to read to take piano lessons? Music in the Balance and The Ministry of Music. (At Amazon.com here and here; and while their titles may not sound as scary as the first, they're just as fundie...) Perhaps this is why I could only transfer three credits from the 36 I accumulated?
Regardless, while my parents, conservative as they were, did not engage in brainwashing, they did teach us about the bible and what it had to say. But Pastor Becky? She's a brainwasher, plain and simple... From her web site:
Now, that doesn't sound like brainwashing, does it? Of course, anybody can make brainwashing sound pretty, can't they?
The purpose of Kids In Ministry International is to impart vision to children and adults of how God sees children as His partners in ministry worldwide. The purpose is also therefore to teach, train, and equip children to do the work of ministry and release them in their giftings and callings.
It is also to teach, train, and equip adults to minister to children, teaching them how to train and release children into the things of the Spirit and to find an active place in the body of Christ in all areas of ministry. Those areas include evangelism, mission, the gifts of the Spirit, worship, hearing the voice of God, prayer, healing the sick, and more.
These purposes are to be accomplished through a variety of forms including but not limited to curriculum, books, other written materials, seminars, conferences, schools of equipping, crusades, outreaches around the world, tapes, videos, and the internet.
I just feel bad for those poor kids. I'm betting most of them will end up in therapy for years...