23 August 2007

Cinema: Jesus camp

A documentary taking an inside look into an evangelical Christian summer camp for kids, where they are trained to be soldiers in "God's army". This film was a 2006 Academy Award nominee. Full essay.


Anonymous said...

have you heard of the hell houses some of these evangelical christians build? they're like haunted houses in theme parks, except with bloody abortions and people doing drugs going to hell, etc. at the end, you're asked if you will accept jesus as your saviour.

the guy who started this all - jerry falwell.

why should anybody be surprised...

btw, YB, there was a documentary made on one of those hell houses too:


here's a video link to a hell house:

Anonymous said...

I am a Christian with friends both straight and gay/lesbians. I do not judge them and neither would I expect them to place a "Christian = homophobe" label against me. We are all God's creation. And He will judge , not us. All we need to do is to reflect God's love to everyone , even our enemies as Christ has instructed. I'd appreciate if both the fundamentalist anti-gay Christians and the outspoken gay rights groups sit back and reflect on what the other side feel. Do unto others what you would want others do unto you. The more the gay rights group fight for more rights, the more the conservatives want to restrict their rights for fear of what they see is an unholy lifestyle. While I admire your fervour to fight for gay rights, I somehow think you do better if you fight for the ordinary S'pore folk who now have to worry about their CPF , high cost of living , compulsory annuities etc. All this gay bashing / Christian bashing helps neither camp in their cause. Each is already speaking to the converted. And I know of Christians who are homosexuals too. What they want to do with their lives is between themselves and God. The rest of us don't have to impose our personal values on them. In any case I still enjoy reading your blog. Just my 2 cts worth as a gay/lesbian loving Christian.

Anonymous said...

I've read they've opened a Christian theme park in Florida, in the same area as Disneyland. Instead of Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck greeting you, you'll get Jesus and Moses.

Separately, I always had a problem with the word 'islamist', probably churned by some western journalist.

I dont see them using the word 'christianist' for Pastor Becky or Pastor Jerry Falwell. what about a militant buddhist? do we do call them 'buddhismist' or a 'hinduist?

maybe the intention is to show that when Islam is used as a political tool, its called 'islamism', such as communism or Maoism.

so political christianity, by right, should be called christianism.


Wolfgang said...

dear anonymous 23 August, 2007 07:22,

if we don't fight for our rights, may i inquire who will? the gay/lesbian loving christian? the heterosexuals who are not narrow?

if the african-american didn't fight for their rights, do you think they would have equal status with the white-americans in USA? if the women in UK didn't fight for their right to be the same as men in the 1800s do you think UK will have equal rights for women? if the women in USA didn't fight for their right to vote do you think they'll be allowed to vote now?

it is just so easy for someone who is not in the same situation to say that there are greater needs out there.

the poor have most of singapore fighting for them. where are our fighters? if you take a straw poll of people in singapore you'll soon realise that most people will fight or even voice their displeasure about the CPF cuts and hikes all around but how many of them would say they would speak out against S377A or even for our right to hold exhibitions and plays and such?

all i can say about the fundamentalist is that they have always used the bible as their "know it all" justifying everything with it be it slavery, men's dominance over women, the killing of people not of the same religion.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wolfgang, I hear what you say about fighting for your rights. But are gays/lesbians not allowed to vote in S'pore?(lol straight S'poreans don't get to vote too!) Are they not allowed seats in buses / MRTs ? The powers that be (read LKY) have said in effect that they are not going to pounce onto homosexuals' private lives and arrest anyone under S377a). Do you think that by having pink picnics, sames sex kissing photo exhibitions and jogs , the government will back down and say "we repeal S377A cos we now see the light" ?

All I'm saying is that the current gay bashing/Christian bashing is not going to get anyone anywhere. It just creates more division. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi got assassinated fighting for their rights. Not asking anyone to die for a cause here; all I'm saying is that change does not happen overnight.It takes much more than a picnic / jog / photo exhibition to make change happen. And the last thing we need is more hate mongering from either side. Both sides want to be heard but neither wants to listen. I cringed when I read that clown Lazarus' anti gay post in the YPAP website. All I'm saying is that the gay community does itself no service by using the "Christian = homophobe" label and possibly alienating more Christians against their cause. It is "some" Christians who give Christianity a bad name by promoting hate; just as it is "some" gays who are promiscuous with multiple partners. My 5 cts worth of opinion is that the louder you get , the more fear it creates and the slower change will happen. I may be totally wrong, but just sharing my thoughts here. Cheers !

tabula rasa said...

I caught the movie a few months back, and indeed, it paints a very scary picture. Great that you highlighted it, YB.

Honestly, I worry for America, which is very rapidly turning into a theocracy. This Evangelical group is a very powerful political lobby, which is why the US administration panders to them, and the things they try to do, such as lobbying for creationism to be taught in public schools, for abortion to be outlawed, need to be made aware of.

If I recall correctly, the end of "Jesus Camp" shows these bunch of kids taken by their church to Washington D.C outside some government building to protest against abortion. It's sick and fucked up for those church leaders to use kids as tools in their political machinations.

Honestly, watching the film, I conclude that what these church leaders are doing to the children is child abuse, and no, that's not hyperbole. To subject children as young as 5-6 to notions of hellfire and those "intense" prayer sessions IS child abuse.

As Dawkins puts it, we should all have our consciousness raised to the fact that "there are no Christian/Muslim/whatever children, only children of Christian/Muslim/whatever parents."

Incidentally, there's a scene in the film where a kid meets Reverend Ted Haggard, who was like the God of evangelicals. It was before Ted was exposed as a self-hating gay who had extra-marital sex with guys. How I laughed at that scene.

Anonymous, you say "The more the gay rights group fight for more rights, the more the conservatives want to restrict their rights for fear of what they see is an unholy lifestyle."

I'm sorry but that's fucked up logic. So gay rights groups shouldn't fight for rights because it will rile the neo-conservative Christians? They should just docilely accept their place?

And the term you use, "more rights", though I'm sure you mean no offense, is disingenuous. Gays rights groups aren't lobbying for any more rights than your average heterosexual. No one is seeking special treatment, they merely seek EQUAL rights. I'm sorry if that sounds anal-retentive, but I think the words used are very important because repeated ad nauseum, people might absorb the wrong idea (which they already do) that gays want to take over the world or paint the sky pink or something.

That said, I respect that you're not a homophobic Christian. But if I assume correctly, that you're a moderate Christian, then I think there is strong onus upon you and fellow moderate Christians like you to put down/condemn neo-con Christians who are single-minded in their attempts to propagate bigotry and hate. By their silence, moderates confer legitimacy to the rhetoric of extremists.

So, if you believe that gays/lesbians have an equal place in SG society, then stand up against the fundies. Write a letter to the ST forum. If more moderates let their opinions be heard, the fundies can no longer use the rhetoric of "moral majority".

Anonymous said...

I must say that I agree very much with Wolfgang. The problem with these so-called gay/lesbian loving christians is that they don't realize how hypocritical and condescending they actually sound (or are?). It's like they are saying why fight for equal rights for women to vote when they are already allowed to take public transport, eat in restaurants and do many other things that men are allowed to do. Aren't you just downplaying or trivializing the very cause of their fight for equality to vote (or, for gays, to have sex between consenting adults in private not to be treated as a crime in law?)

If you really believe in not doing unto others what you don't want others to do unto you, it shouldn't be so difficult to understand why the gays are fighting so hard to get S377A repealed. Afterall, would you accept a similar law that criminalizes the practice of christianity within the privacy of the church with assurances from politicians that such a law will not be enforced as long as it is practiced in the privacy of the church? How would you view a christian-loving non-christian who tell you why fight so hard for such a anti-christian law to be repealed?

Anonymous said...

I don't know how anyone can watch the whole documentary. The trailers alone makes me feel awefully sick with disgust.

In the name of God, entire peoples, histories and cultures have been massacred. This is what churches never mention. I don't understand this hatred among many on sexual minorities who have historically been the receiving end of the sword.

To those vocally opposed to gays in the name of God, get a LIFE!!!!!


Teck Soon said...

I saw this news story about the Ugandan government and how Christians are having massive demonstrations, holding placards that say "arrest all gays". This occurred after Human Rights Watch released a statement condemning the Ugandan government for anti-gay discrimination under laws inherited from the British. The Ugandans condemn homosexuality as a product of Western immorality, and say it is "un-African". It really made me realize that Singapore has a lot in common with Uganda.

Here's a link:

Anonymous said...

People who read the bible with "open eyes" will be baffled at the amount of anger, hatred, killing incited by an all-loving god. Just read this Evil Bible
It is time for christians to wake up and ask if indeed the bible is written by an all compassionate HOLY being or it is a fairy tale that turns into the longest surviving cult in our history. Look at all the troubles of this world - thanks for all these mono-isthic religions.

Robert L said...

Anonymous of 23 Aug 07:22 and 14:43 is not entirely wrong. he said:
"Do you think that by having pink picnics, sames sex kissing photo exhibitions and jogs , the government will back down and say "we repeal S377A cos we now see the light" ? ...My 5 cts worth of opinion is that the louder you get , the more fear it creates and the slower change will happen."

It would be wise to ignore the parts that you disagree with him (or her) and focus your attention fully on that part that I've pointed out.

I have observed the debating tactic of the Christian rightwing: they go all out to draw attention to certain rights demanded by gays in the west for same sex marriage and social benefits, adoption etc. These are the things that alarm the ordinary Singaporeans. I think it is most unwise for the gay movement in Singapore to be drawn to debate in this direction.

When you argue the issue of S377A, however, the whole playing field changes. S377A is about incarcerating gays who seek to express themselves in the privacy of their own homes. I'm sure the vast majority of Singaporeans are completely sympathetic to the gay needs in this aspect, and it is important that you do not miss noticing the Christian rightwing always trying to gloss over this by dragging in esotheric social benefits including adoption of children.

It's like gays are starved of bread, and the gay-attackers are preaching about the sins of roast pork or chocolate.

I think that gays will get a lot of support in Singapore if they ask for the right to live their own lives; I think gays will lose support if they fight for the right to show off their lifestyle in public.

At the moment, S377A looms as a battle that can be won, provided that the battle is fought on its own. But if the gay community goes out to fight the whole war, with gay kisses and pink picnics, I dare say the whole war will be lost. This is what we can learn from the friendly Christian voice above.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Robert L -
Your analysis of the Christianist anti-gay tactics is spot on.

However, your prescription for gays and their straight friends to stick narrowly to the issue of incarceration is insufficient.

The govt has anticipated that, and promised that the law with not be "pro-actively enforced." To then speak of incarceration as something imminent would seem like crying wolf.

In any case, the gay equality issue is much, much wider than 377A. If it were only that law, why are lesbians as involved as gay males in struggle?

The issue encompasses a whole range of other discriminatory policies that do not spring directly from 377A, such as censorship, bias in employment, etc.

What Kissing, picnic, the jog and other instances show is that the gays' case - that there is discrimination - is real and there for all to see. Far from setting back the cause, these examples foreground the broader question. People who might dismiss as "matter closed" when they hear that the govt will not "proactively enforce" 377A will need to think again about the many other ways in which gays AND LESBIANS feel unfairly treated by the state.

Cloudywind said...

hmm... i dun see any diff between these ppl in the movie and the taliban. same kinda brain wash for the young, same kinda attitude... if this is how those christians think, then there's no diff between them and the muslims in Afghanistan...

Wolfgang said...

Dear Robert L,

Please explain "...if they fight for the right to show off their lifestyle in public." to me?

What is the "gay lifestyle" the Christian fundamentalist keep saying?

Is the "gay lifestyle" to show affection to a person you love? Don't heterosexuals do that in public?

Is the gay lifestyle to go as a group to enjoy ourselves in sporting event or picnics? Don't heterosexual people do that?

Is the gay lifestyle to have movie and exhibitions that show same sex couples kissing? Don't various heterosexual kissing happen in movies and paintings?

Is the gay lifestyle to go to bar and clubs to dance and drink? Don't heterosexual go to clubs and dance and drink (and I'm not even touching on guys picking up girls at places like these)?

Is the gay lifestyle to go Orchard and shop for stuff and maybe shop for bargains? Don't heterosexuals do that to?

So please if any heterosexual person who uses "gay lifestyle" please explain to me what it means? because as a gay man, I have no idea what my lifestyle is suppose to be.

Robert L said...

Hi, Wolfgang

Well, don't shoot the messenger. Peace.

I think it is important to understand what your opponents think and feel. I'm trying to interpret what MM Lee had said and what friendly Christians are saying on this blog.

You asked "what is gay lifestyle?".

My take on this is that straight lifestyle is what all straight people do - holding hands, kissing, partying. Ergo gay lifestyle is what gay people do - same stuff, yah?

My take on MM Lee's concession is that he feels that gay people can do what they want, but in private. That implies not exhibiting their lifestyle to the general population. That, essentially is also what the friendly Christians expressed.

I am acutely aware that it's all terribly unfair, it's not my wish, it's what I observe of the mainstream backward Singaporeans.

That's why I feel that S377A is a battle that's winnable, that it can get the support of the mainstream, unless the more public display of gay lifestyle becomes threatening to them. That last part is the tactic of the rightwing Christians that I want to expose.