Rethinking Jesus Camp.

After the lengthy and rather heated discussion we had here on Say Anything about the movie Jesus Camp I thought I’d offer Julie Neidlinger of the Lone Prairie blog a chance to post her thoughts on the matter. Julie is a North Dakotan and a former attendee of the camp in question. – Rob
The reaction to the Jesus Camp movie has surprised me. I admit being naively taken aback at the opinions spit out by right and left, the Christian and non-Christian, the opinions coming from all these great thinkers and bloggers I regularly read.
I’ve seen blogs link back to my original detailed post on the documentary and get their facts incorrect in the time it took them to read what I wrote and write their own commentary. I’ve found a blog that can’t even get my name right and that information is readily available. The national print media has consistently spelled the name of the town the camp was held in incorrectly. These, and other little things, are like a small mirror reflecting the bigger problem of people trying to figure out what Jesus Camp means: misinterpretation, and blindly trusting that misinterpretation. I say that if a person can’t even get the facts correct, they are certainly a long way from understanding even the most basic concepts involved.
Most of the people talking about this have two sources on which to base everything they’ve said, the Jesus Camp movie trailer and the ABC News clip.
If people are making a judgment on what Jesus Camp promotes based on the ABC News clip or the short movie trailer, I wonder that they would be so willing to use so little evidence to make such grand judgments. Even if they’ve seen the movie, a film shot through a camera through the eyes of outsiders having passed it through the editing room, I would still ask them the same question. What do you really know about this? For those of you that complain about the distorted view the “liberal” media gives you, why are you willing to swallow this newsreel, this documentary, as the complete truth?
Maybe because it fits a stereotype?
Do you think this is something new and terrifying that now faces our country? It is not. This is not a new movement. This is merely the first many have heard of it. People like me, normal and non-compound-living and non-manifesto-writing people, grew up in it. We’re all over. North Dakota and a lot of other places have a rich Pentecostal history that you probably don’t know about, and yet you are still alive and America still exists.
The best example I can show people to offset many of the stereotypes I’m seeing is myself. When you say all these things about the parents that allow their children to attend, you’re saying it about my parents. When you wonder how these children can possibly grow up to be anything other than demented, you only have to look at me. When you assert these children can only grow up to be crazy or detrimental to the country, look at me and ask if that’s really a forgone conclusion you ought to be making. I’m not asking you to embrace it or send a donation check. I’m not asking you to turn a blind eye to Christians who have done stupid things. I’m simply asking you to think about it, knowing it is beyond your personal experience and knowing you might not really understand what you are seeing. Think about it without being lazy. Think instead of reacting. And try talking about it without using any of the following knee-jerk words: Nazi, Koresh, Cult, Child Abuse, Terrorist, Taliban, Crazy, Militant Islam, Jihad, Hezbollah, Jim Jones, Kool-Aid, Hitler, Brainwashing, Communist, Sick.
If you are concerned, then be concerned. Personally, I know that I am more concerned about those who are radical about not being radical about anything.

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