I’d just like to draw attention to a series of videos I just discovered. After a few days without internet, I went to take a quick peek at The Atheist Experience Blog, where just today, Tracie posted this little review of a YouTube playlist. She didn’t post the link but luckily (because I couldn’t find it) a commenter posted a link to the YouTube channel she was talking about, which can be found here.
The playlist is called ShwaNerd’s Camping Trip and it deals with a trip he took to a Pentecostal church camp. He attempted to make something similar to the Jesus Camp film which made the rounds a while ago, and I presume it’s not finished because it seems to just cut out at the end. A great deal of the video is actually just audio. I presume this is because (as well as keeping the size of the videos down for upload) this kid is seriously in the atheist closet and he doesn’t want to reveal where he was filming from in case he’s found out. As an atheist living in Europe I am so grateful of the accident of birth that put me in a situation where it’s OK not to believe, where I don’t have to hide and pretend to be someone else. I can be as outspoken as I like and noone can do anything about it.
Anyway one of the things that comes up in the videos is about money, which I think is a bit strange. In the Catholic Church there was a collection every week but it was understood that this money went to third world projects, especially to CAFOD, and only a small amount was taken for the upkeep of the church, for example. Maybe that wasn’t true but it’s the way it seemed to me. Here, it’s explicitly clear that this money goes to the church, you’re giving to God (because God needs money). In the first clip there’s a glimpse of how much money comes into the church from donations. They get $55,000 from donations (I think that’s just for this week long camp) and they still ask for more. In other clips, most significantly the fourth, they’re asking kids (this is a youth camp) for money at the services telling them that they can catch God’s eye that way. The giving is nothing to do with doing good deeds, it’s just for that personal relationship with God which is so crucial in a lot of fundamentalist ideologies. It’s really shocking for me, hussling kids out of their money with promises of God’s love which they can’t possibly know they’ll get. There wasn’t even any mention of the story in Mark’s gospel about the poor old woman giving more than the rich man, even though she only gave a few coins, which in a sermon about giving is pretty standard, in my experience. I don’t know what else to say.