Jesus Camp Canadian Style

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.

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5 Responses to Jesus Camp Canadian Style

  1. Kirsty Moffat says:

    That fourth video was a little weird. I would definitely have been having a chat with him afterwards if I was there. I think he was totally off base with the whole catching God’s eye thing. The bible is pretty clear that God has his eyes on us all the time anyway, and giving so that God will notice you is a terrible motivation regardless. As for the amount of money, I am doubting that it was just for a week long camp. It might possibly be for the year-round running of a camp facility? Most churches do take up an offering, and they would take in a fairly significant amount of money every year(theoretically should be 10% of the salaries of congregation). That money goes towards the mortgage or rent of the building, the running costs of the building(ie electricity, water, etc), the salaries of staff(which are usually quite small), ministry budgets(ie sunday school craft supplies, etc) and also to charitable projects(like third world support).

  2. grammarking says:

    To me the idea of a camp at that age seems a bit too close to indoctrination. Sure, teach your kids about your religion but at the end of the day it’s their choice, you shouldn’t be sending them on a camp, it should be something they choose to do off their own back when they can decide for themselves.

    Is this the kind of youth ministry you’re thinking of going into?

  3. Richard T says:

    Taking your last paragraph, if you look to the south of Canada at some of the great US evangelists – Swaggarts and so on – their churches have been cast cows for the ‘owners’ of the church. The combination of milking the gullible and rampant humbug goes a long way back certainly into the 19th century.

  4. Kirsty Moffat says:

    How old do you think people have to be to make decisions for themselves? In my experience of youth work the kids are the ones who want to come along. It’s not their parents at all. In fact, most kids who have come to youth groups I’ve been involved in don’t even have christian parents. I couldn’t agree with you more that it should be a kid’s choice to believe or not to believe and I would never try to pressure someone into becoming a christian.

    These clips have really only shown what are generally fairly small portions of christian camps. Worship and teaching times are usually only for a wee while a couple of times a day. Most of the time kids just hang out with each other and the leaders, play games and stuff like that. It depends on what type of camp it is as well, and who is going. If the organizers know that the majority of kids coming are already christians then the focus will be different to when they are not.

  5. grammarking says:

    Sorry for jumping around a bit but IIRC biblically speaking tithing was specifically to help the Levites in the Old Testament, it was to be given to the poor and the widows. This modern variant seems to be poorly based, scripturally.

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