Saturday, December 04, 2010

Jesus Camp

I have no idea how I came to download this, but it was quite interesting. Evangelical Christian kids, praying and crying.

I read theNew York Times review. I have to say, I was disturbed by the children, who looked a lot like they were being brainwashed.

What really gets me about things like this, something that struck me when that whole fuss over The Golden Compass occurred, is that as an atheist, if I had children, I would be quite happy for them to be exposed to religion. I'd have no problem with my child choosing to believe in god. I don't feel that making a decision about something that can't be proven either way should be forced on anyone, and certainly children shouldn't be indoctrinated to think one way or the other. I'd let my kids read Narnia or The Chosen or Harry Potter or whatever they wanted. I'd tell them what I think. And I'd help them develop the kind of critical thinking skills that would let them come to their own conclusions.

It's quite strange to realize how differently some religious parents feel.


Greg said...

It does sound rather grim, and not something I'm at all comfortable with; I'm going to watch it asap.

Of course, the whole 'camp' phenomenon is alien to me anyway, so I may find it weird on many levels.

For all that, though, I don't think this brainwashing is an exclusively religious phenomenon. If parents ever present their children with a worldview saying that it's the only valid one, or if they lie about other ones, then they're doing the same thing. And I know atheists who do that. I think this is a generically human thing.

Amanda said...

I've yet to meet an atheist that comes anywhere close to the level of nutso in terms of parenting that I've seen with religious types (particularly American religious types, granted), however, I'm sure there are some out there. They just seem to be to be considerably less likely.

Greg said...

I think that's probably broadly true, but I think that may be a matter of the Jesus Camp types being rather, well, blatant, while atheist indoctrination is much more subtle. It's also, I think, generally more successful.

It seems figures in England suggest that roughly half of all children brought up by two religious parents grow up religious themselves, whereas only a quarter grow up religious among those with one religious and one non-religious parent, and the the number that become religious when neither parent was such is negligible.

For what it's worth, I watched Gandhi and Airplane! in religion class in school. A school, that is, run by a religious order of Catholic brothers. I think this is pretty far from indoctrination. It's a long way from, say, Richard Dawkins' famous letter to his daughter, which is riddled with falsehoods and misrepresentations, as though he is either wilfully lying about what the Catholic Church teaches, or else doesn't care whether what he says is true or not, as long as his daughter follows in his footsteps.

Contra Dawkins, science says nothing either way on the matter of religious truth; there are, however, credible philosophical and historical arguments for the plausibility of a religious worldview; that's not to say it's a done deal, but it is at the very least plausible. And yet children of atheists basically never become religious.