i've been avoiding it since the premiere last summer, mostly because i wondered if i wouldn't find the whole thing traumatizing, eliciting memories of a baptist childhood that has made me a religious misfit ever since. i was the twelve-year-old girl who read leviticus and revelations as nighttime bed stories, hoping to scare myself shitless into having crushes on boys instead of girls. i was, let's just say, a tormented kid. so when 'jesus camp' came out, i was both curiously drawn to it and repelled by it. you know, the whole train wreck thang.
so i have a friend who is also a recovering baptist, and I found out she too was sort of curious and nervous about jesus camp. so we decided to watch it together. that way if one of us regressed and started doing something bizarre like speaking in tongues, the other could slap her upside the head and bring her back to reality. you know, sort of shake the bejeezus out of the other. so to speak. and there was beer. so we were good to go.
there were some pretty disturbing scenes...kids crying hysterically and collapsing after experiencing the whole contact-with-the-holy spirit stuff. there was this weird-ass anti-abortion guy who had a little display box filled with plastic fetuses at various stages. the 7 week old fetus looked like a perfectly developed full term baby and my friend shouted at the tv THEY DON'T LOOK LIKE THAT AT 7 WEEKS, THEY LOOK MORE LIKE SHRIMP!!! which has completely messed with my mind as I am anticipating a shrimp feast of some kind at Kimm and Jen's house later today. and then a very old and cranky woman (who looked a lot like my born-again aunt joan) with a life-sized cardboard cut out of a smirking george bush that all these kids chanted and prayed to. that whole scene was just, well, fuh-reeeeky.
the woman in charge of this camp was just an out and out right-wing-christian-whack-job with way too much power over children. her name is becky fischer, which in my mind is perfect because when i was a kid, we were terrified of the wild fishers that roamed around in the woods behind our house. we had cats that would go into the woods and never come back and my dad would shake his head and say "a fisher must have got him." they were vicious nasty little animals that preyed on perfectly nice cats of mine and i think this woman is a little bit like that herself. only she preys on naive and vulnerable kids.
the overtly political stuff they were throwing at these kids was also fairly terrifying and the statistics about evangelicals gave me the gay shivers. 25% of the nation's population identify as evangelicals, 85% of evangelicals are "born again" when they are thirteen or younger, and yeah baby, when they grow up, they vote and they influence national policies. george junior and samuel alito can confirm that.
there was one delicious segment in the documentary when fallen angel ted haggard waxed poetic about his moral superiority. that was made especially fun by adding our own color commentary to it (DO YOU THINK HE'S GONNA GO GET A BLOW JOB FROM HIS MALE PROSTITUTE FRIEND AFTER THIS SERMON?) he is just so, so, so gay. check it out for yourself by clicking here.
but really, this was/is some scary stuff. the far right is constantly accusing The Gays of indoctrinating our youth when clearly they are the experts...and jesus camp illustrated that brilliantly just by letting the cameras roll. the camp director is unapologetic about it and says things like "children are so use-able in christianity" with a shit-eating grin on her face. um yeah. not exactly a newsflash. kids believe in santa and tooth fairies and the goddamn easter bunny simply because adults that they trust tell them such things exist. they are damn easy prey, and because of it, there's a whole army of well-trained soldiers for jesus, and they're making a foot path to the voting booth, to washington, to the supreme court and on and on and on.
of course, there is always hope. my friend and i were both little brainwashed baptist kids and look at us now...fierce and firey lesbian warriors. thank god for rubyfruit jungle and desert hearts and the first girl who ever let me kiss her and who then convinced me that i wasn't going to burn in hell for it. i coulda turned out to be one...of...them...ewwww...instead of the very liberal and very proud dyke that i am. yikes. that's the stuff that nightmares are made of.
as a result of watching jesus camp, we are thinking of starting Queer Camp.
instead of a cardboard cutout of george bush we'll bring in a cardboard cutout of Ellen in her very lesbian white suit.
instead of plastic baby fetuses we'll hand out that purple tinky winky that got jerry falwell all worked up.
instead of making kids speak in tongues, we'll have them memorize the lyrics to "it's raining men". click on the rupaul picture for my favorite version of that timeless gay tune.
all andrea dworkin books will be required reading.
and we'll make them watch judy garland movies. especially the really, really gay ones.
little queer soldiers of love to call our own.
it'll be fabulous.