Jesus Camp…Where Are They Now?

UPDATE AS OF JANUARY 2013: A video of Levi has surfaced on YouTube. He’s nearly 20 now and even more in love with Jesus than before.

You can check out the video here:

You can also check out Levi’s Facebook by going to the following link: Levi’s Facebook.

While I’m not certain this is Rachael’s Facebook, it is the only one with her name (which has an unusual spelling. You can check out Rachael’s possible Facebook here. Rachael shared an update on Becky Fischer’s My Time at Jesus Camp page, when she was 15. She was still as in love with Jesus and was living in North Dakota.

While Tory does not seem to have a Facebook (or it’s been hidden from public view), she did write something for Becky Fischer’s book on Jesus Camp. She was moving away from God, for a bit, but found him again at age 16.

A friend of mine was talking on Facebook about how homeschool groups and co-ops are kicking families out of their groups if they support LGBT rights. This is no big surprise to Ash and I. We’ve been homeschooling Robert since he was in 2nd grade. We have felt the oppression of such groups on both LGBT and disability related issues. In response, someone posted a clip from Jesus Camp, a documentary we had a chance to review, a few years back.

The clip shows pre-teen, Levi O’Brien, talking to his mom, Tracy, who is homeschooling him. In it, she tells him that there is no basis behind science. The entire scene is pretty scary, especially when Levi expresses his views concerning how smart he believes Galileo was for giving up science for God (Apparently, Levi has no idea that Galileo was forced to recant his scientific beliefs and discoveries in the name of religion). This is not the only obviously inaccurate thing Levi is being taught.

The only thing I do agree with his mother on is the fact that I do not believe I, as a parent, should send my son off to school for eight hours a day, when I know I am capable of giving him as good of an education (or better) than the one he could receive at a public school. Of course, I also believe not all parents are capable of this, which is why public schools do exist. I also believe that Science is based in fact, and therefore it is an important subject to be taught accurately, to children.

Anyway, this prompted me to do some digging to try and find the brainwashed Jesus Camp kids. It took a little digging, but lo and behold I found most of them on Facebook, and you will never guess who else I found?

Despite the Kids on Fire camp being shut down due to public reaction from the documentary and vandalism on the property, Becky Fischer is keeping up with her young “soldiers” through Facebook. She has also been schooling a new group of children, to be soldiers in the last days army. This is through the School of Supernatural Children’s Ministry.

Her hardcore message is best summed up in her own words, so here they are:

Becky Fischer talking about the School of Supernatural Children's Ministry

If the text is too small, click on the above image to see a bigger version of it!

You can find out more about what Becky is up to and find more of her “prophetic words” on her Facebook. The scary part is that over 2,000 people subscribe to her BS.

Becky’s most promising student was Levi O’Brien. He was just a pre-teen with a rattail when he was featured as a child preacher in the film. Not much has changed from then. Now, Levi is 18. He still screams and yells when he is preaching. His messages are still somewhat incomprehensible. He no longer has the rattail (that we can see), but he is using his Facebook as a platform to spread his uneducated, close-minded message about Jesus and God.

Levi believes his God is the only God (and his God did not create other religions). However, Levi’s FB has a lot more opposition to his constant messages of faith than Becky’s does. His 400+ friends constantly debate the validity of his words. His mom, Tracy, even hops in on one post to back up his claims, by stressing just how accurate The Bible is and how it is used as a school textbook in many places. All in all, the message of Levi remains the same.

You can check him out on his Facebook here.

Despite being kind of mousy and a loner, Rachael Elhardt had very specific beliefs about religion. She was the girl who believed she had to convert people to her fundie style of Christianity or they were going to hell. Despite her outspoken nature on religion, she has opted to keep her Facebook private. As such, we can only assume she is still a crazy Christian because she remains friends with Levi and Becky. You can at least see a picture of 16 or 17 year old Rachael on her Facebook page.

Decidedly absent from the Jesus lovefest on FB is young Tory. If you remember, she is the one who was a dancer. She was a part of the children’s praise dance team at Christ Triumphant Church who was afraid of dancing for the flesh. Tory questioned her faith more than once in the documentary and spent much of her time on film bawling her eyes out. Of all the kids, I felt bad for her the most. I have tried to find out what happened to Tory and whether she still attends Christ Triumphant Church (which by the way has been endorsed, or at least it’s head pastor Alan Koch has, by Becky Fischer).

I would like to believe that these kids have learned to think for themselves, but sadly, despite the negative press for Jesus Camp, they continue to hold these steadfast, terrifying beliefs that their religion is the only way and all others must be converted to their thinking.

[tags]Jesus Camp, Levi O’Brien, Rachael Elhardt, Becky Fischer, Where are they?, Evangelicals, Christians, Soldiers for Jesus, Kids on Fire, Facebook[/tags]

74 responses to “Jesus Camp…Where Are They Now?”

  1. I just watched that movie for the first time. It’s so sad, because Levi seemed like such a smart kid with a good heart. It’s too bad he got brainwashed…

    I’m really curious to know what happened to the blond kid with the bowl cut who was questioning the existence of God. I bet he’s an atheist now.

  2. The children are still young. Levi can still become the next Sam Kinison … just hopefully not as self destructive. Thank you for taking time with your investigation and putting up this web site.

  3. I just finished watching this movie as well. I had seen the preview for it many years prior but never got around to watching it until today. It’s sad because I do believe these kids were brainwashed and it’s very hard if not impossible to un-do.

    Anyways, like any religion they each have their own extremists and these kids are modern day christian extremists. Luckily Christianity is a peaceful religion which doesnt necessarily condone violence.

  4. I just watched Jesus Camp last night, and it was a really heartbreaking experience for me. I was homeschooled as a kid, and although my parents were not particularly right-wing or anti-science, we did attend several Evangelical churches at various points. These churches had a profound and somewhat traumatizing effect on me as a child, and it was very difficult to watch the same BS being fed to a new generation of young people at such a mentally and emotionally vulnerable time in their life.
    Thanks for posting this brief update on some of the characters in the film. It may encourage some of you to know that, although I was heavily influenced by communities like that portrayed in Jesus Camp during my childhood, I (as well as my brother) have freed ourselves completely of that world view and are now not religious at all. We were lucky, in that our parents were not nearly as crazy as other people in our churches and homeschool communities. For a kid like Levi, whose parents are in on it as well, freedom of thought will be hard won. I’m glad to hear he has facebook friends arguing with him.

  5. I really appreciate the update. I had not seen that movie b/c I was not a Christian at the time when it came out. Very sad that people think that represents Christianity at all or anything like the Jesus of the scriptures. Thanks for the update and please dont judge us by our worst kind (if they are a kind which I would say not).

    I do have one question that seems to keep coming up about the movie and that is about brainwashing. Even in the post you made, you said in a negative sense that these children still hold the “terrifying beliefs that their religion is the only way and all others must be converted to their thinking”. I dont know anyone who believes their opinion is wrong. I would hope they would change it. So I am having trouble understanding why people are so blown away by people having beliefs that they try to convince others to believe. In particular, people who have opinionated blogs. Im seriously not trying to be a punk. I just dont see the difference. We all believe our way is correct and the only way, even if that way includes within it a multitude of ways. I dont see the difference. Maybe you could shed some light there.

    Anyways, thanks for the update and I assume this post will be helpful for some time as people straggle across that terrible movie like I did.

  6. Very interesting. And Levi’s FB is interesting too… though his girlfriend’s page is even more interesting. She likes a lot of stuff that tells me that she’s probably a pretty good (some may call it bad ;-)) influence on him. “Mythbusters”? “House MD”? Check out her likes. She seems to be fine.

    In the interest of full disclosure: I’m a “born-again christian” myself. Just not of the kind portraited The quotes mean I have not really that much in common with what you USians understand by that term. I do go to church (sometimes more often than at other times) and I do pray. And believe in a lot of the stuff “they” believe in. Loves Jesus Camp (the movie). Loved especially that talk radio host! Hated the homeschooling bit (not that I hate homeschooling on principles, just miseducation).

    Really, Emily sounds fine from her FB comments and her likes. And she sounds and seems to be quite stable in here likes/believe not to be influenced *too much* by Levi’s mom (I saw Tracy comment on a pic of Emily’s…)

  7. I met Tory today while visiting Christ Triumphant Church. Apparently she still attends. She seemed kind of quiet but also very nice.

  8. @Greg – Thanks for your comment. I think the big issue is that when these kids are trying to force their beliefs on others they do not give up. Further, they also refuse to accept people saying they are sorry or not interested. Instead, they cast judgment on the people by telling them if they do not change they will be going to hell. They believe it is their job to convert others to their way of thinking.

    The difference with an opinionated blog is that people have choices. People can choose to read or not read what I say. If they do not agree, they can shut the page down or they can respond by commenting their disagreements. I only believe we should try to change the beliefs that affect the well-being of others. Most beliefs are harmless towards others and as such, I can respect differing opinions. These kids are led to believe there is only one way and anyone differing in their belief is not to be respected but also to be looked down upon and even castigated.

    I hope this makes more sense?

    Oh, also, about brainwashing. Brainwashing means these kids do not have the ability to think for themselves. I am proud to say my beliefs come from research, life experience and my own thoughts on matters. My beliefs differ from my ancestors before me in some ways, but are similar in others. A brainwashed person is not given the freedom to learn and thus make their own assessments about their beliefs. They grow up believing exactly what those who are brainwashing them want them to believe. The saddest thing is these kids often do not learn to think for themselves.

    A great example is the homeschool curriculum, which is obviously inaccurate due to our knowledge of actual science, but these kids truly believe it is right because they have been brainwashed to believe it is right without even questioning its validity. The awesome thing about scientific theories is we have the option of questioning them and testing their validity ourselves. The option of testing such validity is taken from these kids. They believe what their brainwashers want them to believe is fact.

  9. In response to Greg’s comment ” I do have one question that seems to keep coming up about the movie and that is about brainwashing. Even in the post you made, you said in a negative sense that these children still hold the “terrifying beliefs that their religion is the only way and all others must be converted to their thinking”. I dont know anyone who believes their opinion is wrong. I would hope they would change it. So I am having trouble understanding why people are so blown away by people having beliefs that they try to convince others to believe.”:
    Greg, not everyone who believes in something thinks that it must be force-fed to everyone else. It is entirely possible to believe in something without thinking others should as well. I am pagan, and just about any pagan will tell you that there are many spiritual paths, and that each person much choose the one that is right for them. If I have a place to go, often there are tons of ways to get there. I might have a preferred route, while someone else might prefer to take an entirely different one, and that’s fine. It’s all about respect for various ways of thinking and viewing the world. Blessed be!

  10. I just watch this scary movie last night. I can’t believe that a grown adult is purposly having kids believe that they need to go out and start wars on goverment and everyting else. Are you kidding me? I can’t believe after that movie about that camp, that she is still gettin POSITIVE reveiws and people agree with this madness. I took a look at their facebooks like you said and also gave Becky Ficsher’s website a look and oh my God she needs help in the worse way…. Using kids like that and not really forcing or making them ALL believe that. I’m sure some agree with her veiws but I’m sure not all of them did before they brainwashing anyway.

  11. This is why I converted to Deism. These are terribly brainwashed to thinking in such a twisted way. My God Jesus would not accept this bullshit.

  12. Watched this film today, and my take on it that floored me while watching was how similar the indoctrination of the kids was to what goes on in Islam. Truly frightening in the points of congruity.

    For those with an interest, Netflix also has Islam: What the West Needs to Know available for instant viewing, and is a real eye-opener as to the blinders Western leaders have on concerning that religious belief due to lack of understanding of the fundamental tenets and how they are required to be practiced.

  13. The fact that Becky is still allowed to teach and brainwash people is disguisting.

    John Lewis, I think you can’t compare Muslim countries (which are sitting on top of mounds of oil and being invaded and raped by ‘Western leaders’) and these suburban white Christian kids. These white kids are being bombed daily. Besides, the movie you refer to is a rightwing peace of crap from Zionist apologists who are in bed with the likes of thse Jesus Campers.

  14. Regarding brainwashing…these are CHILDREN. They were essentially “born” Christian. They had no chance to develop any type of thinking other than their dangerous fundamental thinking. If we withheld all religious teaching from children until they were 18, and enforced a requirement to pass a physics and a biology class in high school- religion would disappear in two generations, and be viewed just as mythical as Greek gods (which is what the other religions are…. kinda like “The Hangover 2”- same story, different locale).

  15. What Becky Fisher and her minions do to those kids is a form of child abuse. Her schooling of a new group of children, to be soldiers in the last days army is a mirror image of the Hitler Youth in Germany in the 1920’s.

    There’s a lot out there on the subject to be googled up. There are so many similarities I’m convinced that Becky got her ideas directly from Hitler’s manifesto.

    I felt so bad for those kids in Jesus Camp, it made me cry for them.
    Thanks Dominick for taking the time to put this up.

  16. I just watched the movie for the first time, one week ago. it was sad to see that. Its great that you found some news about the kids.
    ist crazy when you know that they worsiph Bush–he was the war-lord–there where never atomic bombs in Irak, all was a lie.
    and the scene with Ted Haggard……brrrrrrr

  17. Pearl–you can stop crying. Go to Levi’s or Luke’s (his bro) fb and see for yourself how they are doing. They are both well-adjusted, happy, productive members of society.

  18. i would love to know what happened to the young blonde haired boy who stood up and said he sometimes questioned his faith, he is seen later in the film reading a book against a tree. He looked so tortured by guilt for his thoughts, it was heart breaking.

  19. Notable quotables from “Jesus Camp”:

    “Pres. Bush has brought credibility to our Christian faith.” Becky

    “Giving everyone equal freedom is going to destroy us.” Becky

    “I think they’re Muslim.” Rachel (after approaching three older black guys who told her they were for sure going to heaven. HILARIOUS!)

    I enjoyed “Jesus Camp.” It was an accurate portrayal of right-wing, conservative evangelical Christians. And they would agree the portrayal was spot on! They DO believe that Pres. Bush was a great president. They DO believe that equality equals destruction. They DO believe that ending abortion will bring revival to America.

    I loved the cutaways to Mike Papantonio as a way of balancing the perspective. He self-identified as a Christian, serving as a beacon of light for the loving, thinking, true representation of Christianity. We’re not a homogenous group. Many of us live and believe in the God of expansive love. Unfortunately, that’s far less salacious than the “Save the Babies”/”Kill the Fags” nut-jobs to whom the media constantly passes the mic.

  20. I don’t know how much time you spent poking around Becky Fisher’s site, but if you haven’t seen them already, to get a better idea of where she’s at you should really look at some of her videos she has posted on the site. Specifically, the videos where she has others who have entered her fold (folds?) are particularly interesting. One is of her and some woman who acts totally wired sitting in what looks like a Denny’s restaurant, and they are both engaging in more of the same talk about recruiting small children to be soldiers etc. They are both very hyper, and the other woman gestures wildly and keeps making these “whoosh” sounds…She looks like a stripper that Becky met in a dive bar and brought back to her motel room for company.

    Another video has a former small town alcoholic tramp discussing how Becky Fisher saved her during a tent revival or something like that. This woman can actually be seen briefly in Jesus Camp, sitting at a table with a group of kids in the cafeteria scene.

    There are also some other videos of Becky Fisher alone, in which she discusses how she’s keeping up with everything and it’s business as usual etc. Unfortunately for Becky, these videos look like they are filmed in some random parking lot, and she looks like she’s been livin’ on the streets.

    Obviously I have chosen to find humor in these videos, the reason being that Becky and her ilk really do upset me deeply. By “ilk” I do not mean Christians—TRUE Christians—I mean those folks out there who claim to be Christians yet carry out business such as that which Becky Fisher is doing. These people have an agenda that is not very Christian at all, and are dangerous.

  21. Here’s the thing, we all as humans have unsatisfied needs for more. More of what??? We don’t know so we live life satisfying that need with material things that don’t hold to our satisfactions long. Yes for the some time we are “satisfied,” or we tell ourselves we are and go buy more things, make more friends, or whatever it is to keep us from being/understanding we are unsatisfied. We all will come to a self awareness halt one day and ask ourselves; “Why am I not satisfied?, Why am I here, and What am I suppose to do?” These are the make it or break it questions in a faith sense. It’s either you believe in God or you break off and believe nothing/ “a higher power” (just as long as God isn’t the in the full picture). It’s sad that people have bad experiences with “Christians” converting someone’s mind into believing God which can cause one to misunderstand truths to God. Please have an open heart and understand God isn’t the cause of your bad experience. Man is the cause. Do not mistake man’s inability to teach God’s goodness and grace to be the liability to your belief in God or why God should be at fault. If you are still doubting God or believing in God, I challenge you to think this over without being biased.

    What kind of being tell’s you to Love others, be patient, care for one another, forgive others, share, be truthful, don’t hurt others period? In all asking for you to be pure. What kind of being dies for not just one or two people, but for the world?

    Imagine the love in that person to have laid down His life for the entire world…?

    Didn’t your parents and your grandparents all learn these things. Did you know that these morals came directly from the Bible, from the mouth of Jesus? Doesn’t lying, cheating, and stealing kick in the gear to pain & unsatisfactory? If your understand what I am talking about please don’t be defensive I’m just asking for a re-evaluation of God. Have you ever really seek with all your heart, mind, and soul for God through the Bible? Or a quick prayer?

    I challenge you to seek for God unbiased through the Bible and prayer for the first time and see if He’s the God you thought he would be. (New Living Translation) Start in Matthew.

  22. “Jesus Camp” does a really good job of showing how you have to indoctrinate the believers while they are young … or they may not grow up to believe.

    It does beg the question, Would people believe in the doctrine once they reach adulthood and beyond?

  23. I know the O’Brien family quite well. They have since moved to Kansas City, where both of their sons are currently attending World Revival Church School of Ministry and living with their parents. I’m sad to report that they appear to be even more fundamental and extremist than before…apparantly the “real” world is too hard for them and they feel it is necessary to surround themselves with only like minded people. I truly hope they wake up and start to find their way soon!

  24. I just checked out Rachel's page, and one of her favourite sports is Quidditch. Considering the fact that the movie constantly shuns and hates Harry Potter for its use of witchcraft, I think it's good to see that she can be separated by at least that much.
    It's such a shame to hear about the others, though. But why should we be surprised? They were clearly brainwashed at such a young age and their faith was completely exploited o create a hatred for all other ideas and beliefs. It's not going to be easy to think outside of the Bible.

  25. Does anybody know what happened to the little blonde boy,Andrew i think his name is, his the boy that questions his belief in ‘God’ quoting ‘ you cant see him or hear him’ It upsets me to watch that part the most , since I watched the documentary out of every one he was the one that stuck with me , I just wonder what his beliefs are now , if they have change since he has grown up.

    • Check out the comments – someone posted a link to his blog. If it’s the same boy, his mom was a suppressed lesbian and father religious nut. He is no longer involved in the cultish religion.

  26. I really have no problem with Jesus camp although I was kind of turned off at the holy water thing. I like their energy and passion for Jesus Christ.

  27. I wanted to hug the blonde boy who said he didn't always believe what was in the Bible and tell him "This makes you a thinker. Edison, Einstein, Carl Sagan, Marie Curie, Louis Braille, The Wright brothers were all thinkers. You can have your faith and still be a thinker. God gave you a brain, it's a waste of that gift to not use it."

  28. I will like to know the name of the little blond boy on the documentary that say that he didint beleive in God.. Someone?

  29. It seems pretty stupid and nasty to link to a private FB profile of a girl who has been abused and brainwashed. Opening her up to abusive private messages and pointless gawking won't turn her around.

  30. I looked at Rachael's profile, and I refuse to send her any bad messages or say anything bad about her. I think going to school may have helped her, and I think her view on politics is hilarious. As for Levi, I feel really sad that he grew up in the atmosphere he was born into. He's a really smart, articulate guy who's not afraid to speak up and can easily be liked. Now he's going to go on and have kids that he can indoctrinate as well as his parents had indoctrinated him.

    • Oh! I don’t encourage anyone to harass these children. Do not send them bad messages, please. That makes you as bad as the people who indoctrinated them in the first place.

  31. FYI – Einstein, Curie, Edison and Sagan were atheists. Please don't incorrectly assume that faith or god had anything to do with their brilliance or their ideologies.

  32. This woman Beck Fischer who runs the camp suffers from obesity and the many illnesses compounded with it.

    Her obesity is a direct outcome of her anger which lead her to hatred. Being obese is not a pretty picture in the eyes of people. She knows this and it makes her angry because she can’t stop eating. She directs the anger toward the world. This anger toward people and herself leads to hatred. As her disease progressed she began to hate the world and want revenge on it. The complexity of this disease makes her a very unhappy woman who indulges in tons of food to quell her anger.

    Religion afforded her an opportunity to be around others in her obese state. But the only way she can have enough courage to do this, is through self righteousness. She cannot be around others unless she assumes an intimidating role, the more intimidating, the less apt is a follower to ask about or remark on her obesity. It’s far too involved to go into here but that’s her, in a nutshell.

    It is too bad for the kids that the parents are useless and unable to protect them from Fischer’s twisted thinking. They are intimidated and too frightened to speak up because they are the type of people who believe in a punishing God.

    Their stance on abortion would not comply with Christ’s assessment of the subject.

    Proof being that Christ once said to some very self-righteous temple going people. ” Even the prostitutes and tax collectors are going into Heaven ahead of you.” Christ was knowledgeable of prostitution and the things women had to go through if they were a prostitute.

    Christ was well aware of abortion. Prostitutes have practiced abortion for centuries. Christ, knowing this and being a very intelligent person, still claimed that even they, the prostitutes were going to enter Heaven.

    He claimed that others were going to have to wait outside while these prostitutes and tax collectors went in ahead of the self-righteous. Since he knew that they practiced abortion from time to time and still stated that they would enter Heaven, it means Christ is a very loving person for allowing prostitutes into his kingdom. I saw no love coming from these people in the film. I saw zealots stating phrases that had the word love in them but as a famous writer once wrote. “What you are, shouts so loud, I can’t hear a word you say.

    I’ll get back to the film in a minute: This part is for all people regardless of believers or nonbelievers.

    When Christ said “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” He was simply stating the fact that we can only come from the energy and matter contained in the Universe. This is the Creator or Father and we are part of the Universe. The energy and matter of the Universe is inside of us. The Father cannot exist outside of the Universe because the Universe is All. We are the Universe beholding Itself.

    Probably the most interesting thing Jesus verified (and don’t get too excited, since most likely none of us are anywhere near to having what it takes.) but he said : We humans are Gods and children of the most high. He was saying that we have a capacity in us that can do nearly anything and went on to say that we as humans would do even greater works than he was doing.

    It requires something beyond merely going to a temple, church, synagog or holy place every day. It requires truly believing what he said, ‘You are Gods’ but none of us believes it. If we truly did, I have no doubt we would be able to heal blind and crippled people. I’ve seen a lot of fake religious healers on TV get a person to stand up from a wheel chair but a lot of people in wheel chairs can do that, even though it’s painful. None of us are near to where we should be by now.

    This poor woman Fischer can’t even pull off a slight miracle like giving up a bag of Frito’s to save herself from obesity. If something so obvious as this escapes her understanding; that she will never be able to lose weight until she gives up her anger and hatred, then how can she understand deeper issues like abortion, homosexuality and war?

    It was fearful and self-righteous feelings that got our Nation into a war with Iraq, a nation that had never done anything to us. The religious right-wing and people such as these and Bush took us into this war. Now the Karmic principle that Christ taught is being visited on our nation. “As you do unto others, it shall be done unto you.”

    We destroyed their economy, Our economy was destroyed. We destroyed their infrastructure, Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill destroyed ours. We made millions of them homeless, millions of our homes went into foreclosure. Isn’t it just like he stated? Millions of our jobs were exported overseas and our own bankers turned on us, robbing our retirement savings and lowered the value of our homes by 40%. Now our tax dollars are being used to rebuild Iraq infrastructure.

    Christ was an incredible teacher and this film is actually quite a lesson as to how religious people, armed with incomplete understanding can do so much damage to themselves and the world in general.
    This film portrays what happens in any religion, not just the Christian people.

    As a last observation on this film, their teaching of hatred toward homosexuality is totally off.

    Christ never said anything about homosexuals and for a very good reason.

    His Father is the Creation itself and in the Creation or Universe, this planet came into being. On this planet, homosexuality exists in several of the animal life forms. It didn’t just develop in Mankind. Christ knew this and there was no reason for him to say anything about it. The Creation doesn’t make mistakes. Everything that exists can only exist because of the way it arranges in the Ever-Present-Eternal-Now.

    One has to be careful of the ancient writings in all holy books. Some of the passages were written by minds that were either very enlightened or very twisted and fearful. Any writers that talk of God being an angry god or hating humans in any way is wrong. God is Love.

    300 years after the death of Christ the Council of Nicaea, oversaw which writings would go into the New Testament. Remember that these were people trying to establish their power. That’s not to say that some of them weren’t there with good intentions. But we all know people and what people do. They have agendas, they have desires, they are known to cheat and force their will on others. I’m sure the Beck Fischer type mentality was present at that Council.

    For the Atheist and non-believers who feel frustrated by the religious right wing types in this film and elsewhere, Christ felt the same way. All of my quotes are paraphrased but true. Christ also said to some self righteous church going types. “On that day you will claim that you always called on me and used my name for all of your works but I will say to you. Away from me, I never knew you.”

    If there is a Judgment Day, there are going to be a lot of shocked Christians, for God weighs the Heart of a person.

  33. Einstein wasn't an atheist; he was agnostic. Atheism is a pursuit of the ego whereas agnosticism is a pursuit of humility and an admission of ignorance.

    'I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth.' – Einstein

  34. Joshua McNary Thank you for your purely subjective and mildly self righteous definitions of atheism versus agnosticism. We can split hairs on Einstein's exact beliefs (describing god as nature or energy or the mathematic principles that govern the universe is simply redefining words that already have specific meanings) but in the context of this article, Amanda's post, and my response, atheism and agnosticism are synonymous. Which is to say, it's both ironic and in poor form to say that "you can have your faith and still be a thinker," while citing people you know nothing about and who very clearly and publicly did not believe in faith or a personal god.

  35. Maybe I was being a bit subjective, but not anymore subjective than your assertion that Einstein was an atheist. In his own words, Einstein very much disliked being labeled as such and described his own views of the universe as humble and agnostic. So in that regard, I suppose I am guilty of being as subjective and self-righteous as Einstein was.

    However, you seem to be conveniently ignoring these objective and verifiable facts, so that you can put Einstein into your own subjective narrative. Isn't that being self-righteous, intellectually dishonest, and the same thing you are accusing original poster of being guilty of?

  36. Joshua McNary I do like the debate; sorry if I came across abrasive. My comment regarding subjectivity and self righteousness was specific to your definitions of atheism/agnosticism, as you paint the former as purely selfish and the latter as sagacious humility.

    My original point that I think you keep missing is the same whether Einstein was atheist or agnostic. I think calling god "Spinoza's God" is comparable to atheism. You're redefining 'god' as harmony in nature through forces unknown, and pretending that it still fits within theism. If I rename physics or biology 'God', does that make me theist?

    In addition, the original poster claimed those individuals as people of faith, yet they weren't. Moreover, they all stood for the polar opposite of what faith posits. No subjective narrative necessary.

  37. James Toffel You seem very reasonable, so I will explain myself in detail.

    I saw your reply as 'missing the point' of original poster who was encouraging someone for thinking and being a thinker. I'll agree that her attributing certain people to have faiths they may not have had is perhaps factually inaccurate, but the spirit of her post was kind and complimentary.

    However, you sought to go out of your way to strike her down based on factual inaccuracies and completely ignored the point of her message which was to uplift somebody.

    I will admit I am only assuming your motivation to do this come from a complete lack of intolerance towards others' beliefs that don't follow your own because I don't understand why you would put any effort at all if you weren't driven by some negative emotion.

    My initial reply towards you also 'missed the point' and focused on a specific portion of what you said to completely discredit what you said, much like you were doing to the original poster.

    In other words, I have only tried to mirror the spirit of your original reply in kind.

  38. I was simply pointing out ironies that contradict the central point of her argument. Nothing you've said undermines, erodes, or discredits my point: Einstein was referenced as an emblem of faith, which, whether he was agnostic or atheist, we can agree that his belief system was nothing close to what the original poster associated him with.

    Perhaps the only point we can agree, however, is that I do have a lack of tolerance on lending credence to purely mythical ideas, even when the message is kind and uplifting–talk about intellectual dishonesty.

    "Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower."

    I'm done posting here so enjoy the last word.

  39. James Toffel You using Einstein as a symbol of atheism is no less false than her statement that Einstein is a symbol of faith. At the very least, your statement is untrue, if not plainly hypocritical.

    Atheism and agnosticism are not the same, otherwise Einstein wouldn't have gone out of the way to make the distinction that he could be called agnostic but should not be referenced as atheist, which is what you have chosen to do.

    The thing I think we would most fundamentally disagree on though is that you think intellectual purity trumps human decency, but that's something I do not subscribe to. In this instance, I see what you've done as 1 level above grammar nazi.

  40. Jesus/Christianity is the only way to Heaven and God the father. Don’t mock the kids for their beliefs. You should come to Jesus too.

  41. Julia,
    That isn’t the blonde child in the movie that you linked. I know his father well. His father isn’t a religious nut as someone else stated. In fact, his parents are divorced and his father just legally married his boyfriend. The blonde boy, Andrew, is happy for his father and step-father and is happy with his own life. He is a free spirit and when last I saw him (today) he was enjoying the beautiful day on his father’s front porch (he’s in town for his father’s wedding reception) playing his ukelele.

  42. Um, wow. I just came back and read replies. I wasn't suggesting that ANY of the people listed were symbols of faith. I was simply stating what I'd tell this child, that there are smart people in the world who questioned the norms. He can do the same thing and be faithful at the same time. I'd like to extend my apologies to the two of you for creating a situation that caused the back and forth about what it was that I meant and my obvious ignorance of facts.

  43. it occurred to me after watching this movie…if all those millions of aborted babies are in heaven…and the aim of these people is to get other people into heaven…then shouldn’t they be FOR abortion and killing babies? i mean, if you let them get born and grow up, many of them will stray and not be saved and not go to heaven! but if you kill them before they are of age, they will all go to heaven! perhaps you would go to hell for it, but wouldn’t that be a better deal, and a terrific sacrifice to make? just wondering how that would be answered, i’m pretty sure they would not really agree with this idea. (for example, maybe it stops them from fulfilling god’s plan for them, but then that means god’s plan for a lot of them is to go to hell?)

  44. Update: I'm in a third level Psych class at my college and since I'm learning about Piaget, I've been thinking about doing a study/project on religious indoctrination and its impact on Piaget's stages of intelligence. Jesus Camp and other sources have led me to believe that there are serious developmental delays beginning in the pre-operational stages, and that the child protective services in the country need to know these things and quit turning a blind eye from what's going on in these households.

  45. Sorry if this is too long.

    I grew up in this exact environment from the age of 10. I was one of these kids every year I would go to church camps, conferences, bible study and anything which will give me a better understanding of God and what I can do to serve him. My goal was to travel to spread the word of God and help other churches to win souls in the name of Jesus. Watching this doco gave me mixed feelings of sadness, anger and happiness.

    Why does it make me sad? Children haven’t lived long enough in this world to know what else is outside the church besides those who are not saved will go to hell. Anything that is ungodly must be cast out. It was tough, but I did it. That is all that is told to us, no exceptions. It is drilled into us everyday. I remember whenever there was a repentance speech I would cry because I was felt guilty that I let God, mom and the church down and that I didn’t want to burn in hell.

    This brings me next why am I angry? Fear and guilt plays a big role in this brainwash. Anyone who would oppose what is preached is ungodly including Christian writers. They teach compassion towards non-Christians but if you continue to ignore what God is telling you, no mercy cut them from your life. You should not make friends with non-Christians. It is very insular and ignorant.

    Having said all that, some of my best memories were at Church camps. Outside of the worship time and teachings these camps were a lot of fun. Free time was like any normal children. Things like, coming up with ideas for the talent shows, talking about boys, sharing jokes, sports and just talking about stuff. I made so many great friends at this time and after 20 years I’m still friends with them.

    At a certain age most will start questioning, comparing notes and making up their own mind. I for one have moved away from this life since then but I have a healthy respect for any religion and more accepting of people. I have taken away the good and left the bad from this time. Everyone makes their own choices at the end. Some choose to stay and some don’t.

  46. Julia O'Brien representing atheism as a pursuit of the ego is a profound misunderstanding or misrepresentation of what atheism is. Atheism is nothing more than a single position on a single claim. Do you believe in any god(s)? if your answer is yes you are a theist, if it's anything else you are an atheist. it's not a worldview or anything like it, he's wrong.

  47. also atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive. the first being about belief and the other being about knowledge.

  48. Dennis Jansen Atheism is a term that I'm sure has different meanings to different people. Specifically, I know there are self-labeled atheists who derive their title from knowledge, not belief. That is, because they don't KNOW God, God doesn't exist. Maybe this is 'wrong' to you as well, but it doesn't remove its use in reality.

    In any case, I was talking about the branch of atheism that would breed the vitriol needed to give life to original poster's reply, and not all atheists everywhere who ever existed. I thought I should make that clear.

  49. Joshua McNary The definition for atheism is clear. Lack of belief in the existence of god or gods. Furthermore claiming to know as knowledge that no gods exist is intellectually dishonest. I would never claim such knowledge. I reject the god claims due to lack of evidence. That said I reject gods on the same ground I reject the tooth fairy and bigfoot, so it's a strong conviction.

    To me it doesn't particularly matter if these people were atheists, although Sagan certainly was one. Einstein was a pantheist (I prefer not throwing these around because they clutter up the issue) which means he equates the universe with divinity. His references to a "god" are in no way similar to the god-image any theist would recognise. I am sure I could find some evidence from letters he wrote if you think it's important.

  50. Dennis Jansen I'm not arguing what the definition is. I'm just saying atheism is a conflated term in regular everyday usage, so I wanted to be more specific in what I meant.

    It doesn't matter what they believed, I agree. I originally posted just because I thought it was ironic that James went out of his way to step on someone's facts when he lacked his own fact checking.

    He also seemed like he was suggesting that religious people are incapable of thinking, but it wouldn't take much research to realize there are countless brilliant thinkers who are also extremely adherent to a diverse array of beliefs, Christianity and atheism included. It really doesn't matter if those particular people she listed were Christian or not because I don't think any reasonable person could suggest atheism has a monopoly on brilliant thinking people or that brilliant Christians don't exist, that's all.

  51. Dennis Jansen I am an agnostic, which literally means "against or anti knowledge" or "no knowledge". I simply don't know and that's it. I am not an atheist, as that means "against or 'anti' god", which I am not. I'd have to have an opinion on whether god exists to be against a belief in him or her. I generally find excessive certitude on either side of the coin to be incredibly arrogant.

  52. Julia O'Brien if you do not answer the question: Do you believe in a god? with a yes. You're an atheist, including I don't know. you either believe something or you don't there is logically no in between. Perhaps you are confusing the rejection of the claim that a god exists, with the claim that there is no god. In that case there would be a middle ground. But atheism doesn't claim there is in fact no god.

  53. A good example would the gumball machine. Let's say you are in one of those competitions where you have to guess the amount of gumballs in there for a prize. I come around and tell you: "the amount of gumballs in that machine is even". Do you believe me?

    You would probable respond with "I don't know", because you have no knowledge about the amount of gumballs in the machine, you are agnostic. But at the same time that agnosticism would force you not to believe my claim. And the rejection of my claim that the amount of gumballs in the machine is even, doesn't mean you are claiming the amount is odd. You just withhold your belief until there is some evidence for this claim, like after there has been a count for example. on the claim: the amount of gumballs is even. you would be an agnostic atheist (aevengumballist), the terms are not mutually exclusive.

  54. I was raised very much like this and I did just fine in life (I figured it out), but I did become an angry atheist at age 20. That was nearly 20 years ago. Why was I an “angry” atheist? Because I was so mad about being lied to for almost 20 years of my life. But why have I mellowed out quite a bit since then? Because I lived in Los Angeles for many years, and I got to deal with all their stupid mindless atheist brats, and it was not fun.
    One Halloween, after watching this Jesus Camp flick, (it was a documentary meant especially for Halloween, given to me by my atheist cousin who also had an upbringing like this), I then hit the local amusement park to enjoy their own little house of horrors. I was SO unimpressed with the kids there; dropping the F bomb every other word, challenging the “monsters” to scare them because -no matter what- they STILL were not scared, resorting to spitting at the monsters to provoke them (the monsters had real chainsaws and they chased after us on stilts, making them way taller than any of us), and at one point a little boy, about 8 years old, shouted to his friend “Look! Cool! That chick is getting RAPED!” I turned my head to where he was pointing, and yes, this amusement park, which was not exactly kid-friendly, featured a rape scene, right before it ended in a bloody gruesome murder, which the boys got a real kick out of. And here I was, amongst a bunch of grade school kids who were all laughing with amusement at this whole sight.
    It was an awakening. I may have still been atheist, but at that moment I PRAYED that one of the kids from Jesus Camp would appear and offer any one of those peer-aged kids a Bible. Or offered me one. It would have been the sanest and most refreshing experience of my night.
    When I had kids, I decided: I am moving out of there. I raised my kids in the church. Yes, science is great. Yes, science has it’s place, but so does character development training, which is what most of those ancient Bible stories are. The spasms and speaking in tongues, as featured in the creepy video, are certainly overkill, but some simple Sunday school lessons about God and morality and sharing and caring and giving to charity, which we do as a family every Christmas, as well as work in soup kitchens every Thanksgiving; these are lessons of character. My kids are very spiritual as well, without needing to be deprived of science. I’ve also attempted teaching astronomy at a ritzy space camp and the kids in my classes were almost as snotty and obnoxious as the kids at the Halloween amusement park. They were way ahead of their age group in their understanding of astronomy. It’s too bad their impressive intellect did not make them at all likable. They engaged in constant fighting and competition. Their favorite hobby was trying to outwit their teachers. If science is so important to you that it takes precedence over character development, I don’t want to know your kid. I feel bad for the kids in this documentary, but only because it would seem their religious training is taking up their whole life, which is not fair to them. But at least I’d like to know them as people. They seem like sweet kids, and why shouldn’t they be? God is watching them. I’m glad they have remained strong in their faith. I just hope that faith does not work to their detriment (not that atheism could not do so just as well).

  55. I loved this movie. Not because I love Jesus…I am an Atheist to the core…but I love this movie because it is terrifying and unbelievable. It blows my mind each time I have watched it..yes..I watched it more than once…each time as bone chilling as the last. These poor children are subjected to terrible child abuse and mental torment. I feel such pity for them, and believe their parents should be in prison.

  56. Like you, I too would like to see how the others are now. Another child I was most disturbed by, as an Atheist, was the little lad with long blonde hair who seemed to be struggling. I just felt bad for them all, including the poor girl who, as you rightly said, tried not to dance for the flesh. Poor kids.

  57. I hate saying this, but my LEAST favorite part of the homeschooling scene (other than the child being taught obvious falsities) was the mother saying she can give just as good of an education as a public school. It's a bit of a slap in the face to people who spend years going to school specifically for the profession of teaching to hear someone say "I can do it just as well as you".

  58. it takes years to recover. I deconverted at age 26 because of some nasty experiences. To this day, Christians would try to reconvert me. This time around I tell them Im not interested, show them my Norse tribal tattoos and walk away.

  59. Theres a fine line between freedom of choice and brainwashing. These kids wouldn’t know any better at that age – at least give them that choice when they’re older. Beliefs should NEVER be forced onto anyone whether its religious or not.

  60. This is not brainwashing! This is training. This world we live in is on self-destruct and if you help your children understand who they are in Christ, this world will tell them who they are. And that will change depending on whatever is popular at any given time. Yes we believe we have the truth, and Yes we want to share this truth with everyone…out of LOVE! I equate it with warning someone they are about to go off a cliff and fall to thier death. It would be terribly evil of me NOT to tell you to turn around. That being said, beating ppl over the head with a bible never converted anyone. LOVE is what changes hearts. It saddens my heart to the core to hear how ppl grew up and left the Jesus because of things other ppl have done to them. People who did not have God’s heart. God is LOVE!! Why is it wrong for the YOUNG girl to tell the girl in the bowling alley that God loves her? Who is any of this hurting? Becky Fisher was not raising little Isis recruits. She was raising who will be SOLD OUT for Jesus and go show love to as many people as they can. Its more than just volunteering at Christmas. And God does not want us to serve Him out of fear or guilt. If that were the case He would not have given us free will and a choice to make for ourselves. We need LOVE

  61. […] There isn’t much to say about Victoria’s story, except her Dad is in the Army and her mom raises/home schools the children by herself. But it should be noted that when the filmmakers caught up with the three main kids a few years ago, Victoria is the one who left evangelism for a while before returning. Out of the three, she seems the most subdued, even though she did ‘return to the flock.‘ […]

  62. I watched a video about this operation called “Jesus Camp”; which actually I found very disturbing.

    Of note that the average age of the “Campers” was about 9 years old. Further that the woman concerned was very manipulative with that age group, who are easily brainwashed. Ironically there is a certain link with both the Salem Witch Trials in America back in the 1690s- 1700s cf. with the comments made by the woman conducting the brainwashing by Becky Fisher which in the film known as “Jesus Camp” indicates emotional exhaustion of children to the point of emotional breakdown.

    Of note is the way Becky Fischer uses physical and dynamic (in the technical sense) such as things that sticks to a person with a link a glue to the hand and the claim that is “God” which is trying to keep the person away; but that the “devil” is using a glue to take thought. The idea of Harry Potter being used as a “danger” to children is worrying, Equal is Ms. Fishcer’s control over the children in the camp wo appear to have a reading age of 12; and some biologically as young as 8 years old, clearly moulded by their parents and people of the likes of

    There is a narration on another site where a young man in his (now) 30s reflects on his life as a Morman (Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints) and how it affected him both in terms of emotional and psychological control. Including what can only be described, at best Actual Bodily Harm.

    In the documentary there are children are clearly emotionally manipulative and indeed it would appear some of their parents who are brain-washing infants under the age of 5 years old. What is worrying is that the parents are unable to make a decision for themselves, let alone their child. When a 10 year old starts making very political statements (not religious) in this case President Bush in a persona in the sense of a cut-out. What is worrying is the way that the children are manipulated by this image in believing that they are being seeing the real thing.

    The event with “Levi with one of the Preachers” about having his life “written by God” is worrying; further the effect that child is not through biology but some sort of command. Further is the effect that this has on an age range which is easily manipulated; not to mention their parents.

    What is disturbing is the use of mass hysteria and the exclusion of others who may “dare” to disagree. It is of note that in the UK there are Religious Radio stations which are purely aimed Church of England, and ironically some of the most biased people are the extremes of religion. When I was 16, I had a manage who was an absolute Christian and tried to convert her (thankfully small) staff to taking prayers before the opening of the branch.

    What is more disturbing was a younger girl (less than 21) was telling the staff to pray in the name “of her God” before we started the days work. It was as a result of a formal complaint by a parent (the girl who was a member of staff was just over 16, but in English Las is still a minor in law) that the Head Office were made aware of the danger of these religious extremists.

    Ironically we find that the likes of Bush are actually no different of Hussein; and even in Bush and these Evangelicals who to all intents and purposes the extremes meet each other. Indeed one of the representatives of the church is clearly manipulating the thoughts of the child. The Evangelical Head openly admits that he is there to convert all and that his purpose and in his words ” we have the power to control”.

    The very use of the word of “control” is disturbing. What is more interesting in the film is the manipulative nature of Ms Fischer who is going up to both children and in front of their parents who are as much as agitiators’ in these matters. I note the “happy clappy” nature of the preaching that the likes of Fischer and her co-operators is worrying, and what can only be described as mass hysteria, This is pretty much what is described in the Play based on the Salem Witch Trials : ” The Crucible”.

    Even Becky admits that to all intents and purposes admits “indoctrination” but prefers to use another term. Indeed she agrees that administration is used by the likes of Islam etc. Even in an interview with a church based radio station on the American Radio (Mike) ; but as he rightly says that she want’s the Christian to be an ultimate ruler; ironically the same issue that Islam is progressing that their “God” should be superior to all others.

    As an agnostic, (no general religious belief) it is of note that these so called “Church Leaders” are probably the most monied in their Country; indeed the world.

    There are a lot of contradictions here and what is disturbing is the number of people who are so easily brainwashed in to this hysteria Of equal not it is some of the most educated people who have a series of Doctorates are very easily swayed by these evangelists at both ends of the scale.

    When you have people who are prepared to fly in to tall buildings and drive in to restaurants with explosive devices strapped to them in the name of their God, and in the assumption that as a result they are going to the “Stairway to Heaven” (ack. Led Zeppelin- Robert Plant) , and when children are brainwashed in to blowing themselves up in that name, it becomes even more disturbing.

    Politics and Religion: two of the most dangerous products of human device independently: put them both together you have a bomb which makes Hiroshima look like a raindrop!

    Chris R- London

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