I’m actually writing this as I view the documentary because it’s hitting a nerve.
I went to Vacation Bible School as a kid. It was cheaper than other summer camps, and conveniently located at the Clinton Aliiance church, which I believe was Methodist, half a mile from my house.
It was nothing like this.
There was no crying, no speaking in tongues, no shame. We learned about the Bible and played sports and did crafts. You know, SUMMER CAMP.
The organizations and people in this film really just shoot themselves in the foot over and over, from reading aloud in a Creationism textbook that “science doesn’t prove anything,” to blessing the electrical system (!?) of a chapel, to claiming Harry Potter would have been put to death in Jesus’ time, to the unnerving, hyperactive fanaticism of the kids individually profiled.
I’ll probably have more to say after I finish watching this, but the foremost thought in my mind is that my Christianity, in how it affects my life, has absolutely nothing to do with what I’m seeing. I don’t go to church regularly, and I wouldn’t consider myself particularly religious. But my Christianity has been a largely positive force in my life. I think my home church’s minister is a wonderful, compassionate person who uses Christianity to try and understand all kinds of people and help them in times of need. He was able to bring great mental peace to my Opa in his last days. While I would never suggest that every dying person needs God, in my Opa’s case, it worked for him, and I appreciate and understand that. I like having a say in what Christianity means to me. In my opinion, the most terrifying and damaging thing a person can do, in the name of Jesus, God, or Christianity, is tell another person exactly how they will use it in her or his own unique life, and ignore difference.