I finally got around to watching Jesus Camp. After everything I’ve heard, I was expecting child abuse. I was expecting violence, or something. I don’t really know what I was expecting.
Jesus Camp could just as easily have been filmed at my house, at my church, at my summer camps. That was very literally what my childhood was like. Watching it didn’t make me angry, it made me nostalgic.
The camp those kids went to could just as easily have been Camp Good News in Huntsville, Texas, or Discovery Camp before that, or VBS before that. That lady, the children’s pastor, reminded me of a cross between Miss Debbie, who taught children’s church, and Miss Lorena, who ran the youth program. It was even filmed when I was the same age as the children filmed.
My point being, those kids could have been me, so I don’t see why everybody quotes that movie as this horrible example of religious brainwashing.
…Oh right, now I remember.
I was brainwashed.
I love this post. I was getting more and more frustrated until that last line. Awesome.
I’ve seen this movie twice, once as a brand new not-quite-atheist and I got the nostalgic feeling mixed with a bit of confusion and distrust. The second viewing was through clear eyes and filled me with revulsion and… horror… that I hadn’t seen it for what it was the first time I watched, even as an adult.
I’m almost certain I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the “activities” I experienced at a Jesus Camp was standing with a group of other children, holding our hands out over a fire pit, and praying aloud for the souls that were headed for hell unless WE SAVED THEM. Soldiers for God. That’s what we were supposed to be.
Scary stuff. ~JJ
Two parents in Washington state have been found guilty of murder after following the abusive parenting techniques advocated in the parenting book “To Train Up a Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl.
Larry and Carri Williams received the maximum prison sentences allowable under the law after being found guilty of beating and starving their adopted daughter Hana to death. The methods they used to “discipline” their daughter were advocated in the controversial Christian book.
The New York Times reported:
Late one night in May this year, the adopted girl, Hana, was found face down, naked and emaciated in the backyard; her death was caused by hypothermia and malnutrition, officials determined. According to the sheriff’s report, the parents had deprived her of food for days at a time and had made her sleep in a cold barn or a closet and shower outside with a hose. And they often whipped her, leaving marks on her legs. The mother had praised the Pearls’ book and given a copy to a friend, the sheriff’s report said. Hana had been beaten the day of her death, the report said, with the 15-inch plastic tube recommended by Mr. Pearl.
Some of the discipline techniques the Pearls teach include:
-Using plastic tubing to beat children, since it hurts a lot but leaves fewer marks to alert authorities
-Wearing the plastic tubing around the parent’s neck as a constant reminder to obey
-“Swatting” babies as young as six months old with instruments such as “a 12-inch willowy branch,” thinner plastic tubing or a wooden spoon
-“Blanket training” babies by hitting them with an instrument if they try to crawl off a blanket on the floor
-Beating older children with rulers, paddles, belts and larger tree branches
-“Training” children with pain before they even disobey, in order to teach total obedience
-Giving cold water baths, putting children outside in cold weather and withholding meals as discipline
-Hosing off children who have potty training accidents
-Inflicting punishment until a child is “without breath to complain.”
Michael Pearl tells one mother on his website, “I could break his anger in two days. He would be too scared to get angry. On the third day he would draw into a quiet shell and obey.”
The Pearls and their ministry, No Greater Joy, make an estimated $1.7 million a year.
The couple is the third set of parents to be found guilty of killing their children by following the teachings of the book, which is commonly given out in churches and sent for free to military families. Many other parents have been found guilty of child abuse and torture for following the advice of the Pearls, and it is unknown how many other children’s deaths could be tied to the books.
IN RITUAL BATHHOUSES OF THE JEWISH ORTHODOXY, CHILDREN ARE SYSTEMATICALLY ABUSED
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, the lone whistleblower among the Satmar, a powerful Hasidic sect, who recently was the victim of a bleach attack in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. All photos by Christian Storm.
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg—who is 63 with a long, graying beard—recently sat down with me to explain what he described as a “child-rape assembly line” among sects of fundamentalist Jews. He cleared his throat. “I’m going to be graphic,” he said.
A member of Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidim fundamentalist branch of Orthodox Judaism, Nuchem designs and repairs mikvahs in compliance with Torah Law. The mikvah is a ritual Jewish bathhouse used for purification. Devout Jews are required to cleanse themselves in the mikvah on a variety of occasions: women must visit following menstruation, and men have to make an appearance before the High Holidays such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Many of the devout also purify themselves before and after the act of sex, and before the Sabbath.
On a visit to Jerusalem in 2005, Rabbi Rosenberg entered into a mikvah in one of the holiest neighborhoods in the city, Mea She’arim. “I opened a door that entered into a schvitz,” he told me. “Vapors everywhere, I can barely see. My eyes adjust, and I see an old man, my age, long white beard, a holy-looking man, sitting in the vapors. On his lap, facing away from him, is a boy, maybe seven years old. And the old man is having anal sex with this boy.”
Rabbi Rosenberg paused, gathered himself, and went on: “This boy was speared on the man like an animal, like a pig, and the boy was saying nothing. But on his face—fear. The old man [looked at me] without any fear, as if this was common practice. He didn’t stop. I was so angry, I confronted him. He removed the boy from his penis, and I took the boy aside. I told this man, ‘It’s a sin before God, a mishkovzucher. What are you doing to this boy’s soul? You’re destroying this boy!’ He had a sponge on a stick to clean his back, and he hit me across the face with it. ‘How dare you interrupt me!’ he said. I had heard of these things for a long time, but now I had seen.”
The child sex abuse crisis in ultra-Orthodox Judaism, like that in the Catholic Church, has produced its share of shocking headlines in recent years. In New York, and in the prominent Orthodox communities of Israel and London, allegations of child molestation and rape have been rampant. The alleged abusers are schoolteachers, rabbis, fathers, uncles—figures of male authority. The victims, like those of Catholic priests, are mostly boys. Rabbi Rosenberg believes around half of young males in Brooklyn’s Hasidic community—the largest in the United States and one of the largest in the world—have been victims of sexual assault perpetrated by their elders. Ben Hirsch, director of Survivors for Justice, a Brooklyn organization that advocates for Orthodox sex abuse victims, thinks the real number is higher. “From anecdotal evidence, we’re looking at over 50 percent. It has almost become a rite of passage.”…
I can’t even explain how disgusted I am by this. I have to calm down because I feel like punching the first Hasid I come across (and I know that’s wrong). If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a hundred times: religion is the ultimate sheep’s clothing for wolves. The more forcefully someone professes piety, the more likely they are to be a vile piece of shit. And the more women are excluded from leadership or involvement in an organization, the more likely it is to be a breeding ground for abuse and corruption.
But hey, the whole fucking thing is based on a guy who was willing to carve up his own child for the sake of his god, so…
…Given that this is my first post for SBM’s self-declared Vaccine Awareness Week, proposed to counter Barbara Loe Fisher’s National Vaccine Information Center’s and Joe Mercola’s proposal that November 1-6 be designated “Vaccine Awareness Week” for the purpose of posting all sorts of pseudoscience and misinformation about “vaccine injury” and how dangerous vaccines supposedly are, we decided to try to coopt the concept for the purpose of countering the pseudoscience promoted by the anti-vaccine movement. To kick things off, I thought it would be a good idea to pontificate a bit on the topic of how to identify an anti-vaxer. What makes an anti-vaxer different from people who are simply skeptical of vaccines or skeptical of specific vaccines (for instance, the HPV vaccine)? I don’t pretend to have the complete answer, which is why I hope we’ll have a vigorous discussion in the comments…
…In the end, the anti-vaccine movement is another denialist movement, very similar to denialists of global climate change, science-based medicine, and evolution. As such, it uses many of the same fallacious strategies and distortions of science to promote its agenda and reacts the same way to criticism. Similarly, in the end, the anti-vaccine movement is also far more about ideology rather than science, which is why it remains so stubbornly resistant to reason and science. Finding an effective means to counter its message will likely require developing effective general strategies to counter science denialist movements of all types.