If you were living under a rock, you might not have heard that, the other day on The View, Rosie O’Donnell raised the specter of hoards of violent, extremist Christians who are a threat to every American. Even if you haven’t heard this latest bit of hysterical, relativistic claptrap, you can get all you need by reading Don Feder’s sarcastic diatribe. In it, he notes a few saliant facts:
O’Donnell didn’t tell us who these radical Christians are, but — given the mindset of political Hollywood — it’s easy to guess that she was referring to the Pro-Life Jihad and Family-Values Army of God.
Let’s see if I’ve got this straight:
Militant Muslims behead prisoners. Radical Christians oppose embryonic stem-cell research.
Militant Muslims blow themselves up in crowded shopping malls, slaughtering women and children. Radical Christians defend traditional marriage.
Militant Muslims fly planes into buildings, Radical Christians work to protect the sanctity of human life.
Militant Muslims threaten to kill those whom they believe have insulted their precious Prophet. Radical Christians threaten to launch consumer boycotts.
Militant Muslims issue fatwas. Radical Christians distribute voter guides.
Yep, I can see the similarities all right. The two are as alike as peas in a pod. No wonder Jerry Falwell is so often mistaken for Sheik Nasrallah.
Rosie O’Donnell would be merely laughable, of course, if she were just an isolated voice. Unfortunately, the Left is busy stoking that fear. “Please, please,” they say. “Ignore the snuff videos pouring out of the Muslim world with Islamists beheading anyone they can get their hands on. Ignore the cries for the Pope’s crucifixion. Ignore the demand for world submission to Islam. Ignore the bombs blowing up all over the world and the planes flying into buildings. Ignore the hysterical riots and the blood-thirsty rhetoric. Ignore the missiles (nuclear and otherwise) aimed at Israel. All that is peanuts in the grand scheme of things. The real danger is from an incredibly small sect of Christians that runs a summer camp where the kids train with wooden swords to be an army of God.”
You think I’m making that up, don’t you? Well, only sort of. In the New York Times movie review that sparked the above imagined monologue, the reviewer doesn’t ask us to ignore all the Muslim stuff. He just tells us to be afraid, very afraid, of that handful of kids with wooden swords (all emphasis is mine):
“Extreme liberals who look at this should be quaking in their boots,” declares Pastor Becky Fischer with jovial satisfaction in the riveting documentary “Jesus Camp.” Ms. Fischer, an evangelical Christian, helps run Kids on Fire, a summer camp in Devils Lake, N.D., that grooms children to be soldiers in “God’s army.”
A mountainous woman of indefatigable good cheer, Ms. Fischer makes no bones about her expectation that the growing evangelical movement in the United States will one day end the constitutional ban separating church and state. And as the movie explores her highly effective methods of mobilizing God’s army, that expectation seems reasonable.
Ms. Fischer understands full well that the indoctrination of children when they are most impressionable (under 13 and preferably between 7 and 9) with evangelical dogma is the key to the movement’s future growth, and she compares Kids on Fire to militant Palestinian training camps in the Middle East that instill an aggressive Islamist fundamentalism. The term war, as in culture war, is repeatedly invoked to describe the fighting spirit of a movement already embraced by 30 million Americans, mostly in the heartland.
At Kids on Fire we see children in camouflage and face paint practicing war dances with wooden swords and making straight-armed salutes to a soundtrack of Christian heavy metal. We see them weeping and speaking in tongues as they are seized by the Holy Spirit. And we see them in Washington at an anti-abortion demonstration.
“Jesus Camp” includes one articulate and alarmed dissenting voice: Mike Papantonio, a talk show personality for Air America. A self-professed Christian of the dead church variety, he engages in a pointed but friendly debate with Ms. Fischer when she calls in to his show. But the only moment of real tension occurs during a side trip to a megachurch in Colorado Springs where the preacher Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (and a Bush friend), turns to address the camera in a tone of suspicion and hostility. It is the movie’s only glimpse of the evangelical movement’s ugly, vindictive side.
It wasn’t so long ago that another puritanical youth army, Mao Zedong’s Red Guards, turned the world’s most populous country inside out. Nowadays the possibility of a right-wing Christian American version of what happened in China no longer seems entirely far-fetched.
Only the very paranoid could equate mainstream Christians with one small summer camp in North Dakota and really only the very mean-spirited or morally confused could, I think, take a small summer camp and equate it to Mao’s reign of terror, which was responsible for the deaths of 20 to 70 million people.
I also checked out the Kids on Ministry website (that’s the group that sponsored the summer camp). There, I discovered that, at least as to its internet presence, we don’t yet have to worry about rabid Christians with nuclear weapons aimed at Hollywood and Manhattan, those well-known homes of Satan:
The purpose of Kids In Ministry International is to impart vision to children and adults of how God sees children as His partners in ministry worldwide. The purpose is also therefore to teach, train, and equip children to do the work of ministry and release them in their giftings and callings.
It is also to teach, train, and equip adults to minister to children, teaching them how to train and release children into the things of the Spirit and to find an active place in the body of Christ in all areas of ministry. Those areas include evangelism, mission, the gifts of the Spirit, worship, hearing the voice of God, prayer, healing the sick, and more.
These purposes are to be accomplished through a variety of forms including but not limited to curriculum, books, other written materials, seminars, conferences, schools of equipping, crusades, outreaches around the world, tapes, videos, and the internet.
To be honest, this rapturous, speaking-in-tongues, falling on the floor approach to religion doesn’t appeal to me, but I’m not scared yet. I’ll let you know when I start worrying about these people as much as I worry about the beheading, bombing, plane-flying crowd.
UPDATE: On the subject of which religious group is more scary, here is Cliff May explaining precisely what’s going on with the latest batch of Muslim riots:
Many commentators have pointed out the apparent hypocrisy: Muslims are outraged by cartoons satirizing Islamic extremism while in Muslim countries Christianity and Judaism are attacked viciously and routinely.
Many commentators are missing the point: These protestors – and those who incite them — are not asking for mutual respect and equality. They are not saying: “It’s wrong to speak ill of a religion.” They are saying: “It’s wrong to speak ill of our religion.” They are not standing up for a principle. They are laying down the law. They are making it as clear as they can that they will not tolerate “infidels” criticizing Muslims. They also are making it clear that infidels should expect criticism – and much worse – from Muslims.
They are attempting nothing less than the establishment of a new world order in which the supremacy of what they call the Nation of Islam is acknowledged, and “unbelievers” submit – or die. Call it an offer you can’t refuse.
Read the whole thing here and then you too will know why we should be very, very worried — and it’s not because of a Christian summer camp in North Dakota.