Is Becky Fischer leading an American Madrassa in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota where she believes she is creating “God’s Boot Camp” by using evangelical hatred to fight foreign religious beliefs as expressed in the new documentary Jesus Camp?


Becky Fischer believes the evangelical indoctrinated children in her camp are “Radically Laying Down Their Lives for the Gospel: There Is Only One Truth.” 

hould children be pledging allegiance to “The Christian Flag?” 
Is it possible for a five-year-old to be “Saved?” Is it appropriate to ask young children to “give up their lives for Jesus?” 
Do you agree evangelicals have been taking over American government and the judiciary for a generation?

70 Comments

  1. Hi David,
    Looks like an interesting film.
    I don’t know about that group, people need to always be concerned about not getting involved in cultic or aberational groups that label themselves Christian (or whatever other religion) to give them legitimacy.
    Here are some signs that should raise warning flags from Eight Signs of An Aberational Group:
    1. Scripture Twisting,
    2. Controlling Leader/Leadership,
    3. Separation/Isolation Of The Membership,
    4. The Chosen Few,
    5. Uniformity Of Lifestyle,
    6. No Dissent,
    7. Traumatic Departure (upon leaving the group),
    8. In Transition (mutating practices and doctrines).
    I’ve been involved in many different churches during my spiritual journey throughout my life. I was baptisted in a Southern Baptist church, was confirmed in the United Methodist Church, and am now a member of the Catholic Church. I’ve also attended the big mega-church a couple of times to check things out as well.
    People have to be careful about getting too far away from the mainstream denominations.
    People are fallable, weak, and prone to corruption, especially those granted power positions in any church. There’s a temptation to take advantage of that power.
    Having a church structure with checks and balances is the only way to make sure that people are heading in the right track. Even then, there can be abuses and cover-ups.
    The Bible warns of false prophets and states that the Devil is an expert at quoting scripture. Also, the Devil, the Bible warns, can appear as a beautiful angel.
    If the Devil can appear as “an angel of light,” it can also appear as a charasmatic leader of a church somewhere.
    In fact, it makes sense that the Devil would do just that. What better way to discredit Christianity, or any other religion, than to pervert it and make it look horrible to everyone in society?
    Beware of any group that gets too far away from the original church or the protestant branches. Also, beware of any church that has some sort of “new” theology that no other church seems to have.
    To comment on some of the questions raised by the post.
    Swearing allegiance to the “Christian flag” strikes me as being weird and cultic.
    A five-year can be saved, according to my beliefs, if he or she accepts Jesus as his or her savior.
    Giving up your life for Jesus could be good or bad, depending on what you are being asked to do.
    I take the phrase as striving (even though we are sinners and will often fail to do the right things) to live the “Golden Rule” of loving God, our neighbors, and our enemies.
    If it means struggling to be a better person (a la the Jihad concept of improving ones self and not becoming a suicide bomber) it is a good thing.
    It is pure evil if the group is suggesting that people become suicide bombers.
    Evangelicals have been working hard to get involved in politics.
    They’ll focus on getting whatever party will give them attention — it’s not just the GOP, although that party seems to be more welcoming on the national level.
    In our area, the local mega-church leader — who some suggest may be somewhat aberational because it has a “Word Faith” doctrine that suggests one can order God to make him or her wealthy — always seems to have local pols from the local ruling party hanging around to get his blessings.
    It shows that the churches that are interested in whichever party has the power and that is willing to let them ride along.

  2. Chris —
    I appreciate your history of faith.
    1. I agree swearing allegiance to a “Christian Flag” seems curious and sounds like worshipping false idols.
    2. Doesn’t being Saved require the ability to reason and make appropriate decisions? A five year old should not be making life decisions at five or even 10. Five year olds can’t vote or drive or have any other meaningful role in society — why should a five year old be expected to even understand the consequence of being “Saved” unless there is some political or outside motive being served?
    3. There’s an interesting new book to be published on Monday called “Tempting Faith” by David Kuo that claims the wooing of the evangelical vote by Republicans was a sham and a conscious deception from the start:

    “National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as ‘ridiculous,’ ‘out of control,’ and just plain ‘goofy,’” Kuo writes.
    More seriously, Kuo alleges that then-White House political affairs director Ken Mehlman knowingly participated in a scheme to use the office, and taxpayer funds, to mount ostensibly “nonpartisan” events that were, in reality, designed with the intent of mobilizing religious voters in 20 targeted races.
    According to Kuo, “Ken loved the idea and gave us our marching orders.”
    Among those marching orders, Kuo says, was Mehlman’s mandate to conceal the true nature of the events.
    Kuo quotes Mehlman as saying, “… (I)t can’t come from the campaigns. That would make it look too political. It needs to come from the congressional offices. We’ll take care of that by having our guys call the office [of faith-based initiatives] to request the visit.”
    Nineteen out of the 20 targeted races were won by Republicans, Kuo reports. The outreach was so extensive and so powerful in motivating not just conservative evangelicals, but also traditionally Democratic minorities, that Kuo attributes Bush’s 2004 Ohio victory “at least partially … to the conferences we had launched two years before.”

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15228489/

  3. Hi Chris- “But many are called nd few are chosen.” Doesn’t this sort of go against your fourth of the eight signs?
    Acording to the Nag Hamadi scolls the scripture has been grossly twisted in the King James and most other bible versions. It seems that Jesus was into Gnosis and wanting to have people experience “God,” first hand, not by faith.
    There was no “pure evil” expressable in the language of Jesus. There was no word for “evil,” in Aramiac or ancient Hebrew. “The desire to see the world as evil has made the world evil.” (Nietzsche). God creates everything, “He/She/It” doesn’t create evil. It is a tool for scapegoaters, as are all negative terms.
    Who’s to say one billion people can’t be abberated.

  4. Hi David,
    The “age of accountability” is something that makes people wonder if small children can be saved. It is taken that young children won’t be held accountable for sins, because they are too young to know the difference between good and evil.
    I wonder if this is the reason why some groups, i.e. the Baptists, require people to be able to explain why they want to be baptisted, whereas the Catholics will baptize babies.
    Mark 10:13-16 states that Jesus told his disciples to allow the children to come to him, so if a child professes a belief in Jesus, even if he isn’t old enough to fully understand theology and doctrine, it’s to be encouraged.
    Here is Mark 10:14-15 (NLT):

    “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

    See also 2 Timothy 3:15 (NLT):

    You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.

    Polling shows that most people who consider themselves saved had that experience when they were between the ages of 5 and 13.
    I think people in different denominations have their conversion experiences as well, but describe it in ways that are different than the way the evangelicals explain it.
    Also, Catholics usually don’t say that they have the “born again” experience, but the church does have “saving” prayers that closely track those said by evangelicals, but with a Catholic twist.
    For example, Father Peter Rookey’s “Miracle Prayer” could be something said in an evangelical church, minus the references to Mary and the Saints.
    This Catholic prayer would be enough to make someone “born again” according to evangelical standards.

    The Miracle Prayer
    Lord Jesus, l come before You, just as I am. I am sorry for my sins, I repent of my sins, please forgive me In Your name, I forgive all others for what they have done against me. I renounce Satan, the evil spirits and all their works. l give You my entire self. Lord Jesus, now and forever, I invite You into my life Jesus, I accept You as my Lord, God and Saviour. Heal me, change me, strengthen me in body, soul and spirit.
    Come Lord Jesus cover me with Your precious blood, and fill me with Your Holy Spirit, I love You Lord Jesus. I praise You Jesus. I thank You Jesus. I shall follow You every day of my life. Amen.
    Mary my mother, Queen of Peace, St. Peregrine, the cancer saint, all you angels and Saints please help me. Amen.

  5. Interesting analysis, Chris. I guess one person’s religion is another’s evangelism is another’s Madrassa is another’s cult.
    The indoctrination of children into any sort of religious dogma has always struck me as a convenient way to bend the will of the mind by breaking the will of the body with ostracism.

  6. Hi Fred,
    That’s why I like the protestant New Living Translation since it was designed to follow the original works in a modern language translation.
    Of course, I also have my trusty Catholic Study Bible in the New American Bible translation as well which is a fine translation.
    I personally think that the King James version keeps the meaning of the verses hidden for many people because it uses old fashioned language. If you don’t understand what you are reading, it becomes too easy to take the word of your leader when he or she explains their interpretation.
    Reading Job seems to suggest that the Devil isn’t evil, but is a prosecutor who will bring up all of our faults to God at time of judgment. Maybe the Devil is guilt that keeps us from doing what is right and good?
    As for the “But many are called nd few are chosen” parable, if you look at the New International Version translation of Matthew 22:14 it reads:

    For many are invited, but few are chosen.

    The NIV makes it easier to understand the parable contained in Matthew 22:1-14:
    The king sent out many invitations in a first wave to the respectable people. They didn’t show up for the king’s feast and some killed the king’s servants. These people weren’t chosen to come to the feast. The second wave of invitations went out to the regular folks. Many of these people decided to show up. One guest disrepected the host by not wearing the garments provided by the king, so he was given the heave-ho.
    It is an easy way to show what would happen to the first Christians as they went out to tell the world about the Gospel. Some of the servants would be killed or persecuted, others would be ignored when spreading the message.
    Jesus, in the parable, was also advising that the common and even the “bad” folks would probably be more likely to accept the message. In the Bible, Jesus always made a point of eating and visiting with the tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners to show that they were the people most likely to be saved.
    Some of those invited to the faith might go aberant and start their own madrassa, molest kids, steal money or do something else to disrepect God. At judgment day, that person would end up being like the guest who go into the king’s court but was thrown out for not dressing up with the clothing provided by the king.

  7. I won’t pretend to know what they are teaching at Madrassas – Jesus Camp. I am not sure what their methods of indoctrination are. But I must admit without sound, scene where the raise their arms and shout seems similar to those of the rallies Germany during Hitler’s reign.
    Teaching hatred seems anti-Biblical, “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 But not the idea that humanity is in a spiritual war. Ephesians 6:10-20 urges believers to put on the full armor of God and to ready oneself for spiritual warfare “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Additionally, in Matthew 10:34 Jesus states, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” It has been interpreted by some to mean that standing firm in the faith means that one must pursue God above the acceptance of man.
    The statement that “God would return to earth and three years later a massive war would start – but not to worry because he and all his followers would be ‘removed’ directly to heaven before it starts.” It is clearly stated in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” So it seems that anyone who places a date on it is trying to sell you something… and if God is God Almighty, He certainly doesn’t need people to peddle His Word and add or take away from what is already there.
    To say one political group is backed by God is strange. To teach the principles of ones faith does not.

  8. A S —
    Since the bible has many authors — and not all of them writing in the same time — it makes sense there will be many different interpretations of the various biblical passages. In that lack of biblical hegemony doubt and imprecision abound.

  9. Hi David,

    The indoctrination of children into any sort of religious dogma has always struck me as a convenient way to bend the will of the mind by breaking the will of the body with ostracism.

    Is the absense of religious indoctrination, actually another form of religious indoctrination, i.e. secular humanism?

    Secular Humanism is a way of thinking and living that aims to bring out the best in people so that all people can have the best in life. Secular humanists reject supernatural and authoritarian beliefs. They affirm that we must take responsibility for our own lives and the communities and world in which we live. Secular humanism emphasizes reason and scientific inquiry, individual freedom and responsibility, human values and compassion, and the need for tolerance and cooperation.

    Source: secularhumanism.org
    I have my son enrolled in the public school.
    It seems to emphasize reason and scientific inquiry (they learn scientific method and study scientific concepts), individual freedom and responsibility (they learn American and state history as well as some basic political science concepts), human values and compassion (social studies, conduct grades), as well as the need for tolerance and cooperation (required by the school handbook and teacher’s rules).
    These are all good and reasonable things that we all should strive for. But, according to my faith, just being good isn’t enough to get into heaven.
    If I didn’t enroll my son in a religious education class, would I be giving him a religious indoctrination of the secular humanist sort?

  10. Chris —
    Children are led to religion by their parents. Few children would naturally move, at age 5, to a church or a belief system as ask for salvation if it were not required of them to remain a part of the family, so the fact that these “Savings” happen at an early age is not a surprise, it is by plan: Indoctrinate them before they can make up their own minds.
    I’m not big on labels. I think they are created by the power majority to set agendas and to punish those who are in the minority. Your “secular humanism” might just be my “human being” — but to waddle straws of meaning and intent and truth when it comes to any sort of dogma doesn’t do one any good.
    I think living a life of Goodness should be a fine enough goal for any human being — hearing you claim “just being good enough isn’t enough to get into heaven” is just the sort of strict fanaticism that chills me.

  11. Hi Fred,
    This is a great discussion!
    The chosen are self-selected. God gave us free will. We aren’t compelled to accept or believe. A common theme in the Bible is people making choices to follow or not follow.
    When someone choses to believe, that’s when they become a chosen person.
    Here’s Christianity in a nushell in Matthew 22:36-40 (NLT):

    “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
    Jesus replied, “`You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. ‘This is the first and greatest commandment.
    A second is equally important: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’
    The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

    Christianity combines a love for God with a love for neighbors.
    A lot of people fall off the track– history is full of people who didn’t really chose to become Christians and ended up doing horrible things in the name of religion. Only a very few people end up making the conscious choice of chosing to become God’s chosen people because they don’t cloth themselves in the ways of Christ.

  12. Hi David,
    That’s where faith comes in to it. If you don’t believe, you don’t believe. God gave humanity a free will to make up their own minds regarding that decision.
    My idea of salvation is that the threshold for obtaining it isn’t very high. The thief on the cross had a last minute conversion and was welcomed into heaven, even after a “bad” life.
    Just being good isn’t enough, according to my faith. Love of God as well as others has to be involved as well.
    1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT):

    If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
    If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
    If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

    Of course, if you follow the commandment to love others, you are showing love for God, so you might actually be professing a love for God!
    John 14:21 (NLT):

    Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.

    The two commandments expressed by Jesus were loving God and loving ones neighbors.
    All who love their neighbors are expressing love for God and therefore are loved by God in kind, per John 14:21, and would conceivably be saved because of their choice to love their neighbor and therefore love God through their actions. 🙂

  13. Chris- i know i’m dense. But on the one hand you seem to be saying “chosen people,” is part of aberational thinking. Then you look at it as a positive.
    The greatest philosophers or scientists can not demonstrate that there is free will to me the concept is dogmatic.
    Isn’t a Christian warrior president or a christian soldier a contradiction. Would he or they like to have his and his kids ass’s blown up?

  14. “Indoctrinate them before they can make up their own minds.” I think this works with any set of beliefs, Atheism not excluded.
    Parents by nature will pass along their belief system.
    Some children put up for adoption at birth have said that that single act by their parents have affected them profoundly.

  15. “the bible has many authors — and not all of them writing in the same time” Some people would argue that the scriptures are divinely inspired. If so, then they push that there is ultimately one author, God.

  16. A S —
    Inerrancy is a fascinating fundamentalist belief in the strictest interpretation of the Bible:

    Many conservatives believe that the Bible is inerrant, is inspired by God, is the word of God, and is to be interpreted literally. A believer has an obligation to follow its dictates to the letter.
    Many liberals believe that the Bible was written by individuals in ancient times who were promoting their own evolving spiritual beliefs, but who were limited by their tribal culture and by their lack of scientific knowledge. Many liberals believe that it is important to go beyond their writings, and reject what they have to say on topics such as origins of species and of the universe, human slavery, the suppression of women, treatment of persons with a homosexual or bisexual orientation, religious intolerance, torturing prisoners, the death penalty, treatment of religious minorities, spanking children, executing non-virgin brides, etc.

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/inerrant.htm
    Then you get into the lost books of the Bible:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=lost%20books%20of%20the%20bible
    The book of Mormon:
    http://scriptures.lds.org/bm/contents
    And then you quickly begin to see the unraveling… and how many people have many differing definitions about the Bible and its authenticity and authorship and then the lectures turn brittle and bitter and the disagreements between the right text and the true Word of God explode into arguments that rupture the world and cascade blood into the streets as one attempts to prove beyond the shadow of death that their belief system and their deity indoctrination of their children is better and more good and more true and more righteous than another’s.

  17. Hi Fred,
    The concept of “Chosen Few” as it relates to the aberational groups is different from the folks who decide to chose the Christian faith.
    In the aberant churches, the “Chosen Few” are the people in that group. All other Christians and other people are too lukewarm to understand their interpretation of the Bible. That’s why they consider themselves the “Chosen Few.” It’s a form of elitism.
    The “few are chosen” in the parable can be explained using an advertising parable. Many impressions of an advertisement may be made, and some will take the call to action to find out more, but only a few will actual end up buying the product when it comes time to sign the contract and pay the money.

    The greatest philosophers or scientists can not demonstrate that there is free will to me the concept is dogmatic.

    To chose whether to believe or not to believe is a sign of free will.
    As far as soldiers being Christian or Christians serving in the military, Lieutenant General William K. Harrison, Jr., USA (Ret.), explains his take on the subject and may be enlightening reading. The same question could be asked whether Christians can be police or prison officers because they may be called upon to deploy lethal force in their service of the state.
    Or, should Christians practice family law because they might end up working on divorce cases?
    I’ll have to think more about the subject, but I do know that there are times when force is justified and was set into motion by God in the Bible.

  18. A five year old isn’t old enough to make that kind of life changing decision. This form of radical Christianity is disturbing indeed.

    What about baptising infants and having parents, Godparents, and a parish make a pledge to raise the child as a Christian?
    Infant bapism has spiritual consequences, according to the Catholic Church.

    This sacrament is the door of the Church of Christ and the entrance into a new life. We are reborn from the state of slaves of sin into the freedom of the Sons of God. Baptism incorporates us with Christ’s mystical body and makes us partakers of all the privileges flowing from the redemptive act of the Church’s Divine Founder.

    Source: Catholic Encyclopedia.
    The act of the priest putting Holy Water on a baby causes one to be “reborn,” according to the Catholic Church. Is it fair to take away a child’s free will when he or she obviously can’t make a choice?
    This is why there aren’t many Catholic people claiming that they’ve had a “rebirth” experience later in life. They have already experienced it as a child at the baptismal font!

  19. The story of the Roman Centurion might shed some light on military officers having faith. Notice that Jesus didn’t command the officer to repent of serving the Romans in their military.
    See Matthew 8:5-13 (NLT)

    5 When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.”
    Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”
    But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, `Go,’ and they go, or `Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, `Do this,’ they do it.”
    When Jesus heard this, he was amazed.
    Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!
    And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
    Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And the young servant was healed that same hour.

  20. Hi Chris!
    I couldn’t find a Hyper-Concordance for the Old Testament!
    😀
    I come from a highly religious background, family and culture. I know all the tricks of the faith trade.
    None of this is particularly new or enlightening for me because it’s all to easy to mold and conform any argument based on interpretive reading and niche beliefs that cannot be logically challenged because they are based in believing and not scientific fact.

  21. Chris- Definition of dogma. “a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds.” (Mirriam Webster online dictionary) The Catholic church calls it’s own teachings dogma. At least they have something right.

  22. Speaking of exposure to faith, it’s interesting to note that George W. Bush identifies himself as a United Methodist.
    When I was living in D.C., I’d ride the bus from my place to Foundry UMC for services with some of my fellow IU students who were in Washington for the internship program.
    If GWB was attending services, I’d assume he’d end up at that church since it’s a short drive from the White House and they were used to having Clinton attend.

  23. None of this is particularly new or enlightening for me because it’s all to easy to mold and conform any argument based on interpretive reading and niche beliefs that cannot be logically challenged because they are based in believing and not scientific fact.

    Some say that about the judicial system.
    Did you see the story about the immigration courts in NYC where some judges rule the majority of the time in favor of immigrants, while others hearing the same types of cases rule the majority of the time in favor of the government?

    Studies highlight stark disparities in judgment, like 90 percent of asylum cases granted by one judge and 9 percent down the hall.

    Source: New York Times.

  24. It’s interesting to discuss religion, despite all of the notions that people should never discuss it.
    While my wife is Catholic, she also has some Asian beliefs that mix into her beliefs as well.
    Every time we see a moth, she mentions that her grandfather taught her the moths were the spirits of relatives visiting. She has also mentioned her grandmother telling her stories about “enchanted trees” in certain forests.

  25. Not all faiths claim that theirs is “is better and more good and more true and more righteous than another’s”. Many Eastern religions are accepting of more than one religion. For example, Buddhists can also be Taoists… etc. I knew a few people that were Buddist Catholics. But with that one must also be accepting of more than one “truth” or “way”.
    But if a parent fully believes in John 14:6 and that the alternative is an eternity of hell, wouldn’t they want to teach their kids at an early age? If a parent is worried when their kids scrapes a knee, how much more so if their immortal soul is in jeopardy?

  26. AS- You speak of “immortal soul” as if it were something that had a proven existence. Someone should never “worry,” as this is a neurotic trait that serves no purpose. One should be concerned perhaps, but “worry” does no one any good.

  27. Chris —
    I’m sure they say that about medicine and the theatre and philosophy class, too, but why is it only Religion that has caused every single war in the history of the world? It’s always my belief against your belief and, for many… only under, and in the name of, “God” is blood shed in anger and hatred.

  28. Chris –

    Every time we see a moth, she mentions that her grandfather taught her the moths were the spirits of relatives visiting. She has also mentioned her grandmother telling her stories about “enchanted trees” in certain forests.

    There are some fundamentalist Christians who would call that belief system the work of the Devil!

  29. A S —
    I would answer you in that there are many more directly threatening things in the world that can harm a child that parents should be concerned about other than the matter of an immortal soul.
    Believing is not active caring from violence and poverty and to pray to one God for the protection of one child and not all children is duplicitous — but you see it everyday where God-fearing parents and their holy children pray together out loud to win the game in the name of the Lord and that their football opponents on the field are vanquished.
    To assume so brazenly that God plays favorites and grants some prayers over others because he likes or prefers one over another is not a belief system I choose to enjoy.

  30. People feel there is a concensus reality that all must agree too. When they can’t agree they go to war. Fragmented thinking leading to more fragmented thinking ad infinitum. The hippies had it right. Let people do their own thing. If one starts bugging or starts war with someone else though he is no longer doing his own thing, and should take a hike. Seems like a much better philosophy than the Judeo-Christian-Muslim belief systems most “hippies,” droped out of.

  31. fred —
    I agree we should mind our own business and leave each other alone — however, one of the most important “requirements” of many religions is to “spread the word” and build the base and to share the word of God — so the true believers are required to gain your attention and press you into their service.
    I dated a Catholic woman once and she told me one way to guarantee a spot in Heaven was to get one person to convert to Catholicism. That struck me as cold and predatory and extremely self-centered.

  32. Hi David,
    The Devil is the one who use religion to start wars and to spread divisiveness among people.
    Maybe we’re all looking for the same spiritual answers and would be better served to focus on love, rather than converting people at the point of a sword or whatever else people do to pressure people to think the same as they think.

  33. Hi Chris!
    I think there is a fine line between love and hate. I would prefer true neutrality between nations and people: I neither hate you nor love you; I will help you if you ask me to help you. And leave it at that! That way we can all go about our own business, getting stuff done without labeling each other or naming our emotions with varying value systems. We all get along by default by being neutral.

  34. That would be the best way. Especially since the Bible says to leave the government functions to the government.
    It would seem that the separation of church and state would be appropriate and best in most cases, as long as people respected the right of people to practice whatever religion they wanted.
    I wonder if we’ve come up with the solution to all of the world’s problems with the neutrality notion?
    Maybe one of these days, people will trace the genesis of a new way toward peace to this blog. 🙂

  35. Hi Chris!
    If you’re going to separate Church and State in the USA it needs to be done in the complete: No more swearing on Bibles in court, no 10 Commandments on the statehouse steps, no Pledge of Allegiance in public schools, no Federal money for Homeschooling, no God trusting in coinage…
    Neutrality is the best way. We’re together but no judgments are being made against each other. We’re all in this world together, so let’s make the best of it before we meet whatever final end we believe and it all starts here!
    :mrgreen:

  36. David- Yes- converting one person makes it like a chain letter.
    Chris- If we’re looking for the same spiritual answers, maybe it’s experiencing spirit first hand, instead of an intellectual process head trip type dogma. There is no devil that you can show anyone, any more than many ideas you seem to confuse with what is and can be pointed to like a kidney, bicycle, heart, lung, etc. Peace has led to war more than any other concept. If we want to get anywhere it is out of the Platonic-Hegalian-Descartian dualistic hypothetical ideas many seem steeped in. As Ali G says “Keep it real- Respect.”

  37. James 2:26”Faith without works is dead.” Faith is active. Parents will actively pray for their child by name and perhaps the specific problems the child is dealing with. I don’t find that in itself duplicitous. The duplicity comes when there isn’t the heart to pray for others. One can pray for all children but not with the same intimacy / familiarity as one can with ones on child. That is where the Holy Spirit can intercede on ones behalf. Romans 8:26 Proper instruction of a faith that teaches one to you’re your enemy would include instructing children to care for others around the world. There are parents who will teach children to give things to children around the world. Some parents sponsor a child in a third world country and allow their children to participate by being pen pals, giving gifts, & etc. (This is not limited to Christian parents.) There was a family who let their children decide whether or not they wanted to send some of their presents to a child in another country or even a child locally who are less fortunate. A few brazen people do not make up the entire group. And there are people who pray quietly at games for the safety of the players on both teams.

  38. “one way to guarantee a spot in Heaven was to get one person to convert to Catholicism.” So if the person they got to convert to Catholicism converts to something else later on, does the person who converted them still get to go to heaven?

  39. Hi David,
    So we’ll have to take “In God We Trust” off of all the walls in all of those courtrooms in Cook County’s Daley Center in Chicago? 😉
    I sort of like seeing that up there when I’m in court.

  40. Hi AS and David,
    I have a feeling that we’ll see a lot of surprises when we get to heaven.
    I believe that it isn’t the particular method that you use that determines if you get in or not. It’s the intent in your heart and the love you have for God and your fellow neighbors.
    I doubt God makes distinctions between Catholics, Protestants, Jews and other people who loved God and his human creations during their time on earth.
    Remember that Jesus spent all of his time battling with the most religious people of his day. Too much religion can get in the way of a true connection with God.

  41. Chris- Yes “Remember that Jesus spent all of his time battling with the most religious people of his day. Too much religion can get in the way of a true connection with God.” He was against the whole Rabbi/Priestly system and wanted people to experience “God,” (spirit) first hand directly, without these middle-men. He was Gnostic. (see Nag Hammadi texts).

  42. For an interesting take on the hypothesis for entheogenic origin of religion and gnosis, please see-
    http://www.cannabisculture.com/backissues/cc11/christ.html
    Makes as much sense as a person raising from the dead and appearing in edible crackers (canibalism?) 2,000 years later, their blood appearing in wine, (only when a priest says so), then appearing one final time again at judgement day, when people raise from their graves, ascend to heaven, are dressed in white, live on clouds and play the harp. LOL.

  43. I was enjoying a cup of coffee in a local coffee shop while waiting for my classyeterday, watching the first snowfall of the year in an extremely windy, cold evening here in Fargo.
    Suddenly I heard a woman sitting close to me saying – “my ultimate goal in my life is to bring children to Christ.”
    My head turned to her instantly and probably with a disapproval written on my face. I remembered this post I read in the morning.
    To my utter disbelief, her next question was to me – “are you a Christian?” I replied in negative. Then she asked –“would you like to join me in Bible study group to know more about Christ? How he saved the world?”
    Inside, I was furious. Not because she asked me join a Bible study group but because of her first comment – “my ultimate goal…”
    I kept my cool, at least apparently and asked her – “do you know what religion I belong to?”
    She replied, “Christ doesn’t discriminate, he saves everyone.”
    I just lost it. My last comment was – “what tells you that I need to be saved? In fact people need to be saved? I am from one of the oldest religion in the world which believes in tolerance, peace, cooperation and accommodation and I don’t think I have any right or power to “save” people.”
    Probably I should have apologized for being rude, but I couldn’t. I was way too mad. I still am.

  44. Thanks for sharing that story, Katha!
    Unfortunately your experience is not uncommon and I like your response. She started it. You finished it.
    I had a Jehovah Witness come up to me to tell me the reason Janna is Deaf because the Devil is in her.
    I tried to remain calm as I asked about the Blind and the other disabled and I was told “Their disability is caused by the Devil. They need to know God and be Saved if they want to have their disability healed.”
    I just shook my head and walked away.
    You can’t argue with ignorance — or True Believers — no matter what you say you will be pitied because you don’t Believe and you will be demonized unless you join their ranks and renounce all other affiliations.

  45. Hi David,
    How correct you are!
    I remember grinding one Jehovah’s Witness group came to my apartment in Wisconsin with the similar question “Why on earth do I need to be saved? That too, in the name of religion?” Their counter attack was hideous – “don’t you want to go to heaven?” Ha! I was almost tempted to ask – “Have you started a direct shuttle service?” Instead, I told them I read the Bible just out of curiosity and asked them if they have ever heard of Gita. They looked extremely puzzled. I asked them to read it and come back – they fled.
    Extremity is negative, regardless of religions – unfortunately the practitioners don’t realize it.

  46. Hi Katha —
    They aren’t worried about your soul — they are only concerned with the Salvation of their own soul — so they can better reserve a place for themselves in Heaven if they can convince a non-Believer to Believe.

  47. You are absolutely right David.
    Technically, we (Hindu) can’t convert anyone, people needs to be born as a Hindu. So protecting a place in the so called “heaven” through conversion is not applicable in our case. But we stay busy to reserve a place in “heaven” through service of mankind. It is believed that ‘service and help’ is the only way to reach heaven…so our custom of helping people is not always selfless either!

  48. David,
    There is no such concept of ‘conversion’ in Hinduism as it is in other religion. Hinduism is a way of life, its not membership based. Anyone can practice it but there is no concept of spreading it through conversion. If someone wants to practice it as per his/her choice they can do it, in fact some Hindu monks are there from different religion but I am not sure about the day to day legal aspect of it.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_conversion

  49. David,
    What I wanted to say was I personally can’t be a member of a temple.
    There is no hard and fast rule that I have to visit any particular place on a definite day to pray. Every Hindu family has a miniature version of a temple at home, my mother has one, she prays everyday, I never did. I still don’t. Can I be called a member of Hinduism except the fact that I am a born Hindu? I doubt it.

  50. The Toronto Daily News is reporting:

    The summer camp “Kids on Fire” where children would tearfully beg God to end abortion and bless President Bush, will shut down for at least several years after a documentary about the camp.
    The film, showing young evangelical children steeling themselves for spiritual and political warfare, includes scenes with pastor Ted Haggard, the evangelical leader accused of gay sex and drug use.
    In one scene, Haggard tells the audience, “We don’t have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity. It’s written in the Bible.”
    Titled “Jesus Camp,” the documentary sparked a negative reaction, said the camp’s director.
    “Right now we’re just not a safe ministry,” Becky Fischer, the fiery Pentecostal pastor featured in “Jesus Camp,” said Tuesday.
    The pastor, who has been accused of “brainwashing” the children, said she’s shutting down the camp for at least several years.
    Up to 100 children visited the camp each year.

  51. David,
    I just watched this documentary for the first time last night.
    The last time I saw such blindly obedient and brainwashed children, they were wearing uniforms and speaking in German!

  52. I think the thing that bothers me the most about this woman and everyone like her are their pathetic attempts at softening obvious messages of hate. Displaying obvious rage and hatred as she bellows to children about the Devil and his powers over weak people and then leading them in prayer to “save the souls of the Liberals, Pro-Choicers and Animal Rights activists” is nothing short of hypocrisy at its finest. To follow up hate speech with a prayer to change those she hates is only an attempt to appear more humane than the fascistic belligerent that she obviously is. You can put a turd in a candy bar wrapper, but it’s still a turd. :mrgreen: