24 July 2006

Church Proud of Brainwashing 140 Children Aged 4-9

In contrast to the wonderful secular summer camp, called Camp Quest, PZ mentioned on Pharyngula, I have a rather sad story about an Evangelical summer camp that took place at my wife's church a week or so ago.

My wife's church just wrapped up a week-long program where children are introduced to Jesus at a summer camp. These kids are from families who have just started to take Christianity more seriously (ie. Usually the mother starts becoming more than just "Christian in title only" and starts attending church regularly, then she enrolls her kids in such a program to "bring up the children right.") So these kids, who have only some very basic level of Christian knowledge, come in and are indoctrinated with Christian juju. In this case, it's called Fiesta, and is Mexican themed. (Not really wanting to pile-on here realizing full-well that this is just a week-long kids' program, but, from the PowerPoint slide-show, "Mexican-themed" seems to mean just giving every 3rd kid a sombrero.)

According to the announcement the head organizer of the camp gave at church this week, God blessed the program because they could accommodate 140 kids only. God was so wonderful that even more children than that tried to sign up so a couple dozen had to be turned away. Seems to me that if God were really blessing the program, exactly 140 kids would have signed up, no more, no less, but that's beside the point.

The point is, at the end of the week, each child was given a white paper cross, and told that, if they accepted Jesus as their friend and saviour, they could colour in the cross whatever colour they wanted, write their name on it, and put it up on the board. And the head organizer was really proud that every single child coloured in the cross and accepted Jesus.

Now what really grates me is the ages of the kids involved. The program is a summer camp for kids from junior kindergarten to grade 4. These are young, impressionable kids. They are a captive audience. They are doing fun camp activities. And when the camp leaders insert "Jesus loves you" into every other sentence, then ask the children if they "want to accept Jesus as their friend forever", the church organizers have no right to claim to be blessed by God when every single child says yes. These kids are less than 9 years old! Nine year old kids will regurgitate and believe anything you tell them if you make it sound good. Most of them still believe in Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy, for crying out loud!

You tell them that not only will they have a friend forever, get to live in heaven, and avoid hell, but that Jesus is associated with fun camp activities, plus you have the peer pressure of having everyone else do it, so of course they’ll agree with you.

These little kids aren't being convinced of the existence of the loving Christian god by the logic of the arguments presented. They certainly aren't being directed by the Holy Spirit to accept Jesus, as the head organizer believes. They are being brainwashed by the church, and at that age, they have no intellectual defense against it at all.

Additional (31 July, 2006)

-By the way, the secular Camp Quest "minimum age" of 8 roughly coincides with the Christian camp's "maximum grade" of grade 4, roughly age 9. That sure allows these poor, brainwashed little kids the ability to critically-think about Jesus, eh?

-If it makes anyone feel any better, during the organizer's announcement, the power went out in the church for about a minute. Of course, they praised God when the power came back on, but didn't denigrate him when it went out in the first place.

Additional (4 August, 2006)

-At least this Fiesta camp isn't as bad as the fundie camp PZ mentions here.

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At July 25, 2006 12:05 p.m., Anonymous AJ Milne said...

Yeah. Damn right. It's disgusting, really. I occasionally fantasize about getting this sort of thing classified as child abuse. Impractical, but still, it'd only be right.

At July 25, 2006 2:58 p.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

Hehe, unfortunately not very likely to happen. I feel sorry for these kids starting with such a disadvantage when it comes to reason. Still, if they can get over Santa Claus, they can get over Jesus. Thing is, their parents won't tell them that Jesus isn't real, so they have to figure it out on their own.

At October 04, 2007 7:55 p.m., Anonymous Colburn said...

The Methodist's got me when I was 11...My Mom thought it was a good idea to send me to Camp Lake Stephens in Oxford Mississippi. For two weeks, we had to get up at 7, pray, and hoist the American Flag. Then we had to climb up "Heart Attack Hill" to this gazebo where we (about 300 7-13yr old kids) would make arts and crafts. We got to pick special activities. I chose the survival course. Bad Choice. My Counselor, or whatever they called him, was a 32 year old Gulf War Veteran. For about a week, the other 40 or so kids who picked survival as our special activity had to sleep outside instead of in the cabins with this wacko. I remember him talking about tripping on LSD over in Iraq and having papa smurf kick his ass to the other counselor at like 2am in the morning when they thought we were all asleep. One night, I had to take a crap. It was pitch black out in the middle of the Mississippi woods at about 10pm. I approached my counselor. He handed me a roll of TP and a shovel and told me to go for it. I was so scared. I started to cry. He said he would take me to the cabin bathrooms if I accepted Christ as my savior. I crapped in a toilet that night.

At April 19, 2009 12:01 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys are crazy. You just do not have a clue about who God really is. It is not brainwash to introduce our creator and deliverer to a child. If you start them off right they'll have a better chance of making it into the kingdom of heaven. It sounds like you all are gonna find out the hard way that God is real and ONLY through him and his son Jesus will we get to live in happiness in heaven.Try the Lord. Seriuosly ask him "if you and your word is real give me a sign, touch me, speak to me, and prove it to me".

At April 19, 2009 6:52 p.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

Tell me again why I'm crazy and don't have a clue? These kids still believe in Santa and the freaking Tooth Fairy. They are being taught to believe based on nothing other than, "hey, isn't jesus great? You should believe in him!" And then they are bribed into believe in him the same way you'd bribe a kid into believing in Santa.

OK? Not exactly brainwashing in the "abducted by terrorists" kind of way, but with 4 year olds, you don't really need to.

I ask you, when did you start believing? Were you 4 and just told to believe? Do you believe in the same faith as your family or peer group? Why do you think the vast, vast, vast majority of the faithful believe in the same faith as their families? Don't you think that truth has very little to do with it, and that it's all due to brainwashing like I've documented here?

Btw, while I've never been a believer, many of my fellow atheists have, and have realized the nuttiness of it all.

I hope that one day, you'll think of this, rather than just feel and react. Living in the real world is a good thing.

At March 04, 2012 1:41 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

A different anonymous here (ascan be guessed by the date). It's funny that you mention that, as I on the opposite side of things have always seen the indoctrination of evolution as a brainwashing. (What! This guy doesn't see the truth of evolution! What a nutjob! Better give him a kick in the nuts.) It's funny how any belief you don't believe in, if taught to children, is brainwashing. Currently, I'm reading Montaigne (a dead French essayist). In his essay, "Of custom, and not easily changing an accepted law," he gives for an example a man named Darius who decided to see what the Greek and Indians thought of eachothers customs on disposal of the dead. He tried to convince the Greeks to eat their dead fathers. The Greeks would not do that for anything. He tried convincing the Indians to burn their dead fathers. The Indians were mortified. Unfortunately, we live in a world were indoctrination is just about inevitable. When children are taught just about anything, they will get some of the beliefs of their teacher. Unless you are so thoughtless as to believe your view the one final say in everything, don't believe your view to be the truth, the natural conclusion to this argument.
Also, at Colburn, how much of a Christian did you becoe after your crap? I work at a Salvation Army Camp just about every summer, and am consistently befuddeled by the proclamations of joy of my fellow workers at having so many kids "accept Christ." In fact, I was able to meet several kids who "accepted" Christ no less than ten times over various summer camps. It's a one time thing. As impressionable as they are, most of these kids haven't a clue what's really going on. On the other hand, you who have them wound around their public school teacher's pinkie over half the day for over half the week have your view drilled into the majority of kids long enough to make your evolutionist view start seeming plausible. Thus ends my reversal, which if ever read will make me seem crazy because of what I mentioned earlier, views opposed to your own tend to seem, well, wrong.


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