Thursday, February 15, 2007

Negative stereotypes of Evangelicals II


As a follow-up on yesterday's post, here is another example Christian-slandering. This one comes courtesy of New York Times critic Stephen Holden. In his review of "Jesus Camp," a film about a (rather extreme) Christian summer camp in North Dakota, Holden concludes:

"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."

Let's see, a nutty summer camp in the Great Plains = genocide that killed about 50 million people. Wow, New York Times writers must have had some really bad experiences in summer camp!

Imagine if he linked any other group to the worst genocide of the 20th century? He would have been fired before the ink was dry. Christians? Evangelicals? They're fair game.

Here, then, is what I propose: When the right-wing Christian youth take over the country, they should march down the streets of New York City, pull Stephen Holden out of his cellar, and give him a wedgie. Not just any wedgie, a real good one. At least that's what happened at my summer camp.

Photo

12 comments:

Matt Wiebe said...

Good observations you're making here. Bigotry against Christianity is the last acceptable form of bigotry amongst the "P.C." elite of America.

Michael W. Kruse said...

Or they could just cream him with water balloons.

:)

You are right about the hyperbole. This is not entirely new, though. I went to grad school (sociology) at Kansas State Univ. in 1981 with a fresh diploma from an Evangelical Univ. The KSU department was big into developing nations issues and had a number of very left faculty and several Marxists. While “tolerated” at official department functions I was largely shut out of informal networks and events until well into the second semester. Several people went out of their way to make disparaging remarks about Christianity in my presence. Ironically, at the time I was rather disillusioned with the whole traditional church scene so it was not like I had been provoking anything. My mere existence was provocation enough.

Over the years I have been around some pretty kooky conservatives and I have been the target of their antics. However, in my personal experience, the most intolerant, sanctimonious and over-the-top stuff I have been subjected to has come from Left.

Corey said...

You really should read Jon Trott's observations on Jesus Camp. He is a friendly critic.

http://bluechristian.blogspot.com/2006/10/jesus-camp-movie-invokes-painful.html

That this group (running the Jesus Camp) is framed as mainstream evanagelicalism strikes me as the real tragedy here. There is nothing mainstream about the camp leadership's militant approach.

Corey said...

Sorry, the url
in the last post was cut off.

Ben Dubow said...

This is an interesting conversation. I struggle with this a lot -- should I/we even identify as evangelicals given the overwhelmingly negative associations people have?

I've blogged about why I am embarrassed about being an evangelical and also why I still am one...

LINK: Scary Evangelicals

Brad Wright said...

I love the water balloon idea...

Things are set up in our culture such that Christians have an almost love-hate relationship with their faith... in private, it's great--Christianity really delivers a lot. In public, sometimes we take a drubbing. Ben, your post does a good job of describing this as does your story Mike.

This might be why a lot of evangelicals are so quiet about their faith.

sarah said...

I think you've captured it right there, Brad. I actually thought of referring to Jesus Camp in a comment on your previous post. Strangely, I'm currently acquianted with two women who are cousins to one of the filmmakers. They've been excited about the film's Oscar nomination and I've had a hard time fully sharing that joy. I haven't worked up the courage to watch the movie, but seeing the trailer on YouTube was enough to set me spinning. On the one hand, it's cool to be 2-degrees from an Oscar nominee, on the other hand I would prefer the film had not been made. I think Corey's point about the danger of enclaves like this being mistaken for mainstream Evanglicalism is what gets to me...

Brad Wright said...

That's pretty cool being 2 degrees from the Oscars.

I don't have a problem with films/ studies out cultural "outliers," but, like you, don't want the whole of the group interpreted by the subset in focus.

I suppose this is a problem with all groups (e.g., blacks portrayed as criminals).

jimi said...

What's interesting about this film is that according to the initial buzz following Tribeca (where it garnered wide recognition), both those criticizing the particular camp, and the leaders of the camp were pleased with how it portrayed things (see brief mention of that here). The controversy surrounding the film however, has since caused the camp to close.

i was discussing the "evangelicals as easy targets" perspective with someone recently, and he pointed out a group (of which he is a member) that it is frequently even more publicly acceptable to mock - Mormons. i really wasn't able to disagree with him on that one. Though Scientology might be gaining.

Just wanted to point out - it's not just "evangelicals" who are on the short end of this stick.

sarah said...

I guess the Jehovah's Witnesses get a pretty bum rap, too. At least, they get a good laugh when my pastor simulates pulling the blinds and hiding behind the couch in an occasional sermon...

Brad Wright said...

I think that you're both right that Christians/evangelicals aren't the only ones to get the stereotype treatment, and there's no particular reason to think that it's worse than other religions. Think of what muslims face...

I will say, though, that there I can think of few groups for whom it is more acceptable in educated circles to slander than evangelicals.

P.S., your church looks really cool Sarah, at least judging by its website.

sarah said...

I think that's absolutely true re: evangelicals in educational circles.

I do have to say that my church is pretty cool (though not without its blemishes, of course). Today was the monthly "Hip Hop Sunday." Nothing like breakdancing on stage during worship and a graffiti artist doing his thang on a huge canvas behind the preacher during the sermon....oh, and a rap/spoken word version of Ecclesiastes 3 during the offering. It was tight!