mercredi 27 septembre 2006

The connotation of evangelicalism

Just as I was leaving to run an errand today, a story came up on the local news about a Jesus Camp held in North Dakota where campers are shown to be in "God's army" and are doing some interesting, if not outright bizarre things. I only saw a clip of this documentary but it included elementary school children speaking en masse in tongues and praying for/at a cardboard cut-out of President George W. Bush. This camp was called evangelical but it made me wonder how accurately that term was used. Is it synonymous with fundamentalism? Does American evangelicalism differ from Canadian evangelicalism? Shouldn't this camp/documentary be described as focusing on a charismatic group?

In terms of the way this story was reported here, it made it seem as though many evangelicals fall into this extreme category (which certainly isn't true!). The assertion was made that this bordered along the lines of brainwashing, which is one of the first times that I have ever heard evangelicalism being accused of such an activity. I'm not sure what implications this will have for Canadians who may see that report and now associate evangelicals with fundamentally religious, right-wing Americans. Can you imagine, a cut-out of Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a Bible camp? Oy. Anyways, I've been reading about Realpolitik in relation to religion and this seems be a fitting illustration of how politics and faith can get really tangled up.

Update: For a detailed critique of this documentary from a Pentecostal perspective, see Rich's article.

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