Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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"God's Next Army" - Channel 4 documentary

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]multiclassgeek)

Just finished watching the aforementioned show: A documentary about Patrick Henry College in the US (for background,click here for the discussion we had here a few hours ago - It's a good primer on the PHC agenda.

Whilst I'm in no position to reiterate the entire documentary, here's some thoughts

The documentary itself made little or no mention of actual Dominionism: The focus was more on the PHC students being political activists "because God wanted them to" Dominionist overtones *were* evident during the "classroom scenes" - Old stalwarts such as Creationism, Primacy of Christianity, and Why The Bible Says The USA Is The Best Country In The World. Sadly, the programme didn't actually pay very much attention to these arguments: My housemate commented that he'd be interested to actually hear some of the arguments used(if only because he has an MA in law, and really hates bad arguments)

During the filming of the "Signing of the Code Of Conduct", the speaker read out each item, and read out Bible verses which supported it. However, it was actually admitted that one of the points on the code (No Alcohol) was not in the Bible, but was made part of the PHC credo as if it would somehow make the signees "extra-specially-spiritual". So, you have an example of forced insertions into a document which, according to the college's Statement of Faith, must to derive its authority purely from The Bible (because there's no higher authority).

The idea that Non-"Biblical" Concepts would be taught only in an "opposition Research" context (i.e 'Know Thine Enemy, the better to refute him'). Also spotted - Faculty members espousing ideas of Freedom and Liberty, whilst apparently stifling any true discussion/debate.

The students were, at one point, shown heading off to Washington to lobby Freedomworks (a Republican group which advocates the privatisation of Social Security, mongst other things). The implication given by the interviewed students was that they were going to work for the group: In reality, they were shown "doorstepping" the various FW lobbyists. One particular encounter showed one man who clearly wanted to kick them all out - The contempt in his voice and demeanour was palpable - But they failed to notice (typical line: "We're from Patrick Henry College" "Yes, we know all about your college") Net effect? The students looked like the lobbyist equivalent of Jehovah's Witnesses, going door-to-door in the coprridors of power, asking "Can we talk to you about God?"

During the 2005 Virginia elections (when the PHC students went out campaining in favour or Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore), there were clips of the Election Night Results Rally. Inititally, the student went into a "holy huddle" to pray that God would send victory to Kilgore. Later, when the numbers showed a clear swing to Democratic candidate Timothy Kaine, they went into another prayer huddle; only this time, the message was "God, whoever wins, let your will be done". This rankled at me, somewhat... Can't think why...

The whole farce about Debating Teams has already been covered in the pre-discussion

Overall, I was slightly disappointed by the show. Whilst it did a good job of showing how these young people wanted to become politically active in order to advance their faith in a suitably Dominionist way, there was no time taken to look at the roots of why they believe this (i.e the core of Dominionist/Christian Reconstructionist thought). It came across as more of a "Look at this college in the USA which trains kids to enter politics and exert influence" rather than a "Look at the sort of shit that's being pulled, here" (which I think would have been a better doc all round). However, the announcer at the end did point to Channel 4's own Religion Resourse, http://www.channel4.com/believe as a link for those who "wanted to find out more about US Evangelicals" (I can't vouch for the content, but I thought the link might warrant another mention).

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