Saturday, 20 August 2011

Undercover at the Christian Youth Festival (the plotting and scheming stage)

Call me crazy: next month I’m going to a Christian “youth celebration”.

I, your intrepid reporter, will be journeying to the depths of the evangelical teenage kingdom in order to tell you just how creepy and brainwashy (or not) Christian youth festivals really are. Farewell, good friends. It was nice knowing you.

The event is called “The Mix” and is taking part in my home town on the evening of September 4th. I first went there when I was still a Christian and I remember even then being a little freaked out by it. There was air groping. And crying. Lots of crying. I was confused.

A Christian friend of mine mentioned it on Facebook today and I thought “Hmmm…I like purposely causing myself pain and suffering, why don’t I go!” We had the following conversation.

Me: Hi (Christian friend), (other friend) and I are planning on coming too. Is there still a mini bus?

Christian friend: Yeah, but that's with the Baptist Church and I go with my Youth Group. Laura, if your just coming to laugh with a closed, set mind I recommend you don't go. The only point in going would be if you went open minded.

Me: In the spirit of one of my favourite quotes “Keep an open mind – but not so open your brain falls out”. As always, I’m willing to change my mind as soon as I’m presented with convincing evidence. However, on this occasion I’m not there to challenge, but in a research capacity. And you explicitly said "You don't need to be a Christian, anyone is welcome".

Ah. I think by “anyone is welcome” he probably meant “anyone who is willing to uncritically accept anything my church says is welcome”. Well, you should have said! As for being open minded, I think we may mean slightly different things by that. Being open minded means to me that I’m willing to examine all pieces of evidence as objectively as I can and come to a reasoned conclusion as free from bias as possible. To him it seems to mean accepting that all claims are equally valid, regardless of evidence and reason.

And I’m not just coming to laugh. Amusement is only one of my aims.

So, back to my exciting excursion. I’ll be journeying up to Woodlands Christian Centre (motto: “Continuously reproducing the life of Jesus”) on Sunday 4th September. I’m promised by their website that I’ll be able to “meet with God” (it’ll be nice to be introduced) and I’m looking forward to infinitely disappointing my friends when I inevitably fail to be touched by the holy spirit.

Stay tuned for the next chapter in my adventure! 


  1. I've been to the exact same kinda thing a number of times as a believer and they made me start to get cynical as I moved through a Church-critical phase of my theism on my way to atheism.

    I realised that they only served to function as a way to rejuvenate waning faith. That's why the vibe is uncomfortable, there is a solid helping of desperation in the air.

    Your friends might be nervous they have you among them, but the organisers and the other attendants will probably be excited by your presence because they would like to convert you. They won't realise you're not gullible and if they do, they might think of you as a trouble maker.

    Wish I were going too!

  2. I actually want to go to a local alpha course for similar reasons.

  3. Good luck, and try to keep a straight face.

  4. Mike, you really should and report back. There was someone who did that and wrote about what happened every week. It was really good, but I can't seem to find the link.

    Thanks Jesse, I am currently honing my expression. I have atheist friends who are going too, so I'm going to have to avoid eye contact I think.

  5. I do know the blog you're talking about but I'm sure Alpha in NZ will be much duller. For one thing I imagine there will be people going who aren't that convinced by Christianity.

  6. You should still go! I'm really excited about my trip.

    I had a conversation today with a friend who was "sad that you don't have better reasons for going". What? Mockery is a GREAT reason! How dare she question the purity of my motives!

  7. haha! good luck i have stuff like this at a church i have to go to, and once my dad/mom see's it...