Meet the Friends of God on HBO ... and Be Very Afraid

If you haven't seen the documentary Jesus Camp, new on DVD [my review], and been horrified by its tale of the religious nutters who are coming for our birth control and our Harry Potter books, then you need to sit right down with it now. And then you need to switch on HBO for more scares courtesy of Friends of God: A Road Trip With Alexandra Pelosi, which debuted last week on the cable network and will air tonight and often again through February. Brought to you by the journalist who gave us 2002's Journeys With George -- which followed our current president around on the campaign trail and confirmed his status as an incurious frat boy [my review] -- and, yes, by the daughter of newly minted Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, this sees Jesus Camp's scary fundies and raises them by a whopping big percentage of the American public.

Packed into a compact 56-minute running time are all the mad delusions and tortured psychologies of the popular fundamentalist Christian movement. Let your jaw drop and be prepared for it to stay that way as Pelosi talks to Jane and Jane Q. Publics at charismatic megachurch services. One very sweet, very doltish Christian gal is perfectly comfortable blathering about how science is wrong about everything and that the Bible's explanation for, you know, stuff, just feels right to her, and then has the gall to be stunned that people think she's ignorant. One teen for Jesus plans on studying creation science and winning a Nobel Prize for proving creationism. But it's their leaders who truly chill the blood. There's the touring preacher who tells children that science is bunk (and uses all sorts of technology -- i.e., science in action -- in his presentation!). Jerry Falwell himself says people "shouldn't be in public office" if they don't follow a fundie Christian agenda. Another idiot suggests that kids wouldn't have sex if not for Planned Parenthood, which makes no money if kids are celibate. Best moment Pelosi couldn't have planned for: Smarmy Ted Haggart telling her on camera a year before his fall from grace about how his flock doesn't like seeing their preachers fall from grace, and he's got that same fake smirk plastered across his face that he always wears, like he's got a biiiig secret ... and now we all know what he was thinking at that very moment.

I love how Pelosi captures the irreducibly unrefutable psychosis of these folks: They all have a persecution complex -- "they killed Jesus, after all" -- so anything you or I or Pelosi or anyone says to counter their nonsense only reinforces their delusions. The very act of criticizing their refusal to accept realities like evolution or decrying their bigotries (they're all terrified of The Gay) is like throwing gasoline on a fire. And it is a fire: these people would be hilariously pathetic if they weren't trying to make all of us over in their own sad, small-minded image. If you're enjoying your birth control and your Harry Potter and based-on-fact science education for our children, then you must see this and understand what the reality-based community is up against.

I will say this, though: the actor playing Jesus in the sidewalk passion play at the Holy Land Experience theme park in Orlando? He's totally hot.


MaryAnn Johanson

author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride

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