Christian Bootcamp Seeks to Arm Home-Schooled Youths for "Spiritual Warfare"
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Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas, Assistant Director of Operation Save America, is worried. According to studies by the Barna Research Group, California pollsters specializing in tracking religious and spiritual attitudes, only nine percent of teenaged Christians believe in moral absolutes. What’s more, Barna reports that the vast majority of kids raised Christian will abandon all or part of their faith by the time they finish high school. "Assembly of God leaders estimate between 65 and 70 percent will depart, while the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life estimates roughly 88 percent will leave," Thomas writes.
To remedy this, Thomas' Elijah Ministries has started the Kingdom Leadership Institute, a weeklong ideological boot camp for home-schooled Christians between the ages of 14 and 21. His recently released book, The Kingdom Leadership Institute Manual, is a roadmap for their training and a fascinating -- if twisted -- look at the concerns of far right evangelicals, complete with a game plan for action.
There's no pussy-footing in Thomas' screed. For him the battle between God and Satan is at hand, pitting True Believers against Sinners. Common ground? Impossible since there are only two sides, one resulting in heavenly salvation and the other ending with the earth’s destruction.
"Life is not a playground," he rails. "It is a war zone -- a clash of ideas, philosophies, values, and worldviews. It demands leaders who do not shrink back in [sic] the day of battle." He calls it "spiritual warfare" and repeatedly summons images straight out of the Middle Ages, with gallant Knights protecting grateful maidens, and courtliness trumping gender equity.
Contemporary equals bad, he rants. "During Colonial times, children would be up at four in the morning to help with chores; spoke only when spoken to by an adult; and by the age of seven or eight, boys had chosen their craft or trade and were ready to become apprentices. What a contrast compared to the unruliness, laziness, and lack of direction that characterizes many in this generation." One can only wonder about the regimen imposed on the good reverend’s 13 children and two grandchildren.