"Days of the Dead"
at Cornerstone “Christian” Youth Camp [Excerpts]
Below is a summary of our covert mission trip to witness at Cornerstone Festival 2006, owned by the "Jesus People USA" July 4-8, Bushnell, IL. The camp is held on 500 acres of land with a reported 25,000 youth from churches, seminaries, and Bible colleges in attendance.
We were greeted by a hard rock "Christian" singer who wore a t-shirt reading, "Kill it before it kills you," right inside the gate. We had never seen so many teenagers dressed in black in our lives, nor had we ever seen so many tattoos -- all at a “Christian” camp.
We were taught that it is common among "saints" to levitate! We learned that Gandhi was more Christian than he knew. We were told how saints like St. Francis of Assisi experienced “miracles” from God such as levitations, and many saints had experienced levitations -- it was a common practice among the saints. Someone raised her hand and added, "It reminds me of the weird stuff in some charismatic circles like the Toronto Blessing where people were getting 'slain in the spirit'." The teacher warned, "I think I have made it clear that we have no right to judge such experiences."
A skeleton was placed in a casket on the side of the room surrounded by trash on the floor. Celtic abstracts were posted on the walls, as well as excerpts from teachers such as Thomas Merton. Someone mentioned the idea of singing a hymn and the teacher jeered, A Hymn? We can’t sing a hymn in the Imaginarium! The teacher heckled the comment extemporaneously as if hymns were too out of date and inappropriate! I would agree that the hymns would certainly not fit the spirit at work in the place. The hymns would oppose such a spirit for sure. Eerie music was played as the people walked up to the shrine/altar to place a sugar skull or flower on behalf of the dead. Horror films were lauded, and we were taught from Gretchen Passantino that there was nothing wrong with celebrating Halloween since it was "All Saints Day," so there was a night designated for costumes at the "Imaginarium" in celebration of Halloween. (We did not attend).
Our team heard explicit details of the sex life of several CBE teachers. (Don’t worry, I won’t write about it! It was more than anyone would ever want to hear or read)! We learned much error about the Trinity from a teacher at CBE (who happened to be covered in tattoos), and I will be writing about that and quoting him directly in the near future.
In the "Prayer Tent" we were told to take off our shoes and walk the Labyrinth. No children under the age of 14 were allowed to enter without their parents. The teacher asked me if I would like to journal, and she handed me a mind-numbing maze to follow on paper on/in which to journal! At the end of the "prayer" walk, after the participants had been given a choice of verses to read over and over as they walked the "sacred ground", they came back to report what God had shown them while walking the mantra path. One lady said, "As I walked along, I felt one thorny area, so I avoided that area…but then as I was almost done with the labyrinth walk I realized I should have walked on the thorns for God since Jesus suffered for me." She looked like she was going to cry. The teacher nodded in sympathetic agreement. It was all I could do to remain silent and not explain to that poor woman that we were called to a different kind of suffering -- suffering that makes one proud of one’s own humility is not the right kind of suffering! It was extremely hard to sit through all of these sessions and not say anything.
We learned that absolute truth can lead to problems! It often births self-righteousness and judgmental attitudes -- we should accept everyone and not "push our truth off on anybody". We were also taught to show kindness to people "with no motive for evangelism."