Last night’s, ‘Deborah 13: Servant of God’ was a very strange and disturbing film about a “devout evangelical teenager” which began with a commentary that revealed just how ‘sheltered’ Deborah and her siblings are from the world.
For instance, Deborah had no clue who Victoria Beckham was and she very courteously asked what Britney’s surname was…
And what began as a nice chat with this innocent and uber-sheltered teenager soon became a very freaky exchange of ‘words’ with the director of the film who she accused of being, “a lying, thieving blasphemer” who was undoubtedly damned to an eternity in hell. Yikes….
Deborah was home-schooled in Dorset on a remote farm and therefore has had little contact with other kids her age – or other kids, period – and maybe that in itself isn’t the worst thing in the world – after all, many kids go horribly wrong due entirely to peer pressure – and not knowing who Posh Spice is likewise isn’t going to affect her adversely, but what I think does and will is her lack of knowledge about anything that doesn’t directly relate to her, her family and her all encompassing, non-questioning ‘faith’.
One of the most awkward – but I have to admit slightly amusing moments – of the film was when Deborah went on a night out with her brother in Buxton in Derbyshire and a drunken girl staggered up to them and asked, “Does someone want to write on my boobs?”
The sheer horror and incredulity she experienced was indicative of Deborah’s isolation – and total ignorance of – the world at large. She was literally a fish out of water.
Deborah is “a fundamentalist Christian” and Linda Bruscasco’s film explained that she is one of ten children born to parents who don’t offer choices, don’t allow freedom of speech even and certainly don’t offer anything to their children other than their own incredibly narrow and strict religious beliefs.
When these kids were shown a copy of ‘Closer’ magazine, you would have thought they were in fact being shown footage of life on another planet… in fact, I’m very surprised that their parents allowed this film to be made at all, given that it exposed their children to the very things they’ve expended a huge amount of energy in ‘protecting’ them from.
This inordinate ‘protection’ has left Deborah incapable of seeing anything from any perspective other than her own and those of her family’s. She’s an intelligent and articulate young lady but she came across also as being positively arrogant in her view that the world should live as she and her family do and anything less than the total religious vigilance that they live by meant that those people were probably not worth bothering about.
For Deborah, lies are evil, no matter how ‘white’ they might be and she’s utterly convinced that anyone who is less than totally devoted to God in every word, action and deed is bound for hell. And she talked a lot about hell and the multitude of folks headed there with a one way ticket for things so innocuous, the majority of us wouldn’t even give them a second thought.
And not only is she personally fervently devout, she wants to make sure as many people as possible are too, so she takes the “word of God” out on to the apparently evil streets of Buxton and tries her best to turn hell-bound folk into God loving/fearing citizens such as herself and her family.
The trouble with this was, Deborah isn’t entirely versed in the art of selling and rather than approach her potential new devotees with words of endearment, she just plain insulted them and promised them a future that consisted of fire, brimstone and poking with devilish sticks… not the best way to convince a group of teenagers that drinking, smoking and wearing make-up isn’t the way to salvation.
Nonetheless, those who she subjected to these ‘tirades’ and ‘rants’ were consistently polite in the face of what I personally would’ve taken as an insult. However, I live in this area and the fact is, young people in Derbyshire are not the typical young people portrayed in soaps and the like; they’re actually extremely nice, decent people.
If an old lady fell down, they’d help her up instead of booting her in the head and nicking her purse, so from that point of view, Deborah’s lucky she lives in Buxton and not somewhere where violence and intolerance are commonplace.
Sadly, Deborah’s single minded determination and unbelievably restricted world view meant that she did not return the favour of their politeness, and in my opinion, was downright rude. Not that that bothered her in the slightest…
“I don’t mind offending someone if they’re saved for eternity,” she said. Well Deborah, I mind… I mind a great deal that you think in order to save someone’s ‘soul’ you have to be insulting and rude. If Christian fundamentalism demands such behaviour, shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.
However, none of this is Deborah’s fault and I don’t actually feel any animosity towards her personally; the fact is, it’s all she knows and it’s how she’s been raised. Bigotry, intolerance and an unforgiving doctrine seem to go hand in hand with any fanatical religion and no adjective I can come up with is more appropriate than ‘fanatical’ for this particular religion.
And as with similar fanatical fundamentalist religions, they try to get ‘em young, and to that end, the family often performs a “Bible-themed puppet show” at a local holiday camp.
“Puppets are useful” said Deborah’s Mum as she described how the use of them can put across otherwise incomprehensible points to little kids… such as how they’ll go to hell if they tell a white lie.
This explanation of the implementation of puppeteering didn’t go down well with one outraged mother however who, quite rightly in my opinion, was not chuffed that her kids had just been subjected to what amounted to zealous brainwashing via fluffy puppets.
So as the programme ended, I was again asking myself, “Why are these people allowing blaspheming camera wielding devil fodder into their lives?” and the answer I had to come up with was this – cold hard cash.
The acquisition of which – it would seem – is just tickety boo with their God… how convenient.