I used to go to a Christian summer camp with my sister and cousins when we were younger and I learned all sorts of interesting things.
It took me a good few years before I realised only one of them was true.
1. AIDS is God’s punishment to gay people
We all sat in a circle, aged between 9 and 13, drinking orange squash and eating chocolate Hobnobs, earnestly learning about God deliberately creating AIDS to punish all the homosexual sinners in the world.
The leaders then all sang and played the guitar and we danced around happily, singing joyful songs and thanking God for his never-ending compassion.
2. The Holy Spirit is passing through you now. Right now!
We all took it in turns to line up and have the Holy Spirit pass through us. When it was my turn, I am afraid to say I was a bit underwhelmed (sorry God!). All I got was the adrenaline of nervous anticipation… then… nothing.
3. God will make you speak in tongues at any given moment without warning
I had never heard of speaking in tongues before Christian Camp. It is a special language that God gives to people so they can talk exclusively to him (out loud in front of everyone else).
Sadly, I was never chosen to receive the gift of speaking in tongues myself, but a lot of the leaders were. I was quite impressed when I first heard it until I realised none of the leaders could understand each other. They just held their hands in the air and fell on the floor and cried a bit when they spoke which seemed a bit theatrical to me. The words always sounded suspiciously samey as well.
4. Praying cures dyslexia, indigestion and nosebleeds
Come to think of it, my sister’s dyslexia does seem to have improved since the group leaders held their hands over her and prayed for her. My friend’s indigestion got better that very night and my nosebleed eventually stopped as well. Who knew?
5. You should not have sex before you are married
I remember being taught that although you could not have sex before you are married, going to first, second and perhaps even third base was allowed. The obvious question we all asked our leaders was ‘how far are you allowed to go if you can kiss and cuddle but not have sex?’
Our group leader told us, as a basic rule of thumb, ‘do not touch any part of a person’s body if you do not have that body part yourself’ which I gravely took on board and (completely by accident) live by to this very day.
6. If a man has large hands he has a large penis
It was inappropriate at the time for my leader (aged mid 30s) to tell me this (aged 12) and it is still inappropriate when I think about it now. True though.