Below is a video from Channel 4's excellent Cutting Edge documentary series. This episode was aired last night and was one of the saddest and most disturbing pieces of TV I can remember in a long time. It focussed on 3 'child evangelists' from radically different backgrounds but having one thing in common as far as I am concerned: they are all the victims of selfish manipulation and exploitation by their parents which is tantamount to child abuse. I don't mind saying that one of the stories actually caused me to cry. There is a scene which is in the clip below where Samuel Boutwell a seven-year-old 'preacher' is forced by his thug of a father to preach hatred on the streets of New York.
Bearing placards proclaiming damnation for fornicators, homosexuals, adulterers among others, Samuel is reduced to tears when this so called preaching stirs hostilities on the streets. The camera closes in on his bewildered face as he sits on the pavement shaking with fear and a tear slowly rolls down his face. That was when I lost it and found myself also in tears.
It is quite clear from listening to the documentary that this child is constantly seeking to please his brutish father who manipulates this dependence and exposes his son to the most horrific hatred and distorted religion. It is the kind of religion which feeds the paranoia of Dawkins and Hitchins and their ilk and sadly some who watch it will make the mistake of thinking that this is what Religion is all about - them and us, hatred and condemnation, fear and manipulation. But the biggest tragedy of all is the destruction of a child's right to be a child and potentially the destruction of his whole life and others who may come into contact with him in later life if he is sucked down this road of evil and abuse! The other two children portrayed are equally abused and are obviously seen as a meal ticket for their lecherous parents who in one case are not ashamed to refer to the personality cult surrounding their child as an 'empire' which will go worldwide with merchandising to milk the rewards! None of these so called 'parents' are fit to be in charge of innocent young lives and one can only hope that the exposure this documentary brings will have some influence on those who might be able to rescue these children from such abusive treatment!
You can find the rest of the documentary here - It is equally depressing!