The following is an email I sent to the Michigan Conference of SDAs about the photo that has gone viral. Then I posted the response.
Dear Michigan Conference,
We saw a photo that appeared to be a terrorist-type capture and assassination of some youths posted on the internet taken by Pastor Alden J. Ho, whom I have personally contacted. He responded with the following:
"This image I took was from Camp Au Sable in Michigan Conference. It was the last Sabbath of camp, and this was one of the stations that they had to portray the events that will surround God's people in the last days during the time of persecution that will take place."
This Image is very disturbing for several reasons. I understand that your religion teaches that this in an inevitable future event based upon your prophetess Ellen White, but even within that context, why would you want to pre-enact it? That would be similar to the youth of Norway pre-enaacting their massacre. What could possibly be the point of this? Was this a part of survival techniques for the last days? It is coming across to Christians outside your church as brainwashing techniques, as there seems to be no purpose for this type of theatrical display other than to instill fear.
What you are doing at this camp comes across radical and reinforces many Christians' opinions that the SDA church is a cult. It can also be psychologically and spiritually abusive to these young people. Many children will be terrorized for life. I suggest that you make counseling available for these kids to avoid a lawsuit in the future.
We also strongly advise you to cease from this type of mock up in the future.
God bless you,
Arthur and Teresa Beem
From Jay Gallimore:, President Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists:
Thank you for your inquiry. You might be interested to know that Adventists are basically pacifists. See the Desmond Doss, Congressional Medal of Honor, story of WW2.
Camp AuSable has been around for over 60 years and has long put on camp fire skits etc, as many Christian camping programs do, usually with some moral story that involves the nation's beginnings, hence the costumes. Sometimes they may have a skit urging campers to be faithful to Christ in face of persecution such as this one. This camp has a great staff.
Many people, who are not of our faith, attend and return over and over. To suggest that Christians cannot coach youth to be faithful to Christ in face of persecution directly opposes the teaching of Jesus. See Matthew 10.
End time persecution themes among Christians are not new or scarce. The Left Behind Series which sold by the millions in the most popular book stores, including airports, had a theme of end time persecution of Christians by the Anti-Christ and his followers. The books and films also promote a scenario, that in the event of the rapture, that planes, trains and cars crash with their human passengers crash. Catholics, Evangelicals and Protestants nearly all teach to be faithful to Christ in face of end time persecution and for good reason. The Christian Church was born in persecution - it's Savior was crucified! Many films have shared in graphic detail the story of Christ. During the dark ages many Bible believing Christian were burned at the stake and tortured for
their faith including William Tyndale, the translator of the English Bible. Many books, films and plays have graphically told their stories. The Bible predicts the final events will contain more of the same.
In addition, Seventh-day Adventists have a representative form of church government as most Protestant denominations do. Also our churches practice open communion with people of all Christian faiths. Hardly the stuff of cults.