Pastor Tim O'Brien received a lot of flack when his son Levi O'Brien supposedly prayed "to" a cardboard cut-out of President George W. Bush in the film Jesus Camp. Many viewers, including some uniformed people in the media, thought the children at Becky Fisher's camp were worshiping the president, when what they were actually doing was praying for him according to the scriptural command to "pray for kings and all who are in authority" (I Timothy 2:2).
I've known Tim O'Brien, and to a lesser extent his son Levi, since before the release of Jesus Camp. Since then, Pastor Tim and I have had a lot of talks on the role of the church in society, and although we disagree significantly on many issues, I can say that the portrayal of Tim O'Brien and his family as right-wing fundamentalists is off base. The real Tim O'Brien, though politically conservative, in no way sees voting Republican as a litmus test for faith. His wife does not consider herself a Republican. And -- surprise -- his children watch Harry Potter! I've spoken at his church on several occasions, both before and after the release of the film, and each and every time, I've found the O'Brien family and the church he pastors intelligent and open to new ideas.
Pastor Tim sent me this video this morning of a prayer meeting at his church. I found it inspiring. I hope this breaks some stereotypes.
Aaron D. Taylor is the author of Alone with A Jihadist: A Biblical Response To Holy War. To learn more about Aaron's missionary work and his travels around the world, go to www.aarondtaylor.com. Aaron can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org