Baby Bible Bashers (3 stars)

Channel 4, Thu 14 Feb, 9pm; repeated Tue 19 Feb, 11.05pm

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Baby Bible Bashers

DOCUMENTARY

It never fails to chill the blood to see people who claim to be working on behalf of the little baby Jesus with banners denouncing everyone from liars to homosexuals and adulterers to money lovers. Whatever happened to ‘love the sinner, forgive the sin’? Whatever happened to ‘get a life’? Yet, how much more repellent can it be when it’s a seven-year-old boy called Samuel drawling in an incomprehensible Mississippi accent about abortionists and gamblers needing to repent.

Where are the parents, you might ask. Well, they’re very much in the thick of it, placards and opinions thrust in the faces of evil delinquents who are set to be toasted for eternity. Still, there’s always time for him to receive a good old-fashioned southern style thrashing should he step out of line with a spot of boyish disobedience. If you thought that was crazy enough, we also meet Florida firebrand Terry who may be nine, but has the local congregation in his palm when he whips them up into an evangelical frenzy. This otherwise painfully shy mite holds the distinction of having been the world’s youngest ever ordained minister at the tender age of six.

The triptych of pint-sized preachers is completed by Ana Carolina Dias who has been saving souls since she was three and is now a national superstar in Brazil. Whether she can rescue the hardened drug dealers and killers in the shanty areas of Rio is another matter. But what comes across with all three cases is a sense that the parents are revelling a little too much in the newfound celebrity of their offspring and failing to shield them from the horrors of modern life. Yet, who is going to save them from their parents?

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