Photographed over twenty years, this is a portrait of the Jesus Army. For most of us, if we register them at all, they are the tambourine-wielding, gospel-singing fanatics who intrude on our Saturday morning shopping excursions. But for the members themselves, this charismatic Christian sect – often dismissed as a cult – is a total way of life. Founded in 1969 in Northamptonshire, England, believers are expected to renounce all their possessions, live in communes, and share all earnings. Their motto, and three basic tenets – Love, Power and Sacrifice – form the title of this book.
It would be easy to ridicule belief, but instead photographer John Angerson has adopted another approach – a profoundly sympathetic authorial style which does not judge, or even simply chronicle, but seems to penetrate the very skin of a religious sect.
What gives these photographs an eerie relevance today is that fanatical religious belief has, seemingly out of the blue, come to the foreground of contemporary life. From the Christian fundamentalist certainties that have underpinned recent American policy, to the Islamic extremism that has erupted everywhere from New York to London and Madrid, competing religious beliefs have redrawn the contours of the modern world. Angerson’s photographs provide a searing insight in a world within a world. By peering into this microcosm of fanatical religion we can begin to understand a phenomenon that it is no longer possible to ignore.
Hardback, 64 pages
42 photographs, 225 x 247mm
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