Love, Power, Sacrifice.
This remarkable collection of photographs is a disconcerting thing for the non-believer. And it would be easy to ridicule belief, but instead 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.
Photographed over twenty years, this is a portrait of the Jesus Army. Founded in 1969 in the Northamptonshire village of Bugbrooke, 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.
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.