JESUS CAMP — Documentary Retroview (2006)

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Jesus Camp posterJesus Camp is an extraordinary exposé about the well-organized Evangelical indoctrination of children in heartland America to become soldiers for Christ.

An enlightening look at religious fanaticism in the United States, it serves as a cautionary tale about fundamentalist Christian recruitment and conditioning of preteens to prepare them to battle al-Qaeda, whose kids fast, bare arms and sacrifice themselves for Islam.

A real life horror film, it is one of the most gripping, frightening movies of 2006 and a must-see documentary for anyone who values the Bill of Rights.

Within the context of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s resignation and confirmation of ultraconservative Samuel Alito as her successor, we witness home-schooled Levi (12), Rachael (9) and Victoria (10) delivered by Evangelical parents unto Bible camp at Devil’s Lake, N.D., where Pentecostal Minister Becky Fischer “hooks them up” with Jesus.

Fischer boasts she can “have kids ‘saved’ in minutes because they’re so open” and “so useful to Christianity.”

Brainwashed, more like.

Levi, “saved” at age five, knows Creationism is the only possibility and science doesn’t prove anything. Rachael thinks martyrdom is “really cool.” Victoria feels feeling guilty about dancing “for the flesh,” knows it leads to damnation.

Jesus Camp is a purely observational documentary, devoid of Michael Moore-ishness intended to sway viewer opinion. To their credit, filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady don’t preach, so you’re not sure of their opinion. Fischer and her cronies support the film because they think it glorifies their cause.

Jesus Camp‘s singular opposing presence, Christian talk radio host Michael Papantonio, expresses alarm about Evangelical fanaticism as he fields calls and conducts on-air discourse with Fischer.

Fischer asserts that her camp program is apolitical. Why, then, do campers pray—in tongues—over a cardboard cutout of George W.? Why are kids stirred into frenzied chanting about banning abortion and creation of a Christians-only America?

These hair-raising scenes remind one of The Crucible, the narrative feature that uses religiously fanatic colonial Salem, MA, as a metaphor for contemporary repressive tendencies. Recall the disastrous ending of that cautionary tale while watching Levi receive preacher-to-preacher advice from Ted Haggard (Evangelical pastor to 30-million people and a regular in George W.’s camp).

While boasting he has the numbers to elect our government, Haggard tells Levi he is the future. Levi avows to complete his mission.

Actual stats: 75% of home-schooled children, 25% of our population are Evangelicals. 43% of Evangelicals were “saved” before age 13.

Scared yet?

Jesus Camp is available on DVD, with extras including director commentary, additional interviews, footage and resource references.


Title: Jesus Camp

Director: Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady

Release Date: September 15, 2006 (limited US release)

Running Time: 87 mins.

Language: English

Production Company: Loki Films

Distribution Company: Magnolia Pictures


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