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Jesus Camp
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  • Amazing Blindness (reviewers reviewed)
    When in the dark it is easy to make unfounded judgements - althemore when you are part of (or think you are of) a majority. Being Dutch and European I am well familiar with the style of the above two reviews. The prevailing philosophy of the Western world is humanistic and atheistic and - let's be clear about it - a totally acceptable point of view in a free world. But let it also be clearthat it is only one view among many and only temporarily dominant.

    The atheistic humanistic worldview is so pervasive that it's adherent can claim neutrality and say things like "Let kids make up their own mind. Let's not manipulate them into any religion or worldview." This sound wonderful but is in reality proof of AMAZING BLINDNESS since there is no neutral upbringing of kids. When you 'leave it up to the kid' you are indoctrinating him/her with your on worldview, namely that there is no one true faith and no absolute truth about God. Again, any parent has the right to raise their children according to their own convictions, but no one has the right to tell others not to do so.

    A bit of healthy self-reflection in these reviews would have been commendable. Asking yourself how young people can be so full of "Jesus", "God" and "destiny" would be a good start. Good chance that you will find that you don't have what they have and that you certainly haven't experienced it all. You may have no desire in that direction and again that is your (yes) God-given right. Meanwhile understand your priviledge of having a sneak-preview of the future. The shape of Western culture is heading for a change no less spectacular that the fall of the Berlin wall and the disappearing of communism. Already half a billion people on the earth have embraced the Pentecostal experience and the numbers are growing daily. This will happen to America, even more to Europe and it will dramatically change the world as we know it.

    And yes, kids WILL play a major role in it since this was God's plan from the beginning "From the lips of babes and infants you have established strength" (Psalm 8:2). One of the great Jewish rabbi's, Gamali?l, made this comment about movements like the one this documentary portrays so well: "Let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought. But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." (Acts 5:39)

    A personal note to close with. I was raised a Reformed home, with a 'respectable' and 'balanced' religious upbringing. Elements of my heritage I still appreciate but it did not take away the gnawing emptiness and it certainly did not make me experience God for myself. It wasn't until at the age of 14 a friend the same age introduced me to an experiential relationship with Jesus that I knew that this was I had been looking for.

    I was definitely n when I received the holy Spirit at age 15. The Bible speaks of an overwhelming experience increasing in power from a fountain to a wide and deep river. Looking back that is what is was. If I had kids I would spare them the loniless and darkness that I was in even while raised in a Christian home and introduce them to the joy and power of God at a much earlier stage than 14. I will not be indifferent under the disguise of 'leave it up to the kid'. Knowing the difference between knowing the joy and power of God and not knowing it as child it would be nothing but cruelty to not let my child experience the joy and power of God for him/her self by keeping the truth of the gospel to myself....more info
  • What must be avoided at all costs
    Never before in the history of my reviewing has the word terrifying seemed so pathetically inadequate. 'Jesus Camp' is a revealing documentary about a bible camp that, had it taken place in a third world muslim country, would be referred to by the mainstream press as disgraceful, militant propoganda.

    What one is confronted with throughout, is the sight of very young children, professing to have emotions and beliefs that they clearly could not yet understand and have obviously been transplanted onto them by adults who should know better. The sight of a young child saying that at the age of 5 he wanted more from life and was saved by the word of Jesus is a surreal one to say the least.

    Much of what goes on in this "Jesus Camp" is patently psychologically damaging to the children involved and requires nothing short of government intervention (although I am fully aware of how unlikely that is). I personally believe that religious decisions are not ones that should be made for someone while they are still a minor and should be left up to the person themselves once they reach the age of reason. I also would tend to agree with the idea that there is no such thing as a christian child or a muslim child, simply a child of christian or muslim parents.

    It must be said that most christians are nothing like those depicted in this documentary. Indeed much, if not all, of this behaviour goes against everything that christianity claims to be about. The message that this camp is disseminating is one that must be stopped, before it manages to foster even further divisions between the world's cultures....more info
  • A Fascinating Real Documentary
    The most amazing thing about this documentary is that it is a REAL documentary. The opinions of the filmmakers are, as they should be, absent. They interview and present the world of several families who follow a particular Pentecostal Evangelical church from the regular services through camp.

    We can all have our own opinion about the people who attend and believe in this religion, and that is the beauty of the documentary--it leaves you to do that without interjecting the filmmakers own thoughts.

    The film is well shot and structured with a good set of extras on the DVD. I wathced through all the deleted scenes which were just as fascinating, for the most part, as the rest of the film.

    If you want to know what is going on with the Christian right in our country then this is definitely a film to see. I would highly recommend this film....more info
    Although Magnolia Pictures purchased JESUS CAMP from A&E Indie Films in 2006 and subsequently attempted to pull it from Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival because, according to Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles, "I don't want the perception out in the public that this is an agenda-laden film," JESUS CAMP is indeed laden with agendas. Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady have produced a blood-curling documentary that reveals all too clearly the dangers that fundamental Christianity poses to our secular American democracy.

    JESUS CAMP follows three Kansas City area families as they travel to Devil's Lake, North Dakota, to attend Kids On Fire School of Ministry - the summer "Jesus Camp" of the movie's title. Brothers Levi and Luke live in St. Robert, Missouri, and attend Rock of Ages Church. Levi sports a rocking mullet and enjoys preaching. Rachael attends the same church, and is quite the precocious proselytizer. Rounding out the group is Tory (short for Victoria) of Lee's Summit, Missouri; she's a member of the children's praise dance team at Christ Triumphant Church. While she tries to dance for the Lord, she admits to sometimes succumbing to sin and dancing for the wrong reasons: "dancing for the flesh". She's ten.

    Kids on Fire was founded and is run by Becky Fischer and her ministry, Kids in Ministry International. Fischer plays like a funny-yet-frightening fundie stereotype, what with her Harry Potter rants ("WARLOCKS ARE ENEMIES OF GOD!!!1!!"), obsession with sin and fits of hysteria. Much of the film focuses on the summer camp itself, and these scenes are the most chilling. Imagine, if you will, an auditorium filled with children and teens - kids speaking in tongues, rolling on the floor, convulsing as if from epileptic seizures, tears rolling from their Precious Moments eyes, faces red with exertion. At times, some of the children seem almost delusional or in trance-like states. Scary stuff.

    More frightening still is all the militarized, warmongering imagery invoked by adults and children alike: "God's warriors." "God's Army." "This means war." "Foot soldiers." "Will you sacrifice your life for Jesus?" Fischer justifies her army-building - the younger the soldiers, the better! - by comparing American Christians to Middle Eastern radical Muslims: the children of Islam learn to become martyrs at an early age, to fight and lay down their lives for their religion. Rather than recognizing the abusive nature of such indoctrination, Fischer reasons that Christians must do the same. After all, this is war, is it not? (To up the ante, the DVD has a deleted scene in which Tory's father says of his pending deployment to Iraq, "I see this as an all-expenses paid missionary trip." No wonder we never got those flowers dubya promised us.)

    At Jesus Camp, the children also receive political instruction: there's an eerie pro-life lecture, complete with plastic feti and strips of tape reading "life" to cover the children's little mouths for a moment of silence; a speech about "godly" judges; and much talk about those supposed core values shared by this Judeo-Christian country. All is presided over by a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush, for whom there is much prayer. The rituals resemble miniaturized, child-sized versions of those in Margaret Atwood's THE HANDMAID'S TALE: indoctrination at the Red Center; the Birth Ceremony; and Prayvaganzas, Salvagings and Particicutions. It's at once terrifying and hilarious.

    The children all inspired a mix of pity and revulsion in this atheist's cockles, but doe-eyed Rachael really stole the spotlight. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to call Child Protective Services or throttle her, shake some sense into her arrogant Christian self. Rachael spends much of the movie trying to "save" others: a stranger in the bowling alley, other children, her neighbors, random African American men on the street ("I think they're Muslim"). Her parents, of course, think her proselytizing is just peachy; there's no consideration as to whether others, Christians and non-Christians alike, might find this insulting or offensive. Not that this is surprising, when her parents are off doing more of the same. In a deleted scene, Rachael admits to "working on" her young neighbor while her parents simultaneously "work on" the girl's parents, trying to lure the family into their church ("cult" is really a more appropriate term). Another deleted scene shows Rachael bragging about all the gifts God has given her: discerning of spirits, prophecy, speaking in tongues and hearing, talking to and understanding THE LORD.

    In short, Rachael's parents are successfully molding her into an insufferable little snot.

    In addition to the Jesus Camp footage, there's also some film of the families at home before the summer trip (for example, we see Levi being homeschooled by his mother, who "teaches" that creationism is the only means of explaining the mysteries of life and that "global warming" is a lie) and afterwards, during vacations to Colorado Springs (here, Ted Haggard makes a brief but glorious cameo) and Washington, DC (for a small but disquieting anti-choice protest). This is all set against the backdrop of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation and Samuel Alito's nomination and confirmation. Radio talk show host Mike Papantonio (of Air America Radio's Ring of Fire) provides the sole voice of reason, and p0wns Fischer in a one-on-one interview - in which she freely admits to "indoctrinating" children, and claims that she loves democracy but says that "democracy is going to destroy us." Make no mistake - this is war, and fundamentalists of any and all stripes won't rest until they've remade the world in their image.

    Watching the horror that is Jesus Camp, I was reminded of two pertinent quotes:

    "I want to get down on my knees and start pleasing Jesus. I want to feel his salvation all over my face." - Eric Cartman

    "Such labelling of children with their parents' religion is child abuse." - Richard Dawkins

    And there you have it - JESUS CAMP in three sentences....more info
  • Powerful truth that shows innocence lost
    I'm so glad to see spiritual revival in American. But Pastor Fischer's children's ministry is training kids to be Christian warriors, when the burden is on us adults. This is what's wrong in America, why are we making kids grow up so fast? I believe one of the central tenants of Christianity is to be like children to enter into Kingdom of God. Why are we taking that away from them? Additionally, anyone who harms them is forsaken Jesus himself. The message of Pastor Fischer of death and sin is not age appropriate and down right scary. There is God, there is good and evil. But kids shouldn't be sent into the battlefield. Thanks... ...more info
  • Disturbing Glimpse Into a Growing Movement
    "Jesus Camp" is a genuinely frightening documentary about an evangelical summer camp in North Dakota. Shocking scenes abound amid constant talk of "washing oneself in the blood of Christ" (this familiar lingo is why I call this brand of evangelicalism a "blood cult"). The children are spurred on into an emotional frenzy of tears, flailing, and speaking in tongues; they're made up in camouflage clothing and face paint, and in a chilling testament to the militancy of the "Christian soldier" credo, brandish spears in an eerie dance to a song that cries for war. Becky Fischer, the camp's leader, speaks candidly about the need to train Christian children to be as intensely committed as Palestinian kids who gladly go to their deaths for Islam. And watching this footage, it's not difficult to imagine her vision becoming a reality. One has to acknowledge that this particular group represents fundamentalist Christianity pushed to some of its furthest extremes, beyond what you'd find with most evangelical churches. Yet it's not a very far stretch. The militancy and the genuine brainwashing that the movie depicts are very real, and more common than many people realize.

    It isn't the camp's right-wing ideology that makes the film disturbing; it's the fact that this is a movement that seeks out the most vulnerable among us. As the movie shows, it is a movement that zeroes in on children, because they're vulnerable. It's not that kids are stupid; it's that they have a far greater capacity to blur the line between reality and imagination, and thus to get "into" things in a way adults can do only with painstaking indoctrination. This is why kids make such especially fearless and cruel soldiers, as demonstrated by the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone. In "Jesus Camp," the kids are sent out to use their disarming cuteness in recruiting new members and staging political demonstrations against abortion. They stand in front of the White House, mouths taped with the word "LIFE." As young children, they can't be expressing their own well-formed opinions; they're simply being exploited.

    Adding to the tragedy of such exploitation is the fact that several of the kids are clearly talented and perceptive for their age, so it seems an even greater shame that they're being indoctrinated instead of nourished as critical thinkers. Levi, a 12-year-old, has an extraordinary talent for public speaking; Rachael, who's nine, is unusually perceptive about people and has an intuitive understanding of psychology. Even Becky, the leader, is obviously an excellent teacher, or would be if she weren't crazy.

    As someone who's researched Christian Zionism, I was interested to note one scene where some of the kids recite the Pledge of Allegiance before three flags: an American flag, a Christian flag emblazoned with a cross, and an Israeli flag.
    ...more info
  • Scary Movie Part V
    History repeats itself, here comes the Nazi youth all over again under another name. Brainwashing and teaching children to be warriors is a crime against humanity as well as child abuse. These so-called god fearing people are a breed of there own concoction (a cult, much like pagan). There are so many cults now that refer to themselves as Christians and splinter groups now that people are just being swept away like sheep. How may levels and differentiations of Christianity are there when they accuse other groups of Christians of being "dead" churches? (sic) This woman is no different than a female Manson with a larger family ready to aim her child warriors to kill in the name of "her" Jesus. They only recognize the psalms and rules/laws that appeal to them.
    Did anyone notice the gleem in Haggard's eye's and the swagger in his walk after he was trying to recruit the little warriors?
    Maybe she is a product of Cain's incest with his sister or Lot's father and daughter's incest punishment. Or Maybe she really does think she IS doing something right.
    Do we know their Jesus, is there more than one God or more than one Jesus? Is he the loving one we were taught about in Sunday school ? If he is so forgiving and loving as well as God is good why would they promote hate and death to others?
    They need to get it through their heads that there will never be one religion, but hopefully maybe one planet united. But as far as the documentary goes it was well crafted and a definite eye opener of a sub-culture among us ready to spring....more info
  • Lame
    People shocked by this documentary are simply naive. It's amazing to see how many people fail to realize even the simplest of realities: that all people will come to doubt at one point or another. No one is being "brainwashed" here, these kids will eventually grow up, question what they have been taught (and hopefully stay with the faith). Just because you have wasted your life without considering spiritual/theological things does not mean no one else does.

    Jesus Camp: just more secular propaganda being used to smear Christians, at the expense of an isolated community in Who Knows Where, USA. Please people, just wake up, turn off the TV, and start thinking for yourselves....more info
  • Close to Home
    Jesus Camp / B000KLQUV2

    I went into this film expecting to see the Christian equivalent of a terrorist boot camp - you know, a place where people with crazy eyes train brainwash children into bombing abortion clinics. What I saw, however, was far more "normal" and reminiscent of my own childhood Christian camp experiences - and, surprisingly, this made the movie far more terrifying than I had thought possible. Against my every expectation, I didn't see future murderers among these children - I saw future grown-ups wracked with the guilt and pain that so many of us still struggle with in the aftermath of rejecting the impossible standards of evangelical Christianity.

    The adults in this film, Pastor Becky in particular, display a complete lack of shame in their constant emotional abuse of these poor children. It is my strong opinion that these adults - shallow, dried, faithless shells of humans - keep these children in a constant cycle of guilt, fear, and relief in order for the adults to affirm to themselves the rightness of the religion they have devoted their lives, in order to avoid ever reevaluating their own faith, or their own beliefs. These abusers hold up an impossible standard for these children to adhere to, and then use that standard to bully the children to tears while asking them to rededicate their lives to Christ, over and over and over again. It's the cheap, crass showmanship that this sort of evangelical Christianity needs in order to survive.

    The Bible says "Be still and know that He is God," but Pastor Becky knows better than the Bible, doesn't she? The evangelical movement simply can't have their children being still and at peace - they need a constant flux of tears, shouts, and screams in heavenly 'languages' to affirm that God really is there, that He really is with Pastor Becky. The adults constantly work these children up into an emotional frenzy, first of guilt, then of relief and happiness that their souls have been cleansed of sin once again and they are safe from hell once more... at least until the next time Pastor Becky needs them to cry for her. This frenzied need is shown time and again in the film, from the camp counselors forcing the kids to destroy china cups with a hammer or to pray a blessing over a cardboard cut-out of President Bush and to, quote, "do some spiritual warfare over him, hummina hammina ha!"

    If you're an ex-evangelical Christian kid, watch this movie, but be aware that this movie can be very, very triggering. See how these adults manipulate their children in a cheap attempt to reaffirm their own shrunken, shriveled faith. Realize that the similar manipulation you suffered was just that - manipulation. And let go of a little more of the guilt that you still struggle with, even after all those years of brainwashing. At least, that's what I did....more info
  • Not an accurate portray of a segment of a faith.
    This film was well put together, but it's nothing more than a far-left political hack job. No one expecting a seriously view of mainstream contemporary Christianity is going to get much from this film.

    Having been raised in a moderately conservative Wesleyan Christian upbringing, "Jesus Camp" got the best of my curiosity. Theologically, I now lean more Eastern Orthodox than anything, but I was eager to see how this supposed "documentary" would present the Evangelical faction of Christianity.

    This movie centers on Becky Fischer and, while I do not doubt she is probably a nice and sincere woman, I'll concede that she is truly off her rocker, IMO. There is no doubt in my mind that the producers of "Jesus Camp" sought out such an individual. I feel certain they did not simply walk into the first congregation they found, but looked for the fringe element right from the beginning.

    Fischer is part of the Pentecostal sects of Protestantism that have a different view of "tongues" from the Bible. This is a small minority within Protestantism, let alone the Christian faith as a whole. Then, one has to wonder if these were traditional Pentecostals or "Oneness Pentecostals", who teach heresies of rejecting traditional baptism and mandate their tongues for acceptance into their version of the Christian faith. These are people that contradict all of written Christian doctrine throughout history and somehow think they've rediscovered Christianity in the early 1900's. This is not representative of mainstream evangelicals.

    Early in the movie, viewers are subject to various opinions on Christianity discussed on a talk radio program. What the casual viewer may not recognize is that the radio show is actually an Air America production, a far radical liberal network that cannot be relied on for honest commentary anymore than one could rely on George Bush for a coherent sentence. The talk about a "sick" or "troubled" world that Fischer gives in her preaching doesn't even begin to compare to raging lunatics like Randi Rhodes and Mike Malloy which have been featured on Air America. So right away the liberal bias of the producers comes through. This radio show talks about this supposed new, radical religious movement...and it is nonsense. There is nothing factual about it. You would think we were back in the days of the Salem witch trials or something. Simple research into doctrinal history shows a large number of churches have adopted far more liberal views than they were historically founded on. There was a time when many churches completely prohibited cosmetics for women, jewelry, dancing of any kind (Fischer's followers can't get enough dancing), women wearing pants of any kind, etc. Yes, there are conservative churches with more conservative views, standards, and doctrine than most other churches, but they've always been that way and they're trying to preserve their beliefs. There is no movement of mainstream churches or followers radicalizing. This is nothing more than a myth put forth by Christophobic bigots.

    This movie was made during a time period of fear-mongering over the nomination of eventual Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who turned out to be a moderately conservative Justice at best and a far cry from a Thomas or Scalia. The movie concludes with some of the faithful heading to Washington D.C. for what appeared to be the Alito confirmation. They had signs and displays supporting their pro-life position. Regardless of what one thinks of abortion (or if you could hardly care less like myself) most anyone would have to admit they didn't look any more peculiar than the pro-choice crowd that gathers at similar events. For that matter, there display was nothing compared to the ridiculous theatrics of your average anti-war rally. Again, aside from appealing to their liberal audience, I fail to see what was earth shattering about this scene.

    It was a little disturbing to see how young some of the children were that were exposed to Fischer's condemnation sermon where she poured the water on their hands. I can understand the whole "sin" message, but with children of that age, more of a counseling type approach would have been more appropriate. Again, I acknowledge I believe Fischer is a whacko and I would never let my kids anywhere near her congregation.

    Buy this movie only if you're looking for an extremely biased hit piece on the Evangelical community. But if you're that enthused about such a film, then you're probably an opinionated person that has your mind already made up, so you might want to save your money....more info
  • Disturbing, very disturbing
    I just finished this documentary and was bothered at what I saw. This "camp" does a great job at whipping kids into a frenzy of spiritual devotion. What are they teaching, love or hate? The interview with the child who was coloring a cross is a fine example of teaching children intolerance. The child said that God only comes to churches where everyone is jumping and singing in prayer, not churches where people are quietly praying. Just sad. I've heard the "camp" is no longer operating - GOOD! I think every parent should watch this documentary - good eye opener.
    ...more info
  • A must see for all... maybe not small children
    This shows abject cruelty at it's worst. What is being done to these kids will leave you staring in mute disbelief. The fact that it isn't acting makes it even more disturbing. And then you realize that the adults think that they're doing God's work... the film left me angry, numb, confused and sad....more info
  • Jesus Camp- worthwhile watching
    This is an interesting documentary that portraits the reality of methods and means used in protestantism to evangelize and share moral and faith doctrines. I believe that the documentary is fair and doesn't lead viewers to a particular conclusion but presents the events and let the viewers get to their own conclusions on what is good and what is not good or beneficial for kids. I see those kids and try to imagine my kids going through that type of "training" and that is how I get to my conclusion but this is a good thing to watch. ...more info
  • Apt Depiction of the Wretched Soul-Snatchers Expertly Applying Their Sinister Craft on the Supple Minds of the Young
    Yes, yes, yes. Finally the mask is torn off these hideous beasts, and they are exposed in all their sloven splendor. This doc hits close to home, as I have a kind, well-meaning sister who was steered off the cliff and into the abyss of self-imposed psychosis, through the guilt heaped upon her while growing up by these moral zealots. She took up her "calling" with an unparrelleled fervor, causing her soul to ache and her mind to be twisted and tormented by the helplessness of not being able to convert all of mankind under heaven to her handed-down, often distorted, beliefs.
    Altho I have always held a healthy disdain for this new breed of "Christianity", (I use the term loosely) I was co-erced into attending a few of these events during my youth, towards the beginning of the movement's inception, during the formative Reagan years and on into the glory days of George H. Sherf II, (known to the blinded masses as the awful cur Bush, Sr.) where I could enivitably hear the bleating of these sheep and the gnashing of young teeth. They were known as "rallies", "youth crusades" and other such wretched analogies. They consisted of some horrible, smiling, sweating, shouting, son of the devil exciting the young souls into a fevered pitch of spiritual exuberance, then meticulously breaking them down with an unbearable weight of guilt and shame, followed by the "Altar Call", whereby these sobbing zombies could head on down to the altar for a little of what I calls "Man-Made Salvation". These same despicable beasts could then tout their impressive "saved soul counts" to the other arms of the "ministry" as proof of the overwhelming good they were accomplishing "in Jesus' name."
    What is so comical about this extremist approach, is that it attempts to keep up with and mirror the various fundmentalist movements from other parts of the world which it is clearly in direct opposition to.
    It is a poor show to have these same lunatics hovering over "The Button" in these tumultuous times. (Altho, I do strongly suspect that those in real power, who milk these mindless zealots for contributions and votes, have little regard at all for the faith they supposedly profess. This comes as a startling realization, I know.) One little error in "faith-based voting" is that in the nearly 35 years since the inception of Roe -vs.- Wade, two-thirds of that time will have been spent under Republican "leadership" and still no overturned results. Kinda makes you wonder if we're just being duped, eh? Ahhhahhahhahuurrrghhhhh Well, here's the goods, served up fresh; ehhh... Roe v Wade ain't neva, eva gonna get overturned my brothers and sistahs! That's right! Nevah!! How else are the global elite gonna keep the menace of a nation teeming with poor malcontents under control? You think they want all of us po' folk to be out reproducing like vermin and posing threat to their well-formulated masterplan. No. They will keep enough of us as necessary in order to keep the gears turning in this depraved system, but they need to trim off some of the dead weight, the underperforming dregs, as it were.
    I would caution anyone who thinks that incidents like those depicted here are isolated, inconsequencial scenarios, to examine the evangelical/prosperity/doomsday movements closer, (as this documentary so aptly does) and recognize the imminent peril all of that entails. Then take a deep breath, shake your head, and recognize that there ain't much left to do but hang on with both hands and enjoy the ride ahead. It'll get a lot worse before it gets any better is the prediction I feel safest with.
    Extremely well-done and low-key, this documentary is made in the same appealing, old-school manner as such greats as "Hearts and Minds", "Salesman", and "Harlan County, U.S.A.", whereby the filmmakers present a compelling, yet virtually un-opinionated picture and the forces of evil are given enough rope to hang themselves. Therein lies the mastery of a great documentary. Let your audience think for themselves, and they will get more out of it.
    ...more info
  • Indoctrinating the kids
    As the closing credits roll we hear Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky." The lyric goes something like, "I got a friend in Jesus...He's going to set me up with the spirit in the sky...when I die...I'm going to go to the place that's the best."

    A similar point-blank irony suffuses this engaging documentary by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. Norman Greenbaum had his tongue firmly in cheek, of course, but Becky Fischer and her fellow molders of children are serious. She believes in indoctrinating the children and she says so. She points out that in Muslim lands the children are similarly indoctrinated, and even more so. It is a war. The word "war" is used repeatedly at Jesus Camp which was located (ironically, I guess) in Devil's Lake, North Dakota. It's a war that must be won, and implicitly the war is against liberals and mainstream American culture, but explicitly against science, especially biological evolution, and against other faiths. Becky pretends to apologize before telling us that Christianity has The Truth and therefore should triumph over other religions, creeds and cultures. She believes that. There can be no question about the sincerity of her beliefs.

    What struck me most powerfully is what was REALLY being taught at Jesus Camp. That is, methods of indoctrination. Behind all the rhetoric about Jesus and being saved was the political agenda for the fundamentalist movement. Part Nazi rally, part revival meeting, part Brainwashing 101, what really came across were all the persuasive techniques that Becky Fischer, Ted Haggard and the others had perfected. Suffer the little children indeed. Get 'em while they're young, Becky tells us. The impressions made and beliefs instilled in children before the age of, say eight, will last a lifetime, she tells us.

    She says she loves America. We see out of a car window the endless sameness of asphalt roads, telephone poles and electric wires, KFC restaurants and car dealerships that form the main streets of most any American town. I doubt that she loves the America of the Museum of Modern Art or the America of Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson or the redwoods or the Grand Canyon. Becky says that she loves America, and then she says she prays to get away from this awful world--or words to that effect.

    I find it tough to find credence in people who devote their lives to manipulating the emotions of children in an effort to create a new generation of opportunists (or zombies) to mindlessly champion the slogans of their political and social agenda. How sad it was to see young Levi O'Brien--bright, talented and impressionable beyond his years--being molded into a future TV evangelist. He will learn the clever deceit practiced not by people like Becky Fischer, who as I said, is a true believer, but more like Ted Haggard himself or any number of moneyed evangelical personalities who preach one thing in public and in their private lives do something else. He will learn the same techniques that Becky and Ted have learned, techniques of rhetoric and persuasion, of indoctrination and the manipulation of emotions. He will learn what leads to success in evangelical land, that truth comes from religious authority and political and economic power, and that anyone who thinks differently is an enemy.

    Becky Fischer thinks liberal America will be worried after seeing this documentary. Her ability to mold children into her brand of Christianity should scare us, she thinks. But revivalist America comes and goes with the passing of time. We've seen it all before. What is different today is that evangelicals were able to elect somebody like George W. Bush and to control the Congress and cow the media. I think America has seen where that leads, to the weakening and embarrassment of America; and I am betting that America has learned its lesson and that the politicians who would do the work of the faith-based, ignorance-based, head-in-the-sand, evangelical movement will lose out to more enlightened leadership. After all, unlike Becky, most of us and our children must live in this world without the fantasy of imminent rapture, and therefore must work toward making the world a better place for all of us....more info
  • Not Everything Is As It Seems
    This film was a clever attempt to misrepresent its subjects in a diabolical way. Many of the statements and actions of the campers and leaders were taken out of context to make Evangelical Christians look like terroristic monsters ready to send their children out with bomb-belts and Bibles, and no explanations are given for the rhetoric that is used in the camp. The war rhetoric that Becky Fischer and others use is clearly understood by Evangelicals to be a spiritual war with demonic forces, but you will not hear that explanation anywhere. People are not the enemy. Satan and his demons are.

    And by the way, those kids are NOT praying to that cardboard cut-out of George Bush. They are praying to God to protect and bless the President. Pentecostals have a practice of laying their hands on the person for whom they are praying, and since President Bush couldn't be there, they used a cardboard cut-out as a substitute. Those who are farther away stretch their hands in the direction of the person for whom they are praying.

    Also keep in mind that music is a powerful tool for creating desired emotional responses. Creepy-sounding music is played when the filmmakers want you to be disturbed. When the kids start speaking in tongues, the music alerts you to be afraid, be very afraid--unless you realize that the editors are deliberately manipulating the emotional content of what the camera captured.

    The bottom line is this--The makers of "Jesus Camp" are as unbiased as fire is cold. They deliberately manipulated the film to cast Evangelicals in a negative light. They are dishonest people with an agenda-laden film....more info
  • Missed Opportunity - What a Shame
    Instead of taking the opportunity to address one of the most important challenges our country has ever faced: the future role of religion/faith, this documentary opts for a straw man attack on a specific denomination within Evangelicalism, namely Pentecostalism/Charismatic Movement. Most of the footage on this film could be glean by watching TBN or the 700 Club. If people in America aren't familiar with this movement within Christianity then shame on them for living under a rock. But that has nothing to do with my biggest gripe regarding this movie.

    America has a love affair with looking spiritual, being in touch with faith, and being non-judgmental of other people
    s religious beliefs (aside from Evangelicals, of course). The real question this movie fails to ask is: when will America deal with the growing problem of a faith based worldview that scoffs at scientific data, reason, and open conversation that seeks to promote personal happiness, security and well-being. This problem is seen in its starkest contrast when one observes the impact of radical islam. However, America will never deal with this problem sufficiently until it's willing to deal with it at home.

    Watch this movie if you want, but I suggest you consider the real question at hand....more info
  • Kids will be kids...
    It's very hard to describe my feelings toward "Jesus Camp". Directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady have presented a film unique in its non-judgmental view of a very scary subject. I seriously believe that children should believe in and be passionate about the world at large. What a wonderful and exciting thing it is to be "growing up". The blame always goes to the parents, whether negligent or over-protective (or over-influential) to the development of these fresh, inquisitive minds. The film centers around the ideas of evangelist Becky Fischer, a nice lady who believes that Jesus Christ is her Saviour. Her passion is unfettered, and has few bounds. She's not a bad person; rather, "too good". It's frightening, then, to know that some kids are "enticed" into the business that's going on. The kids interviewed are bright, intuitive and totally taken in by the belief that is forced upon them at an early age. Kids love attention, because that's their job. It's what they live for. These fresh minds are fodder for religious nuts or dope dealers. (Or a good music or art teacher...) I believe it is all in the hands of the guidance they get at home, and the values instilled in them; with that, they'll be fine. Just because you played piano, doesn't mean you kid has the same ability. Just because you are smart, it doesn't mean your kid is as smart. Just because you love Jesus with an unnatural passion, it doesn't mean it's what your child is destined to do. Narrow-mindedly directing your kids at an early age can, I'm sure, do irreparable harm later on. I truly believe that. (Isn't that what the Taliban does?).The real clincher in "Jesus Camp" is the apearance of Rev. Ted Haggard before his disgrace. This smug, arrogant jerk should never be around children, even before we found out he was a pervert. Decide for yourself. These are only my opinions; that's what makes the art of film so compelling to me. Many people wouldn't know about this film (like myself) if it weren't for its Oscar nomination. Fine filmmaking! ...more info
  • Jesus Camp is brainwashing children!
    In this video I observed children getting brainwashed in the name of God. The Evangilists to me are brainwashing their kids. I admit they have some good religious values, but children have the right to be free to choose. They should not be forced to be holy. That is just as bad as being forced to do bad. Let the child learn and grow. Do not let them be brainwashed into a religious cult. That is exactly what the Jesus Camp is - a religious cult that brainwashes children!...more info
  • excellent movie, frightening message
    A well done, honest portrayal of the the Evangelical machine as it exerts it growing influence on the social, political and financial decisions of this country. The scene with the kids blessing a cardboard George Bush (actually not a bad stand-in)struck me as particularly disturbing. WE do not have to look very far to see what happens to a society that operates on the platform of "we the righteous against everyone else" and reinforces this unstintingly in every arena of life. Watched with an open mind "Jesus Camp" can offer insights into the motivations, beliefs and goals of the religious far right; not to encourage further division but to fine common ground and a means to channel their energy into a more balanced effort to create a world with a sustainable future for everyone. ...more info
  • Skewed & biased view of Christianity
    If the truth be known,and it certainly isn't here,the Christian faith is far from being the dark,disturbing cultism it is portrayed as here.Any Christian worth their salt would NEVER resort to this type of exploitation and bastardization of the Christian faith,and would never support it,much less allow their children to be mentally and spiritually damaged in this way. This film is so anti-Christian and so wrong on so many levels,it gives a very twisted view of a very good grassroots faith-one that is the foundation of our great country. In the light of the Messiah-fication of Barack Obama,I find it strange that the movie includes a scene of a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush being worshipped by children.I guess Obama hadn't descended from the clouds yet,because i've NEVER seen someone so praised & worshipped in my entire life as Obama has been-and for no good reason.THAT is what's scary....more info
  • jezzzzzzzus
    This is one of the scariest things I have seen in a long time. Basically, it follows a few pre-adolesent teens as they go from their fudimentalist Christian homes to a bible camp, run by pastor Becky Fischer. There, they speak in tounges, roll of the floor, and learn about the evils of abortion, Harry Potter, the Democratic Party and...........well, anyone that does not think exactally the way they do.

    And the pity is, these are gentle, sweet, nice, kids, but they are being exposed to some of the worst bigotry and intolerance by Ficsher; this fruitcake wants to kill Harry Potter. She has the kids holding spears and dancing to a Jesus Worrier Dance. She also has them praying to a cut out of George W. Bush.

    Most disturbing is that she says she wants her students to have the same fervor for Jesus that Bin-Ladin and co have for Islam. "Excuse me," she declares, "but we have the truth." Ah, well, good thing you told me, I guess its ok then. Now, how many people is it ok for you to get killed?

    She also says kids are a sizeible part of the world's popultion, and good tools to spread this thruth she has a monopoly on. She never sees the kids as people, or if she does, it is only because they think EXACTLY how she does.

    In once sequence, the kids get yelled at for telling ghost stories in their bunks. God does not want them doing this. The staff at this camp needs make more money: how many people in child care know what god wants, PERSICELY. (Actually, God called me last night and said he wants me to have that '63 Corvette I always coveted. Any buyers?)

    Worst is, the kids eat this trash, hook, line and Hymmbook. At the end of Jesus Camp, one of the little girls is out prostlotizing, looks at a women, and says "Oh, I think she's a Muslim." "There are two kinds of people," Mom says, "those who love Jesus and those who don't.' The ones who do, they say, need to take America back. And, so, what happens to the rest of us?

    The filmaking is good, but the problem is, except for a brief segment with an AIR America host (you have heard of comic releif? This is sanity releif,) these people--the adults, not the kids--are never confronted on their hate mongering, and so the question i have of "do you understand how dangerous this all is?" is never put to these nutjobs. I understand the editorial choice of having the filmmakers remain silent, but some of the material here is just too outragous to go unchallanged, and I would have like to seen Fischer have to defend some of these insane positions.

    I think I am taking that '63 Vette and fleeing to Canada.

    ...more info
  • something to die for
    A shocking, thoroughly irregular, well-made film that fully exhibits the ravages of evangelical practice in America, cultic practice embodied in a well-strategized assault on the spiritual innocence of children that is so abusive it begs the question "is this actually happening in America?" Absolutely unfathomable. As one evangelical mother says in the film "there are two kinds of people in this world - those who love Jesus and those who don't". Sound familiar? With us or against us. Yes, Haggard is creepsville (and hilarious, given his recent delicate revelations), and the scene with the children raising en masse a Reich arm of "blessing" toward a large cardboard statue of Bush is pure Orwellian theatre that chills to the bone. These poor children already lost to the madness of a few, the manipulation of their innocent emotional lives, their spontaneous weeping and gushing in the face of fevered verbal onslaught by the "leaders", the idiotic terror of glossolalia, the threats and coercion, and a palette of concoctions of death and dishonor that wait upon each child's next breath like a living demon - these things are intolerable. But truly scabrous is Becky Fisher, "leader" of the camp, Children's Ministry expert (!), in the grip of mental illness, no one supervising her interior fantasy life, no one safeguarding the children on whom she visits huge wicked things. A big fat woman, she preaches how no child these days is willing to fast for God. There are a number of moments in the film that are laugh out loud. The sorrow of its content, on the other hand, is a wound difficult to bear. To live in a nation that even scantly prides itself on this kind of ignorance is burdensome; necessary, no doubt, as antidote, but a true sorrow for anyone with heart for the America we knew. Jesus Camp spotlights an American taliban tribe on the march, warrior dogs, delusional, fever-pitch, crazy-eyed, possessed, really. Yes, everything for God, but love. A tragedy in one act. Recommended if you have the stomach. Once on the other side of it, your sensibilities, your sense of smell is heightened, your back is strengthened, the rabble is identified. Take heed, pilgrim. ...more info
  • As of 6/6/2008, Directors' Commentary plays over regular audio for Unbox download
    As of 6/6/2008, when I rented this film through Amazon Unbox for download to and viewing on my TiVo HD, the version of the film that Amazon is providing had the Directors' Commentary audio playing over the film's standard audio track, making the film essentially unwatchable. I assume Amazon must have made a mistake in preparing the film for the Unbox service. I asked Amazon to refund my rental....more info
    Like most of the reviewers I too was appalled at this movie. Every review I've read has expressed what I've felt. It is a must-see movie b/c every American whether they are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or a Secularist needs to understand how fundamentalist Christians are attempting to control! It's really sick. I watched it 3 times and each time it became more difficult.

    Those of us who are repulsed, need to pass on our sentiments to the religious leaders in this movie and express exactly what is being expressed here. We need to find a way to shut down this type of abuse and get children who are currently being home-schooled into the public school system.

    Andrew if you grow up and this is still on, I can only hope you are ok. What you expressed in the film was perfectly appropriate. Levi you don't have to be a preacher even tho your parents are pushing you in that direction. Rachel ... give it up. Tory ... it's ok to enjoy dancing. I hope all of you will take a critical look at your parents. I hope all of you will develop a genuine interest in science. Only then will you understand how your church leaders have manipulated you. Most of us writing a review leave our deepest concerns for the children. ...more info
  • HAH!
    This documentary is a great example of how seriously 2 watt people take a shoddily written fairytale.

    "Question everything, believe nothing."...more info
  • Decent movie, but a little bit overdone
    Ok, this movie is somewhat decent. However, it is a little overdone. The radio show host is a hack, one who never seems to get real tough questions on his sad radio show. Ring of Fire boy was talking all movie long about the separation of church and state. What he forgot to mention was that this idea came somewhat later when Jefferson was writing the Danbury Baptists while President, not as a member of the constitutional convention. So, it is no certain that the wall between church and state is as steadfast as these individuals would have you believe. Other than that, the movie did a good job of illustrating the culture of these evangelicals, and how this culture shapes their lives. In the end, in spite of the legitimacy extended to the air America hack, this was a good movie. Get it and enjoy. ...more info
  • Well done documentary
    This documentary was done well, covering an issue where it is so easy to pass judgment and create "bad guys" and "good guys." I feel like the directors adeptly avoided this pitfall and just showed us a slice of life without much commentary.

    The people in this film are free to believe in whatever they want to believe in. The viewer is also free to decide how we feel about what was happening. The directors avoided making the belief system the object of concern, but rather focused how a religious pulpit is being used for political movement. This was one of the more frightening aspects of this film for me as well as the congregation's implication that logic and science are an enemy of faith.

    Overall, a very interesting film....more info
  • This is how cults get started
    I'm not kidding with my title, these adults get these children who barely know anything about life and start teaching them something that is to them above everything else. Mullet boy as many call him is the scariest individual of all in this documentary. Forget the adults and anyone else helping with the camp, this kid is downright scary. Dead churches are supposedly not visited by Jesus, which is a stupid statement considering not all Americans attend a lively church sermon and throw their bodies around like groupies at a Motley Crue concert. What these people have to realize is that these kids need to make these decisions for themselves, they don't need to be pushed into religion. What they are doing can lead to some troubling consequences down the road. Drug abuse, alcohlism, etc. there are a lot of kids who were brought up in a strict religion setting and some of them have turned to one of those things that I've mentioned above. Bottom line is let these kids be kids and leave the crazy preaching and whatnot to the adults....more info
  • The devil comes with a pleasing face
    Terrifying. The woman who runs the camp looks like Santa Claus's wife, but, then again, the devil comes in a pleasing face. Brainwashing the innocent for their own political agenda, having those children whipped up into a state of tearful frenzy, this was purely terrifying. This should be seen. For people with very strong stomachs....more info
  • You thought "The Exorcist" was scary?!
    This is just about the most disturbing documentary I've ever seen. Basically it's about a camp that herds young kids into becoming rabid, unreasoning, judgmental hypocrites like their ignorant parents. My favorite scene is their worshiping---yes, worshiping, speaking in tongues and all---a life-size cut-out of George W. Bush. God help us all....more info
  • Nevermind The Oh-Poor-Me Religious Posters - This Movie Is Interesting
    While this movie does not represent Christians by painting them all with one brush, it does show some interesting elements of the cheap-marketing of faith that does go on much more commonly today compared to decades past. It is creepy, but it is interesting. It shows that faith is used to perpetuate certain agendas within the population, starting with impressionable children, which has always been the purpose of religion under abusive pretenses. It is also a documentation of how it divides us rather than brings us together...which is damaging to a society or nation and has been proven to be the case time and time again. But, in order to distract from that ugly truth, the characters in this movie point towards completely irrelevant matters such as Harry Potter, Britney Spears and all the garbage that any self-respecting self-thinker has known things such as Spears and such has always been trash from the very beginning. Anyway, it's an interesting movie. I suggest you pick it up if you've been brought here in the first place. ...more info