Jesus Camp: Film Review

November 7, 2009

The documentary Jesus Camp was made in 2006, but I didn’t see it until a few weeks ago, when a friend recommended it, saying it would “scare me to death.”

I’m still alive, but I did get the heebie-jeebies a few times.

As a piece of filmmaking, Jesus Camp is adequate–nothing more and nothing less. If the subject matter were not so electric, it would be a dismissible documentary. But the characters who people Jesus Camp, and the things they believe, and the things they do because of the things they believe make the film almost impossible to turn away from.

First of all, there is the evangelical minister, Becky Fischer, who follows the tried-and-true rule: get them while they’re young. She is a very talented woman–an excellent communicator and a ball of energy, winning kids over with her humor and her passion. Her passion involves the belief that the end times are coming, and that the faithful–especially the young–must work as hard as they can, immediately and unceasingly, to be soldiers for God. Many, many children share her belief.

The film focuses on several of those children, and I was moved by their devotion and saddened by the extremeness of their faith. Watching them pray, proselytize, and speak in tongues made me feel the awesome burden their parents and Becky Fischer were placing on them; they were being trained to take responsibility for God’s final plan, and they knew it, and they were okay with it.

Jesus Camp deserves credit for presenting its evangelical Christians straight up, without any snide jokes or belittlement. And Becky Fischer deserves credit for keeping her eye on the prize. She has no interest in bad-mouthing nonbelievers; she is consumed with what she is doing for the cause of populating society with faithful, God-filled citizens.

From where I stand, such citizens are a potential threat to my civil liberties and human rights as I perceive them. So it was a good thing to see where they stand, and to see that they are not standing still. They are moving toward our colleges, our courthouses, and our Capitol. They are determined to make this world what they believe it should be.

I think I just felt a little shiver run down my spine.


One Response to “Jesus Camp: Film Review”

  1. Steve Says:

    I saw the movie, and my biggest concern is whenever people trick others into supporting their religious point of view, while withholding information.

    In this case, the withholding is inherent, because the subject, their own children, are not exposed to the entire world of religion, and haven’t experienced enough of the world in order to make a philosophical life goal: in this case, to be a Pentecostal evangelist.

    In a very subtle way, I believe it can be considered a form of child abuse — the parents are using their kids as tools to help support and promote their own personal religious beliefs. Religion/philosophy is a personal decision for everyone, including kids.

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