Review of Jesus Camp

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Written by Scott Gilbert

Magnolia Pictures recently released a new documentary film called Jesus Camp, it's the second film by directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. Jesus Camp follows a group of young children to the “Kids on Fire Summer Camp”, which is run by Pastor Becky Fisher. At this summer camp, the kids are “taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in God’s army and are schooled in how to take back America for Christ”.

This documentary is the first film to examine first hand the recruiting and training of born-again Christian children in the US. The film documents the methods used to indoctrinate these young and impressionable children, and shows how they are being trained to become “an active part of America’s political future”. The children are taught about the “evils” of abortion and the “lies” of evolution. Most are home schooled by their parents during the normal academic year, and then during the summer they attend a Jesus Camp.

The film contains many disturbing images of young children going into convulsions, crying uncontrollably, and chanting slogans such as “this means war!” On numerous occasions Pastor Fisher asks the children if they are willing to give up their lives for God, and the only acceptable answer is, of course, “yes!”.

The film is not a talking heads documentary that interviews stuffy old men sitting in front of a bookshelf, but rather a personal story of those involved in the growing evangelical movement. The filmmakers did an excellent job of having the interviewees tell the story, and letting the audience draw their own conclusions from the footage caught on tape. Some will see the film and say it is normal behavior that we should all participate in to be good citizens, while others will be shocked that children of such a young age are being brainwashed into a culture of growing extremism.

Jesus Camp has recentley been nominated for an Academy Award (Feature Length Documentary) and screens in Guelph on February 5th at 7pm in War Memorial Hall, as part of the Docurama film series sponsored by the CSA and McLaughlin Library. Admission is free for ug students.

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