Posted by: trees143 | November 29, 2007

Netflix Night – “Jesus Camp”

This is a documentary that generated a lot of buzz when it was first released. It follows a group of children at prayer meetings and a summer camp run by Becky Fischer, an Evangelical children’s pastor. I was intrigued by the idea of looking inside a world that is quite foreign to me and so I added it to my Netflix queue. It arrived today and we watched it this evening. As it turned out, this was one of the scariest movies I’ve seen in a very long time.

Children hold the future in their hands, a fact that Becky Fischer hopes to exploit by indoctrinating young minds. As she points out, Muslim children in Palestine go to camps where they are taught to use weapons and strap bombs to themselves so that they will grow up willing to kill, and to die, for their beliefs. Since Christianity is the “right” religion, why should she use different tactics in order to prepare these children to do battle in the name of their Savior, Jesus Christ?

Now, she does not advocate violence, necessarily. Rather she leads them in speaking in tongues, letting the spirit seize them, and instructing them in all that is wrong with the world in which they live. The pastor fervently believes that religion does have a place in government and at various times during the documentary those beliefs come front and center. A cardboard cut-out of George Bush is brought in to be prayed over, and in another segment, the kids all smash cups as a symbol of smashing the evils of government (legalized abortion being one of the greatest sins).

As I watched these kids spout much of the rhetoric that had been fed to them through their church and their parents, I wondered what would become of them when they reach adulthood and have to navigate in a world that is fraught with grey areas? All of the doctrine emphasized black and white, right and wrong. There was no room for diversity of opinion, no room for all the many nuances that make up life in the real world. Most of all though, I wondered where was the loving, compassionate Jesus who preached tolerance and forgiveness. His absence in all of this was palpable.

If you are a person who does not vote, watch this movie. It shows just how high the stakes are and makes frighteningly clear the fact that complacency will only lead this country further down the road of ignorance and intolerance.



  1. Well said. The entire theory is scary. This is a movie I don’t think I need to see.

  2. “A palpable absence,” yes.

    I am reminded of children at Klan rallies. I suppose that illustrates my bias. I know that we all infuse children with our cultural values but methods like this are indoctrinative not instructive (if it is assumed that the purpose of schooling is to teach you how to think – there is still a lot of lip service in the school of education to teach critical thinking skills but admittedly less and less actual practice of this theory). That is my judgement and I’m sticking with it. The cardboard cut-out scene sounds chilling.

  3. I think Ivy’s simile is dead-on. The toughest thing about it, for a lifelong southerner, isn’t what will happen when the kids grow up and have conflicting thoughts about what they were taught; it’s how shockingly many of them will never question or even reconsider these beliefs. And there’s an evil side to it as well: this is what the “teachers” intend, for these kids to hold onto an unexamined blind faith, not in God but in what they’ve been told about Him.

    Another scene that made me shake my head is when Becky is asking that God bless her electronic equipment and keep it all safe from demonic interference. I remember when I was very young and already an avid sports fan, and my dad cautioned me about the inappropriateness of praying for my team to win a football game. “That’s not the kind of thing you ask God to get involved with,” he said, and I don’t think PowerPoint is, either.

  4. Ya, God is probably to busy to worry about a PowerPoint presentation.

    I’m going to pick up this movie, I like to be scared by real life.

  5. First time to stop by…
    Just saw Jesus Camp a few weeks ago. Indeed, a horror film.
    The Meming of Life blog will restore your hope that we all aren’t going to hell in a handbasket.

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