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Jesus Camp follows several young children as they prepare to attend a summer camp where the kids will get their daily dose of evangelical Christianity. Becky Fischer works at the camp, which is named Kids on Fire. Through interviews with Fischer, the children, and others, Jesus Camp illustrates the unswerving belief of the faithful. A housewife and homeschooling mother tells her son that creationism has all the answers. Footage from inside the camp shows young children weeping and wailing as they promise to stop their sinning. Child after child is driven to tears. Juxtapose these scenes with clips from a more moderate Christian radio host (who is appalled by such tactics), and Jesus Camp seems to pose a clear question: are these children being brainwashed? Written by
Ken Miller <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Since the making of the film, Becky Fischer, children's pastor for Kids on Fire, announced that due to negative reactions to the camp after the film, including telephone calls and vandalism, the camp, which was held once a year for three weeks, has been discontinued indefinitely and will be replaced by other events. See more »
[preaching to a group of guys sitting in a park]
If you were to die right now in this moment, where do you think you'd go?
guy in the park:
guy in the park:
Oh... okay. Have a nice day!
[runs back to her friends]
I think they were Muslims!
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If there is one thing which "Jesus Camp" reveals, it is the extent to which some adults will rob children of a normal childhood in order to foster their own politico-religious agenda. The children in this film are not being inculcated with moral and spiritual values; they are being manipulated into quasi-religious hysteria. In the name of a warped sense of religiosity the adults in this film are deliberately creating cadres of Christianist "yes men." This isn't faith; it's hypnosis.
I do not doubt the good intentions of parents who indoctrinate their children from an early age with principles of religion; after all, the Catholic Church has encouraged this for centuries, and there are wonderful religious schools of all types which provide a strong moral and ethical education to our children. Giving children a foundation of values is invaluable. However, the religio-political cultism demonstrated in this film is beyond the pale. I can guarantee you that if those parents in the film had been born Muslim rather than Christian they would be at the forefront of such practices as stoning and clitoral circumcision. If that's what their particular Good Book calls for, they are all for it. It sure saves thinking for oneself. At the very least, those who survive this kind of cultist indoctrination may turn out to be psychologically disturbed or emotionally impaired. The children of "Jesus Camp" are the kinds of people who wind up as bigots, informers, and lovers of authoritarianism, and who join the myriad of "holier-than-thou" types who already populate American so-called Christianity. These children may never be able to think for themselves. If they do eventually see through this well-intentioned nonsense, they can wind up as the kind of obnoxious hypocrites which they themselves would be quick to condemn.
What an astounding coincidence, then, that one of those very kinds of people shows up for quite a while towards the end of film. Ted Haggard, Evangelical pastor and newly confessed drug-buyer and patron of "male-massage", is seen counseling a young boy on how to play upon his youth in order to spread the Word. You can already see the young boy fawning over his adult admirers and saying whatever he thinks will please them and bring him a measure of recognition. That's the insidious thing about the "Jesus Camp", the kids really want to please their adult trainers. As for Haggard, in the spirit of Christian love and forgiveness he's already been kicked out of his Church. No turn-the-other-cheek Amish among that bunch. Can't have a guy like Haggard hanging around - especially now that he's been found out. As for the adults who encourage slavish indoctrination of their children, I think they would have been more comfortable in 1930's Spain, Italy, or Germany. Each of those countries had its cadre of young, true believers, too.
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