Jesus Camp

4083Jesus Camp is a documentary that I saw at the Tribeca Film Festival this week.  The film is a portrait of kids who attend a camp in North Dakota that is run by an evangelical woman preacher.  Most of these kids have been born again from a very young age.  The film is frightening and interesting at the same time. 

The filmmakers zero in on 2 kids, Levi and Rachael.  Levi declared to be born again at age 5. He thinks of himself as a preacher.  He is home schooled.  The statistical information that is given during the film was pretty interesting.  1.8 million kids are home school and 75% of them are evangelical.  Wow.  Also, 49% of born agains are born again before age 14.  Interesting.  Brainwashing perhaps?  Levi is taught by his mother that science is bad, global warming is irrelevant and George Bush is our hero.  He is doing the work of the Lord. 

Rachael, speaks like she is 30 years old.  She attempts to convert random people on the street because god told her to do so.  These kids are also hauled off to protest at abortion clinics with red tape sealing their mouth with the word LIFE written over it.  At one point at the camp they are shown small babies at different weeks old to show abortion being bad.  Meanwhile these tiny babies are fully formed at 3 weeks. 

The preacher, Becky Fisher, preaches to these kids the evils of sin.  The week long camp with kids and parents in tow was like watching people go through a brain washing exercise.  Seeing a 7 year old girl sob and throw her arms up in the air for Jesus because she hasn’t always been a believer in school makes your jaw drop.

The film makers, Heidi Ewing and Rachael Grady spoke to us after the movie.  They had a tremendous amount of energy.  They started out making a movie about children preachers and ended up following another path.  The documentary makes you ask bigger questions.  What is the role of religion in politics? 

One of the preachers they film from Colorado Springs who has one of the biggest followings in the country actually speaks with George Bush for a conference call every Monday.  This preacher gave me the impression of someone that makes you check your wallet when he leaves the room. 

Other questions come to mind to.  Children learn from their parents.  Are liberal parents allowing kids to look at the big picture and make their own decisions or are they brain washing them too?  Liberals aren’t taking their kids to camps to be preached at over and over again 24 hours a day.

The film will be showed on A & E over the next couple of months.  I highly recommend watching it.  It scared the hell out of me.  What I saw was mental child abuse.  These people truly believe that the lord is their savoir.  Why worry about global warming when Jesus is coming to save you tomorrow?  If these people are making an impact on our politicos, wow.  Very scary. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. Kevin Walsh

    >>>These people truly believe that the lord is their savoir. <<< You mean, he's not?

  2. p.l.k.

    The Lord is their Savior. They can certainly, according to your description, be guilty of going to extremes. But let’s not, in an attempt to show disapproval, forget the truth. And, by the way, I am a liberal.

  3. jeffrey

    Heh. I saw the movie last week as well, and also left a bit stunned. Growing up, living and working far from the “flyover” states, it’s inconcievable that this even goes on in earnest. I would love to see a follow-up in 10 years time (and suggested such to the filmakers in the Q&A that followed – they agreed). My girlfriend had a similar response to you here. Cheers for the nice writeup.

  4. jenna @ religionmediawatch

    Be careful with those stats…not all evanglicals are pentacostals (the campers). Does the difference really matter? YES as progressive evangelicals work to change everything from immigration policy to poverty issues. See Luis Cortes Jr at Esperanza USA or Jim Wallis at Sojourners. The American Prospect did a great review of the film today that points to these slippery categories.

  5. Patrick

    I truly feel sorry for these children. I grew up in a religious household, and though not as extreme, have witnessed the religious brainwashing of youth first-hand. I don’t believe any of my friends’ parents thought they were hurting their children by encouraging or forcing participation, and I know my parent’s didn’t. I only hope these children grow up with enough understanding of the world and the philosophy of Jesus Christ to escape their situation. Although, I assume that’s what the home schooling is meant to prevent.

  6. Duane

    One night I got a call to come to church because one of my children had been deeply touched at a Becky Fischer meeting. Was she brain washed? I once visited a church of the brainwashed and it was truly frightening. Instead my daughters heart had been touched concerning orphan street children in South America.
    Brainwashing is the wrong word for Becky Fischer. She is a radical pentecostal evangelical. A pentecostal is one who has experienced manifestations of God’s Spirit. An evangelical is one who spreads the good news. Becky primarily brings the good news to children that you can have an experience with God at a young age. Brainwashed people have blank stares and canned phrases, not life changing spiritual experiences. Maybe heartwashed would be a better word. Does your heart need a bath?

  7. Linda

    I know Levi and Rachael personally and I can tell you there are not two more normal kids anywhere. They are both just young people who love the Lord and want to serve Him however possible. Brainwashed, lets see, they have been taught that, premarital sex is wrong, abortion is wrong, disobeying your parents is wrong, loving the Lord is right, serving Him is right, treating others with respect is right. Oh how I wish more kids were “brainwashed” maybe we wouldn’t have kids killing kids in school, kids having kids out of wedlock and the list goes on.

  8. Jonathan

    “Liberals aren’t taking their kids to camps to be preached at over and over again 24 hours a day.”

    They don’t have to: preaching is brought to where they are at, in their homes through television, through their teachers at school, and wherever else. Kids are being taught values from all sorts of different sources. And many of them aren’t positive.

    Although I can’t speak for Jesus Camp, I definitely commend anyone who tries to raise up a children in a moral, wholesome, Godly way.