Jesus Camp is one of the saddest movies of 2006. It is not about people dying or struggling through hardships in life, but instead about some overly religious pastors and parents who are corrupting their children for political and religious gains and essentially killing their children's innocence while promoting the very thing.
You all have known at least one or two people like this, the little loser kid who wasn't allowed to watch certain cartoons because somehow they conflicted with the Bible in a way you couldn't understand, who shot off blind retorts to the most obvious situations in life and who rejected reason for absurdity. I am not not religious, obviously, but I am not targeting religious people in general: I am targeting people who see it as their purpose to make America and the world a Christian society where we aren't allowed to think for ourselves, where we let the world go to waste and where we ignore what is right and elect people like George W. Bush to office on a regular basis. Welcome to Jesus Camp, a look at a sick world where children are indoctrinated through home schooling, fear and the belief that they need to fix anyone who doesn't think the same way they do.
Jesus Camp follows a Pentecostal minister who has established a summer camp for children of evangelicals to attend to learn how to become the next Billy Graham and how to live a life of purity. She believes the world is going to Hell and that it is up to the children to save it. This may be true, but her reasoning behind it is completely out of left field (er, I mean right field). As we see, many of these children are home-schooled and read books to learn how to refute political issues such as abortion (fair enough), global warming (no excuse) and so on and so forth. As we see, Harry Potter, even though he is a fictional character, is somehow an enemy of God. As we see, these ministers and parents resort to such low behavior that they make their children cry repeatedly by force feeding them guilt trips until they believe what they are being told with every ounce of their soul. It is sad, sad, sad, sad, sad. Children are not supposed to be brainwashed this way, especially by their church and their parents.
The movie, nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary, is not the completely amazing piece of work I was expecting, but it is still an insightful, rather unbiased (in the sense that it just shows things as is, and it's up to you to decide whether it's okay for these people to be doing this to these children) film. The movie doesn't throw too many whoppers at you nor is it 100% engaging, but it is close most of the time. Of course, this movie may best be known for the appearance of Ted Haggard, once one of the most popular evangelicals until, shortly after the release of this movie, he stepped down after having relations with a male prostitute and using drugs (or as he describes, getting a massage from a male prostitute and buying drugs, but not using them).
Jesus Camp, even though it isn't completely spellbinding, is a shocking and disturbing look at the next generation of evangelicals. To put my political foot forward, the normal ones in this country need to do something now to save these people from themselves before they take us all down with them. These people are scary, and regardless of what they say, have a clear political agenda and are completely willing to put their children on the front lines. Both sides should watch this movie and carefully decide whether this is an appropriate use of children. Personally, what I saw on this film is borderline child abuse - the children just don't realize it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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