Friday, August 08, 2014

Jesus Camp (2006)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

I’m having trouble remembering where it was that I first heard about this movie. It may have been through NetFlix, which occasionally recommends a movie that I might like. One of these movies may have been Jesus Camp, which is about a camp called “Kids on Fire” in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota.

It’s run by the Reverend Becky Fischer, who wants to have a place to teach kids how to live Christian lives. Early in the movie, Rev. Fischer speaks to the camera and tells how Muslim Jihadists are trained young. She feels that she could do the same for Christian kids.

The movie seems to focus on her and three kids: Levi, Tori and Rachael. Levi, who is home schooled, believes that Darwinian evolution is unproven. His mother asks him about how it’s ridiculous. Another likes to dance, but only to Christian music and not “for the flesh” as she put it. Most of the movie takes place at the camp with some time setting up the three aforementioned children. There are also segments with Mike Papantonio, who seems to have his own radio show. However, it seems to really be only to give some sort of narration, for lack of a better word.

While watching the movie, I remember thinking that this is another Fahrenheit 9/11. Those, like myself, that don’t believe will probably look at the movie and think how horrible it is that children are put through this, effectively being brainwashed. Those that agree with the methods may look at this and think that Becky Fischer is a hero, having done the right thing.

This movie seems to be neutral in its presentation of its subject. You don’t have someone trying to put too much of a spin on it. Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, who made this movie, didn’t appear in it as Michael Moore did in his movie. The movie presented Evangelism from the inside. I don’t think the camp was to be presented as good or evil.

If anything, I thought it came off as a little ridiculous. What makes someone think that approaching someone will convert them? Has anyone actually ‘seen the light’ after being approached? Rachael approaches someone at a bowling alley and tries to convert them. She seemed optimistic about it. There was also another case where one of the girls approached some men in a park. As she was walking away, she made a comment about how she thought they were Muslim or something simply because they didn’t seem that interested.

I have to wonder if the kids in the movie will watch it in 25 years and see what they were like. I could see some of them following the pat that Rev. Fischer set out for them. However, I could also see some of them finding a future outside of Christianity and looking back at this, thinking how naive they were. This isn’t to say that they’ll be screwed up or anything. It’s just that they might think to themselves, “What was I doing? Did I actually say that to someone?”

At 85 minutes, it’s not a long movie. I’d definitely recommend watching it. At the very least, it’s a look at what goes on at that particular camp. 

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