Thursday, January 1, 2009

"Jesus Camp": A Haunting Exposè

The 2006 documentary film Jesus Camp, directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, confirms the suspicion many of us hold about Christian Evangelicals and their agenda. Jesus Camp features the efforts of Pentecostal minister Becky Fischer and her Kids On Fire summer camp to win over the hearts and minds of young children to the cause of Christ.

So questionable are the tactics employed by Fischer that much of Jesus Camp plays more like a case study in megalomania. Fischer's emotional investment in her camp - and in the minds of her child minions - is so consuming, at one point while preparing to address her followers she allows the telling sentiment, "I get exhausted doing this."

Despite openly advocating for a Christian theocracy in America, Fischer denies her motives are in any way political. There's no mistaking, however, what Fischer means when she says "we must reclaim America for Christ."

Fischer mistakenly claims that "our nation was founded upon Judeo/Christian values" ignoring the much more accurate notion that while Judeo/Christian values have held a dominant stake in the cultural stock of America for a long time, it in no way changes the fact that the United States was explicitly founded upon secular precepts including the separation of church and state as delineated in the First Amendment.

At several points throughout Jesus Camp on his Ring of Fire radio talk show, Mike Papantonio, a Christian himself, lambastes his more extreme fellow Christians for the practice of turning children into ideological soldiers in a culture war that is much more appropriately manned by informed adults. When he gets Becky Fischer on the line, she does not hesitate to stand by the practice of "indoctrinating" children for her purposes. She also reveals her own belief that democracy is ultimately nihilistic because it allows for competing religions and viewpoints which she claims undermine the only thing that will save America - Christianity.

What was hard not to notice in Jesus Camp were the powerful marketing tools used to manipulate the children. Besides a Christian brand of rock music and even rap-style songs that were sure to appeal to the young, the shirt of one rather charming boy named Levi had the word "Jesus" emblazoned across the torso in such a way so as to precisely imitate the Reese's peanut butter and chocolate candy bar brand. Ingenious and nefarious at the same time.

What did the producers of Jesus Camp have in mind when making this movie? From one perspective it appears as though exposing Becky Fischer, her camp and her tactics has the effect of portraying evangelicals in such a poor light it has the power to galvanize public opinion against them. On the other hand, there will no doubt be those who see this film as a virtual manifesto for Christian evangelising intended to inspire people of a similar mind to go out and inculcate as many children as possible.

Where directors Grady and Ewing succeed is in pulling back the curtain on evangelicals and exposing their sinister agenda: to spread their message via the vile practice of child mind control. And like a virulent cancer, what is being spread is not nearly so important as the fact that it is being spread.


  1. Disgusting. And I am not referring to your post. It is how my husband and I felt about this film. When we watched it, it gave me goose-flesh, and not the good kind.

    This woman is on a missions and one I want to stay away from. I think I will totally avoid ever driving through that state due to the fear of this woman bumping into me or any of her warriors.

    It scares me to know that there are people out there ( and not just Christians) That can take a seemingly good thing and twist it into something vulgar. This also goes for the Jihads and any other extremist group. Who warps something to benefit their own agenda?

    Religion is taken out of context so often that is not what it started out to be. And to me, it is still a perspective issue. You see a piece of art and view it one way. I come along, look at the same piece of art and see a completely different thing. Hence the law of perception.

    One preacher sees religion in one manner, and another sees it differently. You could go to two different churches with preachers preaching about the same scripture and get two completely different sermons...perception.

    This woman Fisher has stretched even perception to a whole new level.

    She scares me!

  2. Yes, this woman and her methods are quite vial, even to a Christian such as myself. You already know my thoughts on this woman, her camp and the film, so I wont go into the details again here. Please rest assured and beleive that not all Christians are like this woman and others in the film. Many are apaulled beyond belief by those like her!