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.
3 years ago