Monday, August 06, 2007

Jesus Camp: Review

I finally saw Jesus Camp last night. (Yes, I know I'm late to the party.) While some of it was absolutely unsurprising, some of it did indeed send chills down my spine. There were certainly shades of my own summer indoctrination camp[PDF - thanks R.D.] but it went much farther. I recognize some of the brainwashing tactics, as they were used on us at bible camp, in particular the shame and the peer pressure to convert and repent (extra points for squeezing out some tears). While we didn't speak in tongues and writhe on the ground, the main difference was the political element featured at Jesus Camp. One of the families did a sort of pledge of allegiance to Jesus, the USA, and oddly enough, the Israeli flag.

One of the weirdest scenes was when a giant cardboard dummy (heh) of President George Bush was brought to the front of the chapel and all the kids had to pray over him. One of the scariest was the whole abortion thing. They gave the little kids tiny fetuses to hold in their soft little hands (of course they looked like wee toy babies, and nothing like a real fetus at 7 weeks - if the kids saw what a real one looks like they would probably have nightmares). They put "Life" tape over the kids mouths - there was even a scene in front of the white house. Many of these kids were far too young to understand sex, pregnancy, or any of that, so surely they had no idea what abortion actually is. In their minds abortion is baby murder, plain and simple, and it must be stopped.

In order to justify what they are doing, the camp director and some parents say they were training their little army of God as a response to how Muslims train their kids into an Islamic army.
It's no wonder, with that kind of intense training and discipling, that those young people are ready to kill themselves for the cause of Islam. I wanna see young people who are as committed to the cause of Jesus Christ as the young people are to the cause of Islam. I wanna see them as radically laying down their lives for the Gospel as they are over in Pakistan and Israel and Palestine and all those different places, you know, because we have... excuse me, but we have the truth!
The kids who were interviewed spoke about being warriors and not being afraid to die for God. I think they meant it metaphorically, but I'm not really sure.

The camp did an excellent job at reaching the kids' tender little minds - using stories and props that really reach the kids, making them feel special ("You are the most important generation", "God wrote the book of your life"), even letting them smash things with a hammer (coffee mugs labeled "government") - and if there's one things kids love, it's smashing things!

The children are not raised to be freethinking individuals, but vessels of God to be used. The frames in which they can think are extremely tight, and there is no respect for science or critical thought. Many of the kids are homeschooled: global warming isn't a big deal, science doesn't prove anything, evolution is a belief...

Overall, it was an excellent movie, with no commentary from the directors at all. The interviews let the camp director, parents, and kids speak for themselves.

Worth watching: the deleted scenes.

Most embarassing guest appearance: Pastor Ted Haggard.

Funniest line of the movie: "We pray over these powerpoint presentations".

Cross-posted at Leftist Movie Reviews

Just for fun, here's one of the songs we sang at camp. I'm really not making this up:
Give me gas in my Ford*
Keep me truckin for the lo-ord
Give me gas in my Ford I pray - Hallelujah!
Give me gas in my Ford
Keep me truckin for the lord
Keep me truckin til the break of day

* That's right, get 'em hooked on the right brand names early. Every one knows Jesus would drive a Ford. Foreign cars are the devil's work.


Rosie said...

there was another documentary about an evangelical college (maybe I got it from red tory's site, or "thisCanadian" can't remember). Anyhow it was all about training future politicians in the states to change the laws to reflect more "biblical" stuff. Apparently it has a lot of money and clout, and these kids are groomed specifically for politics. Creepy and scary.

Chester N. Scoville said...

I pray over my PowerPoint demonstrations as well. Damn things are always screwing up in one way or other.

John said...

Why are the adults??? that ran this camp not in prison for child abuse and reckless endagerment?

Tim Webster said...

When Christ teaching includes a political endorsement.

Unfortunately I attended a church in Saskatoon for 6 months, where the Paster mixed biblical teaching from the bible with political endorsements. The fact that he never connected the biblical teaching directly with the political endorsement never bothered him. I remember asking him a couple times about something that was clearly not in the bible, but was a held belief. For example he believed, he knew in detail from the bible how our world was created. The fact is we don't know from the bible. He loved cars and truly believed it was our right as Christians to own and drive cars. Owning and driving a car has absolutely nothing to do with sharing God's love with your neighbour in need.

It makes me sick as a Christian to think he was member of the denotations national/international governing board. And every time he came back from a national or overseas meeting he was even more religiously assured of his political beliefs. Its unfortunate but Christian leaders like this make me want to run away from God. They believe that a Liberal Christian is not Christian. I am not in favour of gay marriage of Christians, but otherwise I am not against it. There are far worse crimes against humanity in my eyes. Because of this spoken view I am not a Christian in their eyes. Am I?, I feel my spirit taken away. I know I cannot give my life to care for others who may careless about me, without God's spirit caring my burden. I search the bible for answers, try to understand its teaching, listening to others for many times I am wrong, and asking God's spirit of caring love to live within me guiding me to a responsible life.

Thankfully I now have a Paster who ran away from the American bible belt. He understands when I said, sometimes I feel as a Christian trying to live my life without deceit, I have more in common with Atheist. Atheist are not religiously assured of their political believes.”

Rev. Don Spitz said...

Re: Jesus Camp, Christians have as much right to vote as any of you homosexual sodomites or babykilling abortionists.
SAY THIS PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I am a sinner and am headed to eternal hell because of my sins. I believe you died on the cross to take away my sins and to take me to heaven. Jesus, I ask you now to come into my heart and take away my sins and give me eternal life.

Tim Webster said...

Rev. Don Splitz

You should be ashamed of how you are representing Christ. Outlawing abortion won't result in more Christian families and you know it. Instead we should be helping families with preschools and community support. With more support there is less need.

God doesn't men be an army for him, but Satan does.

Tim Webster said...

God doesn't NEED men be an army for him, but Satan does.

Jay said...

several scenes from Jesus Camp had me thinking about the time I spent working for a private security company at summer fairs...the behavior of the adults was eerily similar to the behaviour of several pedophiles that were caught in the children's games sections.

John said...

Spitz, you are a member of a terrorist come the moron in chief, whoops the decider, has not designated you an enemy combatant and had you shipped to one of the CIA's secret prisons?

Maybe you should actually read one of those bibles instead of using it as a club.

TomCat said...

Rev. Spitz represents the GW Bush brand of Christianity. Jesus knew folks like him. He called the hypocrites and overturned their money tables in the temple.

Anonymous said...

That's an excellent review, thank you!

I finally saw it this weekend and refrained from comment.

It reminded me of a White Aryan documentary I saw, same indoctrination techniques etc.

The film makers are going to do a five year followup on these kids.

Again, thanks. Blog on!

Bene D

Anonymous said...

Your Rev. Don Spitz commenter - is it this guy?

What is he doing mouthing off on a Cdn blog? I had a Phelp show up at mine, so if it is the Army of God Spitz his IP should be coming out of Chesapeak VA.

Bene D