Jesus Camp

2006 horror documentary

Rating: 12/20 (Jen: 10/20 "I have mixed feelings." "I don't really think anybody should watch this.")

Plot: Follows three evangelical Christian children (although two get much more screen time) as they head out for a camp in Devil's Lake, North Dakota called Kids on Fire to become warriors for Christ. They're unleashed to battle Satan and change the world. A few children, you wish, would literally catch on fire.

Special appearance by Ted Haggard himself who looks straight into the camera, points to the audience, and says, "I know what you did last night."

"Had it been in the Old Testament, Harry Potter would have been put to death!"

Creepily amusing footage abounds. The filmmakers juxtapose clips from the Jesus Camp and church services and the camp founder Becky Fischer with snippets from a radio talk show host (he says the most important thing in the film perhaps: "God has a special place for people who mess with children.") and definitely gets a message across. I enjoyed watching the footage--Christian rap, a guy who prayed and bobbed back and forth like a chicken, bottled holy water, the praying over a Powerpoint presentation, the discomfort on the onlooker's faces when the kid with the bowl cut was talking about how he doesn't believe everything in the Bible, the little girl who tried to evangelize to a group of black men in Washington D.C. and walking away saying, "I think they're Muslim," the woman homeschooling her children and criticizing global warming specifically and science in general, the best mullet ever captured on film (a mullet filled with the Spirit, no doubt!), and my favorite scene where the kids are blessing a perpetually smiling life-sized cardboard cut-out of President Bush. There was even a puppet show in the deleted scenes which, if in the final cut of the movie, would have given the film the puppet bonus of +2 points. But something about the documentary style and the propaganda techniques used turned me off. There were lots of shots of grass, water sprinklers, giant bowling pins, trees, the landscape outside a moving car window, and other "props" that really didn't fit in with anything and only bloated the movie. And I'm also convinced that the directors took liberties with the footage--picking and choosing some pointless but "damning" scenes (kids in the camp harmlessly sharing ghost stories), taking quotes from the children out of context, the use of creepy electronic music. It was all unnecessary, for sadly, this just isn't a topic that needs stretching. The footage alone, taken in context, would have worked fine. The most frightening moments were actually when the camera was impassive and just let the evangelicals do their thang.

Thanks for the recommendation, Randall. Worthwhile viewing.

Jen and I getting ready to speak in tongues while watching Jesus Camp:


winter rates said...

speaking in tongues...nudge nudge... i get it!

my comments are getting increasingly lame.

yeah not sure i'm excited to see in a barrel type thing...

who shoots fish anyway?

cory said...

This movie was a bit like shooting fish in a barrel- I made a funny. I watched it while recovering from dental surgery, and seeing it was even more depressing. I think it is a fair and very scary representation of how a large group of people are attempting to gain political power while simultaneously brainwashing adults and especially children. I admit I carry a bias and this movie caters to it, but I still think it is worth seeing for anyone. A 16.

cory said...

I should have read winter rates comment so I could have avoided copying his fish in a barrel thing. Pooh.

Shane said...


Right, I had absolutely no problem with the message, but I really hated the style of this documentary. I thought it was really sort of a mess. Fun to watch though, in a creepy sort of way.