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Overall Rating

Awesome: 34.43%
Worth A Look37.7%
Average: 3.28%
Pretty Bad: 6.56%
Total Crap: 18.03%

4 reviews, 37 user ratings

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Jesus Camp
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by brianorndorf

"Even Baby Jesus is afraid of Jesus these days"
4 stars

In its attempt to stay clear of judgment, “Jesus Camp” presents a fascinating look at Evangelical Christians and their fears, successes, and plans. This is an intense study into the art of brainwashing or faith (depending on how you look at it), and presents a mesmerizing look behind the Jesus curtain at a faith that has labeled itself the future of America.

No matter how you slice it, the documentary “Jesus Camp” is bound to enrage someone. This is a marvelous hot potato odyssey into the heartland of Evangelical Christians living in the Midwest. Here they’ve built a fortress of faith that they feel is tested everyday, so they start young to reinforce their numbers. Real young. The leaders encourage parents to send their children to a summer camp in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota where the kids can eat, sleep, and breathe Jesus, essentially preparing them for future warfare.

Depending on your viewpoint, “Jesus Camp” is either a chilling or reassuring peek into the motivations of an Evangelical Christian society. The leader here is Becky Fischer, a rotund, vain believer who has sensed a resurgence of faith in America since George W. Bush took power. Her mission is to sequester the children in the camp, to train them about the evils of liberalism, abortion, and Harry Potter, so they can go out into the world and spread the good word further. In a mind-bendingly shocking scene, she compares her work to the multigenerational Islamic Fundamental terrorists that plague our world. Becky has no patience for those who disregard Jesus.

Her campers include Levi, a rat-tailed young boy who desires to be a preacher, and Rachael, who feels a kinship with the Lord flowing through her veins. These are 10 year-old children. They are some of the oldest kids in the camp.

Without any commentary, directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady take the viewer into the camp to behold the salvation (or madness) that lies within. Amazingly, the filmmakers do not pull a Michael Moore and turn everyone into a wack job to suit their argument. The directors are merely observers, and to openly debate the goal of the camp, they’ve inserted sequences with radio talk show host Mike Papantonio expanding on his thoughts on this radical religious movement as a way of balancing the argument the best they can. Papantonio is a thoughtful man, rightfully baffled over the change of the political sea, but how can he compete with footage of teary toddlers who’ve caught the spirit and speak in tongues?

The filmmakers go beyond the camp to visit an Evangelical home-schooled household, where the only thing worse than a non-believer is the fanged beast known as science. It’s like the Batman to their Joker. The Evangelicals do not believe in global warming, evolution, the separation of church and state, or dirty stinking liberals. They feel with Bush in charge, their way of life will soon dominate America. At the camp, they touch and pray to a cardboard cutout of Bush, and await the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court with bated breath. The President is their savior, and they sleep soundly in the knowledge that he takes a meeting with an Evangelical leader every week for guidance.

In the third act, we watch the aftermath of the camp, where faith has been served and now the kids are off to double their numbers. It’s hard not to notice the cold, rehearsed feeling in their speech when they address the camera, as much as it is hard to deny their commitment.

It comes down to this: these are children. Impressionable, innocent, incredibly camera-aware, loving, ready-to-please children. They have not chosen this way of life; it’s being legally programmed into them for the benefit of adults who are afraid they might lose their moral standing without a backup generation to replace them. Where is the line? Condemn this way of life, and you’re branded an America-hating witch. Celebrate this culture of indoctrination, and it sets a dangerous precedent.

“Jesus Camp” will present 1,000 questions on faith, trust, and humanity that are not easily answered; it’s a film impossible to ignore.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 10/06/06 17:11:08
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Boston Film Festival For more in the 2006 Boston Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/13/10 brian Horribly manipulative/deceptive movie that's wildly anti-freedom (speech, religion). 1 stars
1/24/10 KH One of the silliest films i've ever seen. 2 stars
6/25/08 ES I find it saddening that Jesus's message could breed such irrational fear and hate 4 stars
12/31/07 Shaun P. Creepiest movie I've seen since invasion of the body snatchers. 4 stars
12/29/07 wce this movie was the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen 5 stars
5/31/07 KJC oh man, i'm an evangelical and i wanna cry after watching. most evngcls aren't fundamentali 2 stars
3/30/07 Christopher At first interesting but then loses it focus. Intelluctually false, a good topic though. 3 stars
3/16/07 John A Habig As a JW I am apalled by the religious/corporate/political hypocrisy 5 stars
2/13/07 malcolm christian terrorists in the making, interesting that ted haggard appears in this film 4 stars
10/14/06 michael tell me no lies 1 stars
10/10/06 David Rothenburg The new evangelical converts cry, "We found it!" My Rabbi says, "We never lost it!" 1 stars
10/07/06 Doug The scenes speak for themselves, but overall the movie seemed to have no sense of direction 4 stars
10/03/06 Sully Would love to see in ten years where the kids are in their faith,lives etc. 4 stars
10/02/06 D Can't think of anything positive to say about it, artistically or content-wise 1 stars
9/29/06 Carrie Misrepresentative of the majority of Evangelical Christianity... Obvious liberal agenda. 1 stars
9/28/06 Todd Birch What ever happened to seperation of church and state? 1 stars
9/28/06 Ronnie's rant Reminiscent of the Hitler Youth Corp,very evil in hart And its pure blasphemy 3 stars
9/24/06 Robert Elarton A very SAD excuse for a movie, puts human behavior right back with all the animals.Jesus wo 1 stars
9/22/06 heather gee, a bit of a cult type thing!? absolutely rediculous !!!!! get a life!! 1 stars
9/19/06 Daryl Pearson Out of the mouth of babes who love Jesus! A must see film AAA 5 stars
9/18/06 Kristi Nichols an extraordinary film with an extraordinary message, right to the heart! 5 stars
9/17/06 jojo damn islam wannabe's.... christians are so soft and liberal 5 stars
9/17/06 Wideband Riveting film. Viewers should see it twice. 5 stars
9/16/06 elizabeth Powerless, and unimpressive, ignorant bible hicks 1 stars
9/13/06 Lori P. Where is the uncut version? This is artfully spun propaganda promoting a liberal bias. 2 stars
8/06/06 Aidan C. A superb treatment of a fascinating topic. 5 stars
5/08/06 Wickford G Richboro Secularists just don't get it. 2 stars
5/04/06 Rachel S. This is one of the best films I have ever seen! So well done and fascinating! 5 stars
5/04/06 David Redmon Best doc since Murderball; frightening. 5 stars
5/04/06 John Lucas This movie is a must see! 5 stars
5/02/06 G.W. uncomfortably creepy 5 stars
5/02/06 KC Eye Opening and though provoking - well done!! 5 stars
5/01/06 mhaynes This was possibly the scariest movie I have ever seen in my life. Petrifying and disturbing 5 stars
4/30/06 Doug Easdon AMAZING MOVIE! 5 stars
4/29/06 jerry kohler this movie is total crap 1 stars
4/20/06 filmfan us versus them in the heartland 5 stars
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  15-Sep-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 23-Jan-2007



Directed by
  Heidi Ewing
  Rachel Grady

Written by


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