It is unquestionably the most frightening movie I have seen in years. It actually bordered on making me feel physically ill. This isn’t some gory horror movie or some graphic war footage. It is the Oscar-nominated documentary Jesus Camp.
The film takes us inside the homes and churches of children from Missouri who end up attending an evangelical Christian summer camp for children (“Kids on Fire”) in Devils Lake, N.D. More important, the story, told entirely in the words of the parents, other adults and the children, shows us some of the most frightening aspects of religion.
Set aside the 12-year-old boy who says he was “born again” at age 5. Temporarily ignore the children as young as 6 who are encouraged to speak in tongues and smash cups that represent the government. This is not about instilling supposed Christian values in children. It goes far far beyond that. This story shows the indoctrination of young children (which the pastor who runs the camp freely admits to). To call it brainwashing is too mild. What is happening to these children is nothing less than child abuse. It also leaves no doubt in my mind that most of the adults shown in the film are truly delusional.
Some may say this represents only an extremist brand of evangelical Christianity. It really doesn’t matter if they are a minority view in Christianity or even of evangelicals. There is no doubt these lunatics are openly trying to turn these children into “soldiers’ who will fight for the intolerant viewpoints espoused by the adults. This camp, others like it and the people behind and supportive of them are doing nothing less than creating what could very well be the first generation of American suicide bombers.
I wanna see [the children] 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!
Becky Fischer, head of “Kids on Fire” camp, Jesus Camp