Saturday, February 17, 2007

Jesus Camp Review

I finally got the time to review my notes from my viewing of "Jesus Camp". I have to start by saying that, overall, this movie made me want to hurl things at the television and/or just plain hurl (vomit). There were several occasions where I had to press the pause button and regroup. So...without further ado: My review of Jesus Camp.
First off, I'm thinking this needs to be considered as the atheist's Rocky Horror Picture Show. Seriously! Bring your Nestle's bottled water (for blessing and cleansing). Bring an alcoholic beverage of your choice: to chug whenever the irony of Ted Haggard smacks you in the face. The possibilities are endless...

The movie opens with shots of America's heartland...along the I-70 corridor in Missouri. The scenes are very pastoral and peaceful. The visuals are accompanied by the audio of a radio program produced by a Christian radio station. The DJ is wondering, on air, where this new breed of militant Christians has come from. He asks: "What happened to the message of peace?"

Cut to the next scene: kids dressed in chamos, with faces painted accordingly, performing a militaristic drill team number (with fighting sticks) to a scary little number called "Lord of Zion". It's disturbing on several levels. Personally, it felt very "rally-ish"...and I'm not talking pep rally. Becky Fisher, a children's minister, takes the mic and begins plugging her "School of Evangelism" book series for children. These books will teach kids how to testify. Conveniently, the books can be purchased in the church's bookstore. Mrs. Fisher also plugs "Kids on Fire" camp. She asks the kids to pray about coming to camp. She then asks if any child in the audience would like to testify... this was my first "Ahhhh!" moment: an eager beaver, mother in the audience physically raises her three year old son's hand. Ok. Seriously. What is this child going to testify to? The fact that he just ate a booger? Mrs. Fisher then encourages the kids to fast for a month, like Muslim kids do for Ramadan. Something tells me that Mrs. Fisher has never actually talked to a Muslim family. If she had, she would've learned that Muslims do NOT actually encourage their children to fast for an entire month. But, none-the-less, the camera pans to little Rachel who is feverishly taking notes. Fisher then leads the group in a prayer. The prayer includes the following lines: "Dear Lord,...I am here to be trained. I'll say what you want me to say." Correct me if I'm wrong, but... this seems less like prayer and more like blind obedience training?

Which leads to the next seen, in which Fisher is observing the spoils of the day (a video of the kids praying and speaking in tongues). Fisher is positively radiant, watching the kids enter near hysterics. She then gives this nice little monologue: "I can go onto any playground and meet kids who know nothing about Christianity...and moments later have them seeing visions and hearing the voice of God. There are so open. THEY ARE SO USABLE IN CHRISTIANITY." No shit sherlock! They're CHILDREN. I hardly think the ability to brainwash a bunch of kids is something to brag about. The very thought of this woman approaching my children on a playground sickens me.

Fisher then spouts off with more Islamic idolatry: "I want to see Christian children radically laying down their they do in Palestine, because we have the truth." She speaks of the Islamic jihad training camps in which children are strapped to explosives with glee and reverence. *shudder* I suppose that this makes her next statement ("Bush has brought moral credibility to the Christian faith") seem pale in comparrison. *double shudder* I mean, after all, they have the truth. *rolls eyes*

Here the movie cuts to a "normal, American home." Two boys are watching a cartoon/puppet show about creationism in which a puppet dinosaur (VERY similar to the actual show DINOSAURS, that aired on ABC during the early 90's) talks about the earth being 6,000 years old. The dino-narrator asks, "did we come from a gob of goo?" and calls evolution a belief on par with religion. The mother of the boys then calls them together for a kitchen table study session wherein they discuss global warming. For those who didn't take their science classes at the kitchen table, you might be surprised to know that global warming isn't real. It's just a political scare tactic. Oh! And, "Creationism is the only positive answer to all questions. Science doesn't positively prove anything." I hate to quote cancelled, old ass shows but...."We're going to need another Timmy!"

Now that the homeschooling is out-of-the-way, it's time to go bowling. The bowling alley is located precariously close to an "ADULT XXX BOOKSTORE". I thought that was a nicely played shot, on the director's part. :) Despite the sin factory next door, inside the bowling alley, it's "pins for Jesus" night. Rachel, who one imagines was fasting, leans over her bowling ball and prays earnestly for God to deliver the goods. She even COMMANDS the holy spirit to guide the ball. Having shown such command of the spirit (she did knock down four pins!), she labors over a Chick Tract (did I spell that right?). She then approaches a young, blonde woman who is sitting at a table. Rachel throws down her best moves and tells the woman that Jesus told her to come testify. She witnesses to the woman. Rachel is congratulated, by her youth minister, for having the courage to approach a total stranger and witness. Rachel then pontificates on her future career goal: to be a manicurist, so that she can witness to people when they're "relaxed." Just doin' nails and talkin' 'bout Jesus. Lofty goal there, Rachel. :/

We then meet Tory. Tory dances for Jesus. She's also a heavy metal fan, but it's all good because, "even though they don't say Jesus' name, it's Christian metal." No,'s called marketing. And, you bought it- hook, line, and sinker. Tory does some moves that would impress Napolean Dynomite and then gives a tidy little sermon admonishing those who dance "for the flesh". She then goes introspective and admits that she, too, "dances for the flesh" at times. But, she's NOT into Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan. She's NOT! NOT DAMMIT! Tory regroups and heads downstairs for homeschooling. When she gets downstairs, her sibs gather round for the pledge of allegiance. Now...I had to rewind this scene a few times. They say THREE pledges, as follows: to the Christian flag, to the Bible, and to the Israeli flag. *crickets chirp* Note: didn't hear an American pledge. Mmmmmm-kay. Tory then gets a little OCD when she goes outside to stand in the rain, to be blessed by TEN drops of rain. No more, no less.
Time to pack for camp...
I'll try and get to part two of this review tomorrow.


Santini said...

I had never heard of this movie before I read your blog a few weeks ago.

Watched it last weekend...scary, to say the least.

What scared me the most was the fact that it's's real.

I don't think (read: hope) that such religious brain washing is possible over here (Germany), even though I've seen my share of J's Witnesses on the streets. At least home schooling is not that much of a problem and public schools separate religious education from the rest of the lessons.


Brian said...

Isn't Levi one of the most frightening kids you've ever seen? I shudder to say it, but he'll be an incredible religious leader if he pursues it.

Virginia aka Ginny said...

I haven't seen the movie and doubt I will. I simply don't have the stomach for it. Ugh!

Atheist in Louisiana said...

Yeah, I watched this movie with a few friends a couple of weeks ago. It was one of the most disturbing movies I've ever seen (even more so than Requiem for a Dream).

When the homeschooling mom uttered the words "Science doesn't prove anything", all I could think was, "Hmm, perhaps people that think that way should have all products of science revoked".

Isn't Levi one of the most frightening kids you've ever seen? I shudder to say it, but he'll be an incredible religious leader if he pursues it.

Levi was pretty scary. He was so excited to meet Haggard it makes me wonder what he thought when the scandal became public.

My friends and I thought a followup documentury to see what each of the kids followed in the movie are doing 15 years from now would be interesting. How many will begin to think for themselves and how many will just grow up to brainwash more kids.

Brian said...

In all fairness, the homeschool mom that said "Science doesn't prove anything" was, technically speaking, correct, however, I did notice she went to extraordinary lengths to stretch that limitation of science to imply that biblical views were as valid.

erin said...

Pins for Jesus...that's classic. I think I need to move this up on my netflix queue (every time I use that word--which isn't often--I feel like I'm ODing on vowels).
A former friend of mine became very devoutly Pentecostal post-high school, and honestly, after seeing how drastically she changed...I feel like none of this surprises me anymore.

Joe said...

Everything I've seen on this film is just scary. I live in California and we just don't have that much of this scary stuff. Its here, but not so out in the open like in Jesus Camp. They're truly mentally ill.
If I was found on the street babbling incoherantly, I'd be taken in by the police for help. Do it in a "church" setting and you're blessed. Go figure.

Cap'n Murkat said...

I find it really odd reading your blog, with the amount of discrimination against atheists you experience. I've never encountered it in the uk anywhere near as bad (with the possible exception of the loons who shout at people in the centre).

I saw the trailer for the movie last month, but decided it was one that i definitely wouldn't be going to see!
There are two things that scare me:
1) This film is only accepted as it is christian. If it was about another religion (Islam for example) this would most likely be classed as "terrorism" and brainwashing.
2) These people exist and are out there.

Been lurking for a while, so i thought it was high time i made a comment :-)

You might be interested in the link below, bit of a read, but a good one.

Kathryn said...

Cap'n, Just wanted to say I agree with your reasons why it's scary...

Atheist in a mini van does run into the weirdest conservative people!

I really don't, but then I live not far from San Francisco. :)

RickU said...

Thanks for the review. I'll be watching this tripe soon. You asked if you spelled "Chick tract" correctly and I'm happy to show off my newly acquired knowledge. That saying came about because the prolific author of many of the christian tracts you see is none other than....Jack Chick.

I'M WITH JESUS said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.