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Review

‘Jesus Camp’ leaves viewers with opposing opinions

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October 19, 2006

In the past I’ve always enjoyed seeing documentaries because you realize the story being told is often true.

But in the case of “Jesus Camp,” that wasn’t so.

This particular documentary covers the Evangelical Christian community in the United States by looking at a summer camp in North Dakota where children are taught the fundamentals. Here children arrive from all over the country to learn more about God and to test their devotion.

Becky Fischer started the camp and has run it for a few years now. Though I didn’t think of it at first, by the end of the film I realized how much of a religious fanatic she was. For example, in a conference room before a meeting she prayed about the chairs, the electricity so it wouldn’t go out and even her PowerPoint presentation!

Kids who were interviewed often came from deeply religious families educated through homeschooling, taught that science doesn’t explain anything, evolution is untrue and global warming isn’t a reality.

Throughout the film an underlying message of an “army of God” comes up again and again — even the first shots of the film show children in unison waving sticks like swords while covered in paint.

I hate to admit it, but there were times where I thought these kids were being trained as soldiers of God out to do his bidding as if they were preparing for a repeat of the Holy Crusades back in the middle ages. By the way the adults talked, it’s as if they’re at war against Islam as well as the U.S. government for taking prayer out of schools.

Fischer tells impressionable young children that in Middle Eastern countries kids at age five are taught to use guns and grenades, almost as if they must be trained. Whatever happened to the age-old tradition of camping, fishing and canoeing at summer camp?

Not only that, but I’ve never seen so much pro-Bush propaganda. For example, a cutout of the president is presented in the front of the room where children are told he’s a great man because he too is a born-again Christian, and these kids ought to come near it to feel some supernatural presence.

When this happened, the entire room erupted in laughter. Apparently those portrayed aren’t aware of the atrocities his administration has done in recent years.

Even Harry Potter was under fire. Fischer yells out, “Warlocks are enemies of God! In the Old Testament Harry Potter would have been put to death!” Apparently she doesn’t realize he is what we would call a fictional character.

Fischer even calls a conservative radio show promoting the indoctrination of American children everywhere as God-fearing Christians while dismissing democracy. Instead, according to Fischer, there should be a ruling religion over the government, which sounded similar to the Taliban.

Though it supposed to be taken seriously, the audience was laughing as if it were a comedy. I asked people and they all agreed how ridiculous it was. Simply put, this documentary revealed to us how people believe in something so much. It’s mind-boggling.

Once the film ended someone yelled out, “God that was terrifying!” Another dubbed it, “The best horror movie of the season.”

Instead of persuading the audience, it dismissed them in a uniformed fashion.

Nick Welsh is a student at UW-River Falls.