Jesus Camp (2006), a documentary film directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, follows children’s pastor Becky Fischer as she leads camps and services for kids in her church.
First of all, I feel like you can take an extreme segment of any population and make them look like complete lunatics. Secondly, when talking about matters of faith with anyone, editing can cause someone to look foolish. A conversation about belief and faith really can not be fully understood taken out of its context.
I also think you can not watch this film without knowing that the objective of the filmmakers is to inspire fear and disgust for the way these people are raising their children. The reviews of the film have called it even handed, but after watching it, I believe it to be fairly biased. There is hardly any attempt to show that most evangelicals are in no way as extreme as the people in the film.
Now, as for the subjects of the documentary. It is a hard film to watch. These people truly believe that it is their calling to change our political establishment and make it holy. As a Christian, and someone who reads the Bible, I see no basis for believing that our job is to act out our faith in the political sphere as these people believe they should.
At one point in the film, a mother asks, “What has happened to my country?” This, after she teaches her son that global warming in only a political issue and that anyone who believes in evolution is dumb. What has happened is, as more evangelicals become stubborn about social issues, the more anger that has built on both sides.
The film is most powerful when showing scenes of prayer services with children crying. The adults are constantly challenging these young children to be soldiers, to stand up against abortion, or harry potter, and to change America.
The Bible does talk about bringing up children in the faith, but the faith taught in this film only resemble that of the Bible, it is not the same. That is why this film is so scary. Someone from outside the church can watch this and think it is representative of the whole church. While someone like me, watches it, and is appalled that these people can raise their children with such political conviction and say it is in the name of Christ.
The church’s hope should not be in creating a conservative Christian government so that we can live in comfort in a moral society. That is what the hope of the people in this film is, and that is why they continue to be frustrated and seek new and bizarre ways to change the current tide of our society. And that is why they meet such fervent opposition by those who disagree with the morality they wish to impose on us all.