This link goes to a review of the new ‘Jesus Camp’ movie, to give you further insight to this film. I personally feel it’s worth seeing, because anything that makes someone want to ‘vomit into their own drinking cup’, as this reviewer says, has a great deal of appeal to me.
The good thing, from what I’ve read, is that this kind of militant ‘God’s Army’ stuff is pretty limited in scope, and I sincerely hope it stays that way. I think because of how raw the movie is in it’s view of the children and what happens, a lot of evangelicals have tried to either separate themselves from it, or attack it for being too harsh.
“We’re frankly surprised and a little disheartened by the efforts of prominent members of the evangelical community to clamp down on JESUS CAMP. Whether or not the children and camp depicted in the film represents the ‘mainstream’ of the Evangelical movement is beside the point: they exist, the film documents them, and the subjects feel they’ve been treated fairly. Why a community that’s so quick to attack discrimination from secular Americans would then turn and do the same to other Evangelicals is unexpected, to say the least.” – Eamonnd Bowles, Magnolia Pictures
The film makers feel that although a lot people don’t agree with the subject matter, the portrayal of the participants, including Becky Fischer, the ordained pastor who runs the ‘Kids on Fire’ summer camp, is fair and unbiased (yeah, I know, ‘kids on fire’… Waco anyone?). It’s good I guess to know that the disturbing images of kids speaking in tongues was not exaggerated. However it was a little too harsh for some, including Pastor Ted Haggart who features in the film. But for interesting reasons.
“I didn’t like [Jesus Camp] for two reasons. (1) It portrayed the training of kids at the camp as militaristic, extreme, and scary and (2) It forces non-Charismatic evangelicals to say, “That’s not us, it’s them!” My concern is that the movie will reverse the growing respect that has been growing between Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal Evangelicals for the past three decades, and that those on the far left will use it to reinforce their most negative stereotypes of Christian believers. … It’s one more ‘documentary’ that seems to miss the point intentionally.”
How it’s possible to ‘reinforce negative stereotypes’ further I don’t know. I think when evangelicals move into positions of political leverage, and how they begin to assert their opinions on us, when they picket abortion clinics and the countless other things they do ad nauseum it’s very difficult to reverse any stereotypes we might have. In his documentary, The Root of all Evil, Richard Dawkins states that because of the Catholic church discouraging birth control, in Africa, millions continue to suffer and die in the most AIDs infested country on the planet. That’s a perfect example of organized religion asserting beliefs on other people, regardless of the humanitarian cost.
Politically speaking (and I don’t have the hard data), Evangelicals, in fact most religious people, are usually very conservative, and the movie expertly portrays that. In a review of the film Peter T. Chattaway mentions:
“The children may be too young to vote, but they’re hardly politically unaware. In addition to the usual praise and worship at their Pentecostal services, the children offer prayers for President George W. Bush—by actually laying hands on a life-size cardboard cut-out—and burst into tears while asking God to fill the U.S. Supreme Court with “righteous judges”.”
Regardless of the indoctrination of small children into political opinions they scarcely understand and the implications of which they can hardly be aware of (we’ve been seeing political cradle-advertising for some time now), I think the movie is important because it raises awareness on the subject and we all need to be on the alert for this kind of threat. The religious zealotry that is happening in America is in no way different from the kind of religious fanaticism that is taking place in the Middle East. It is the use of a belief structure to galvanize people to do the bidding of whatever their masters desire. It’s a concept as old as civilization, and that we continue to be suckers to it is testimony to the extent of our short-term historical memory as a race.