Jesus Camp (2006)

jesus_camp“This will be the greatest day in your life; the day you got saved,” says Becky Fischer to a room filled with five-ten year olds. What could a group of small children have done that warrants being saved by a god? You answer that for me. “They’re so usable in Christianity,” boasts Fischer. Catholic, Christian, or Atheist, “Jesus Camp” is a testament, and serves as physical proof that religion can be a horrible device in the hands of lunatics and wielded on impressionable children. I’m one who thinks religion is an unnecessary part of society, but I accept that some people feel they need it in their lives. But if you are religious, heed the images of “Jesus Camp” and watch how a beautiful concept can destroy children’s mentality in the wrong hands.

The camp portrayed in “Jesus Camp” is indeed a cult, a place where kids can be brainwashed, destroyed, and rebuilt into Christian soldiers in the vein of terrorists, and extremists. What defines a cult? There are the tons of surefire signs of a cult, and a destructive cult that correlates with “Jesus Camp” and religion as a whole. Taking vulnerable minds, breaking them down, and rebuilding them in the values your supposed ideals dictate, these children are being trained to be extremists, and it’s utterly disturbing. “Jesus Camp” depicts parents and authority figures inflicting their extremist views on their children who haven’t the mental capacity to form their own opinions. Fischer compares her children’s camp to Muslims, and whenever asked a question about god, the parents blatantly decide for them and raise their hands. It’s only apt to be compared to Muslim extremists who go to camps to train to fight against “heathens,” and brainwash their children.

Fischer doesn’t realize the irony of comparing herself to Muslim extremists, and seems to want to build her own army to fight in a “war” against rival religions. And when we glimpse into the lives of these children, we see Fischer is only a device in a wider spectrum. These children are already brainwashed by their parents who home school them to insert their own religious views that constantly undermine education. These children are being taught to close their minds off to free thinking, and they’ll never realize it. They’re kept in line through fear of hell, disobedience to their parents, and the desire to satisfy them, and are mocked by them whenever displaying original thought.

Hearing interviews with the children, you can sense the thoughts they express about their own faults, and beliefs are those of their parents, and not their own. Often times, they look scared to express other views. Fischer herself could be a topic of a documentary all on her own. She prays to god not to let her PowerPoint presentation be deleted by Satan, she prays for the lights not to go out, she prays to George W. Bush who she defines as a savior for America, she asks that her subjects pray to him as well, she warns the children of sin, yet she speaks against Harry Potter and proclaims he’d be put to death, to which the children clap. She’s a snake eating her own tail.

“Jesus Camp” is utterly fucking disturbing; it’s a camp that begins with a sermon concerning sins and inflicting mental torture on children demanding they come forth with their own sins and to feel guilty for them, yet no one ever speaks to them, nor do they ask them what they defined as a sin in the first place. The methods used to manipulate and torment the children are disturbing, but even more disturbing are the interviews with the children, particularly with the adorable Rachel who is intelligent and utterly enthusiastic about religion, yet it’s not hard to see that mentally she’s not all there, and that could lead to some horrific results.

The children interviewed admit they’re willing to die for their religious thoughts, would gladly go to war over them, and are not afraid to sacrifice themselves to get their own points across. “Jesus Camp” not only explores the popularity of evangelism, but how many believe there is a war coming, and only they have the ability to know the truth, and intend on tailoring children to their whims, and political views—regardless of the damages. Muslims, Jews, or Christians, at the end of the day religion is a great concept ruined by horrible masters. The horrors of religion. It’s an amazing concept filled with many terrible and potentially destructive possibilities, and “Jesus Camp” proves that with a disturbing, unflinching portrait of religion and its effects on children when in the hands of psychotic strangers and bad parents.