Jesus Camp follows the work of Becky Fischer, a preacher who specialises in teaching children about the Bible at a camp in North Dakota. Rather than preach to free thinking adults, she takes those who are easily trained in her words “ children “ and whips them into a brainwashed frenzy in the name of worshiping God and becoming his ˜army’ to take back America from the non-believers.
Much of Jesus Camp is given over to raw footage from the daily sermons which are delivered to halls packed full of children who routinely end up wailing and crying for a reason they most likely could not explain. Sermons may be on any subject from politics, to abortion, to Harry Potter being evil, all of which are explained in the most biased way possible, and all of which end up the same way.
At every turn, the children are reminded that all of their actions come under God’s scrutiny and you rather feel that they are being starved of their childhood. Indeed in the odd snippet where the children are seen to be acting like children, this is quickly quashed by a camp leader who ensures that they stay on the straight and narrow.
Jesus Camp features a handful of interviews with the children on their own but it is clear that they have become so indoctrinated that they no longer speak like regular children. One girl in particular finds it acceptable to approach strangers in public places and awkwardly preach to them about God which is hugely uncomfortable to watch.
Stepping away from the camp, there is a short section addressing the home schooling of Evangelical Christians, 75% of which we are told are educated in this way. In a particularly infuriating segment, the mother home schooling her son brushes away evolution as a myth created by science which is itself flippantly treated and implied to be a meaningless discipline. It is clear that these children stand no chance to make up their own minds in any area of their lives and it is easy to see why the likes of Becky Fischer prey on such children to further their cause since they are so easily lead, starting with their own parents.
One thing that the film does lack is much conversation with the parents of the children who attend the camp. Perhaps this is because if they are prepared to send their children there, they most likely share the views of the camp leaders and therefore can add little to the narrative but it may have presented a more balanced overall picture to hear some of their views.