Jesus Camp - Fire and Brimstone
| I guess maybe The Descent wasnít the scariest movie of 2006.
Jesus Camp is the story of an evangelical Christian camp where young children are indoctrinated with a very narrow understanding of Christian values. Itís also a painfully riveting film that shows children being tortured with fear, guilt and the seeds of insanity.
Jesus Camp doesnít attempt to tell a balanced, journalistic take on the movement of the Christian Right to evangelise the youth of the nation. The film makers are showing us the scary reality of it all. There is ominous music playing as the children are speaking in tongues and preaching to the converted. We rarely get to see these kids being normal kids. Most of the time they are writhing in their own misery, learning to be fearful of God and judgemental of those that are different. Count how often the children cry in the movie. Itís like the film makers are trying to make an argument that this is abuse.
If they are, they have a fairly compelling argument. Itís hard to take your eyes from these young innocents regurgitating their dogma. You want to reach in and save them from this insanity. You want to hold them and tell them that itís all going to be alright. Instead you just watch in horror as these kidsí minds are screwed with by adults who hold far too much power and control over their lives.
Jesus Camp is broken up by a series of what we assume are on air comments by a radio talk show host who criticises the movement. He identifies as a Christian and condemns this fringe branch of the religion, shining light on the craziness and danger of this fringe, a fringe that makes up one quarter of the American population. A fringe that is open about their eagerness to wrest political power from the majority and turn the nation into a religious state.
If Jesus Camp has a message itís that Christians, like their Muslim brothers and sisters, need to stand up to the radical elements of their faith, the elements that pervert it into a hateful and shameful scene. All religions need to address the growing zealotry that leads to intolerance and violence, the very things that leaders such as Jesus or Mohamed preached against. Jesus Camp does a good job of showing us just how dangerous this kind of approach to the Bible is and where it can lead us if we arenít careful.
Jesus Camp offers little hope beyond the voice of reason coming from the Missouri based radio personality. Otherwise, it paints a very bleak picture of Americaís future. Sometimes the filmmakerís tactics are subtle but often they are not. Itís clear they want to bring this kind of thing into the light so that we can respond with the disgust it deserves. This is far scarier than any monster movie. This is about real monsters praying on our children. And itís terrifying.