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Jesus Camp

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Controversial documentary about kids attending a theological summer camp. The filmmakers step back from the fray and let the subjects words speak for themselves. Some reviewers have held this up as an example of the religious far right brainwashing kids, calling it the scariest horror film of the year. Solid reviews and continued press should generate interest in seeing this film upon release.


The feverish spectacle of a summer camp for evangelical Christian kids is the focus of Jesus Camp, a fascinating if sometimes alarming documentary. (Shortly after its release, the movie gained a new notoriety when Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, who appears near the end of the film, resigned his post amid a male prostitute's allegations of drug use and sexual misconduct.) For most of the film, we follow a charismatic teacher, Becky Fischer, as she trains young soldiers in "God's Army" at a camp in North Dakota. Some of the kids emerge as likable and bright, and eager to continue their work as pint-sized preachers; elsewhere, the visions of children speaking in tongues and falling to the floor in ecstasy are more troubling. Even more arresting is the vision of a generation of children home-schooled to believe that the Bible is science, or Fischer's certainty that America's flawed system of democracy will someday be replaced by a theocracy. (In one scene, a cardboard cut-out of George W. Bush is presented to the children, who react by laying their hands on the figure as though in a religious procession.) Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady maintain neutrality about all this, maybe too much so (they throw in some interviews with radio host Mike Papantonio to provide a liberal-Christian viewpoint) and one would like to know more about the grown-ups presented here. Power broker Haggard is the creepiest person in the film, an insincere smooth talker whose advice to one of the young would-be campgoers comes across as entirely cynical. Time will tell whether the film's Christian soldiers will be marching onward. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Deleted scenes
  • Directors' commentary

Product Details

  • Actors: Mike Papantonio, Lou Engle, Becky Fischer, Ted Haggard
  • Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady
  • Producers: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, Jacquelyn Shulman, Jannat Gargi, Laura Bell
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Magnolia
  • DVD Release Date: January 23, 2007
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (314 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KLQUV2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,822 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Jesus Camp" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

The result is a very disturbing film.
Maybe this movie will wake a lot of people up to see what is really going on in this world.
Carolyn B. Rak
This is a movie that will change your viewpoint about the fundamentalist christians.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

254 of 283 people found the following review helpful By Justin M. Porter on December 27, 2006
Format: DVD
As a former home schooled spirit filled church raised child I was appalled at this movie. The main reason why is because I saw a good bit of my childhood in it. I was a product of brainwashing and spiritual abuse through "camps" like this. Frankly this movie was scarier than any horror movie I have ever seen. I think every Christian should see this movie so they can get a perspective on what it looks like from the outside in. For heavens sake, Ted Haggard was in this movie talking about the secret things people do in their lives right before he was exposed as a closeted homosexual. I hope this documentary opens the eyes of all christian parents about the importance of balance in a childs life and allowing them to make some of the decisions about their christianity on their own and not throwing them to the spiritual wolves like this. I am 30 years old and STILL recovering. I love the Lord with all of my heart and he is so much cooler than the God portrayed in this movie.
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73 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Steve Koss VINE VOICE on February 17, 2007
Format: DVD
Midway through this remarkably disturbing documentary film, Jesus Camp founder and director Becky Fischer is shown in what is presumably her own home, studying with the intensity of a college football coach preparing for his team's next game a taped version of one of the children's prayer meetings she leads. Mouth open in thrilled amazement, head shaking gently in approving self-awe, she blurts out the most unintentionally revealing line in this movie: "They [children] are so usable in Christianity." In practically the same breath, she allows that "extreme liberals" must be "shaking in their boots" to see such intense belief in children, that the evangelical Christian indoctrination of children is morally more justified than the same actions among Muslims, Jews, and Palestinians because, "Excuse me, we have the truth," and that the same "we" must "stand up and take back the land [America]."

Although JESUS CAMP spends about half its time at Becky Fischer's Kids on Fire summer camp in (ironically) Devil's Lake, ND, it could perhaps be more aptly titled JESUS WORLD or KIDS FOR JESUS. Co-directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady center their documentary on three young children, all apparently ten years old or younger: Levi, Tory, and Rachael. These three children are followed from church prayer meetings to their homes (where they recite Christianized pledges of allegiance and are schooled by their mothers in creationism and the fallacies of global warming), and later to a Ted Haggard evangelical convention in Colorado Springs and a pro-life demonstration (complete with red duct tape inscribed LIFE fastened over their mouths) in Washington, D.C. Ewing and Grady remain strictly outside observers these events, offering neither voice-over or commentary.
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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful By All Red on September 20, 2007
Format: DVD
I weigh in on "Jesus Camp" for one reason alone;25 years ago I lived this, I believed it, I taught it and now am soooooo far removed from it that I can clearly see all of this hatred and brain-washing for what it is.I myself was taught to believe what Becky Fisher et al propose as Christianity.I was a needy teenager and the "fright factor" of not being everything that God wanted was enormous on an impressionable brain.I was a Missionary and I did what I was taught.I did not question,and I did not think for myself.When I did, I was severely chastised.Relax you who are seething right now!....i know that "Jesus Camp" is not representative of all Christianity,but it is out there, and it is maybe not so "fringe" as you may think!
I was totally disturbed by this wonderful documentary simply because, though it is very "fringe" in the extremes of Christianity in the U.S, much of what is presented in "Jesus Camp",especially the attitudes of exclusive right to "The Truth" and an allegiance to the President is very common in even lesser denominations of Fundamentalism ( OKAY...now that remark may spare some Inquisitional attitudes!).Who Becky Fisher is IS real.Who Ted Haggart is ( oh boy was he exposed!) IS real.These children and their "radical stand for Christ" is as real as any Muslim Fundamentalist Extremist.
I was "deprogrammed" (as it were) over time.What bugs me still is that I am a really intelligent human being....BUT if you are needy and aimless, this brand of "Jesus" can be very appealing as any "search for truth or enlightenment".
Don't be shocked by this documentary....fear it...and fight it.I know whereof I speak.
(What.... no hateful retorts yet?.......)
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177 of 213 people found the following review helpful By Soulboogiealex on December 2, 2006
Format: DVD
Jesus camp is a rare document. It is one of the few honest portrayals of the right wing evangelist's movement. The documentary follows Pastor Becky Fisher and her congregation, mostly children since she's a children's pastor. In the film both Becky, some of the children and their parents are interviewed. The result is a very disturbing film.

For those of us outside of the movement Fisher's approach to children seems harsh and irresponsible, it has all the markings of brainwashing. One of the most disturbing scenes is where Fisher preaches about double morale, letting the children believe they've let Satan in their heart by prayer in church but acting indifferently to her teachings in school. We see children panicking and bursting out into tears; later when the children start talking in tongues some seem to loose it.

Yet nowhere in the movie there seems to be bad intent from her side, Becky really believes in what she preaches, really believes she's helping those children. The children themselves talk enthusiastically about the sermons and seem determined to convert others or become preachers themselves. At times the people portrayed here seem to live in another universe than yourselves, but at the same time they're completely congruent with their believes. When they denounce science or global warming these people honestly feel others who do are misguided and need saving.

No where in the movie Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, the directors, attempt to explain how their subjects came into believing; their tales of being reborn remain superficial. In doing so the film never gets an judgemental character, but its also ultimately one of the weaknesses in the film. It leaves the viewer with more questions than he bargained for.
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Topic From this Discussion
"Mockumentary" is a narrative film made, intentionally, in the style of a documentary film. It is not a documentary that you dislike for one reason or another. This documentary made generous use of lengthy shots and scenes, allowing people like Becky Fischer and Ted Haggard to speak... Read More
Feb 21, 2007 by Maarten Pereboom |  See all 39 posts
After similar material. Any recommendations?
I found "Fall from Grace" about Fred Phelps and the WBC pretty interesting, if not a little disturbing.
Aug 23, 2010 by poq |  See all 2 posts
What Does The Bible Say About Abortion?
To repost an Op-Ed I wrote on the subject...

Those who seek to outlaw abortion often use the rhetoric of "protecting the most vulnerable and helpless" in our communities. Many of them are Christians who see their opposition to abortion rights as inextricably linked with their faith and... Read More
May 11, 2007 by Joshua Villines |  See all 40 posts
Jesus Campers?
Yes, I've been there but I've noticed it's carefully edited. They review all the emalis before they post so it's not really an open forum.I did see any real challenges to their philosophy & thought it was incredibly biased.
Aug 6, 2007 by Dr. KTGrrl |  See all 4 posts
Desensitised to the Biblical atrocities.
Toy Lady is a perfect example of a person who can't discuss the topic at hand, so does what every emotional zelot does. Calls people names. Why dont you address the issue Toy Lady? Lets hear what you have to say and not just your childish outbursts.
Feb 13, 2007 by Bohemian Man |  See all 8 posts
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