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Jesus Camp

326 customer reviews

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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 (326 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KLQUV2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,645 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Jesus Camp" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

259 of 288 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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76 of 82 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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63 of 70 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 ( 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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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Garry Daniel on September 29, 2007
Format: DVD
I finally got around to watching Jesus Camp after a friend at work had suggested it. It actually took about 2 months from the day his first mentioned it to the day I watched it. I took so long in getting to it because I just didn't want to watch anything to do with the Christian Church ever again. I used to be a Christian (or, at least I thought I was) until I began to realize I didn't belong there. It was a sham, my being there, and it was done only to appease my wife and my parents.
I also went to church because of my children. I was raised to believe that good parents took thier children to church and the Christian Doctrine was taught in the home. I'm 53 years old, and that is the way it was taught in my youth. Well, when my wife and I divorced I also divorced the church. My children are grown, she's remarried, and I'm a happy man.
I no longer wanted to hear about the church, and was reluctant to watch this film. I found myself impressed by the three children presented in the film. They seem intelligent, very outgoing, and likeable. The adults leading them, however, seem pushy, overbearing, and downright creepy.
What made a disturbing impression on me was the scene in which one of these "leaders" made the children cry, and flail about on the floor in seizure-like fits. Imagine bringing a bunch of young children to this camp, and then making them feel guilty about themselves to the point where they cry and "repent" of imagined sins?! Shame on these so-called "leaders" and their tactics! The entire thing was repulsive and extremely ugly. Seeing Jesus Camp only made me stronger in my belief that divorcing the church was the right way to go. I don't want anything to do with any religion that makes people feel worthless and guilty. Children should be allowed to be children, and not mindless "god zombies". The church is based on fear and guilt, not to mention money. Shame on these people.
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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
I don't think such an argument can be made. In fact, I don't even think people can appeal to scripture on this point, because, as we know, the "Bible" as a book didn't exist when the different "books" were written, and so there is no way the Bible could refer to itself as... Read More
Feb 22, 2007 by Jason Mierek |  See all 18 posts
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