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Jesus Camp
Directed by Heidi Ewing
Rachel Grady
Produced by Heidi Ewing
Rachel Grady
Starring Becky Fischer
Mike Papantonio
Music by Force Theory
Cinematography Mira Chang
Jenna Rosher
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures
Release date(s) September 15, 2006
Running time about 85 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Gross revenue $1,013,596

Jesus Camp is a 2006 American documentary film directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing about a Pentecostal/charismatic summer camp for children who spend their summers learning and practicing their "prophetic gifts" and being taught that they can "take back America for Christ."[1] According to the distributor, it "doesn't come with any prepackaged point of view" and tries to be "an honest and impartial depiction of one faction of the evangelical Christian community".[2]

Jesus Camp debuted at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, and was sold by A&E Indie Films to Magnolia Pictures. Controversy surrounding the film was featured in several television news programs and print media articles in 2006.

On January 23, 2007, Jesus Camp was nominated for the 2006 seventy-ninth Annual Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Documentary Feature.[3] It lost to Davis Guggenheim and Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.

Contents

Overview

Jesus Camp is about the "Kids On Fire School of Ministry," a charismatic Christian summer camp located just outside Devils Lake, North Dakota and run by Becky Fischer and her ministry, Kids in Ministry International. The film focuses on three children who attended the camp in the summer of 2005—Levi, Rachael, and Tory (Victoria). The film cuts between footage of the camp and a children's prayer conference held just prior to the camp at Christ Triumphant Church, a large charismatic church in Lee's Summit, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City.

All three children are already very devout Christians. Levi, who has ambitions of being a pastor, has already preached several sermons at his father's church, Rock of Ages Church in St. Robert, Missouri. He is homeschooled, with his mother explaining that God did not give her a child just so he could be raised by someone else eight hours a day. He learns science from a book that attempts to reconcile young-earth creationism with scientific principles.[4] He is also taught that global warming is a political speculation, and that the Earth's temperature has only risen by 0.6 °F. Levi preaches a sermon at the camp in which he declares that his generation is key to Jesus's return. Rachael, who also attends Levi's church (her father is assistant pastor), is seen praying over a bowling ball during a game early in the film, and frequently passes Christian tracts (including some by Jack Chick) to people she meets, telling them that Jesus loves them. She does not think highly of non-charismatic churches (or "dead churches," as she calls them), feeling they are not "churches that God likes to go to". Tory is a member of the children's praise dance team at Christ Triumphant Church. She frequently dances to Christian heavy metal music, and feels uncomfortable about "dancing for the flesh". She also does not think highly of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, claiming that their music is mostly about "girls and boys".

At the camp, Fischer stresses the need for children to purify themselves in order to be part of the "army of God". She strongly believes that children need to be in the forefront of turning America toward conservative Christian values. She also feels that Christians need to focus on training kids since "the enemy" (Islam) is focused on training theirs. She refers to the Earth as "a sicko world" and wishes for Jesus' return. In the preparation meetings before the camp begins, she asks other staff members how they should prepare for "demonic forces" that may be stirred up during camp services.

Fischer is shown preaching a sermon where she mentions Harry Potter and claims that had he existed in biblical times, he "would have been put to death". Fischer admonishes the children—many whom are in tears—that many among them are "phonies" who curse or engage in non-evangelical behaviors with friends at school, and says "clean up your act". As several tearful children gather around her, she pours water on their hands to be "washed in the water of [God's] word."

During a rainy night at the camp, the boys tell each other ghost stories. A counselor admonishes the boys that ghost stories "do not honor God".

In one scene shot at Christ Triumphant Church, Lou Engle preaches a message urging children to join the fight to end abortion in America. Children are shown a series of plastic fetuses and have their mouths covered with red tape with "Life" written across it. Engle is a founder of the Justice House of Prayer and a leader of Harvest International Ministries, the religious organization with which both the church and Fischer's ministry are affiliated. He prays for Bush to have the strength to appoint "righteous judges" who will overturn Roe v. Wade. By the end of the sermon, the children are chanting, "Righteous judges! Righteous judges!" In another scene, a woman brings a life-sized cutout of Bush to the front of the church, and has the children stretch their hands toward him in prayer. This is a derivative of laying hands, a common practice in charismatic Christian circles.

There is also a scene at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where Levi and his family go on vacation to hear its later-disgraced pastor, Ted Haggard. Levi highly admires Haggard and is thrilled to meet him. He informs Haggard that he too wants to be a pastor and has already preached sermons. Afterward, Levi, Rachael, Tory, their families and several other children take part in a Justice House of Prayer rally held by Engle in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Throughout the movie, there are cutscenes to a debate between Fischer and Mike Papantonio, an attorney and a radio talk-show host for Air America Radio's Ring of Fire. Papantonio questions Fischer's motives for focusing her ministry efforts on children. Fischer explains that she does not believe that people have the freedom to choose their belief system once they pass childhood, and that it is important that they be immersed in evangelical Christian values from a young age. Fischer also explains that democracy is flawed "because we have to give everyone equal freedom."

DVD

The DVD, released in January 2007, includes several deleted scenes. In one of them, Levi's father and mother suggest that the next president may well have been at Kids on Fire. In another, a woman takes several of the kids to a "pro-life" women's clinic located next door to a Planned Parenthood clinic. In an interview, the clinic's director says that she was very pleased to see children so passionate about ending abortion.

The DVD also includes commentary by Grady and Ewing. They reveal that when they arrived in Kansas City, there was a great deal of excitement over the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. However, according to Grady and Ewing, Fischer and the others did not see their activism for socially conservative causes as political, but as a matter of faith. They also reveal that Fischer and the others did not understand why some of the scenes of them speaking in tongues and praying over objects were included in the film.

Controversy

Jesus Camp was screened at Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival against the wishes of the distribution company, Magnolia Pictures.[5] Magnolia had pulled Jesus Camp from the festival earlier in the summer after it purchased rights to the film, in a decision apparently inspired by Moore's association with the film festival, with Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles saying "I don't want the perception out in the public that this is an agenda-laden film."[6]

According to Ron Reno of Focus on the Family,

"The directors' claims that they were simply trying to create an 'objective' film about children and faith ring hollow. I don't question the motives of the Christians shown in the film. Indeed, the earnestness and zeal with which the young people pictured attempt to live out their faith are admirable. Unfortunately, however, it appears that they were unknowingly being manipulated by the directors in their effort to cast evangelical Christianity in an unflattering light."[7]

In November 2006, Fischer announced that she would be shutting down the camp due to negative reaction towards her in the film. According to Fischer's website, the owners of the property used for the camp shown in the film were concerned about vandalism to the premises following the film's release and thus will not allow it to be used for any future camps. Fischer has said that the camp will be indefinitely postponed until other suitable premises can be found, but it will be back.[8][9]

Reviews and awards

Jesus Camp received an 86 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, counting 83 positive reviews vs 12 negative reviews.

Michael Smith of the Tulsa World gave the film three stars out of four, describing it as "impressive in its even-handed presentation", "straightforward" and "a revealing, unabashed look at the formation of tomorrow's army of God."

The Chicago Tribune reviewer Jessica Reaves also gave the film three stars out of four and writes that Jesus Camp is "an enlightening and frank look at what the force known as Evangelical America believes, preaches and teaches their children" and concludes that what the filmmakers "have accomplished here is remarkable—capturing the visceral humanity, desire and unflagging political will of a religious movement."[10]

David Edelstein of CBS Sunday Morning, New York, and NPR finds Jesus Camp "a frightening, infuriating, yet profoundly compassionate documentary about the indoctrination of children by the Evangelical right."[11]

Some reviewers responded negatively to the film; Rob Nelson of the Village Voice called the movie "[an] absurdly hypocritical critique of the far right's role in the escalating culture war",[12] and J.R. Jones of the Chicago Reader criticized the film for "failing to distinguish the more fundamentalist Pentecostals" and for inserting "unnecessary editorializing" by using clips from Mike Papantonio's radio show.[13]

Jesus Camp was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Documentary Feature section of the 2007 Academy Awards,[3] losing to Davis Guggenheim and Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

References

  1. ^ Watts, Tom. Real Detroit Weekly Ewing believes in Jesus Camp, 10/4/06. Retrieved on 12/11/06.
  2. ^ Christian NewsWire, Jesus Camp Distributors Adverse to Screening at Traverse: Michael Moore Ignores Request to Remove Documentary from Festival, 8/8/06. Retrieved on 12/11/06.
  3. ^ a b 79th Academy Awards nominations list. Oscar.com. Retrieved on 2007-1-29
  4. ^ Wile, Jay L. Exploring Creation With Physical Science. 2000. Apologia Press.
  5. ^ Kilday, Gregg. Moore fest defies distrib over "Jesus". The Hollywood Reporter, 2006-8-4. Retrieved on 2006-12-11.
  6. ^ Knegt, Peter. "When A Fest Strategy Goes Awry: Traverse City Screens "Jesus Camp" Against Magnolia's Wishes". indieWIRE. http://www.indiewire.com/ots/2006/08/jesus_camps_uni.html. Retrieved 2009-11-13. 
  7. ^ "Jesus Camp". Pluggedinonline.com. http://www.pluggedinonline.com/movies/movies/a0002908.cfm. Retrieved 2009-11-13. 
  8. ^ Kids in Ministry: Are You Closing Jesus Camp Down? at the Internet Archive. Archived Jan 3, 2007
  9. ^ "Pastor will shut down controversial kids camp". The Seattle Times. 11-8-2006. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003365311_jesuscamp08.html. Retrieved April 23. 
  10. ^ Jessica Reaves (August 28, 2007). "Movie review: 'Jesus Camp'". Metromix Chicago. http://chicago.metromix.com/movies/review/movie-review-jesus-camp/162255/content. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  11. ^ "The Science of Sleep - All the King’s Men - Jesus Camp - Old Joy - New York Magazine Movie Review". Newyorkmetro.com. 2006-09-25. http://newyorkmetro.com/movies/reviews/21366/index1.html. Retrieved 2009-11-13. 
  12. ^ 'Jesus Camp' by Rob Nelson. Retrieved on 5-26-2007.
  13. ^ J.R. Jones (September 28, 2006). "Young Americans: Documentaries about John Lennon and far-right Christians both come down to a battle for the hearts and minds of the kids". Chicago Reader. http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/young-americans/Content?oid=923285. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 

External links

Websites

Videos


Jesus Camp
Directed by Heidi Ewing
Rachel Grady
Produced by Heidi Ewing
Rachel Grady
Starring Becky Fischer
Mike Papantonio
Music by Force Theory
Cinematography Mira Chang
Jenna Rosher
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures
Release date(s) September 15, 2006
Running time about 85 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Gross revenue $1,013,596

Jesus Camp is a 2006 American documentary film directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing about a charismatic summer camp for children who spend their summers learning and practising their "prophetic gifts" and being taught that they can "take back America for Christ."[1] According to the distributor, it "doesn't come with any prepackaged point of view" and tries to be "an honest and impartial depiction of one faction of the evangelical Christian community".[2]

Jesus Camp debuted at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, and was sold by A&E Indie Films to Magnolia Pictures. Controversy surrounding the film was featured in several television news programs and print media articles in 2006.

On January 23, 2007, Jesus Camp was nominated for the 2006 seventy-ninth Annual Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Documentary Feature.[3] It lost to Davis Guggenheim and Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.

Contents

Overview

Jesus Camp is about the "Kids On Fire School of Ministry," a charismatic Christian summer camp located just outside Devils Lake, North Dakota and run by Becky Fischer and her ministry, Kids in Ministry International. The film focuses on three children who attended the camp in the summer of 2005—Levi, Rachael, and Tory (Victoria). The film cuts between footage of the camp and a children's prayer conference held just prior to the camp at Christ Triumphant Church, a large charismatic church in Lee's Summit, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City.

All three children are already very devout Christians. Levi has already preached several sermons at his father's church, Rock of Ages Church. He is homeschooled, with his mother explaining that God did not give her a child just so he could be raised by someone else eight hours a day. He learns science from a book that attempts to reconcile young-earth creationism with scientific principles.[4] He is also taught that global warming is a political speculation, and that the Earth's temperature has only risen by 0.6 °F. Levi preaches a sermon at the camp in which he declares that his generation is key to Jesus's return. Rachael, who also attends Levi's church (her father was assistant pastor), is seen praying over a bowling ball during a game early in the film, and frequently passes Christian tracts (including some by Jack Chick) to people she meets, telling them that Jesus loves them. She does not think highly of non-charismatic churches (or "dead churches," as she calls them), feeling they are not "churches that God likes to go to". Tory is a member of the children's praise dance team at Christ Triumphant Church. She frequently dances to Christian heavy metal music, and feels uncomfortable about "dancing for the flesh". She also does not think highly of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, claiming that their music is mostly about "girls and boys".

At the camp, Fischer stresses the need for children to purify themselves in order to be part of the "army of God". She strongly believes that children need to be in the forefront of turning America toward conservative Christian values. She also feels that Christians need to focus on training kids since "the enemy" (Islam) is focused on training theirs. She refers to the Earth as "a sick ol' world" and wishes for Jesus' return. In the preparation meetings before the camp begins, she asks other staff members how they should prepare for "demonic Manifestations" that may be stirred up during camp services.

Fischer is shown preaching a sermon where she mentions Harry Potter and claims that had he existed in biblical times, he "would have been put to death". Fischer admonishes the children that many among them are "phonies" who curse or engage in non-evangelical behaviors with friends at school, and says "clean up your act". As several tearful children gather around her, she pours Nestle bottled water on their hands to be "washed in the water of God's word."

During a rainy night at the camp, the boys tell each other ghost stories. A counselor admonishes the boys that ghost stories "do not honor God".

In one scene shot at Christ Triumphant Church, Lou Engle preaches a message urging children to join the fight to end abortion in America. Children are shown a series of miniaturized plastic babies in place of fetuses, and have their mouths covered with red tape with "Life" written across it. Engle is a founder of the Justice House of Prayer and a leader of Harvest International Ministries, the religious organization with which both the church and Fischer's ministry are affiliated. He prays for Bush to have the strength to appoint "righteous judges" who will overturn Roe v. Wade. By the end of the sermon, the children are chanting, "Righteous judges! Righteous judges!" In another scene, a woman brings a life-sized cutout of Bush to the front of the church, and has the children stretch their hands toward him in prayer. This is a derivative of laying hands, a common practice in charismatic Christian circles.

There is also a scene at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado where Ted Haggard preaches a sermon against homosexuality. The family attends because they were asked by the film crew to go. The family never had any desire to go to the church. Levi has never previously met Haggard. He informs Haggard that he has already preached sermons. Haggard advises him to "Keep the cute kid thing going until he's 30 and then focus on content". Afterward, Levi, Rachael, Tory, their families and several other children take part in a Justice House of Prayer rally held by Engle in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Throughout the movie, there are cutscenes to a debate between Fischer and Mike Papantonio, an attorney and a radio talk-show host for Air America Radio's Ring of Fire. Papantonio questions Fischer's motives for focusing her ministry efforts on children. Fischer explains that she does not believe that people have the freedom to choose their belief system once they pass childhood, and that it is important that they be "indoctrinated" in evangelical Christian values from a young age. Fischer also explains that democracy is flawed "because we have to give everyone equal freedom."

DVD

The DVD, released in January 2007, includes several deleted scenes. In one of them, Levi's father and mother suggest that the next president may well have been at Kids on Fire. In another, a woman takes several of the kids to a pro-life women's clinic located next door to a Planned Parenthood clinic. In an interview, the clinic's director says that she was very pleased to see children so passionate about ending abortion.

The DVD also includes commentary by Grady and Ewing. They reveal that when they arrived in Kansas City, there was a great deal of excitement over the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. However, according to Grady and Ewing, Fischer and the others did not see their activism for socially conservative causes as political, but as a matter of faith. They also reveal that Fischer and the others did not understand why some of the scenes of them speaking in tongues and praying over objects were included in the film.

Controversy

Jesus Camp was screened at Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival against the wishes of the distribution company, Magnolia Pictures.[5] Magnolia had pulled Jesus Camp from the festival earlier in the summer after it purchased rights to the film, in a decision apparently inspired by Moore's association with the film festival, with Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles saying "I don't want the perception out in the public that this is an agenda-laden film."[6]

According to Ron Reno of Focus on the Family,
"The directors' claims that they were simply trying to create an 'objective' film about children and faith ring hollow. I don't question the motives of the Christians shown in the film. Indeed, the earnestness and zeal with which the young people pictured attempt to live out their faith are admirable. Unfortunately, however, it appears that they were unknowingly being manipulated by the directors in their effort to cast evangelical Christianity in an unflattering light."[7]

In November 2006, Fischer announced that she would be shutting down the camp due to negative reaction towards her in the film. According to Fischer's website, the owners of the property used for the camp shown in the film were concerned about vandalism to the premises following the film's release and thus will not allow it to be used for any future camps. Fischer has said that the camp will be indefinitely postponed until other suitable premises can be found, but it will be back.[8][9]

Reviews and awards

Jesus Camp received an 87 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, counting 83 positive reviews vs 12 negative reviews.

Michael Smith of the Tulsa World gave the film three stars out of four, describing it as "impressive in its even-handed presentation", "straightforward" and "a revealing, unabashed look at the formation of tomorrow's army of God."

The Chicago Tribune reviewer Jessica Reaves also gave the film three stars out of four and writes that Jesus Camp is "an enlightening and frank look at what the force known as Evangelical America believes, preaches and teaches their children" and concludes that what the filmmakers "have accomplished here is remarkable—capturing the visceral humanity, desire and unflagging political will of a religious movement."[10]

David Edelstein of CBS Sunday Morning, New York, and NPR finds Jesus Camp "a frightening, infuriating, yet profoundly compassionate documentary about the indoctrination of children by the Evangelical right."[11]

Some reviewers responded negatively to the film; Rob Nelson of the Village Voice called the movie "[an] absurdly hypocritical critique of the far right's role in the escalating culture war",[12] and J.R. Jones of the Chicago Reader criticized the film for "failing to distinguish the more fundamentalist Pentecostals" and for inserting "unnecessary editorializing" by using clips from Mike Papantonio's radio show.[13]

Jesus Camp was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Documentary Feature section of the 2007 Academy Awards,[3] losing to Davis Guggenheim and Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

References

  1. ^ Tom Watts (Oct 4, 2006). "Ewing believes in Jesus Camp". Real Detroit Weekly.  Archived April 17, 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Christian NewsWire, Jesus Camp Distributors Adverse to Screening at Traverse: Michael Moore Ignores Request to Remove Documentary from Festival, 8/8/06. Retrieved on 12/11/06.
  3. ^ a b 79th Academy Awards nominations list. Oscar.com. Retrieved on 2007-1-29
  4. ^ Wile, Jay L. Exploring Creation With Physical Science. 2000. Apologia Press.
  5. ^ Kilday, Gregg. Moore fest defies distrib over "Jesus". The Hollywood Reporter, 2006-8-4. Retrieved on 2006-12-11.
  6. ^ Knegt, Peter. "When A Fest Strategy Goes Awry: Traverse City Screens "Jesus Camp" Against Magnolia's Wishes". indieWIRE. http://www.indiewire.com/ots/2006/08/jesus_camps_uni.html. Retrieved 2009-11-13. 
  7. ^ "Jesus Camp". Pluggedinonline.com. 
  8. ^ Kids in Ministry: Are You Closing Jesus Camp Down? at the Wayback Machine (archived January 3, 2007).. Archived Jan 3, 2007
  9. ^ And, Religion (11-8-2006). "Pastor will shut down controversial kids camp". The Seattle Times. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003365311_jesuscamp08.html. Retrieved April 23. 
  10. ^ Jessica Reaves (August 28, 2007). "Movie review: 'Jesus Camp'". Metromix Chicago. http://chicago.metromix.com/movies/review/movie-review-jesus-camp/162255/content. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  11. ^ "The Science of Sleep - All the King’s Men - Jesus Camp - Old Joy - New York Magazine Movie Review". Newyorkmetro.com. 2006-09-25. http://newyorkmetro.com/movies/reviews/21366/index1.html. Retrieved 2009-11-13. 
  12. ^ 'Jesus Camp' by Rob Nelson. Retrieved on 5-26-2007.
  13. ^ J.R. Jones (September 28, 2006). "Young Americans: Documentaries about John Lennon and far-right Christians both come down to a battle for the hearts and minds of the kids". Chicago Reader. http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/young-americans/Content?oid=923285. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 

External links

Websites

Videos


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Jesus Camp is a 2006 documentary about a charismatic Christian summer camp.

Contents

Becky Fischer

  • God can do anything! We can just say, "God, fix the world!"
  • This is a sick old world. Well then, let's just fix it! Somebody get your tools out and let's just fix this old world!
  • Listen, we hold the keys. We can change the world. Boys and girls can change the world? Absolutely!
  • And let me say this about Harry Potter. Warlocks are enemies of God! And I don't care what kind of hero they are, they're an enemy of God, and had it been in the Old Testament, Harry Potter would have been put to death!
  • Where should we be putting our efforts? Where should we be putting our focus? I'll tell you where our enemies are putting it. They're putting it on the kids.
  • It's no wonder, with that kind of intense training and discipling, that those young people are ready to kill themselves for the cause of Islam. I wanna see young people who are as committed to the cause of Jesus Christ as the young people are to the cause of Islam. I wanna see them as radically laying down their lives for the Gospel as they are over in Pakistan and Israel and Palestine and all those different places, you know, because we have... excuse me, but we have the truth!
  • This means war! This means war! This means war!

Kids

  • Righteous judges, righteous judges!--after Lou Engle's sermon

Levi

  • I really feel that this generation is a key generation to Jesus coming back.
  • We're being trained to be God's army.
  • Whenever I run into a non-Christian, you know, there's always something that doesn't feel right--something that makes my spirit feel yucky.

Rachael

  • When I grow up, I thought it would be fun to be one of those people who paint nails and stuff, because you would get a chance to tell them about the Lord.
  • Man's decision--whatever! God's decision--something.
  • God is not in every church. There's such a thing, there are ... certain churches they're called "dead churches," and the people there, they sit there, like this ... (sarcastic monotone) "We worship you God, we worship you God." They sing like, three songs, then they listen to a sermon. Churches that God likes to go to are churches where they're jumping up and down, shouting his name and just praising him. They're not acting, they're not quiet, like (sarcastically) "We worship you." They're like (shouting) "Hallejuah, God!" And depending on how they invite him, he'll be there or not.
  • I feel like we're kind of being trained to be warriors, but in a much funner way ... there's an excitement, yet peace at the same time; it's really cool.

Tory

  • And really, Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan, people like that, I could care less for because their songs are focused on guys or girls, and we as Christians ... I do not believe in that.
  • When I dance, I really have to be sure that it's God, because people will notice when I'm dancing for the flesh.

Others

  • Our firm belief is that there are two kinds of people in the world--people who love Jesus and people who don't.--Tracy, Levi's mom
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