The Exorcist is not the scariest movie I've ever seen now. It's been replaced with ... Jesus Camp. I'm tellin' ya, Linda Blair has nothing on the 9-year-old Rachel in the film. I was half expecting her head to swivel 360 degrees. And don't get me started on the whole speaking in tongues thing.
Jesus Camp follows several kids raised in Evangelical families and their trip to an Evangelical summer camp. The parents of these kids and the proprietors of the camp work very hard to inculcate these kids to worship George Bush, to see all judges as evil and to disregard all science. From a very early age, they are forced to insulate themselves from any views outside the narrow ideological slant of their church. Harry Potter is evil and the earth is 6,000 years old.
To those that criticize this movie for casting fundamentalists in a bad light, blame the movement itself. There is no narration and it is the words and actions of the followers themselves that are used to show what it stands for. The Evangelical movement as a whole is not necessarily represented by this movie as there are many liberal evangelicals (most notably, Sojourners' founder Jim Wallis). But an all too vocal fundamentalist group of Evangelicals ARE represented by the group in this movie.
"I want to see young people who are as committed to the cause of Jesus Christ as the young people are to the cause of Islam. I want to 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... Excuse me, but we have the truth!" -- Pastor Becky
I'm really trying very hard to figure out exactly how this is different than any of these other groups we call "cults". The obvious big difference is that we have a so-called "religious" President that panders to this particular cult, so they are given a free pass.
indoctrinate -- teach doctrines to; teach uncritically
There's the rub - "teach uncritically". That is why 75% of home-schooled kids are Evangelicals. Is it that they are afraid that in the open marketplace of ideas, their doctrines will not hold any water and even a child would see their shortcomings? Any belief system that only works under isolation from any competing or critical views is not really a belief system. It's brainwashing. And that is what is going on at camps like the one shown in Jesus Camp.
As if the footage needed to be any more chilling, there is an appearance by these kids at the mega church where Ted Haggard used to preside over. The footage and the movie were completed before the revelations of his duplicity became public. But the strange thing is how slimy and fake he comes across when speaking to the kids. You get the feeling that even these little Christian soldiers thought he was bad news.
"Pastor Ted's" subsequent fall from grace casts an even worse light on the footage. His revealed homosexual activity and drug use are not so much the problem. His hypocrisy in preaching against them are. This is a man who on a weekly basis had the ear of the President and preached to congregations of 2,000+ weekly about the "sanctity of marriage".
To those who have not seen the movie, they might assume it is a smear piece intended to attack the Evangelical movement. But it's fairly straightforward and without editorializing. The main stars of the movie even approved of it:
"Though opposing viewpoints are sporadically proffered by Air America radio host Mike Papantonio, a practicing Christian appalled by the fundamentalists' political agenda, the film employs no exposition and professes no overt bias; indeed, Fischer was apparently delighted with the finished product. Both the camp's children and the adults welcome the camera as a witness to their crusade." -- from Variety
If anything, this movie shows that the building of this country into a theocracy starts young. Catch kids before they are able to cast a critical eye on their indoctrination and it might be too late to save them later.
And don't think that it stops with kids of this age. A recent article revealed that there are more than 150 Regent University graduates in the Bush administration. Yep, that's Pat Robertson's Regent University.
This has all been building for 30 years plus. It's no wonder that it feels like our foreign and environmental policy is being made by people who expect the Rapture is right around the corner.
For anyone who wants to get a glimpse into the world that has spawned zealots who are threatening judges, killing abortion doctors and pushing the marriage amendments, check out this movie. Grade: B+
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." -- Lucius Annaeus Seneca