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Jesus Camp

Scary stuff: American children learning about Jesus, Satan and George Bush.

This is one very disturbing documentary about American Evangelicals – people who have a mission to take back America for God. People like children’s pastor Becky Fischer, who gets them young. At summer camp, kids learn to babble in tongues and to pray beyond their personal concerns for righteous government. They want a Christian society, and they’re politically militant – ‘Liberalism is dead, let The Church rise!’

Did you know that every Monday morning born-again President Bush and his advisors have a closed session with preachers from Evangelical churches? That Evangelists open a new church every two days, some ‘mega-churches’ holding thousands? One senior pastor confidently predicts that their vote will decide the next presidential election.

Fischer and her ilk are not happy clappies, with love for life, creation and their fellow beings. They believe in Jesus, but also Satan, against whom they’re preparing children to wage war. Fischer even tells her young congregation that the Bible is clear about Harry Potter – he would be executed. She tells us that they want children to be as prepared to lay down their lives for Jesus, as suicide bombers are for Islam. One child says it would be cool to be a martyr.

A strength of the vérité approach is that people freely say whatever they want to. A weakness is that no-one asks awkward questions or gives context – that, for example, in the latest census 28.6 per cent of Americans claim to be Evangelical. The film fairly represents Evangelical conservatism on abortion, evolution, global warming. If it’s representative on their zeal and militancy, it’s very disturbing indeed.

New Internationalist issue 407 magazine cover This article is from the December 2007 issue of New Internationalist.
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