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Movie Review: Jesus Camp

Alternate Title: Onward Christian Toddlers

Story: Oy vey! Look out - the fundamentalist Evangelical movement has a new wing in its organization. Documentarians Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (The Boys of Baraka) deliver a sobering look at what is going on in this molding of young minds' movement.

Children's minister Becky Fischer operates a summer camp for kids at Devil's Lake (I found the location name ironic), ND. The kids, as young as six (I saw some who sure looked younger) are taught to become little Christian soldiers in God's army. The training includes the often used tools of fear, shame, guilt and humiliation to help indoctrinate the already impressionable kids. Along with lectures on sin and punishment these kids line up willingly to go out and spread Jesus' message (or at least the message according to their interpretation). Contrary to what Minister Becky Fischer says, the message morphs into far right wing politics when it includes lectures on the sins of abortion and praying to a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush (I kid you not).

The first third of the film follows three of the kids who are featured before they go to the camp. We get to see their home lives (most home schooled) by their fire breathing mothers. Fascinating. We see their rooms, the books they read and the videos they are allowed to watch (mostly on Creationism and the fallacy of global warming). I would like to see how these kids turn out to be in say, 15 years, after puberty strikes and they venture out into the big wide world.

The lone voice of opposition is from Mike Papantonio, from Air America Radio's Ring of Fire. This is a disturbing film and should not be missed. These 30 million or so Evangelicals are a huge voting block. The televangelist Ted Haggard, who operates mega churches out of Colorado Springs, looks into the camera and warns the viewer as to the potential power of this block. Scary stuff, indeed.

Acting: It is hard to tell if the kids were all in a religious fervor and speaking in tongues. But it sure looked real.

Predilection: None other than my like of documentaries.

Food: I don't remember any eating.

Soundtrack: Ominous music but it seemed to be coming from the church itself.

Theater Audience: About a dozen wide eyed viewers like me.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 2

Squirm Scale: High - I do not like to see children used in any way.

Drift Factor: No drifting for me.

Oscar Worthy: No

Soap Box: I am a big advocate of separation of church and state. I also believe in evolution, global warming and the public school system as opposed to home schooling.

Big Screen or Rental: Either will scare you.

Length: 100 minutes