After keeping my distance for some time I finally broke down and decided to watch Jesus Camp and in so doing my apprehensive suspicions regarding the films contents were not only confirmed, but, furthered immensely. Jesus Camp is the most effective horror film of the year, never mind the fact that it is a documentary and there are scenes of hysterical, albeit unintended, irony and humor.
The first scene which offers to us the main documentary character, Pastor Becky Fischer, displays Fischer working herself, and subsequently the crowd which is mainly comprised of young children, into a hysterical frenzy wherein she proclaims, in part, that “We got too many Christian grown ups who are fat and lazy. They don’t want to give up their evening meal, they don’t want to fast for a three day fast or a forty day fast,” which may be the most ironic statement in the entire movie - excluding for now the ringer of hypocrisy Ted Haggard - for Pastor Becky is grotesquely obese and seems to not only refuse to give up her evening meal, but, seems as though when off camera she does nothing other than gorge her repugnantly fat and hippopotamus-like face. After ranting and raving like Joseph Goebbels at the Weimer rally, Pastor Fischer claims that “President Bush brought some real credibility to the Christian faith” after which I was forced to pause the movie in lieu of my inability to cease laughing uncontrollably. If the Christian faith must resort to President Bush for “some real credibility” then it is clearly but a short time until the Christian faith collapses in on itself for lacking anything which can even be remotely considered anything of the same species as credibility.
Apart from the laughable insanity, of which I have just provided a few examples, the movie contains, what must be considered by conscionable human beings concerned for the communal well being of children, moral abominations and a fundamental example of an ethical crisis. For example, the documentary follows a little ten year old girl whose passion is dancing, she clearly loves to dance, but, due to being so grossly warped by her parents maniacal Christian faith, this little ten year old girl says “When I dance I really have to make sure that’s god, because people will notice when I’m just dancing for the flesh and I do that sometimes, I must admit that and I really need to get over that.” After she said that I was in utter shock and had to rewind the scene and watch it again in order to regain myself, it honestly made me nauseous. There is absolutely no reason, no reason whatsoever, that any parent should indoctrinate their children with such poisonous dogma, such nefarious self-degradation and guilt. This girl is a prepubescent ten year old and her parents have no business of indoctrinating her with such overt sexual repression and guilt before she is even sexually developed; such thoughts, quite simply, have no business running through her mind. To instill in children such loathsome sexual repression, before they have even begun to reach sexual maturity, is far beyond depraved and immoral, it is tantamount to psychological terrorism.
While I am on the subject of psychological terrorism I must mention some of Pastor Fischer’s evil comments. While pacing back and forth in front of an auditorium full of young children like a tiger with mad cow disease, Fischer, while discussing the subject of sin, yells “while I’m on the subject let me say something about Harry Potter. Warlocks are enemies of god…had it been in the old testament Harry Potter would have been put to death!” While this is no doubt true, the Pentateuch is essentially a verbose index of death sentences, it is of the most reprehensible actions to indoctrinate young children with such life-negating, violent and hostile fear-mongering, it is, again, a fundamental example of psychological terrorism. Preaching vengefulness, hatred and murder are not subjects for which young children should ever have to be subjected to, shame on this crypto-Nazi of a Pastor.
Fischer, her insatiable appetite for terrorizing the youth not yet satisfied, goes on to tell the young children “you’re one thing when you’re at church and another thing when you’re at school with your friends. You’re a phony and a hypocrite,” after which a number of the children begin to cry, a little boy actually collapses to the floor curling up into the fetal position shaking with convulsive tears. This is child abuse to an unfathomable level and should not go unpunished.
As a rather explicit illustration of the exclusionary, superiority and neo-fascist dogmas instilled within these children a boy explains in one scene “Whenever I run into a non-Christian there’s something that always doesn’t seem right, there’s always something that makes my spirit fell yucky.” Of course he is wrong to ascribe his feeling of unease to his “spirit,” for the source of his unease is surely the fear-mongering indoctrination which he has been gratuitously fed by his parents and elders who teach him that all non-Christians are evil, sinful, on their way to hell and some – such as the literary character of Harry Potter, for instance – are so evil that their murder is warranted; yet another example of the child abuse and psychologically inflicted trauma which is on display all throughout the film.
There is another scene wherein the lunatic Pentecostals amass a substantial group of young children only to teach them that abortion is murder and that they, being “god’s righteous judges,” must put an end to abortion. They then work the children into such a hysteria that some have tears running down their face as they shake, tremble and speak in tongues; speaking in tongues being a recurring phenomena in this film, which, the first time I saw it, made me laugh so hard I was forced to pause the movie. Near the end of the, I don’t even know what to call it, (rally?) the children pump their fists in the air and chant “Righteous judges!” over and over again. I can only imagine that this is what it must have been like to attend the Nuremberg Rallies.
The portion of the film which covers Ted Haggard – “Big Gay Ted” as gay columnist Dan Savage refers to him - may be the most vertigo inducing experience in all of film, Haggard being the former leader of the National Association of Evangelicals and the former Pastor of the mega-church New Life Church who resigned his duties after the scandal wherein it was exposed that he paid a homosexual prostitute for methamphetamine and sexual favors. In part of his sermon he claims that he has “…a ten year rule about dating. If you married someone thirty years older than you, I hope he dies so you can get his money,” after which he began to cackle like a warlock himself, it sent chills down my spinal column. Then, the climax, which is perfect, shows Ted Haggard being interviewed and saying, in true Jack McFarland effeminate form, “It’s a fabulous life!”
There is a scene wherein Pastor Fischer is sitting in her home salivating over the footage that had thus far been obtained and she then begins to foam at the mouth, saying “Some extreme liberals, they have to see this and start shaking in their boots…the intensity that you see in these kids, there’s no doubt they have got be watching this and going ‘oh my goodness’” I hate to disappoint, but, I was not shaking in my boots over the extreme and sick indoctrination of these children with exclusionary and hostile dogmas, I am merely concerned that the repugnant treatment of the children is going to lead to serious neurosis and trauma, I worry about their futures and their psychological well being. These crazed Pentecostals are raising a generation of psychological cripples, of guilt ridden, anxiety riddled, delusion driven, fantasy intoxicated cripples. These children are going to face serious psychological pathologies, traumas and abnormalities when confronted with the real world later on in life and I fear for them; I cannot even imagine what it must be like to be a five or six year old forced to the brink of emotional collapse – in almost every scene the children are brought to tears - by ones parents and elders all in the name of a false mythology.
In summation, the only right way to end this review, is to quote the crazed comments of a little girl who says “My dad says that when the missionaries are about to go somewhere dangerous they jump around yelling Martyr, Martyr, Martyr! It’s cool.” Obviously, in the heart of