Jesus Camp – inside the fundamentalists

December 14, 2007

One of the things in life which I was introduced to much too late, was Cinema Nouveau. But as of late, I’m becoming a fan. I first saw the preview for Jesus Camp while watching 11th hour. Jesus Camp is a documentary on a

You will find very little critique on what is going on in the film, and are left to figure out your thoughts on the stuff by yourself, a good thing I think. It portrays kids “talking in languages”, point out how these people put the kids on extreme guilt trips regarding sin(1), also the believe that America is the chosen nation of God, and in one interview the senior pastor claim that when the Evangelicals vote, they determine the election. Actually, a major theme in the film is the fundamentalist reaction to American politics, and the Bush administration(2). They are portrayed as supporting the war(3), creationism, against public schools, animal rights movements, and considering global warming to be just a political issue.

What got me is that you get to see how much these ideas have infiltrated the thinking in our own churches. See for example the magical approach used to prayer before they start the camp, where every chair and piece of equipment are prayed for individually, as if this will give more credibility to your prayer, God will be forced to listen, of the devil to stay away? (I have previously written some thoughts on this here).

Or what about the concept of sin being some form of supernatural cause of evil, especially when believers are not faithful. This is not the idea that our sin cause evil (that when we do bad things, we cause bad things to happen, when I don’t feed the poor, they remain hungry), rather that when sinning it opens some supernatural door for evil to enter the country.

The film has caused some controversy after being released (it’s been some time before it hit South Africa), many evangelicals not liking it, saying that Pentecostalism is portrayed in a negative light. Personally, although I have seen forms of evangelicalism with which I am much more comfortable, I’ve also seen things much worse than what get portrayed. And I personally wonder how big the difference in the end will be between Muslim and Christian fundamentalism, do we really want Christians willing to kill those they differ with?  Maybe we already have that in certain parts of the fundamentalist movement?

If you haven’t seen the documentary yet, take the time, see it, and think about it.

Maybe a last thing. I have used fundamentalism, evangelicalism and Pentecostalism in a way that it might sound as if these terms are synonymous, which they are not. Maybe it’s when all these terms come together that you find what is portrayed in the film, since each of them occur in other forms as well.

(1) see the one scene where the kids are crying, and the pastor say stuff like staying in the boiling pot a little longer etc

(2) especially the supreme judge theme running throughout the film, and the prayer for the election of a conservative supreme judge

(3) see for example the one kid shown wearing a “my dad is in the army” shirt, not that this is that big a deal, but a number of small detail are pointed to throughout the film.

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3 Responses to “Jesus Camp – inside the fundamentalists”

  1. tiaan Says:

    I won’t get to see it probably before it gets out on dvd, but it sounds like it is a good thing. I might just get pissed off (read:livid) about the way they’re doing things. I have seen the damage we can do to children if we give them a wrong impression of prayer. It breaks them.
    But I would like to see the film, just to be as informed as possible. You know me, I’ll go to the movies for pretty much anything! Well, not EVERYTHING – there’s this chick on our Stranddiens-team that has already obtained the nickname Paris Hilton (with good reason). That chick won’t necessarily drag me to te big screen…


  2. […] my life I need to protect the conservatives, I’ve found it strange how documentaries such as Jesus Camp or Baby Bible Bashers portray the fight against abortion as one of the worst things Evangelicals […]


  3. […] point you towards a movie and a documentary: Juno and Jesus Camp (links are to posts I’ve written on them). Both touch upon abortion. Witherington posted soem […]


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