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Jesus Camp (2006)Jesus Camp (2006)

           I was so disheartened at the end of this film that I just sat in my seat. A woman exiting down the aisle stopped at my chair and asked, "Was that a true story?" When I told her that it was a documentary she exclaimed, "that's unbelievable!" Jesus Camp features the Pentecostal children's minister Becky Fischer of Missouri, and the summer camp that she runs in North Dakota. But by including footage of Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, the film directors clearly intend to include the 30 million believers of the Christian right. I physically squirmed in my seat watching these anti-intellectual, self-righteous, judgmental, and bigoted people (re)define the Gospel in endless ways—young earth, intelligent design, abortion, global warming, Harry Potter, home schooling, and fidelity to George Bush. You might say that it's a cheap shot for the film makers to exploit such an easy target as Fischer; she is obese, emotional, and authoritarian. But at a minimum the film reminds us of how prevalent and extremist the Christian right is, and how, understandably, many unchurched people view Christianity because of them.

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