“Jesus Camp” is a documentary, released in 2006 by film makers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. It follows a group of children as they participate in an evangelical Christian camp called Kids on Fire in North Dakota. Through interviews with Becky Fischer, the camp’s director, and others, including the kids themselves, Ewing and Grady present a documentary that speaks for itself.
I am horrified by it. These are children being manipulated at a very vulnerable age by adults who know how to manipulate the children’s emotions. Cognitively, many of these children are simply unable, biologically, to be understanding of many of the concepts being presented to them. But they are all able to seek approval from adults surrounding them. This is exactly the modus operandi of child predators.
I do not accuse these people of sexual or physical predation, but I do accuse them of emotional and spiritual abuse. The children are learning that God is vindictive and angry and that Jesus is his main henchman. They are taught that Republicans are just a few rungs down the ladder beneath Jesus himself and that Democrats are nowhere to be seen on their religious landscape.
There is also a wonderfully ironic appearance by Ted Haggert, the now “100% heterosexual,” in the film. He was, before his public humiliation, one of the (almost) gods in this arm of Christianity.
This is the kind of thing which makes me say, “I hate religion” without equivocation. I hate the indoctrination of children by Al Quaida, Kids on Fire, or any other religious movement that teaches children to mimic adults rather than be children.
If praying in tongues over a cardboard cutout of George Bush, or smashing coffee cups in the name of Jesus is someone’s idea of “sound doctrine” then I do not apologize for calling them very silly, utterly misinformed, and dangerous to children. Their fear based nonsense is doing nothing more than creating more cogs in the wheels of injustice, while filling the appointment books of psychiatrists twenty years from now.