Jesus Camp is one of the Oscar nominated documentaries this year. I found it both fascinating and terrifying at the same time. It is the only nominated documentary I have seen so far, but I can certainly understand why it earned a nomination. If it is anything to judge the others by, the documentaries this past year have been excellent.
The documentary is exemplary in that there is no commentary from the filmmakers. I have no idea what their stance is on the subject, if they are from an Evangelical Christian background or a nonreligious one. It is truly a documentary in the sense that only what is filmed is presented, and there is no agreement or disagreement with what is being shown.
The only disagreement was from an Air America radio host who happened to be a former minister and against the particular type of Christianity being taught at this camp. These clips are probably the only things that didn’t seem to work within the documentary. There wasn’t equal time spent with the radio host, nor much explaining what exactly his views are. The film would have been just as well made and unbiased without them, if not more so. But he is as “intolerant” in his views as the children at the Christian camp are taught to be in theirs, just reversely so.
Jesus Camp documents a camp in North Dakota that children (and some of their families) attend to get closer to God. It is an evangelical Christian camp with guest speakers and a few select child speakers. The film focuses on a few children and the camp director, documenting their experiences at camp and following them into their lives away from camp.
What is frightening is that this film is a documentary and these things are real. Don’t get me wrong — I grew up Christian, that isn’t what makes it frightening. But it is the extreme to which the people – the children – are taking their faith. They only listen to Christian music, watch Christian television, and read Christian books. They are taught science has no answers and is stupid.