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Jesus Camp: American Madrassas


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Heather Delaria
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« on: August 05, 2007, 11:46:48 pm »



Directed by Heidi Ewing
Rachel Grady
Produced by Heidi Ewing
Rachel Grady
Starring Becky Fischer
Mike Papantonio
Music by Force Theory
Cinematography Mira Chang
Jenna Rosher
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures
Release date(s) September 15, 2006
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Heather Delaria
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« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2007, 11:48:51 pm »

The Jesus Camp is a contoversial new documentary about an evangelical Christian camp for children located in Devils Lake, North Dakota. The children are brainwashed into:

-encouraged to lay down their lives for Jesus in with the same fervor as Muslim suicide bombers.
-told of the evils of homosexuality
-that prayer in school is necessary for schools to teach effectively
-being told that evolution is lunacy.
-told to vote for Republican politicians.
-that America is responsible for the deaths of fifty million innocent children since 1973.
-pray that the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade.
-worship a cardboard cutout of George Bush.


Since the children are all very young, none of them are allowed to question these teachings:



quote:
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8.2.06: American Madrassas

Saw a screening of a documentary called Jesus Camp. It focuses on a woman preacher (Becky Fischer) who indoctrinates children in a summer camp in North Dakota. Right wing political agendas and slogans are mixed with born again rituals that end with most of the kids in tears. Tears of release and joy, they would claim — the children are not physically abused. The kids are around 9 or 10 years old, recruited from various churches, and are pliant willing receptacles. They are instructed that evolution is being forced upon us by evil Godless secular humanists, that abortion must be stopped at all costs, that we must form an “army” to defeat the Godless influences, that we must band together to insure that the right judges and politicians get into the courts and office and that global warming is a lie. (This last one is a puzzle — how did accepting the evidence for climate change and global warming become anti-Jesus? Did someone simply conflate all corporate agendas with Jesus and God and these folks accept that? Would Jesus drive an SUV? Is every conclusion responsible scientists make now suspect?)

Awareness of the rest of the world is curtailed — one can only view or read that which agrees with the agenda.

Naturally, the kids being so young, there is no questioning of any kind — they simply accept what grownups Fischer and the others say — they get pumped up, agitated, they memorize right wing and Jesus slogans and shout them back obediently. They become part of a support group — a warm, safe, comfortable feeling for anyone, for any social animal, for you and me. No one strays or gets out of line even the slightest bit. (More on peer pressure later.)

There were some perfect sound bites — at one point Pastor Fischer instructs the little ones that they should be willing to die for Christ, and the little ones obediently agree. She may even use the word martyr, which has a shocking echo in the Middle East. I can see future suicide bombers for Jesus — the next step will be learning to fly planes into buildings. Of course, the grownups would say, “Oh no, we’re not like them” — but they admit that the principal difference is simply that “We’re right.”

In another scene a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush, with his trademark smirking smile, is brought out and the children are urged to identify — many of the little ones come forward and reverently touch his cardboard hands.

I kept saying to myself, “O.K., these are the Christian version of the Madrassas (those Islamic religious instructional schools in Pakistan and elsewhere, often financed by Saudi oil money)...so both sides are pretty much equally sick, there’s a balance." (Although it must be said the Madrassas provide some regular education and literacy where no other option is available, they do community work that is non-religious...and they take in aimless troubled youth.)

They want to turn the U.S. into the "Christian" version of Iran or Saudi Arabia. A theocracy. The separation between church and state, already shaky with Bush in charge, is under full frontal assault by this bunch — and they are well organized, too. The megachurches tell their parishioners who to vote for, what judges to support, letters to write, and where they should stand on the issues. Well, we all do this to some extent — even in casual chats with friends we attempt to deduce and arrive at a consensus of opinion; a sloppy democratic give-and-take on any number of subjects often gives way to agreement. But this is top-down messaging — no discussion allowed. There’s a scene in the Colorado Springs megachurch run by the Preacher who talks with Bush once a week — same deal as with the kids, only most of the attendees are pliant adults.

What is it about Colorado Springs? Littleton is right next door to these megachurches. I think they are 2 sides to the same coin. One breeds the other. The dissatisfaction and alienation that leads folks to join this weird non-“Christian” Christianity (much the same has been said about fundamentalist Islamic groups, that they are a perversion of the Islam of the Prophet) leads down a road to both Littleton and Colorado Springs — and in the sense that they allow the mind to be pleasantly emptied, they are identical.

The documentary juxtaposes scenes of an Air America radio call-in guy, a former preacher himself — who rants against this version of Christianity. These scenes seemed almost unnecessary, as to many of us in the audience Becky was pretty much indicting herself, though she wouldn’t see it that way. But they did give some relief from the scary view of the heartland as harboring an army in formation. Zombies from the wheat fields.

Sad, as the heartland and areas untouched by the big city sicknesses are also the home of much practical down-to-earth wisdom. Wisdom borne of the land and of experience, unsullied by the trendy political and ethical philosophies that periodically sweep the urban jungles.

When one sees religion perverted — in the U.S. or in Israel, Pakistan, Afghanistan or India, one wonders if the spiritual seeds, planted by visionaries and enlightened prophets like Jesus, Mohammed, Marx and others, are just too volatile for large societies to deal with. One asks if religious visions are better off kept as a personal thing, or at least confined to a small group — otherwise the death and destruction sown by and in the name of religions more or less balances out their moral and personal virtues (which are many.)

02 August 2006 in Film, Philosophical Musings, Religion, Reviews | Permalink
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http://journal.davidbyrne.com/2006/08/american_madras.html

David Byrne (writer) is the former lead singer of the Talking Heads.
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Heather Delaria
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« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2007, 11:50:54 pm »

Jesus Camp is a 2006 documentary directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing about a charismatic Christian summer camp for children who spend their summers learning and practicing their "prophetic gifts" and being taught that they can "take back America for Christ.". According to the distributor, it "doesn't come with any prepackaged point of view" and tries to be "an honest and impartial depiction of one faction of the evangelical Christian community”.

On January 23, 2007, "Jesus Camp" was nominated for the 2007 79th Annual Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Documentary Feature. It lost out to Davis Guggenheim and Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.
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« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2007, 11:52:30 pm »



Children profiled in the film protest to end abortion in Washington D.C.
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Heather Delaria
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« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2007, 11:54:09 pm »

Jesus Camp debuted at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, and was sold by A&E Indie Films to Magnolia Pictures. Controversy surrounding the film was featured in several television news programs and print media articles in 2006

Jesus Camp is a documentary about the "Kids On Fire School of Ministry," a charismatic-oriented summer camp located just outside Devils Lake, North Dakota and run by Becky Fischer and her ministry, Kids in Ministry International. The film focuses on three children who attended the camp in the summer of 2005--Levi, Rachael, and Tory (Victoria). The film cuts between footage of the camp and a children's prayer conference held just prior to the camp at Christ Triumphant Church in Lee's Summit, Missouri; a suburb of Kansas City (where Fischer is ordained).

All three children, despite their youth, are very devout charismatic Christians. Levi, who has ambitions of being a pastor, has already preached several sermons at his father's church, Rock of Ages Worship Center in St. Robert, Missouri. He is homeschooled (as are many of the campers), and learns physical science from a book that attempts to reconcile Young Earth Creationism with scientific principles. He is also taught that global warming is a non-issue. At the camp, he preaches a sermon in which he declares that his generation is key to Jesus's coming back. Rachael, who also attends Levi's church (her father is assistant pastor), is seen praying over a bowling ball early in the film, and frequently passes Christian tracts (including some by Jack Chick) to people she meets. She doesn't think very highly of non-charismatic churches (or "dead churches," as she calls them), feeling they aren't "churches that God likes to go to." Tory is a member of the children's praise dance team at Christ Triumphant Church. She frequently dances to Christian heavy metal music, and feels uncomfortable about "dancing for the flesh." She also doesn't think very highly of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.

At the camp, Fischer stresses the need for children to purify themselves in order to be part of the "army of God." She strongly believes that children need to be in the forefront of turning America toward conservative Christian values. She also feels that Christians need to focus on training kids since "the enemy" are focused on training theirs.

In one scene shot at Christ Triumphant Church, Lou Engle, the chief "prophet" (a term not used in the film) for Harvest International Ministries (the "apostolic network" with which both the church and Fischer's ministry are affiliated--an affiliation not advertised in the film) and founder of the Justice House of Prayer, preaches a message urging children to join the fight to end abortion in America. He prays for George W. Bush to have the strength to appoint "righteous judges" who will overturn Roe v. Wade. By the end of the sermon, the children are chanting, "Righteous judges! Righteous judges!" In another, a woman brings a life-sized cutout of Bush to the front of the church, and has the children stretch their hands toward him and pray for him. Some media reports misinterpreted this as "worshipping" the president, especially given the fervor with which they were praying for him. However, the woman clearly says to "pray for" the president and "speak a blessing to him." Stretching hands toward someone is a derivative of laying hands on someone, which is a very common practice in Pentecostal and charismatic churches.

There is also a scene at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where Levi and his family go on vacation to hear its renowned pastor, Ted Haggard. (Less than two months after the release of the film, Haggard became embroiled in a high-profile scandal involving, among other things, homosexual prostitution.) Afterward, Levi, Rachael, Tory, their families and several other kids from the camp take part in a Justice House of Prayer rally held by Engle in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Additionally, there is a debate between Fischer and Mike Papantonio (an attorney and a radio talk-show host for Air America Radio's Ring of Fire). Papantonio offers commentary at several points during the film.

The DVD, released in January 2007, includes several deleted scenes. In one of them, Levi's father and mother suggest that the next president may well have been at Kids on Fire. In another scene, Tory's dad goes off for a tour of duty in Iraq; he sees it as a missionary trip. In another scene, a woman takes Tory and several other kids to a pro-life women's clinic located next door to a Planned Parenthood clinic. The same woman had led them on a prayer walk through downtown Lee's Summit before Tory's dad went to Iraq (in which she declared that everything they walked through was theirs). In an interview, the clinic's director says that she was very pleased to see children so passionate about ending abortion.

The DVD also includes commentary by Grady and Ewing. They reveal that when they arrived in Kansas City, there was a great deal of excitement over the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor from the Supreme Court and the subsequent nomination of Samuel Alito to replace her. However, according to Grady and Ewing, Fischer and the others didn't see their activism for socially conservative causes as political, but as a matter of faith. They also reveal that Fischer didn't understand why some of the scenes of them speaking in tongues and praying over objects--both everyday experiences for Pentecostals and charismatics--got in the film.
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Heather Delaria
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2007, 11:55:31 pm »



Becky Fischer, director of Kids in Ministry International
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Heather Delaria
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« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2007, 11:57:08 pm »

Controversy

Jesus Camp was screened at Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival against the wishes of the distribution company, Magnolia Pictures.[4] Magnolia had pulled Jesus Camp from the festival earlier in the summer after it purchased rights to the film, in a decision apparently inspired by Moore's association with the film festival, with Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles saying "I don't want the perception out in the public that this is an agenda-laden film."

Ted Haggard has disavowed the film, saying that "You can learn as much about the Catholic Church from Nacho Libre as you can learn about evangelicalism from Jesus Camp. It does represent a small portion of the charismatic movement, but I think it demonizes it. Secularists are hoping that evangelical Christians and radicalized Muslims are essentially the same, which is why they will love this film." Director Grady states that, "I think he doesn't like how he comes across in the movie." The directors posted a rebuttal[6] to Haggard's objections in which they stated that he was the only person in the film who objected to how he was portrayed, as well as the only person in the film who had a problem with it on the whole.

According to Ron Reno of Focus on the Family, "The directors' claims that they were simply trying to create an 'objective' film about children and faith ring hollow. I don't question the motives of the Christians shown in the film. Indeed, the earnestness and zeal with which the young people pictured attempt to live out their faith are admirable. Unfortunately, however, it appears that they were unknowingly being manipulated by the directors in their effort to cast evangelical Christianity in an unflattering light."

North Dakotans were largely shocked by the activities of Fischer, a native of Bismarck, as most born-again Christians in the state have more moderate views.

In November 2006, Fischer announced that she would be shutting down the camp indefinitely due to negative reaction to the film. According to Fischer's website, the owners of the property used for the camp shown in the film were concerned about vandalism to the premises following the film's release and thus will not allow it to be used for any future camps. Fischer has said that the camp will be indefinitely postponed until other suitable premises can be found, but it will be back
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Heather Delaria
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« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2007, 12:01:15 am »

As we see in the Middle East, the worst acts in this world are done through a belief religious zealotry. And, in truth, there is no real difference between Chistian zealots and Muslim zealots, they are all wrong. If there is a God, no doubt God would want people to live theri lives in peace.

We do not need this kind of brainwashing in America.
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