A review of “Jesus Camp” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: PG-13 for some language and mature themes

Run Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes


How to reconcile this in-your-face horror show with contemporary reality? “Jesus Camp” is the ominous tolling bell of documentaries, borne on the wings of an American revival in evangelical Christianity.

Not just any form of Christianity but a fervent right-wing campaign aimed at Christian youth who will ultimately lead the country in advocating the cause for their extreme religious movement.

Scary? You betcha. In particular the infuriatingly righteous Pentecostal Children’s Minister Becky Fischer who runs the “Kids on Fire” summer camp in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota. Kids ages six to sixteen gather ‘round the campfire for lively instruction on how to pull America back to its grassroots and fix this “nasty world”. Putting Harry Potter to death is on the agenda.

Scratch the canoe trips and archery. These are alarming images of innocent little ones in the grasp of religious fervor, weeping in trance-like ecstasy for the teachings of their savior. These are the children of God’s army and the troops are swelling in startling numbers.

Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (“The Boys of Baraka”) walk an ostensibly nonpartisan line yet send a subliminal message that we are overlooking a shocking groundswell of Stepford children being brainwashed in the name of the Lord. On the flip side believers may swell with pride over the honest portrayal of the passionate evangelism of their born-again youth.

The frightening facts flashed on the screen are both socially and emotionally daunting. It’s a struggle to remain neutral during “Jesus Camp” -- whatever your faith this is provocative and unsettling filmmaking.