34 thoughts on “Jesus Camp – Movie

  1. Only the preview…
    It disturbed me immensely. Mind you, how could it not? Whats that quote by Hitler about telling people the same thing enough they will actually start to believe it?

  2. Some of what they are doing looks fantastic to me…….

    what specifically disturbs you, or gets worse every day???

  3. I bought the DVD. I recommed watching with the directors commentary as well.

    I agree with Mark… some of the things they are doing look fantastic.

    I also agree with Michael… it disturbed me.

    Do these kids know what they are doing? Did they cry every night of the camp? Did they know what they were saying?

    I think some of the things Becky (I think taht was her name) was trying to teach was great. But too much looked like brain-washing to me…

  4. Do you mean other then the esteemed leader yelling “this means war!” and kids being prepared to ‘fight’? It just kinda goes against my picture of Jesus, nothing major.
    But hey, lets pour a few more millions of dollar into another hyped-up campaign and maybe that will change our city…
    Marko blogged an interesting conversation about this thing this morning… http://www.ysmarko.com/?p=1632

  5. A message from a mate in Kal –

    Hey mate,

    Hope you’re going well. Just jumped onto your blog as was interested to see the Jesus Camp conversation. for some reason it won’t let me sign in to leave my 2cents. But I thought you might be interested.

    Last year The West Australian did an article on this movie. It might have actually been the weekend thing, I’ll look into it. It was a proper, full page article on Jesus Camp. They interviewed Becky Fisher, etc. I remember clearly reading it and being disturbed by it. Of course the article was biased but it didn’t paint a great picture at all. The impression was a Christian version of the extremist muslim fundamentalism we see a bit of today. The kids looked like they were being brain-washed and the article’s quotes supported that. They mentioned kids standing there with their arms raised being told over and over again to recite phrases about conquering the States, fighting against the “enemies in your schools, ” etc. Might be worth trying to fish that article out. I’m keen to watch the movie but so far, the local WA press has set up a negative platform for it. Check this out from an American in the blog world:

    Cheers mate and have a good one ay,


  6. You should go to the link from the comment above, very interesting, here is a taste –
    The kids, when they finish jumping around and go back to sit in the pews, look bored and no more interested in the sermon than at any other church. We see people waving their arms around and speaking in tongues, which is freakishly weird if you’re not used to it — it sounds like parseltongue. The filmmakers are emphasizing the sense of otherness.

    The sermon is lacking any kind of Biblical or religious grounding. The pastor talks about the “enemies in our schools”. I assume she means the culture war — evil liberals who believe in sex education, or that sexually active teenagers should use condoms.

    But no, she’s talking about Muslims in general and Palestinians in particular. They’re terrorists, you know. More precisely, Palestinian children are terrorists in training. The kids in the West Bank are the natural “enemies” of third graders in Missouri.

    “President Bush has brought some credibility to the Christian faith.”

    The statement is so bizarre and divorced from reality that I had to quote it. Someone begins talking about “dead churches”

  7. Mark, Do you feel comfortable with the further blending of terms of war with terms of faith? War paint and marching as they sing their “hymns/praise songs”? Isn’t there some juxaposition going on here? Oh that is right christian culture is synonmous with violence and violent language hence the use of words like “crusades”(great images for spiritual awakening considering the history with our Jewish and Muslim brothers), “spiritual warfare”( a nice cover for slanging people off we don’t agree with) ,”pulling down the strong holds” ( a nice term for slamming divergent views different from our own) oh and excommunication (the old turn the cold shoulder to any one we don’t feel is ‘in’ any more or who has been deemed so by the power structures.) Here is just a couple of quick examples off the top of my head of the inherent violence of christianity as an ideology.

    So maybe the Jesus Camp images aren’t disturbing because for much of the world’s people in or out of christianity; violence and christianity go together. No wonder figures like Gandhi longed to see Jesus unshackled from the institution of Christianity. The light of Jesus was exactly the anedote to this violent world in which we live. Love this Jesus guy not so keen on Jesus Camp!

  8. I have not seen the film, which is why I asked the question.

    But in answer to your question, in general terms, “Do you feel comfortable with the further blending of terms of war with terms of faith?”

    there is plenty of war imagery in the Bible, mention of strongholds etc, as I am sure you know.

    I believe in intecessorary prayer, I believe in targeting issues, I believe in ‘going to war’ against the acts of the Devil…..

    I do not believe in blind alleigance to G Bush, I do not believe the USA is Gods ambassador for bringing in the Kingdom.

    I do believe in preparing children for life, and this will include the need for spiritual preparedness for spiritual battle.

    I do not believe in pacifism, I do not believe it is a biblical principle.
    I do believe in turning the other cheek when being persecuted for your faith.
    I do believe in casting out the money changers from the place of worship.

    It seems to me the Bible is full or paradoxs, and we should be careful in our judging of other Christians, especially based on watching a dvd,

  9. “I do not believe in pacifism, I do not believe it is a biblical principle.”


    Actually – you are probably right, pacifism may not be a biblical principal – but is it a Christian principal?

  10. Grendel, I suppose it depends on your definition of it,
    maybe I should have worded it, ‘blind pacifism’.
    Does some form of pacifism allow for protection of the person who is attacked by another?
    I think being a Christian means standing up for the underprivileged, the opressed, the hurting, and I believe sometimes this requires force.
    Please do not take that to mean I blindly support what the US does, I dont.

  11. Ahhh – thanks for the clarification, but I still find the concept a little nebulous.

    ‘Standing up for’ and ‘using force’

    are both fairly broad concepts and I could say that I support that position, however how I define each of those things may well be different to how you define them.

    I agree that evil requires opposition but Christian teaching (as I read it) requires that the force used to oppose evil is not evil in itself – that is Christianity is based on the teachings of Christ, not on the bible, if you see my distinction.

    The bible contains records of great violence, genocide and agression that appear at least to be inconsistent with Christianity – fortunately the bulk of these examples are found in the old testement.

    What I find disturbing is that some groups seem to draw heavily on the historical portions of the bible that relate to temporal martial success and use this as a template for their Christian beliefs.

    I can remember as a yound child singing along to songs with lines like” “I’m to young to walk in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery, I’m to young to fly over land and sea, but I’m in the Lord’s Army”.

    In the context that it was sung it may have been harmless enough but the verses have stuck with me and over time felt very very wrong as the implication was that when I was older that was exactly what I would be required to be doing if I were engaged upon the Lord’s work.

    If Christians wish to engage in ‘spiritual warfare’ then I think the lexicon should reflect that aspect, but all to often the analogies blur the distinction and so we find that in peoples minds and in peoples hearts the spiritual warfare becomes extended to include physical conflicts and particularly those with groups who are not Christians.

    The current situation in Iraq has been driven (at least in part) by the firm belief by those with political power that invading and defeating Iraq was in some way involved in a battle with the devil. Given that there is not even agreement on this point between groups of Christians. . .

    Must I go on in anguish?

  12. I can imagine Jesus stepping in and forcibly pushing aside an adult harming a child.
    How we take that basic premise and apply it to wider conflict is something that I believe is open to discussion.

    Unfortunately the Iraq invasion is a very complex situation. I know many people who supported stopping a despot from slaughtering his own people, but as the conflict has dragged on, are questioning the motives, and practices of the US government.

  13. I think the fact that the ‘war machine’ in Iraq costs 14 times the amount it would take to rid the world of poverty…EVERY YEAR is enough argument to say something has to be wrong when we spend our money on killing rather than saviing, albeit a simplistic thing to state this way.
    For the record, I am not a passivist.
    I see that term (I know it sounds semantic) as being the opposite of activist. I would see Jesus, and I like to think of myself this way, as an activist. But he chose the way of non-violent activism.
    He said to be a peace-maker not just a peace-keeper. One is active the other is passive. But in doing so he never used violence against people in order to harm them. Yes he got angry and yes he demonstrated that anger in physical ways…or way (I only know of one example) and he anger was not, in my opinion about the misuse of a temple, but rather the exploitation of the poor and marginalised by a religious institution…that would make us all angry enough to act…wouldn’t it?

  14. Gutless Peace Activist says –
    could the whip Jesus made have been nothing more than to make a big noise? not to actually rip into anyone’s flesh! surely Mark you don’t believe Jesus actually whipped anyone? tore into their flesh? cut deep? inflicted the kind of suffering they inflicted on him?

    surely speaking truth to power is just like the ‘rocks crying out’, making as big noise (like the whip)? getting everyone’s attention without actually doing violence to anyone? Turning over tables and setting free the means of corrupt financial gain can hardly be described as an act of violence. Destruction of property, sure…but in my book, not the violation of another. (We are far too in love with ‘property’ in my view).

    Like you Scott, I am not a ‘passivist’. I am a ‘pacifist’ by which I mean determined, courageous non-violent action on behalf of those who are being violated. NOT being ‘passive’ in the face of injustice and suffering.

    and, no Mark, I don’t believe Jesus would have pushed someone aside to protect a child if standing between the child and the attacker, absorbing the blow into himself, was enough to stop the violence (accepting violence into one’s own flesh is on behalf of another is, in my view, a different matter)

    I did not invent any of this…I am not smart enough…but I have literally lived it. I believe that ‘evil’ (violence itself) is the enemy, not the perpetrator of that evil. You mention Paul. Were not the ‘weapons’ he refers to spiritual for bringing down strongholds, and not to be used against flesh and blood? Surely the early church lived as if this was what he meant.

    in peace

    garry the gutless peaceactivist

  15. I’ve not seen the movie – but certainly have been aware of it (seen the trailer, read the article in the West) … the release of the movie co-incided with a day camp that we ran and it did (I believe) cause some parents to be wary about what we were going to be talking to their kids about.

    One of my key concerns about “Jesus Camp” is the way that children are placed in a position of responsibility i.e. are asked to deal directly with the sins of the older generations. I believe that this is irresponsible discipleship of kids.

    I believe that kids need to be aware of the true cost of being a Jesus follower – and what it means to lay down your life in love. But I don’t think we do that by giving kids camoflage gear and crosses to dance around with – or plastic foetus to hold whilst they pray.

  16. Garry the position of determined non-violent intervention has always been one that I admire deeply.

    Mark – you said that “I can imagine Jesus stepping in and forcibly pushing aside an adult harming a child.”

    and then went on to use that statement as a way of opening up the concept that this “basic premise” could be applied to “wider conflict” in discussion.

    My pedantic side comes out at this point – I’m not sure using what you can imagine happening actually provides anything like a basic premise for a discussion.

    As Han Solo said – “I can imagine quite a bit”.

  17. Grendel – there is nobody I know who references so broadly and pulls such authoritative sources for far and wide…Han Solo…I love it 🙂

  18. At the very least the whip was used to scare people, of what? A nasty noise, or a nasty whelt?
    Would Jesus really threaten someone with something he was not willing to follow through on?

    Grendel, thats a good point…
    But I would hope that my imagination of wwwjd would be informed on what I have read….but of course that comes down to interpretation..
    as a card carrying follower of Jesus,as shown in the Bible, my worldview might be offended by some of the passages in Revelation which depict Jesus in warrior like states, but thats bad luck to me. We cant imagine or make Jesus in the image we would like, we have to go off the Revelation God has given us. (at least a card carrying Bible believer does)

    I appreciate this conversation.

  19. Mark, this one made me a bit mad and I haven’t calmed down since reading your comment…but now I have said that up front I feel better 🙂
    Sorry Mark, but I jarred with your comments on 2 points.
    1) What the heck is a card carrier?
    2) We read so much of our own stance into the bible. The phrase “God created us in His image and we returned the favour” comes to mind. You read violence in Revelation because we live in a violent world in which we know of no other ways to deal with issues other than violence, so when we come to the bible and see an image of Jesus on horse with a sword we instantly take this powerful imagery (as is the style of apocalyptic writing all through the bible) and read it literally. Why would a sword come “Out of the riders mouth”?
    Maybe, just maybe, that sword is a picture of the weapon Jesus uses…non other than His powerful word…sword…word…sword – ever heard that link in the bible before?

    Having said all that, I too acknowledge I read the bible from where I sit.
    I guess I just see 2 Jesus’ and I only can choose one –
    1. A radical rebel who would call people to stand against injustice and stand for peace, in ways that would not harm his people, I read of Him in the gospels, and
    2. The Jesus that marches in front of the armies of Constantine, the Crusaders, Hitler, The US ‘God endorsed armies’, angry church leaders, and husbands who beat their wives so as to have them submit as ‘the bible says’…
    at what point do we stop when it comes to having a Jesus who uses violence?

  20. Trying to clarify the issue of the whip (for myself mostly!)

    Matthew: “Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.”

    Mark: “On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves”

    John: “So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.”

    Common to each is the word “drove”.

    Having lived and worked around livestock I have a fair idea of what the whip (if there was one) would be doing in order to ‘drive’ people and livestock from anywhere. If you want to ‘drive’ something you ply the whip but do not strike with it – there would be no whelts involved. THe ‘crack’ of the whip is used to frighten beasts into moving away from the sound. The sound itself comes not from making contact with the animal but from the tip of the whip breaking the sound barrier – i.e. a miniature sonic boom at the tip. A whip used to move livestock is quite different to a scourge designed to inflict harm punitively and you would have to look to the intent – was it to clear an area or to punish?

    In fact what is described in John, is specifically “drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle”.

  21. Card carrying (bad attempt at humour)

    Scott, if what I said made you mad, whats wrong with that? Jesus said lots of things that made people mad. Which is not to say I am right, and you are wrong….I know I am wrong on lots of things, its just that this side of heaven I dont know which ones 🙂
    But please dont assume why I have interpreted revelation the way I have, you live in the same world, and you have interpreted it a different way. And besides the world John the Revelator wrote in was a pretty violent one, in fact the world has been violent since Cain and Abel. In my view the sword is a weapon whatever way you look at it, and Jesus appears pretty scary in that passage.

    Grendel, it really sucks being taught something from the bible from an atheist…you make some good points.

  22. I try never to assume that Christians are ignorant anti-intellectuals – I grew up among very bright, intellectual Christians and count many amoung my friends.

    Atheists are also not necessarily ignorant (or scornful) of Christian beliefs and I grew up having read the bible several times over (and for a catholic that is a lot of bible reading!)

    I would have to acknowledge that many vocal atheists are ignorant (or scornful) of Christian beliefs, a perplexing attitude for me as it seems to serve no purpose and almost represents a reverse fundamentalism.

    Also this is Vawz’s playground so I have to play within his framework which includes discussing scriptures – kinda fun from my perspective anyway!

    One of the things that continues to perplex me is that the God described in the old testement and the God described in the new testement (incarnated as Jesus) not not seem like the same entity.

    The first certainly appears warlike to the point that warlike groups such as the Vikings would have recognised aspects of Wotan and Thor.

    The Jesus aspect would have been unfamiliar – no wonder conversion was a struggle.

  23. Oh and Vawz – thanks for taking the clip out – it was annoying the hell out of me too.

    (From what I understand annoying the ‘hell’ out of someone is not a reliable conversion technique).

  24. Ok thanks Mark. The ‘mad’ comment was just me writing as I thought, it felt good, just an honest moment. If we were face to face I probably would have held my hands to my face with a big breath or something like that, but due to bloging limitation it sounds all clinical…ie “I am now mad, or frustrated or happy etc etc”
    Good conversation, thanks for input mate.

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