Jesus Camp (Documentary)

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Directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, "Jesus Camp" is an American documentary film that attempts to objectively portray the methods and belief systems utilized by an evangelical Christian summer camp in North Dakota, dubbed the Kids on Fire School of Ministry. The documentary shows how the camp used shocking, often morally-reprehensible methods in an attempt indoctrinate children with fundamentalist religious beliefs. After its release, "Jesus Camp" quickly sparked controversy and gained notoriety, earning it a nomination for the Best Documentary Feature category at the 2007 Academy Awards. As a result of the escalating controversy, the film ultimately led to camp director Becky Fischer closing the camp due to negative backlash.

"Jesus Camp" relentlessly delves into the questionable tactics employed by the Kids on Fire School of Ministry. When asked about the moral implications of the ministry for focusing on young, impressionable children, camp director Fischer justifies the church's invasive actions and ideology by claiming that the same tactics are used by "the enemy", i.e. the religion of Islam. Fischer argues for the necessity of indoctrinating young children such that they can grow up to lead America back to conservative Christian values in a world that is flawed by the egalitarian principles demanded by democracy. In other words, Fischer upholds that human equality is one of the negative aspects of a democratic society. In a particularly powerful scene filmed at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, preacher Ted Haggard is shown giving a passionate speech against homosexuality. Further controversy ensued when Haggard was later ousted for engaging in sexual relations with men. "Jesus Camp" is thus an especially hard-hitting documentary: not only did the film expose alarming scandals, it also had a real-world impact on the Kids on Fire School of Ministry and its leaders.

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