Monday, August 25, 2008

Overlooked DVD of the month - JESUS CAMP

JESUS CAMP is a deeply disturbing but one-note documentary about the way that evangelical American Christian extremists are brain-washing young kids to hate Muslims and to be prepared to die to defend their faith. (That's right: DIE.) They do this by putting the kids in an isolated bubble - home-schooling them and sending them to intense Sunday schools and summer camps. Under pressure in a radio interview, radical preacher admits that the values she teaches are illiberal and anti-democratic. This is a "sick old world", she says. Soft democratic values aren't going to protect America. Never mind that you've transformed it into a theocracy.

This is a petrifying documentary about adults with radical views brainwashing vulnerable children. The problem is that the damage is permanent. If you teach kids that science is fiction, evolution didn't happen and that teachers lie, you rob them of the analytical tools to make informed choices later in life. This is precisely the preachers' point.

The only problem with JESUS CAMP is that it's one note. After forty minutes, you get the point. These people are dangerous fundamentalists. There's too little context - too little rebuttal. The doc. left me asking questions - how typical is this movement of the evangelical revival in the US? How infuential is it? How far can it truly swing elections?

Still, this doc. is a must-watch for anyone concerned about America's role in world politics, if only for the wake-up call that palpable nonsense like this is entering the mainstream:

Becky Fischer: "It's no wonder, with that kind of intense training and discipling, that those young people are ready to kill themselves for the cause of Islam. I wanna see young people who are as committed to the cause of Jesus Christ as the young people are to the cause of Islam. I wanna see them as radically laying down their lives for the Gospel as they are over in Pakistan and Israel and Palestine and all those different places, you know, because we have... excuse me, but we have the truth!"

And my personal favourite comedy moment: "[Referring to President George W. Bush] He has really brought some real credibility, um, to the Christian faith."

JESUS CAMP was released in the US in 2007 and in France, the Netherlands, Singapore, Belgium and the UK in 2007. It is available on DVD. JESUS CAMP was nominated for Best Documentary at the 2007 Academy Awards, but lost to AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH.

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