JESUS CAMP (Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Looking for something fun to do with your kids this summer? Why not join hundreds of others at Kids on Fire camp at Devil's Lake, North Dakota, run by evangelical "kids' pastor" Becky Fischer? Singing, dancing, speaking in tongues: this camp has it all.
In Jesus Camp we meet young recruits to God's army. Directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady present the action without comment (rebuttal is provided by a non-evangelical Christian radio host), but the picture they paint becomes gradually more terrifying anyway.
The parents want to teach their kids about character, as one mother says, and good for them. But they're also taught intolerance of other faiths (even other Christian denominations), that all science is a lie and, in Fischer's chilling words, that they should be as ready to die for the Gospels as Islamist martyrs are for Allah.
If the recent U.S. elections and the outing of Ted Haggard, the president's spiritual adviser, renders the film less topical than it was a year ago, it's still a portrait of a growing and influential subsection of the U.S. population. It'd be really interesting to revisit these kids in five years or so to see if, as Fischer says, what they learned as children stays with them all their lives. (January 10 at the Bloor)