Cinepub


The Depress-A-Thon: Jesus Camp Repost by Jamie

Well it’s time for a look back to an old post that I wrote some time last year as The Depress-A-Thon steam rolls ever forwards. It’s a film that I found both terrifying and depressing when I watched it. That film was Jesus camp. Enjoy.

I’ve previously written about Threads as being the single most depressing thing mankind has ever put to film. There is one film, however, that always threatens it’s position. Hell, it’s the film that was in my mind when I came up with the title for my documentary reviews, Documental. It doesn’t manage to take that title away from Threads though, simply because depression isn’t the overriding emotion that I feel whilst watching this film. In fact it’s a sickening cocktail of anger, hatred, fear and depression. Good times are ahead.

The film follows Becky Fisher and her “army” of god made up of children who seem to range between ages 5 and 13 as they spend the summer at a camp in Missouri and the various japes and shenanigans that they get up to like having seminars where they teach children that a child is fully formed in the womb after seven weeks or having them all pray to a cardboard cut-out of George W. Bush. It’s very much a case of ‘Hello Mother, Hello Father, Here I Am At Camp Retarded!’

What’s probably the most disturbing accept of this film is the fact that Fisher seems to want to teach the children to die for Jesus much in the same way that people are taught to die for Allah in Islamic fundamentalist training camps. In fact, there seems to be even a hint of admiration for these terrorist groups and even a kind of remorse that America doesn’t have a Christian alternative. Worst of all is that the children seem amenable to this philosophy. There’s even a point where one child emphatically states “I feel like we’re kinda being trained to be warriors, only in a much funner way. Like I don’t feel the sense of afraid to die in battle or anything like you would if you were actually going off to a war in the physical. There’s a peace with it all too. There’s an excitement at the same time too, it’s really cool.” Keep in mind that child saying this is a 9 year old little girl.

She’s one of two real main children that you really follow through the film and certainly the one I feel most sorry for. There’s a scene where she talks about how the other kids tease her at school but she doesn’t care. After all it’s God who’ll be judging her, not her schoolmates or as she puts it “Man’s decision–whatever! God’s decision–Something.” There’s a sense of sadness and loneliness about her, however, that seems to suggest that under all the indoctrination and religious fervour she’d maybe like to be a normal girl with friends.

The other main child in the film is Levi. He doesn’t have the sense of sadness that Rachael does which is probably due to the fact that he’s home schooled so he’s probably the spared the torment of being bullied because of his extreme faith. In fact you see a bit of what this home schooling entails. His mother is telling him, essentially, why global warming is a lie, that real teaches would call him stupid for believing in creationism, that creationism is the only possible answer to all the questions and the real gem that comes near the end of the scene in which she asks “Did you get to the part on here where it says that science doesn’t prove anything? And it’s really interesting when you look at it that way.” Excuse me for one moment.

Sorry about that, I feel much better now. Well, I don’t really but I have to get through this. Now, I’m an atheist but the average Christian is fairly inoffensive, rarely forcing their views on anyone else and I’m always happy to enter into spirited debate with these people after which we can agree to disagree and have a pint together. There are occasions when I have made the unfortunate decision to debate with fundamentalists. This no longer happens as I’ve developed a kind of fundamendar, like gaydar except the fundamendar would like to have gaydar banned. I can quite easily spot them now because there is one major sign. The average fundamentalist will have an odd sense about them, you get the feeling straight away that something isn’t right. Then you look in there eyes and you hit on what it is. There’s a vacancy there, a sort of glossed over look like they’ve switched off part of their brain and are using a lot of their processing power to keep it switched off. The cause of this is that they are. They’ve become so steeped in this worldview that it takes over their life completely and all other things are completely meaningless apart from the will of their magic sky daddy. They are, however, still human so the urge for rationality and reason is always there and it takes a lot to keep this basic human need for inquiry completely suppressed. This vacant look is present throughout this film.

There is some humour within this film, albeit unintentional. The film features one Ted Haggard, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals (at the time), giving a sermon about what the bible teaches about homosexuality and actually making jokes about one of the documentary team being unfaithful to his wife. If you don’t understand why this is funny, please refer yourself to this old video which I made years ago. Please excuse the typos:

So there you go, Mr We Have The Bible To Tell Us About Gays was having gay sex with a male prostitute whilst doing crystal meth. Bravo sir, bravo.

Other highlights throughout this film include Becky telling the chilren Harry Potter would be killed in Old Testament times, yelling at them for being all hypocrites in the eyes of God until they break down in tears, begging for forgiveness, several scenes where the adults lead the children in screams of “This Means War!” and “Righteous Judges!” plus much, much more.

I really have a love hate relationship with this film. I enjoy watching it even though it really, really pisses me off. I’ve watched it more times than I can remember. Maybe I just like getting angry. Perhaps the weakest point of the film is the moderate Christian radio host who’s kind of used as a framing device. I suppose he’s there to provide context and a counterweight to the extreme fundamentalists just so the film makers can say ‘See, we’re not saying all Christian’s are bad, just these ones.” Still, I suppose he’s not too intrusive and so overall I’ll give this film three and a half pints.

Laterz.

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