Jesus CampI went to Orlando, Florida for March Break and while I was there I read an eye-opening article about Orlando in the March issue of National Geographic by T.D. Allman called "The Theme-Parking, Megachurching, Franchising, Exurbing, McMansioning of America: How Walt Disney Changed Everything". As much as I enjoy Disney, one can't help think about the consequences of creating a Utopian theme-park city devoid of any real context. What I also found interesting was that besides being a consumerism-mecca, Orlando also happens to be home to some of America's largest "megachurches", which seem to provide spiritual well-being on a mass-market scale. That being said, while staying at our hotel, we rented a documentary called "Jesus Camp" in an effort to learn more about America's large evangelical Christian community.
"Jesus Camp" is a 2006 documentary directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, about a Pentecostal summer camp for children who spend their summers being taught that they can "take America for Christ" as children in the "Army of God". There are no voice overs in the film; the documentary subjects speak for themselves.
The filmmakers come from outside the community they filmed and they take an anthropological-like view of their subjects, providing a wide audience the opportunity to observe the power and influence of this religious community in an unflinching way. Unlike most documentaries with a clear Democrat or Republican agenda (cough, cough, Michael Moore) Grady and Ewing are very careful to provide a compassionate and honest depiction of the people in the film. Though, particularly interesting is the inclusion of the controversial Pastor Ted Haggard, whose recent gay sex and drug scandal makes his appearance in the film even more poignant. The DVD also includes some great features like deleted scenes and a directors' commentary which provide further insight on the their film making choices.
Regardless of ones political or religious views, "Jesus Camp" is a must-see film that shows evangelical Christians in America shouldn't be dismissed but are a force to be reckoned with and whose influence has a profound impact on US politics.
Visit The Jesus Camp Official Website.