Last night I saw the documentary Jesus Camp with a group of friends.
It was fairly disturbing and raised a lot of questions. The film is about a Pentecostal Evangelical children’s camp in North Dakota.
After we watched the film, we talked about the issues that the film raised, doing our best to not bash the leaders of the camp or anyone else in the film. Rather, we wanted to critique what was horrifying about the film and commend what was good.
One of the most interesting topics was the difference between teaching and indoctrination. If these children are being brain-washed into believing certain statements by a persuasive speaker who plays on their emotions, then how can they have true belief? If they are sheltered their entire lives in a highly insular environment where opposite beliefs are scoffed and disregarded out without any consideration, how can they stand up for what they believe in when challenged? For example, one of the moms who homeschooled her son Levi claimed that “science never proved anything” and said that global warming was a myth.
Nevertheless, the most troubling aspect of the film was the part when the leaders of the camp told the children to “stop being hypocrites” and “clean up their act” and then come to Jesus. There was no mention of salvation by grace or of God’s mercy. Rather, the camp was about training militant and coerced children to take over the country.