Jesus Camp

  • Review Date: January 22, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2006

Common Sense Media says

Eye-opening look at the Evangelicals among us.
  • Review Date: January 22, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2006

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The church members aren't all white, but they are openly exclusionary otherwise -- no alternative lifestyles allowed here, this religion is the "right" one, and evolution is wrong.

Violence

Kids get distressed and cry in religious fervor. In one scene their mouths are covered in tape as part of a protest. A right-to-life advocate talks about how many children abortions have killed since Roe v. Wade.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

People speak in tongues in a few scenes. Lots of judgmental and militaristic statements on both sides of the issue.

Consumerism

Pepsi cups all over the camp. Whole industry related to religion; music, books, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this documentary is an outsider's look at members of the Evangelical Christian church. While it shows a Christian radio deejay who opposes what the church stands for, it does it rather respectfully. Parents should be warned, however, that there are many scenes of kids caught up in religious fervor where they look very distressed and are crying, speaking in tongues, and professing to the group that they have sinned. There is also a scene where a right-to-life advocate hands out small infant figures to the kids, tapes their mouths shut, and encourages them to express their sadness and outrage. One child says that she thinks God only comes to a church like hers. One parent home-schools her child and explains why evolution is wrong. A family recites a revised version of the Pledge of Allegiance with many mentions of God, and at one church meeting a life-size cardboard cut-out of President Bush is brought to the stage and everyone is encouraged to pray over the president, and over more conservative Supreme Court nominees.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

JESUS CAMP focuses on the experience of children who attend youth pastor Becky Fischer's "Kids on Fire" summer camp in North Dakota for Evangelical Christians. The film follows the children, their families, and others in the Evangelical Christian world, particularly showcasing those most devoted.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The film is fascinating, eye-opening, and sure to be controversial. The filmmakers present their material in an even-handed manner, but those who aren't accustomed to the intense devotion may find the material somewhat disturbing, if not shocking. Those familiar with this world may take exception to some of the movie, particularly with a Christian radio talk show host who doesn't think highly of the Evangelical movement.

There is plenty in this movie to upset people across the belief spectrums, and young children aren't the intended audience.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about so many topics it's hard to know where to begin. If your kids like Harry Potter, they'll notice that the youth minister, Becky, speaks out against the books. Why do you think she does that? If your family is religious, you can discuss how you see worship in relation to the Christians shown here. Would you ever go to a camp with your family to feel closer to God? Why or why not? The Evangelicals here all support President Bush. What ideals do the Bush administration and the Evangelical church share? Do you think the non-Evangelicals making this film showed enough respect for their subjects? Do you think the subjects show the same level of tolerance for the filmmakers? Why do you think the subjects in this film allowed the filmmakers into their lives?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 15, 2006
DVD release date:January 23, 2007
Cast:Becky Fischer, Mike Papantonio, Ted Haggard
Directors:Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady
Studio:Magnolia Pictures
Genre:Documentary
Run time:87 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some discussions of mature subject matter.

This review of Jesus Camp was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 14 year old Written byChicagoan December 7, 2009
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Thought provoking and fun to discuss

My daughter and I watched this movie together when she was 13 years old. We were both fascinated by it, and seeing it gave her the idea that "documentaries" film category is something to check out, rather than to dismiss as boring.

This movie was a good starting point for us to discuss varieties of religious belief, education, and point of view (e.g., what do you think that the film maker thinks about this type of religion, and what makes you think that?).

I don't think that very many kids under 13 or so would find this interesting.

What other families should know
Great role models
Kid, 10 years old April 29, 2011
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

Evil!!!!!

What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written bycross_breed September 18, 2009
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

Speaking as a Witness

I am an Evangelical Christian and proud of it. Our youth band has played at many of these camps and the "religious fervor" that is being experienced here is a beautiful and moving experience. I've seen it, I've been in it. I don't know what this denomination is but I would like to let everyone know that not all Evangelical Christians are like this. While I do not support abortion, I most certainly believe in evolution. I am so far left on the political scale that I am a breath away from Socialist. I most certainly did NOT support the political views of the previous administration, and once again, I am a practicing Evangelical Christian. Spreading a stereotype that is dangerous to my Faith and I have to speak out against that being spread.

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