Just watched the documentary Jesus Camp. Anyone who grew up with an evangelical Christian background–actually, anybody who cares about the social state of this country–will find this movie is disturbing. It is intensely personal, highly critical, at times touching and artistic. It is a caricature of fundamentalist Christianity in the United States and like all caricatures intensifies certain features of the movement at the expense of a realistic representation. Yet it is not for that reason false.
I used to go to a summer camp that was organized for the purpose of instilling, not to say indoctrinating, a fundamentalist Christian world-view. There is enough in the movie that I recognize as an accurate depiction of the disturbing impact of fundamentalist religious beliefs on children that I would not call this movie a fabrication. I know that people like Bill O’Reilly think that this movie–along with the recent Friends of God: A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi–are paradigmatic examples of a left-wing conspiracy to discredit and undermine well-meaning conservative Chrstians by highlighting the most extreme elements of the movement. But the fact that anything like the events portrayed in Jesus Camp actually happen (even if only in this unique situation) is disturbing in itself.