"Jesus Camp" follows a group of eager, preteen evangelicals through the insular world of the religious right. Expecting a fun summer, the kids enroll in bible camp only to surrender to a numbing line-up of prayer and propaganda.
The fun, such as it is, is organized by camp director Becky Fischer, a hefty, zealous woman of questionable taste and morality. Under her tutelage, the children are humiliated to the point of tears, made to view disturbing material, and urged to praise George W. Bush.
In this weird world of twenty-four-seven salvation, harmless camp traditions, like ghost stories, are frowned on. Even heroic, goody-two-shoes Harry Potter is denounced as evil. The kids, many of them home-schooled, deeply religious and obedient, take it in stride. And this appears to be the mission of the camp: coercing children.
In a hard-nosed interview on "Air America," Fischer actually endorses brainwashing as key to achieving a radical Christian majority. It's an approach, she notes without a touch of irony, practiced by Islamic fundamentalists. It seems that the ultimate goal of these camps is less about finding Christ than stuffing the ballot box. Aware that their views on evolution, separation of church and state, and abortion are spurned by most Americans, the movement aims to turn the tide with the next generation.
It's a plan that's sure to fail. As their preachy line in the sand gets swept away by science, only the ignorant will stand behind it. (The camp closed in 2006, due to public reaction to the film.)