Jesus Camp

“Jesus Camp” is a holy roller coaster that’ll leave your soul dizzy and your brain doing theological backflips.

It’s currently the 7th best documentary in my list of “Best Religious Cult Documentaries (14 of them!”).

Trailer for “Jesus Camp”

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  • My Rating: 95/100
  • IMDB Rating: 7.4/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: 80/100 (Users); 87/100 (Critics)

Release Date: September 15, 2006

Review of “Jesus Camp”

“Jesus Camp” is like “Survivor: Bible Edition,” minus the million-dollar prize but with plenty of fire and brimstone to go around.

Let’s talk specifics. There’s Levi, a bowl-cut enthusiast with a preaching style that’d make Billy Graham blush.

This pint-sized pastor could sell salvation to Satan himself.

Then we’ve got Rachael.

She’s got a cherubic face with a militant gleam in her eye, ready to storm the gates of secularism armed with nothing but a King James and a juice box.

The film takes us to the Kids on Fire School of Ministry in Devils Lake, North Dakota.

Yes, you read that right. Devils Lake.

Here, children aren’t just taught about God; they’re molded into miniature culture warriors.

It’s like watching a Minecraft server where instead of building blocky houses, kids are constructing a theocracy.

One unforgettable scene shows the kids “laying hands” on a life-size cardboard cutout of then-President George W. Bush.

It’s a moment so surreal, Salvador Dali would’ve said, “Nah, too weird for me.”

And let’s not forget the anti-abortion rally, where kids tape their mouths shut with red tape bearing the word “LIFE.” It’s a visual metaphor so on-the-nose it could double as a rhinoplasty advertisement.

The film doesn’t shy away from the political implications of this brand of Christianity.

We see Ted Haggard, then-president of the National Association of Evangelicals, smugly discussing his weekly conference calls with the White House.

Spoiler alert: Haggard’s fall from grace came shortly after the film’s release, adding an extra layer of “yikes” to the whole affair.

“Jesus Camp” is a documentary that keeps on giving.

In short, it’s a cinematic journey that’ll have you speaking in tongues – mostly saying “What the…?” in various inflections.

This camp outing is one for the books – the Good Book, that is.

Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelly, Chief Maniac, Daily Doc

ps: Here’s a follow-up on “Jesus Camp” star Levi (5 years after the documentary came out).