Jesus Camp Essay

Topics: Religion, Sociology, Evangelicalism Pages: 6 (1725 words) Published: April 3, 2015
Laurie Grenier
Dylan Kissane
PHIL 130
Tuesday, April 7th 2015

Sociological issues displayed in Jesus Camp
In 2009, more then 4.5 million evangelical memberships in the United States were recorded and between 2006 and 2013, the number of Evangelical Protestants –also called Born Again- rose by 11.2 percent. The evangelical population is part of a bigger group -the Protestants representing more then 50 percent of the American population- and represents almost 30 percent of this larger group (Frejka 8). By growing and changing people’s way of thinking, this group will cause huge social changes in the U.S. The documentary describes Becky Fisher creating an “army of God” so that these children would be able to turn America toward conservative Christian values and social change. She also says that America needs to focus on training their children just as “the enemy” (the other religions) is doing. Her goal is to create a youth group believing in her cause and train them to become future leaders of big groups, firms, and probably even government parties and one day becoming president. These children will defend their cause in leadership roles. In Jesus Camp, the filmmakers try to chronicle this story with an objective point of view. However, we clearly observe the fact that they are against this idea of using a training ground for soldiers, recruits (here children) born-again to become an active part of America’s political future. This essay will detail three big issues seen in this film. The first one being of course religion and the way it is used. The second point the education the children have and the indoctrination it implies. And finally, the third point is both the qualities and problems socialization could involve in this case. Jesus Camp is an American documentary film directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing in 2006. This documentary follows a group of children at a Christian summer camp called “Kids on fire” located just outside Devil’s lake in North Dakota. Becky Fisher directed the summer camp. The film also focuses on three very devoted Christian children: Levi O’Brien, Rachel Elhardt, and Victoria (Tory) Binger. Levi was homeschooled and wants to become a preacher. He wants to follow in his father’s footsteps. His mother wants to be able to raise her children by herself and not “give them” to someone else during the day. Levi is thought at a young age to combine creationism from the Bible with scientific principles, which will led the family to beliefs like the fact that global warming is a big joke. Rachel has a very strong opinion about “her” religion. She disapproves of most Christian churches because they are non-charismatic and therefore “churches that God would not like to go to.” Tory is part of a dance team at a Christian church, where they dance to heavy metal Christian music. She says that she has to be careful not to dance “for the flesh” because she would be harming the Christ’s image. For these children, every waking hour is a moment that should be devoted to Jesus, not a moment to have fun. Throughout the movie, the audience is witnessing an endless debate between Becky Fisher and Mike Papantonio, a radio talk-show host on an American radio show called Ring on Fire. Mike questioned Becky’s motives to use children by directly speaking to her (Jesus Camp). The first and most obvious sociological issue in this film is of course religion. Religion can be both highly personal through someone’s beliefs and a common social institution (Introduction to Sociology). Children and parents come to the religious ceremonies of this summer camp to find a common faith they hold to be true and to be part of a religious experience. This film shows a clash between religion and science in terms of creationism against evolution and the denial of basic terrestrial concepts such as global warming. The best example of this clash would be Levi’s family. His mother thinks one cannot learn science without religion; they...

Cited: Frejka, Tomas, and Charles F. Westoff. Religion, Religiousness and Fertility in the U.S. and in Europe. Rostock: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, 2006. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.
Garcia, Elena. "CBS Special Looks at Teen Missionaries in 'Lord 's Boot Camp '" The Christian Post (n.d.): n. pag. 11 Apr. 2008. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.
Jesus Camp. Dir. Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. Perf. Becky Fischer and Mike Papantonio. Magnolia Pictures, 2006. Documentary.
Openstax College. Introduction to Sociology. Houston: Rice U, 2013. Print.
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