Jesus Camp Shuts Down, But Fischer Says Her 'Indoctrination' Will Continue
The camp featured in the controversial documentary Jesus Camp will shut down due to negative response from the film, according to camp director Becky Fischer.
The documentary spotlights Kids on Fire, a charismatic summer camp where evangelical children are recruited to "God's army." The children who attend the camp are shown shaking and sobbing over abortion and praying over a cardboard cutout of President Bush.
The camp takes place at a rented facility in Devil's Lake, N.D., but Fischer said the owners of the campground asked her not to return after vandals caused $1,500 in damage in October.
Fischer told CT she would have made the decision to shut the camp regardless, because she is worried about people who would attend simply to disrupt the camp. Since the film's release, she has been bombarded with e-mails and phone calls.
"Christians go after me because of doctrinal issues, whereas the world is going after me because they think I'm another Adolf Hitler," she said. "They're accusing me of raising a Christian jihad."
Fischer has been accused of brainwashing and indoctrination because of the emotional way in which the children respond in the film.
"We have the idea that indoctrination is like the Chinese shoving bamboo up your fingernails or dropping a drop of water on your head until you say, 'Okay, Buddha is god,'" Fischer said. "Indoctrination is nothing more than teaching someone else a set of ideas."
Instead of holding another camp, Fischer said she plans to hold more conferences on the East and West Coasts. However, she won't be changing her message or how she presents it.
"If I change, no one would come," Fischer said. "If you want average, ordinary, Sunday school stuff, that's not who we are. I want kids who are passionate."
The movie takes a political angle and attempts to show a revival in which evangelical Christians encourage youth to take leadership roles in advocating the causes of the movement, such as abortion.
"When [the movie] took the political twist, no one was more shocked than I was, because what we were doing wasn't political," Fischer said. "To me, it was good Christianity."
Fischer has no apologies or regrets about the film. "This is my scream to the church," she says. "You've got to pay attention to what you're doing or not doing to the kids, because we're losing them from the church."
Former president of the National Association of Evangelicals Ted Haggard is shown in the film speaking to New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
"We don't have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity," Haggard tells the congregation. "It's written in the Bible."
Haggard then looks at the camera and says jokingly: "I think I know what you did last night." The crowd laughs. "If you send me a thousand dollars, I won't tell your wife," He later says, smiling, "If you use any of this, I'll sue you."
After its release, Haggard publicly denounced the documentary, saying that the film poorly misrepresents Evangelicalism.
"You can expect to learn as much about the Catholic Church from Nacho Libre as you can learn about evangelicalism from Jesus Camp," Haggard stated on his Web site before the posting was taken down. "This movie manipulates facts like a Michael Moore film and works the camera like The Blair Witch Project. It's one more 'documentary' that seems to miss the point intentionally."
Many other camp directors also feel that the documentary does not accurately portray Christian camps.
"It shows the Midwest evangelicals are comparative to Muslim camps in the Middle East as if we're training up warriors to battle the world," said Andy Braner, director of the Christian camp Kanakuk Colorado. "It gives people a bad taste of what camps are all about."