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Jesus Camp: A deep dive into Evangelical Indoctrination

"Jesus Camp" offers a disturbing and fascinating look into a summer camp dedicated to grooming the next generation of Evangelical leaders.

Keywords: Evangelical Christianity, religious indoctrination, summer camp, children, Billy Graham


"Jesus Camp", directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, released in 2006, explores the controversial world of an Evangelical Christian summer camp. The documentary provides a thought-provoking insight into the camp's activities aimed at grooming the campers, particularly children, into becoming the next Billy Graham, a renowned Evangelical leader. In light of growing religious fundamentalism, "Jesus Camp" remains a relevant watch even today.


"Jesus Camp" offers an unflinching look at a summer camp where children are indoctrinated into Evangelical Christianity. The camp, run by Pastor Becky Fischer, uses a variety of methods, including intense prayer sessions and lectures on sin, to instill a fervent religious belief in the campers.

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The documentary follows an observational approach, capturing the activities within the camp without overt commentary. The film's strength lies in its unbiased representation, allowing viewers to form their own opinions. The research is thorough, and the subject matter is explored in depth.

Historical and Factual Context:

The documentary is set against the backdrop of the growing influence of Evangelical Christianity in the United States. This context is essential to understand the motivations behind the camp's activities.

Key themes in the film:

  • Influence of religion on children
  • Religious indoctrination and fundamentalism
  • Separation of church and state

Film Comparisons:

Unlike other films on iWonder that touch on religion, "Jesus Camp" stands out due to its focus on young children's indoctrination.

Noteworthy Moments:

The scenes where children are seen crying and speaking in tongues during intense prayer sessions are particularly impactful, highlighting the emotional toll of the camp's activities.


"Jesus Camp" has generally been received positively by critics for its unbiased portrayal. IMDB users rated it a solid 7.4 out of 10. It was also nominated for an Oscar, further attesting to its quality.


"Jesus Camp" is an essential watch for anyone interested in understanding the influence of religion on children. The documentary's unbiased approach makes it a compelling and thought-provoking watch.

Watch Jesus Camp - Streaming Online | iwonder (Free Trial)
Welcome to Pastor Becky Pischer’s “Kids on Fire Summer Camp”, where kids are taught to be dedicated soldiers in God’s army and are schooled in how to take back America for Christ.

More film information

IMDB: 7.4 | Rotten Tomatoes: 80% | Metacritic: 62
Awards: Nominated for 1 Oscar. 6 wins & 7 nominations: Academy Awards, Tribeca Film Festival, Silverdocs Documentary Festival, Women Film Critics Circle Awards, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Chlotrudis Awards

Links for further exploration

  1. Taking faith seriously: Philosopical thoughts on religious education

Key Questions Raised by the Film:

Does religious indoctrination of children constitute a form of abuse?

Should the state intervene in religious institutions to protect children?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form:

"1984" by George Orwell - if it was a famous book, because of its exploration of indoctrination and manipulation.

"Imagine" by John Lennon - if it was a famous song, for its message of peace and unity, in stark contrast to the documentary's subject.

"The Scream" by Edvard Munch - if it was a famous piece of art, symbolising the emotional distress experienced by the campers.

Billy Graham - if it was a famous celebrity, the influential Evangelical leader the campers aspire to become.

Grey - if it was a colour, symbolising the moral ambiguity of religious indoctrination.

Gospel music - if it was a music style, reflecting the religious theme of the documentary.