Awards–Won the Special Jury Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival, 2006
Won the Grand Jury Award at the Silverdocs Documentary Festival, 2006
Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, 2007
Summary–This film looks at the Evangelical Christian movement in this country and specifically focuses on their ministry to children. It follows several kids as they go to the Kids on Fire camp in North Dakota.
My Thoughts–I am finding it really hard to talk about this movie. Whenever people start to talk about religion or politics, somebody is bound to get offended, and this documentary is loaded with both of those things. I will preface this post by saying that my parents are both Methodist ministers. I grew up in a Christian house and even went to church camp many times during my childhood. That being said, this film scared the living sh*t out of me. It made me terrified and it made me really, really, really mad. There is one point at the end when the leader of the Kids on Fire camp literally says, “extreme liberals who see this must be shaking in their boots.” Yes, Becky, yes I am.
First of all, I just wanted to point out that even though I did go to church camp several times, I am not a fan of it. I always felt emotionally manipulated by a lot of the stuff that happened there (it is very easy to cause someone to break down in tears when they are ten years old and away from home for a whole week). It also doesn’t help that one of the most traumatizing events in my life happened at church camp.
So since I am bringing all of my own views and biases, I am just going to try to point out a few things that happened in the film and you can judge for yourself on how you would feel about them.
*Becky literally says that she enjoys preaching for kids because they are “so usable for Christianity.”
*There were multiple instances of grownups telling children that evolution and global warming are ridiculous.
*A little girl named Rachel is shown several times randomly approaching strangers to tell them about God. She goes up to some old guys and says, “If you were to die right now, where would you go?” And they said “Heaven.” And as she was walking away she said, “I think they were Muslims.” and shakes her head.
*So many shots of kids sobbing uncontrollably, shaking, flailing about, and wailing during camp.
*The kids get called up to break porcelain mugs symbolizing the government because the government is corrupt and allows abortion.
*Becky says, “Let me talk to you about Harry Potter….warlocks are enemies of God!!! If this was the Old Testament Harry Potter would’ve been put to death!!!!!!!!”
*Some boys were having a great time in the cabin at bedtime playing with flashlights and being silly. Then a counselor busts in and makes them feel terrible for having fun.
Final Verdict–This was really hard for me to watch, but I am glad that I saw it.