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These children’s lives, and the bits including other kids at the camp, are not representative of the whole of Christianity, the whole of evangelical-dom, or even the whole of Pentecostalism. Their lives may prove interesting, entertaining, inspiring or sobering. But it’s a category mistake to assume that the characteristics of the individuals or even a small group of individuals resembles in any significant way the whole. It’s a category mistake to think that all, most, or even many of our kids are being trained to be fervent preachers, to eagerly anticipate martyrdom, encouraged to speak in tongues and prophesy, or to march in protest against abortion in Washington, D.C. The sample set is vanishingly small and its relevance for understanding evangelical pre-teen culture is nearly worthless. Entertaining and provocative, yes. But three kids do not make Jesus Camp a sociological study.
Jesus Camp is not a drama or a comedy. It’s a documentary, made by award-winning filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, who follow the experiences of three young children—Levi, Tory, and Rachael—as they attend the “Kids on Fire” summer camp in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota. The camp, directed by Becky Fischer, encourages children to embrace Christianity through programs of intense instruction and charismatic worship.
Some Christian media personalities are speaking out against the movie, but for differing reasons. A few accuse the filmmakers of trying to discredit Fischer and her camp, and they rush to the defense of the film’s subjects, saying that their methods of worship and education are to be celebrated. Others are criticizing the film by saying that this documentary footage severely misrepresents Christianity, and that it has been framed to draw viewers into viewing Christians as lunatics.
The site includes a short article about the making of the documentary