Day 245: Speaking in Tongues at Jesus Kamp

At the suggestion of some of my neighbors, my mom and I went to see Jesus Kamp today. If you’re like me, and you like learning about weird things, and then watching people do the weird things on camera, I think you’ll really love this movie. In sum, the documentary is about evangelical Christianity in the USA (25% of the American population self identifies as an evangelical Christian), and is framed around a Christian summer camp started by one very passionate Pastor Becky. 43% of Evangelical Christians in the USA say they were “born again” before the age of 13.

There are some interesting points in the movie, most notably when children are playing with small plastic fetus dolls (it’s a Pro Life/Anti Choice exercise), when an effigy of George W. shows up in the church to incite prayers, when people speak in tongues, and when some home schooled kids (75% of home schooled kids in the US are Evangelical Christians) learn that Global Warming is not actually a problem at all. More seriously, there is also a powerful (in retrospect) bit when Ted Haggard speaks about his mega church out in Colorado Springs. Since the movie was made before this year’s Ted Haggard scandal, it was unsettling to see him so outspoken in that role only a year ago.

In all, I very much liked the film, but have the same concerns about this film as I did about Bowling for Columbine, which I saw with my Italian host family (and Lawyer Lana) in Italy in 2002. I remember walking out of that movie feeling very conspicuous as an American, and worrying that for people who already hated America it wouldn’t really help things. Similarly, while it’s very interesting to watch Jesus Kamp for me, since I am Christian I don’t come away thinking we should burn them all (the Christians), and instead have more balanced, less irate comments somewhere near “there are extremists and weirdos, everywhere, not just in religion.”

I do have to give incredible props to the main child stars of the movie, Rachel and Levy (I think), who are two of the most well spoken 10/11 year olds I have seen since I was one. The girl has this fantastic plan to be an evangelical nail painter in a nail salon as her career in life. She maps out how great it will be to paint people’s nails, with “soothing Christian music” in the background of the nail salon, and how her clients’ hearts will be “really open” in such an environment to listening to her talk about Jesus. It’s a riot to see a young girl with such a passion, really, and it was hands down my favorite moment in the 90 minutes. The boy, sadly, I never really listed to, as I was too distracted the entire time by his appalling extra long mullet, which was very unsettling.

So, if you managed to make it to the end of this post, which is not funny, and rather intense, and you do need convincing to see Jesus Kamp, email me at If, on the other hand, you have seen this movie and hate it and want to complain about religion, you can also email me at, and I can hopefully recommend another film/book that won’t make you think Christians are psychopaths.

Finally, speaking of psychopaths, here are my friends from Berkeley, my dear hometown, where I am for the holidays. Dani, Nai and Jess do not happen to be Christians, in case you are wondering (although Jess is very excited because she may attend church this Christmas Eve for the first time ever), and none of them wear contact lenses, which is also an unrelated but interesting point. What they are, though, is surely not thrilled at me that their dinner party last night is now on the web.

Here is one of them, Dani, talking about why she eats pet food.

Here, Claire reveals she has brought a large batch of clothes to giveaway to her friends. She does this annually, but everyone always hates the clothes.

Here they are, not taking any of the clothes:


jm said...

that is so weird--I know a dog named Zoe too. Why? Why Zoe?

I would have taken that Abercrombie shirt.

lara said...

I don't think you look ugly in daily life, claire. and if anyone would know...

rachel said...

you should reck. Dogma. i was on a high for days after (in a good way!) love the blog. rachel

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