But on a commentary track included on the just-released DVD, co-directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady talk extensively about the care they took to avoid demonizing the Evangelical Christians who appear in the film or betray the trust they extended the filmmakers by inviting them into their homes.
I think the utterly non-judgmental tone of Jesus Camp is one of its biggest strengths. Whatever the viewer thinks of the extreme beliefs and attitudes of people like Pastor Becky Fischer - who tells children things like "If this were the Old Testament, Harry Potter would be put to death!" and talks about the conservative Christian movement in us-versus-them military terms - the film also gives you with a sense of who she is as a person.
As bizarre and outlandish - OK, scary - as a lot of her behavior seems to me, I also found myself liking Becky in an odd, indefinable way. Heck, I'd even invite her over for a barbecue, although I suspect she wouldn't approve of my taste in movies.
Al Gore, who stars in another Best Documentary Oscar nominee, An Inconvenient Truth, would probably have a lot to say to the woman seen in Jesus Camp teaching her home-schooled son that global warming is just another conspiracy by evolutionists to discredit creationism. And here I thought it was all a big hoax used by politicians to garner votes.
Thursday Jan. 25
Jesus Camp (2006)
Friday Jan. 26
* Casino (1995): Martin Scorsese's most unfairly maligned film (although not his most underrated: That would be The King of Comedy).