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November 09, 2006

Jesus Camp Shutting Down Religion

Seattle Times:

The summer camp featured in the documentary "Jesus Camp," which includes scenes with disgraced preacher Ted Haggard, will shut down for at least several years because of negative reaction sparked by the film, according to the camp's director.

"Right now we're just not a safe ministry," Becky Fischer, the fiery Pentecostal pastor featured in "Jesus Camp," said Tuesday.

The documentary, which hit select U.S. theaters during the summer, portrays Fischer, 55, as drill instructor to a group of young evangelical children steeling themselves for spiritual and political warfare.

Led by Fischer, the children pray in tongues, as is common in charismatic strains of Pentecostalism; tearfully beg God to end abortion; and bless President Bush at a weeklong camp in Devils Lake, N.D.

Fischer has drawn fire from some corners for "brainwashing" the children. After vandals damaged the campground last month and critics besieged Fischer with negative e-mails, phone calls and letters, the pastor said she's shutting down the camp for at least several years.

"I don't think we'll be doing it for a while," she said.

Fischer lives in Bismarck, N.D., and is chief pastor at The Fire Center, a church devoted to children's ministry there. She has run the weeklong "Kids on Fire" summer camp, which is featured in the film, since 2002, with 75 to 100 children attending each year.

The documentary also includes scenes of Haggard, the evangelical leader accused of gay sex and drug use.

In one scene, directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady visit Haggard's 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo. He tells the vast audience, "We don't have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity. It's written in the Bible."

Then Haggard looks into the camera and says kiddingly: "I think I know what you did last night," drawing laughs from the crowd. "If you send me a thousand dollars, I won't tell your wife." [Emphasis added]

Guess he had it coming.

Posted by Jonathan at November 9, 2006 09:51 AM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

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