Magnolia Pictures is stirring about a recent move by evangelical leaders discouraging followers from seeing "Jesus Camp," the new doc that looks at three Missouri kids who travel to Pastor Becky Fischer's "Kids on Fire" evangelical summer camp. The film opened Friday in limited release in a number of would-be evangelical cities (Colorado Springs, Springfield, MO, and Kansas City...) but came up with slow box office results, apparently due to pressure from evangelical leader Ted Haggard, who has spoken out against the movie.
In a Denver Post piece, Haggard said that the film has, "a strong agenda like any Michael Moore film with the cinematography of 'The Blair Witch Project."' Continuing he added, "It does represent a small portion of the charismatic movement, but I think it demonizes it...Secularists are hoping that evangelical Christians and radicalized Muslims are essentially the same, which is why they will love this film."
Meanwhile a review of the movie in the online Christian magazine, saworship.com, offers a negative take on the movie, writing:
Though it presents the sincere belief of charismatic Christians, Jesus Camp does so in a smirky, at times mocking manner. It seems bent on warning unbelievers that Evangelicals have a powerful voice in the political world, one that threatens proponents of homosexuality, abortion and other liberal agendas...After viewing this film, it’s easy to see why the unchurched fear and misunderstand people of the Christian faith.
Magnolia made news when they announced their deal for the film and detailed a plan to reach out to both sides of the aisle with the doc. Then, they nabbed even more headlines when failing to stop Michael Moore from showing the movie at his recent Traverse City Film Festival. indieWIRE will be exploring the issue further in this week's box office column.