Wednesday, April 24, 2019
FilmHot TopicsLGBT RightsReligion

Jesus Camp…Where Are They Now?

UPDATE AS OF JANUARY 2013: A video of Levi has surfaced on YouTube. He’s nearly 20 now and even more in love with Jesus than before.

You can check out the video here:

You can also check out Levi’s Facebook by going to the following link: Levi’s Facebook.

While I’m not certain this is Rachael’s Facebook, it is the only one with her name (which has an unusual spelling. You can check out Rachael’s possible Facebook here. Rachael shared an update on Becky Fischer’s My Time at Jesus Camp page, when she was 15. She was still as in love with Jesus and was living in North Dakota.

While Tory does not seem to have a Facebook (or it’s been hidden from public view), she did write something for Becky Fischer’s book on Jesus Camp. She was moving away from God, for a bit, but found him again at age 16.

A friend of mine was talking on Facebook about how homeschool groups and co-ops are kicking families out of their groups if they support LGBT rights. This is no big surprise to Ash and I. We’ve been homeschooling Robert since he was in 2nd grade. We have felt the oppression of such groups on both LGBT and disability related issues. In response, someone posted a clip from Jesus Camp, a documentary we had a chance to review, a few years back.

The clip shows pre-teen, Levi O’Brien, talking to his mom, Tracy, who is homeschooling him. In it, she tells him that there is no basis behind science. The entire scene is pretty scary, especially when Levi expresses his views concerning how smart he believes Galileo was for giving up science for God (Apparently, Levi has no idea that Galileo was forced to recant his scientific beliefs and discoveries in the name of religion). This is not the only obviously inaccurate thing Levi is being taught.

The only thing I do agree with his mother on is the fact that I do not believe I, as a parent, should send my son off to school for eight hours a day, when I know I am capable of giving him as good of an education (or better) than the one he could receive at a public school. Of course, I also believe not all parents are capable of this, which is why public schools do exist. I also believe that Science is based in fact, and therefore it is an important subject to be taught accurately, to children.

Anyway, this prompted me to do some digging to try and find the brainwashed Jesus Camp kids. It took a little digging, but lo and behold I found most of them on Facebook, and you will never guess who else I found?

Despite the Kids on Fire camp being shut down due to public reaction from the documentary and vandalism on the property, Becky Fischer is keeping up with her young “soldiers” through Facebook. She has also been schooling a new group of children, to be soldiers in the last days army. This is through the School of Supernatural Children’s Ministry.

Her hardcore message is best summed up in her own words, so here they are:

Becky Fischer talking about the School of Supernatural Children's Ministry

If the text is too small, click on the above image to see a bigger version of it!

You can find out more about what Becky is up to and find more of her “prophetic words” on her Facebook. The scary part is that over 2,000 people subscribe to her BS.

Becky’s most promising student was Levi O’Brien. He was just a pre-teen with a rattail when he was featured as a child preacher in the film. Not much has changed from then. Now, Levi is 18. He still screams and yells when he is preaching. His messages are still somewhat incomprehensible. He no longer has the rattail (that we can see), but he is using his Facebook as a platform to spread his uneducated, close-minded message about Jesus and God.

Levi believes his God is the only God (and his God did not create other religions). However, Levi’s FB has a lot more opposition to his constant messages of faith than Becky’s does. His 400+ friends constantly debate the validity of his words. His mom, Tracy, even hops in on one post to back up his claims, by stressing just how accurate The Bible is and how it is used as a school textbook in many places. All in all, the message of Levi remains the same.

You can check him out on his Facebook here.

Despite being kind of mousy and a loner, Rachael Elhardt had very specific beliefs about religion. She was the girl who believed she had to convert people to her fundie style of Christianity or they were going to hell. Despite her outspoken nature on religion, she has opted to keep her Facebook private. As such, we can only assume she is still a crazy Christian because she remains friends with Levi and Becky. You can at least see a picture of 16 or 17 year old Rachael on her Facebook page.

Decidedly absent from the Jesus lovefest on FB is young Tory. If you remember, she is the one who was a dancer. She was a part of the children’s praise dance team at Christ Triumphant Church who was afraid of dancing for the flesh. Tory questioned her faith more than once in the documentary and spent much of her time on film bawling her eyes out. Of all the kids, I felt bad for her the most. I have tried to find out what happened to Tory and whether she still attends Christ Triumphant Church (which by the way has been endorsed, or at least it’s head pastor Alan Koch has, by Becky Fischer).

I would like to believe that these kids have learned to think for themselves, but sadly, despite the negative press for Jesus Camp, they continue to hold these steadfast, terrifying beliefs that their religion is the only way and all others must be converted to their thinking.

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  1. Um, wow. I just came back and read replies. I wasn't suggesting that ANY of the people listed were symbols of faith. I was simply stating what I'd tell this child, that there are smart people in the world who questioned the norms. He can do the same thing and be faithful at the same time. I'd like to extend my apologies to the two of you for creating a situation that caused the back and forth about what it was that I meant and my obvious ignorance of facts.

  2. it occurred to me after watching this movie…if all those millions of aborted babies are in heaven…and the aim of these people is to get other people into heaven…then shouldn’t they be FOR abortion and killing babies? i mean, if you let them get born and grow up, many of them will stray and not be saved and not go to heaven! but if you kill them before they are of age, they will all go to heaven! perhaps you would go to hell for it, but wouldn’t that be a better deal, and a terrific sacrifice to make? just wondering how that would be answered, i’m pretty sure they would not really agree with this idea. (for example, maybe it stops them from fulfilling god’s plan for them, but then that means god’s plan for a lot of them is to go to hell?)

  3. Update: I'm in a third level Psych class at my college and since I'm learning about Piaget, I've been thinking about doing a study/project on religious indoctrination and its impact on Piaget's stages of intelligence. Jesus Camp and other sources have led me to believe that there are serious developmental delays beginning in the pre-operational stages, and that the child protective services in the country need to know these things and quit turning a blind eye from what's going on in these households.

  4. Sorry if this is too long.

    I grew up in this exact environment from the age of 10. I was one of these kids every year I would go to church camps, conferences, bible study and anything which will give me a better understanding of God and what I can do to serve him. My goal was to travel to spread the word of God and help other churches to win souls in the name of Jesus. Watching this doco gave me mixed feelings of sadness, anger and happiness.

    Why does it make me sad? Children haven’t lived long enough in this world to know what else is outside the church besides those who are not saved will go to hell. Anything that is ungodly must be cast out. It was tough, but I did it. That is all that is told to us, no exceptions. It is drilled into us everyday. I remember whenever there was a repentance speech I would cry because I was felt guilty that I let God, mom and the church down and that I didn’t want to burn in hell.

    This brings me next why am I angry? Fear and guilt plays a big role in this brainwash. Anyone who would oppose what is preached is ungodly including Christian writers. They teach compassion towards non-Christians but if you continue to ignore what God is telling you, no mercy cut them from your life. You should not make friends with non-Christians. It is very insular and ignorant.

    Having said all that, some of my best memories were at Church camps. Outside of the worship time and teachings these camps were a lot of fun. Free time was like any normal children. Things like, coming up with ideas for the talent shows, talking about boys, sharing jokes, sports and just talking about stuff. I made so many great friends at this time and after 20 years I’m still friends with them.

    At a certain age most will start questioning, comparing notes and making up their own mind. I for one have moved away from this life since then but I have a healthy respect for any religion and more accepting of people. I have taken away the good and left the bad from this time. Everyone makes their own choices at the end. Some choose to stay and some don’t.

  5. Julia O'Brien representing atheism as a pursuit of the ego is a profound misunderstanding or misrepresentation of what atheism is. Atheism is nothing more than a single position on a single claim. Do you believe in any god(s)? if your answer is yes you are a theist, if it's anything else you are an atheist. it's not a worldview or anything like it, he's wrong.

  6. also atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive. the first being about belief and the other being about knowledge.

  7. Dennis Jansen Atheism is a term that I'm sure has different meanings to different people. Specifically, I know there are self-labeled atheists who derive their title from knowledge, not belief. That is, because they don't KNOW God, God doesn't exist. Maybe this is 'wrong' to you as well, but it doesn't remove its use in reality.

    In any case, I was talking about the branch of atheism that would breed the vitriol needed to give life to original poster's reply, and not all atheists everywhere who ever existed. I thought I should make that clear.

  8. Joshua McNary The definition for atheism is clear. Lack of belief in the existence of god or gods. Furthermore claiming to know as knowledge that no gods exist is intellectually dishonest. I would never claim such knowledge. I reject the god claims due to lack of evidence. That said I reject gods on the same ground I reject the tooth fairy and bigfoot, so it's a strong conviction.

    To me it doesn't particularly matter if these people were atheists, although Sagan certainly was one. Einstein was a pantheist (I prefer not throwing these around because they clutter up the issue) which means he equates the universe with divinity. His references to a "god" are in no way similar to the god-image any theist would recognise. I am sure I could find some evidence from letters he wrote if you think it's important.

  9. Dennis Jansen I'm not arguing what the definition is. I'm just saying atheism is a conflated term in regular everyday usage, so I wanted to be more specific in what I meant.

    It doesn't matter what they believed, I agree. I originally posted just because I thought it was ironic that James went out of his way to step on someone's facts when he lacked his own fact checking.

    He also seemed like he was suggesting that religious people are incapable of thinking, but it wouldn't take much research to realize there are countless brilliant thinkers who are also extremely adherent to a diverse array of beliefs, Christianity and atheism included. It really doesn't matter if those particular people she listed were Christian or not because I don't think any reasonable person could suggest atheism has a monopoly on brilliant thinking people or that brilliant Christians don't exist, that's all.

  10. Dennis Jansen I am an agnostic, which literally means "against or anti knowledge" or "no knowledge". I simply don't know and that's it. I am not an atheist, as that means "against or 'anti' god", which I am not. I'd have to have an opinion on whether god exists to be against a belief in him or her. I generally find excessive certitude on either side of the coin to be incredibly arrogant.

  11. Julia O'Brien if you do not answer the question: Do you believe in a god? with a yes. You're an atheist, including I don't know. you either believe something or you don't there is logically no in between. Perhaps you are confusing the rejection of the claim that a god exists, with the claim that there is no god. In that case there would be a middle ground. But atheism doesn't claim there is in fact no god.

  12. A good example would the gumball machine. Let's say you are in one of those competitions where you have to guess the amount of gumballs in there for a prize. I come around and tell you: "the amount of gumballs in that machine is even". Do you believe me?

    You would probable respond with "I don't know", because you have no knowledge about the amount of gumballs in the machine, you are agnostic. But at the same time that agnosticism would force you not to believe my claim. And the rejection of my claim that the amount of gumballs in the machine is even, doesn't mean you are claiming the amount is odd. You just withhold your belief until there is some evidence for this claim, like after there has been a count for example. on the claim: the amount of gumballs is even. you would be an agnostic atheist (aevengumballist), the terms are not mutually exclusive.

  13. I was raised very much like this and I did just fine in life (I figured it out), but I did become an angry atheist at age 20. That was nearly 20 years ago. Why was I an “angry” atheist? Because I was so mad about being lied to for almost 20 years of my life. But why have I mellowed out quite a bit since then? Because I lived in Los Angeles for many years, and I got to deal with all their stupid mindless atheist brats, and it was not fun.
    One Halloween, after watching this Jesus Camp flick, (it was a documentary meant especially for Halloween, given to me by my atheist cousin who also had an upbringing like this), I then hit the local amusement park to enjoy their own little house of horrors. I was SO unimpressed with the kids there; dropping the F bomb every other word, challenging the “monsters” to scare them because -no matter what- they STILL were not scared, resorting to spitting at the monsters to provoke them (the monsters had real chainsaws and they chased after us on stilts, making them way taller than any of us), and at one point a little boy, about 8 years old, shouted to his friend “Look! Cool! That chick is getting RAPED!” I turned my head to where he was pointing, and yes, this amusement park, which was not exactly kid-friendly, featured a rape scene, right before it ended in a bloody gruesome murder, which the boys got a real kick out of. And here I was, amongst a bunch of grade school kids who were all laughing with amusement at this whole sight.
    It was an awakening. I may have still been atheist, but at that moment I PRAYED that one of the kids from Jesus Camp would appear and offer any one of those peer-aged kids a Bible. Or offered me one. It would have been the sanest and most refreshing experience of my night.
    When I had kids, I decided: I am moving out of there. I raised my kids in the church. Yes, science is great. Yes, science has it’s place, but so does character development training, which is what most of those ancient Bible stories are. The spasms and speaking in tongues, as featured in the creepy video, are certainly overkill, but some simple Sunday school lessons about God and morality and sharing and caring and giving to charity, which we do as a family every Christmas, as well as work in soup kitchens every Thanksgiving; these are lessons of character. My kids are very spiritual as well, without needing to be deprived of science. I’ve also attempted teaching astronomy at a ritzy space camp and the kids in my classes were almost as snotty and obnoxious as the kids at the Halloween amusement park. They were way ahead of their age group in their understanding of astronomy. It’s too bad their impressive intellect did not make them at all likable. They engaged in constant fighting and competition. Their favorite hobby was trying to outwit their teachers. If science is so important to you that it takes precedence over character development, I don’t want to know your kid. I feel bad for the kids in this documentary, but only because it would seem their religious training is taking up their whole life, which is not fair to them. But at least I’d like to know them as people. They seem like sweet kids, and why shouldn’t they be? God is watching them. I’m glad they have remained strong in their faith. I just hope that faith does not work to their detriment (not that atheism could not do so just as well).

  14. I loved this movie. Not because I love Jesus…I am an Atheist to the core…but I love this movie because it is terrifying and unbelievable. It blows my mind each time I have watched it..yes..I watched it more than once…each time as bone chilling as the last. These poor children are subjected to terrible child abuse and mental torment. I feel such pity for them, and believe their parents should be in prison.

  15. Like you, I too would like to see how the others are now. Another child I was most disturbed by, as an Atheist, was the little lad with long blonde hair who seemed to be struggling. I just felt bad for them all, including the poor girl who, as you rightly said, tried not to dance for the flesh. Poor kids.

  16. I hate saying this, but my LEAST favorite part of the homeschooling scene (other than the child being taught obvious falsities) was the mother saying she can give just as good of an education as a public school. It's a bit of a slap in the face to people who spend years going to school specifically for the profession of teaching to hear someone say "I can do it just as well as you".

  17. it takes years to recover. I deconverted at age 26 because of some nasty experiences. To this day, Christians would try to reconvert me. This time around I tell them Im not interested, show them my Norse tribal tattoos and walk away.

  18. Theres a fine line between freedom of choice and brainwashing. These kids wouldn’t know any better at that age – at least give them that choice when they’re older. Beliefs should NEVER be forced onto anyone whether its religious or not.

  19. This is not brainwashing! This is training. This world we live in is on self-destruct and if you help your children understand who they are in Christ, this world will tell them who they are. And that will change depending on whatever is popular at any given time. Yes we believe we have the truth, and Yes we want to share this truth with everyone…out of LOVE! I equate it with warning someone they are about to go off a cliff and fall to thier death. It would be terribly evil of me NOT to tell you to turn around. That being said, beating ppl over the head with a bible never converted anyone. LOVE is what changes hearts. It saddens my heart to the core to hear how ppl grew up and left the Jesus because of things other ppl have done to them. People who did not have God’s heart. God is LOVE!! Why is it wrong for the YOUNG girl to tell the girl in the bowling alley that God loves her? Who is any of this hurting? Becky Fisher was not raising little Isis recruits. She was raising who will be SOLD OUT for Jesus and go show love to as many people as they can. Its more than just volunteering at Christmas. And God does not want us to serve Him out of fear or guilt. If that were the case He would not have given us free will and a choice to make for ourselves. We need LOVE

  20. […] There isn’t much to say about Victoria’s story, except her Dad is in the Army and her mom raises/home schools the children by herself. But it should be noted that when the filmmakers caught up with the three main kids a few years ago, Victoria is the one who left evangelism for a while before returning. Out of the three, she seems the most subdued, even though she did ‘return to the flock.‘ […]

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Dominick is a director/filmmaker, activist, writer, advocate, FTM transman from the Midwest who lives in New York. Follow his film career and join his weekly Twitter chat on film and disability by following #FilmDis. He received his BFA in Film Production in 2014.