The Pastor from Jesus Camp Has a New Book Out

It’s been a while since we’ve seen her, but if you’re like me, you didn’t miss her one bit.

Becky Fischer is the woman at the heart of Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing‘s shocking 2006 documentary Jesus Camp.

Remember how, in The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins made a point of saying children shouldn’t be saddled with religious labels (like “Muslim child”) before they’re old enough to understand what religion is? Yeah, well, Fischer never bought into that. She has every intention of turning children into “Christian children” before they’re old enough to know any better.

Fischer, the founder of Kids in Ministry International, was the one who urged children to be part of the “Army of God,” who said Harry Potter “would have been put to death” had he lived in Biblical times (also adding that “Warlocks are enemies of God!”), and who told the children to speak in tongues (and — can you believe it? — they found a way to do it!)…

In case you missed the film, here are some excerpts:

She’s a despicable person any way you think about it. She knows exactly what she’s doing when brainwashing these children and finds nothing wrong with it. (I, on the other hand, have a serious problem with anyone who teaches children exactly what to believe about god instead of teaching them how to ask the right questions about belief in god, giving them proper guidance along the way, and letting them find their own path.) While the “camp” featured in the movie is no longer in session, her ministry lives on.

Six years after she was filmed, Fischer is now telling her side of the story. Her book is called Jesus Camp, My Story:

You can download the first chapter for free by going here.

I’ll admit, I was a little taken aback when I found out about her educational hero:

Bill Nye the Science Guy, the host of an educational TV show produced by Disney, was my educational hero. He was a master teacher combining humor, music, and entertain- ment with hard core science, biology, astronomy, and other sometimes hard to understand topics for kids. He created the most fun and fascinating shows to explain these technical concepts.

I used to watch him and think, “Why can’t we use his concepts to teach children about the power of Jesus? Instead of just teaching kids about the body’s circulatory system, why not also teach them about the fascinating things the Bible has to say about the blood of Jesus?”…

Here’s the whole book in a nutshell: The film was *clearly* the result of liberal, anti-Christian bias… but it totally portrayed her accurately, because she doesn’t deny anything we saw in the movie. In fact, Christians have contacted her asking how they could start their own Delusion Factories and she now travels worldwide teaching others how to be just like her.

If you were in the mood to read a good horror story, I think you just found one.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://twitter.com/kariedgerton Kari Edgerton

    Oh wow… I never thought I’d have something in common with Becky Fischer. We both love Bill Nye. I need to go take a shower now, thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/d3st88 Morva Ádám

    This woman creeps me out.
    The fact that her childhood hero is Bill Nye creeps me out even more.
    WHAT KIND OF MONSTER IS SHE?
    *shivers*

  • Littlewoodimp

    That is child abuse, pure and simple. To gather a group of impressionable children together and encourage them to get caught up in gabbling that garbage, create that atmosphere and then start in with that gods army crap – then hit them with the ‘no place for hypocrites’ and ‘confess your sins’. 

    All children are different at home and school – with this group of friends and that group – with their parents and other parents…. it’s one small part of learning about life.

    I don’t know who worries me more: this bitch or the parents who allow her contact with their children.

  • Rita

    Verry Scary. This woman is a sociopath who is manipulating children.   I feel sorry for those kids, but at the same time wonder what kind of parent would subject their kids to something like that? 

    • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

      She’s not a sociopath. She’s something even scarier: A true  believer. Sociopaths will hurt  those around them for personal gain. A true believer will hurt  anyone their belief system tells them to. At the end of the day they are both pretty dangerous and harmful though. 

      • Rita

        She is not physically harming them; however, she is harming (brainwashing) them for personal gain of power, money, and fame. Check out her web site.  It’s got to be one heck of a head trip for her – just look at all of those children and parents she can control.

  • http://twitter.com/Kahomono Kahomono

    I couldn’t even finish watching the movie.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002252382309 Eve Brandon Buster Holman

    This is beyond scary…I’m currently reading this book called “what would Jesus say today?” by Heiner Geissler, it’s in German and it relates bible passages, as well as his “message” to politics.  It’s a very interesting read and it goes deeply into controlling the masses, instead of following the actual message.  It leaves out any sort of “wonders” he accomplished, and really looks at everything pretty rational, concentrating on what has gone wrong since then…Just another interesting way to analyze it all. 

  • http://limerickfun.blogspot.com/ Rich Stage

    Though kids should always be scamps
    and their minds we should not clamp
    she makes them unhinged
    while real thinkers cringe
    as brainwashing goes on at camp.

    • Drew M.

      I’m totally facebooking this with a link to the video!

  • Anonymous

    I can’t believe how much that video bothered me. I really couldn’t watch it all. How many of those kids will break free from that brainwashing? 

    When I was 14, I knew I was an atheist, but I went to a 3 day Christian concert called Acquire the Fire. It was more like Jesus Camp then an actual concert. They had pastors, and prayers, and even something similar to the smashing cup thing. I got caught up in the hysteria and repented to Jesus. I became a believer over night and even started to plan out how I was going to spread the word of God to others. 

    It took me a few months to return to atheism, which was extremely difficult emotionally. There were so many conflicted thoughts in my head. The human mind is so vulnerable, especially at that age. The pastors set out to convert anyone they could and they did. 

  • ACN

    w.t.f.

    Did she extract nothing from her educational hero?

  • Pam Ellis

    Whenever I think about this movie…I think about the smashing mug scene.
    They are smashing ceramic mugs with a hammer…AND NO ONE IS WEARING EYE PROTECTION!

    • dauntless

      That’s okay. I hear Jesus can cure blindness.

      • Anonymous

        …just not amputees

  • http://diaryofamessylady.wordpress.com/ Lauren

    Ugh. I watched Jesus Camp once, and I could barely make it through. No way would I be able to stomach a book by that woman!

  • Nicole Youngman

    @3b7229b186d3106da7e93032378a3142:disqus –SO glad you mentioned the eye protection thing. I thought I was the only person driven crazy by that! :)

    Hemant, thanks for the heads-up on the book–I’m using Jesus Camp in the sociology of religion class I’m teaching this fall and will be glad to be able to tell the students the book is out there if they want to go have a look.

    I like your “teaching them to ask the right questions” perspective a lot–I’m Pagan and try to teach my 8yr old what it’s about, so he’ll understand something about why I care about the things I do, while also emphasizing that he’s free to choose his own beliefs.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    I think its telling that the reasons that Bill Nye is her hero has nothing to do with the scientific content he conveyed, but for his ability to reach and influence children.

  • Anonymous

    I’m betting she views Bill Nye the way people in PR departments view Goebbles, pure evil but very, very capable. I bet she has more views in common with Osama bin Laden than with Bill Nye, but that doesn’t stop her from evaluating how effective he is.

    Damn, that’s about as much hyperbole as I’ve ever packed into a few sentences. This woman makes me so fucking angry.

    She is, unsurprisingly, lying about Jesus Camp being filmed with “liberal bias”. In fact, at the time the film came out, she and the “stars” of the film actually praised it for how even-handedly it presented the camp. They’re heads are so far up their own Bibles that they simply could not appreciate that what they saw as perfectly normal “godly” education would horrify a vast swath of even quite religious Americans. Its only after the backlash that suddenly Fischer is seeing this “anti-Christian bias”. Becky you’re a liar, on top of being a cruel exploiter and emotional abuser of children you fundamentalist fucking yahoo.

  • Marcie

    That is about the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.  My heart goes out to any child who has been subjected to her camp, or any other like it.  I can see how easy it would be to get caught up in it even if you don’t normally go to that type of church.  It just sickens me when I see those kids crying so hard. 

    • Kmosborne35

      Once again… I’m confused about the viewpoints presented here. I guess it’s because I’ve been reading different types of message boards to get a feel for the social/religious climate right now, and I read the same comments on Christian boards as I read on boards like this, only about different things.

      For example, it sickens people here that kids attend Jesus camp and cry.

      I’ve read the same “sickened” description from Christians that see their children crying because they’re so excited over “evil” things like boy and girl bands. I see kids clapping their hands and crying over the Jonas brothers, which for non-Christans seems to seem silly, but harmless, but then if a kid claps her hands for Jesus and cries, suddenly that’s an abomination.

      To me, it seems Christians are threatened by anything non-Christian, but the same thing goes for atheists. This is an entire website devoted to calling Christians sick, and the philosophy behind it sounds no different than some of the ridiculous and scary websites I’ve read about Christian moms being offended because ABC keeps exposing their children to immoral garbage.

      Does anyone actually care about these kids or is it just a bunch of adults that are pissed off because of their own beliefs, and in reality kids are having a damn good time whether they’re dancing at Jesus camp or a Jonas brothers concert.

      • Bryan

        “I see kids clapping their hands and crying over the Jonas brothers,
        which for non-Christans seems to seem silly, but harmless, but then if a
        kid claps her hands for Jesus and cries, suddenly that’s an
        abomination.”

        The difference is that the Jonas Brothers will have very little influence on how the kids live their lives and view the world in the future.  Also, nobody is telling them that the Jonas Brothers are God’s sons and have moral authority over them.

        It’s not so much the crying people are worried about, it’s the indoctrination.

      • Anonymous

        A lot of my problem with the “Jesus Camp” excerpts here is that I don’t think many or most of the kids are clapping their hands and crying over Jesus the same way they would clap their hands and cry over the Jonas Brothers.   The Jonas Brothers clapping and crying is generally excitement – “holy crap I get to see the Jonas Brothers LIVE ohmygosh they are ON STAGE RIGHT NOW AND IT IS AWESOME!!!!”

        The clapping and crying for Jesus in the video excerpts, on the other hand, isn’t excitement because “ohmygosh IT’S JESUS!!” as much as it is confusion and/or upset driven by verbal and emotional manipulation and fear.  Especially when you get to the part where they children are being told they are “phony” and “hypocrites” for acting differently around their parents/in church than they do around their friends.  In that situation, a lot of these kids are crying because they feel like the worst scum that ever crawled out from under a rock, and it’s precisely when they’re feeling this low and precisely because they feel this low that they’re told they must swallow this camp’s particular version of Christianity in order to cut themselves even the tiniest bit of slack for (for instance) acting like kids around other kids but acting “on their best behavior” while at church – an “infraction” that is actually a totally normal human behavior.

        If my (hypothetical) child is crying and clapping in church because she thinks Jesus is just the coolest thing that ever thinged, I’m okay with that.  But if my (hypothetical) child is crying and clapping because she believes she has to, because she believes her most normal and universal human-being behaviors are sinful and joining in the cry-and-clap-fest is the only way to stop hating herself, I am totally Not Okay with that.  I’m Not Okay with anything that tells my (hypothetical) child that simply being human is horrid and shameful and that she owes someone something simply because she was born.  (I’m also Not Okay with myself for letting said kid go to that particular fest in the first place, but that’s not part of the problem that involves my child).

      • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Emily Joyce

        If a boy band were telling nine-year-olds that being gay is an unforgivable abomination, or threatened kids who didn’t like their music with eternal damnation, you’d have a more accurate parallel.

        If you’ve been to this site before, perhaps you’ve read some of the testimonials from people raised in this environment.  Many of these kids emerge convinced that they’re fundamentally flawed, deathly afraid of so much as thinking an impure thought and being sent to hell, believing demons could literally possess them at any time, or subjecting themselves to psychological torture at the hands of unaccredited “pray the gay away” institutions for being attracted to a member of the same sex.  Even Britney at her worst isn’t capable of that sort of sick manipluation.

  • Manthing

    I only watched up to the the harry potter rant, but that video was freaky. Why would any parent let their child attend that? 

    Also, as a side note on the Harry Potter thing. First off she keeps referring to him as a warlock. He’s a wizard. Also, why does it matter? She does realize he’s fictitious, right?  

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      They let their children attend that camp because they agree with Becky Fischer. If you watch the documentary, the parents are just as bad. Maybe worse, since they influence their children 365 days a year, and Fischer only gets them for a week.

    • Anonymous

      In their superstitious and magic-filled bible world, wizards and warlocks and witches can do actual magic.  Harry Potter and the bible both feature talking serpents/snakes, afterall.  If you try to point out that magic is not real, they will just shake their head at your naivete.  So no, she may realize that Harry Potter is fictitious, but the magic that the books and movies portray is very real to her and her ilk.

      • Anonymous

        I kind of love the Harry Potter argument.  My kids would totally defend Harry Potter in this instance.  ;0) 
         
        Kidding aside though, I find it so disturbing to see small children behave in this way.  It’s so clearly a taught behavior that they’d likely never simply do on their own.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VFDORE53DKB3V7NV37JLFRHSVE Colleen

    This woman, and people like her are effing evil.

  • ORAXX

    There is simply no limit to what can be justified in the name of religion.

  • Fitta

    I watched this movie when it came out. I assumed that that despicable woman went to jail for several years after she hade been revealed. Now she’s here and peddling her story for money. What a disgusting woman, may some lord stike her dead with a bolt from the blue…

  • Cara

    I’ve seen Jesus Camp (the documentary) and was a bit disturbed by it.  But I take issues with an early point that you make by quoting Richard Dawkins.  Namely that children shouldn’t be labeled (or exposed to, it seems) the religion that the family practices until they are much older.I can’t agree with that.  I taught my son to sing “Happy Birthday” while he washes his hands (gotta do it that long or hand washing isn’t effective), how to make a few of the family recipes that have been handed down for generations, to not drink cheap/shitty beer, to be kind to animals and give generously to those around you.  I’ve also brought him up in a religious household.  Neither the praying or the hand washing have damaged him and he’s a pretty happy camper as an adult.But then again, we weren’t Jesus Camp people.  

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      It’s the labeling and the indoctrination that many atheists are opposed to. Of course “Jesus Camp” takes things to the extreme. I don’t believe that a more liberal religious upbringing is emotionally damaging, but it’s still indoctrination. Parents are teaching their children to believe in supernatural things, and they’re claiming that those things are fact, not opinion. Their children would not start to believe in those things otherwise. Thus the cycle of religious belief is passed down from generation to generation.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

      Childhood religion is like measles, it hangs about inside you waiting for you to be run down and vulnerable. I wouldn’t be too quick to assume that the praying (and attendant supernatural claims) have not done him any damage.

    • Casimir

      Would you tell a 3 year old that he’s a Republican? Read him bedtime stories by Barry Goldwater, take him to weekly Republican gatherings?

      Would you force a child to say she’s an Objectivist? Scream at her if she disagrees? Threaten to throw her out of the house?

    • Anonymous

      I’m not opposed to teaching children about religion. Especially in the context of comparative religion where they learn all sorts of different belief systems. It’s when parents tell them that it’s the absolute truth, that they have to believe it (or else…) that things go wrong.

      That said, a very liberal Christian upbringing doesn’t need to be harmful and can certainly be overcome when children grow up. But it can still be annoying for them. And frankly, it’s simply unnecessary

  • http://www.facebook.com/chriswarr78 Chris Warren

    I couldn’t make it through more than a minute of the video. I actually felt the bile rise in my throat. Did anyone else tear up watching those poor children? 

    • Kellygiz

      I can make it as far as the “speaking in tongues” part and no further. 

    • Anonymous

      I lost it at the “you’re a phony and a hypocrite” bit.  I actually started yelling at the screen before I remembered YouTube has a stop button.  (“They’re KIDS!  They’re just doing the BEST THEY CAN WITH WHAT THEY HAV-  oh, right.” *click*)

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    Morgan Spurlock recently interviewed Levi O’Brien, the twelve-year-old aspiring preacher featured in the film:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OEfKQzI2-8

    No surprise there. He’s just as brainwashed now as he was back then.

    • Anonymous

      What I wonder about is the blond kid who dared to say that he has a hard time believing at all. He was clearly uncomfortable even sharing his doubts and at least in the segment it looked like they weren’t well recieved.

      I know it’s probably too much to hope that this boy, who still has doubts despite the fundamentalist upbringing, could have been able to set himself free from the madness. Still, I can’t help but root for him, and I just hope that wherever he is, he’s now free or on his way to freedom.

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        I felt so terrible for that little boy! He’s actually the one that I remember most from the film. I’m rooting for him, too. I hope he’s able to escape his fundamentalist upbringing.

    • JustSayin’

      But he did admit to watching–and liking!–the Harry Potter movies!

  • Kaylya

    “Here’s the whole book in a nutshell: The film was *clearly* the result
    of liberal, anti-Christian bias… but it totally portrayed her
    accurately, because she doesn’t deny anything we saw in the movie. In
    fact, Christians have contacted her asking how they could start their
    own Delusion Factories and she now travels worldwide teaching others how
    to be just like her.”

    I read an article by her (posted on her website I think) shortly after I initially watched Jesus Camp that said effectively the same thing. Probably this FAQ: https://kidsinministry.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=146&Itemid=138#accurate

  • http://www.facebook.com/alewis2 Adam Lewis

    The book cover mentioned Ted Baehr of “Movieguide.org” wrote the foreward.  I went there to browse a little and it is hilarious.  They review movies from a fundamentalist perspective.  The review for Religulous is especially funny as toward the end it states:  “Bill Maher has clearly become a tool of Satan.”    LOL

  • Marta

    Oh wow, they even misspelled “foreword”.

  • Kmosborne35

    I’m not “religious” or “atheist” but I do have to ask: how old should children be before being allowed to believe in Jesus? Do you think there’s an appropriate age for children to believe? Cause some children will believe in that no matter what adults teach them. I’m not sure what your message is.

    What about the children that hear about Jesus and do believe in him. Is that wrong?

    I really love your website, as I love reading the interesting views of Christians that also put a timetable on what children should be exposed to, but isn’t it the same thing for you to say that children are too young to be exposed to Jesus as it is for a Christian mother says a child is too young to be exposed to violent movies?

    Apparently everyone thinks children are being brainwashed. It’s just a matter of which group gets to be the one doing it. For me, I think kids learn what they will.

    • kaileyverse

      I don’t have a problem with talking to kids about faith, or even taking kids to places of worship, really. What disturbs me is the awful emotional and psychological manipulation occurring here.  Telling kids they are hypocrites, fakes and sinners – as well that their worldy actions have NO consequences if they “repent” and “believe” – is absolutely disgusting.

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      We’re not promoting mind control here. You speak of being “allowed” to believe in Jesus. Anyone is “allowed” to believe in Jesus, including small children, if they happen to hear about him. The point is that Jesus (or any supernatural entity) is an acquired belief, not something people are born with. The question then becomes how and why these children have come to believe in Jesus, and in this case, the children have come to believe in Jesus because their parents have not only indoctrinated them, but reinforced that indoctrination with emotional and psychological manipulation and abuse.

  • http://ateizam.org zike

    One question: Why is she legal?

  • Magicthighs

    The poor woman doesn’t even know how to spell “foreword”.

  • Irrmag

    In a way, this documentary is a great complement to Zimbardo’s prison experiment: part brainwashing, part kids simply adapting to the expectations of authority figures.

  • http://twitter.com/berlinmerlin Daniel Berlin

    Have you seen the kids today? One of them is 18 now and says he wasn’t brainwashed, that Becky Fisher changed his life and that it was a good thing.

    That’s a pretty thorough brainwashing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gashporter Graham Ash-Porter

    Why isn’t child abuse taken seriously, when it is performed by the so-called Religious? Adults are leaving the Churches by the droves, so their only weapon is now defenceless children. I am disgusted.

  • Michieux

    This woman engaged (engages?) in child abuse. In a more enlightened society she would be jailed.

  • Amy C

    I didn’t go to this particular Jesus Camp as a child, but I went to many just like it. There’s one similar to it in Oklahoma (my niece still goes to it) called Dry Gulch USA. They try to be “non-denominational” so they can attract kids from all different kinds of churches (for example, I grew up in a Methodist Church, which is traditionally not so “spirit-filled”), but once the kids get there, it’s pretty obvious they are some form of Pentecostal.

    I remember one year they had an *optional* class for kids who wanted to learn how to speak in tongues. I wanted to go to the class because I had seen adults do it and I wanted to be able to do it too, but alas it never worked and I just babbled gibberish because that’s what all the other kids were doing. I told the lady leading the class that I had been “slain in the spirit” before but I hadn’t spoken in tongues, and she told me that unless I had spoken in tongues that it wasn’t the holy spirit. This exchange is what led me to assume the camp is run by mostly Pentecostals. It kind of scared me too: if I hadn’t been filled with the holy spirit, then whose spirit was it? Had I been possessed? When I told my mom about my fears, she told me that’s what other kinds of Christians believe, but that’s not what *we* believe. She said it was the holy spirit (of course, now I know better, I felt the same emotional stirrings inside me when I went to my first rock concert).

    My church was also involved in Acquire the Fire (a mini-Jesus Camp for youth groups) and Life in the Spirit Conferences and workshops. Life in the Spirit is actually hosted by a conglomeration of churches (mostly Pentecostal/evangelical). They have a conference every few years or so, but during the year individual churches can sponsor week-end-long spirit workshops. I was introduced to speaking in tongues and being slain in the spirit at these workshops. The children/youth services at these workshops were very similar to the ones from Jesus Camp (except they weren’t as blatantly political with all the talk about abortion/gay marriage/George Bush, but I do remember one guy going on a rant about Bill Clinton and the dems).

    The Methodist Church I went to was not a traditional Methodist church by sponsoring and encouraging these programs. Looking back, the lead pastor was very evangelical, but once they replaced him with a more traditional pastor (when I was 12 or 13) the church changed a lot.

  • Anonymous

    She is correct that Harry Potter, if real, would have been killed.  Heck, for centuries, people were killed in Christian Europe just under the suspicion of practicing “witchcraft” – I’m sure the definition of witchcraft varying to suit whatever prevailing culture believed it to be.  I recall an estimate of maybe quarter million people killed from the middle ages to 1700s, and it’s people like that woman that would lead the charge.

  • Emily

    I was really terribly disgusted the first time I saw the movie Jesus Camp. I mean.. so disgusted.. that I had I keep watching it to try and figure out what in the hell was going on there. I must’ve watched it a dozen times, each time leaving me a little more nauseous than the last. I guess I must’ve watched it one time too many though, because long story short, I’m not an atheist anymore. Which I know this is kind of a ridiculous place to post this, as this is the Friendly Atheist Blog and all.. I just happened to stumble in here, and thought I’d throw my two cents in I guess. I’ve been an atheist since I was a kid. 
    So either Becky Fischer is just that good at brainwashing people, or she’s actually onto something. 
    I’m gonna go with the latter. Anyway, I’m not trying to be a troll or anything, just wanted to throw my experience out there as a former atheist turned, yknow, Jesus freak. *shrugs*


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