Plot: A documentary about an Evangelical youth camp that may do more harm than good.
Review: As you know or should know by now, I am religious. I think that’s what makes these documentaries so interesting because from the inside looking out I can see how easy and quickly it is for religions to take advantage of people looking for answers and as someone religious I think these type of things should be exposed.
Kidnapped for Christ is one of those documentaries. It’s about those camps where parents can send “disobedient” kids, usually meaning gay, to out of the country camps to try and “straighten” out so to speak. We see how these camps regulate outside the basic guidelines of camps or schools and can keep these kids for over a year even if they turn 18. We also see how they use psychological (and hear about physical) abuse that they use to teach against the kids. It’s a bit like the movie Seven in where the kids are forced to follow the laws of god but only under threat of more abuse. One of the kids literally says “I will do whatever I have to to get home,” so I’m not sure what kind of lesson they are teaching the kids. You follow the rules or you’ll never go home. The rules being anything from cleaning up the dishes, to not trying to contact the outside world and you quickly learn that it’s not so much about finding a way to help troubled kids and more about “getting results.” It’s a chilling look at how religion can blind you to something that is right in front of your face.
I will say I had two very big problems against the film. The first is that about halfway the film starts to become a commercial for an organization to stop these type of camps. While I think that this organization is important, it just kind of sits there without any natural progression. Which makes it seem odd against the theme of the film. Don’t just trust faceless organizations with very little guidelines that takes advantage of kids, except for this faceless organization with no guidelines and also look at all these kids we have for spokesmen! Maybe if it fit naturally into the story it wouldn’t feel this way but suddenly it’s five years later and we are at a meeting for no reason.
The other problem is the director. At the beginning, the director tells us she is also religious and wanted the film to show how much these camps help. She’s quickly convinced otherwise and learns that these camps in the middle of a foreign country with no rules and no contact to the outside world may not be paradise! What?!? Listen like I said I’m religious but unlike the movie I am Catholic. So the put this in perspective, it would be like if I made a documentary to prove that priests don’t rape kids and then find out SOME DO! What!?! Not only does it ring false but it seems fake to me. Listen I give most priests the benefit of the doubt as I truly believe that most of them are very good people. That doesn’t mean that I have never heard of the criticism or accusations. It follows the stereotype that religious people are super naive that I just don’t buy into. I mean she even seems to quickly turn against the church which doesn’t fit the thread that she had never seen or even heard this before. It rings false. I mean maybe this was the first time she ever saw this or maybe she heard stuff but she finally had to believe when it was right in her face but I just don’t buy it. You can be religious and rational. It’s not one or the other.
Other than that, I think the documentary is worth seeing. It shines a light on one of the worst aspects of the religious community, the feeding on trust.
Trivia: Showing on Showtime now!