After fighting as an Israeli soldier in the 1973 war, and troubled by the nation's obsessive mixing of the Bible with politics, the filmmaker left for America, which he considered a "safe haven" because of its separation between church and state. Thirty-five years later, alarmed by the prominent role of religion in the 2008 American presidential campaign, he decides to make a road trip, to try and understand the phenomenon.
Rather than follow the candidates, however, Ziv decides to meet with religious activists supporting the Democratic and Republican candidates. From the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries to Super Tuesday in Oklahoma, JESUS POLITICS shows the efforts of Baptist activists for Obama, Catholics and evangelicals for McCain, Christian conservatives for Huckabee, as well as the political efforts of evangelical organizations such as Christians United for Israel.
Through archival footage and discussions with author and theology historian Randall Balmer (God in the White House) and Moral Majority cofounder Paul Weyrich, the film also provides a historical overview of religion in American politics, from the Great Awakening religious revivals in the 18th and 19th centuries, through 1960 when JFK asked voters to disregard his Catholic faith, through the rise of Jimmy Carter in 1976 as a "born again" politician, and the more recent rise of the Religious New Right, and its political activism around the issues of abortion and homosexuality.
JESUS POLITICS explores themes including the social role of the church in the African-American community, the religious rhetoric of the candidates and their sometimes controversial associations with religious leaders, how moral issues such as abortion became political weapons, and how biblical interpretation is used to validate political beliefs.
Filmed across 4000 miles and seventeen states, in JESUS POLITICS Ziv weaves an historically informed but thoroughly contemporary cinematic essay, a probing look at how deeply religious faith shapes 21st cenury American politics.
★★★ “An interesting look at the intersection between ‘the Bible and the ballot,’ this is recommended.” —Video Librarian
"Exceptionally insightful ... sure to be an important film ... It offers the viewer a very fine opportunity to step back from their own point of view to see life in the States through other's eyes. Yes, if you have a chance to see this film, you should. You must." — Dr. Jim West, Bible and Theology
"Best Documentary... His conclusions are as sobering as they are surprising, finding both the Republicans and Democrats equally guilty of exploiting Godly fervour." — The Scotsman
"Ziv's exploration into America's dangerous blending of politics and the religious right is enlightening, if more than a little worrying... there are indubitably some alarming trends emerging in a country that some are now labeling a Theocracy." — Time Out London
"A fascinating documentary... a skeptical but admirably balanced explanation and contextualization of the role religion has come to play in American life." — Toronto Globe and Mail
"One could expect caricatures (there are indeed some pretty frightening fundamentalists in the film) but we are actually faced with believers from different churches, Democrats as well as Republicans, who tell about their sincere political engagement and its bond with their faith." — Le Pelerin (Catholic weekly)
"I can't quite work out what's scarier: American politicians co-opting religion and adopting faith positions for political gain, or them actually believing what they're saying... believers on both sides are heard, and a terrifying picture is drawn in great detail of the power faith, however twisted, has in U.S. politics." — The Guardian
"An eye-opening documentary." — The London Times
"A fascinating delve into the relationship between Church and State" — The Herald