LYNCHBURG, Va. (BP)–A new film is coming under criticism from a Christian film and television organization because it mocks Christianity and depicts those who follow Christ as foolish and irrational.
Ted Baehr, founder of the Christian Film & Television Commission ministry, reports that the film “Saved,” which will be released May 28, purposely ridicules Christians. I have watched the movie trailer for this film and was saddened to see that the Christian characters are portrayed as virtual nitwits.
In one scene a girl argues that Jesus is “of course” a white man. Another Christian character, I have learned, comes to believe that she should not remain chaste, thinking that God has led her to have sex with a homosexual student in order to convert him. Mandy Moore and Macaulay Culkin star in the United Artists release that is being advertised as a dark teen comedy.
“Saved is a hateful, politically correct movie,” Dr. Baehr warned. “It is being heavily marketed to the community it mocks to lead Christian youth astray and make them resent their own faith.
“The one character who tries to preach the Gospel in the movie,” Dr. Baehr stated, “is actually the villain.”
Dr. Baehr, publisher of Movieguide magazine, formulated this scenario: “Imagine if this movie were set in an Orthodox Jewish school with faithful Jewish children cast as the villains and a Christian girl shows how legalistic the Jewish girls are. Or, what if it were set in an Islamic school with faithful Muslims cast as the villains and a Christian or Jewish Girl exposes how legalistic the Muslims are? The outcry in the press would be tremendous! Not to mention the righteous outcry from Jews or Muslims!”
But this is modern-day America and Hollywood frequently takes on a singular and hostile temperament in regard to Christians. It is the equivalent of reckless racial profiling that endangers people solely because of their skin color. In the same way, when Christians are habitually illustrated as hate-mongers and religious tyrants the end result can only bring about trouble for believers.
Many in the film community were up in arms about potential violence against Jews prior to the release of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of The Christ.” Those false alarms never came to be. But it is troubling that those who were concerned about potential violence as the result of one film do not have similar apprehensions regarding the anthology of movies that habitually depict Christians as cruel ogres.
Films like Saved wouldn’t be so alarming if Hollywood had a semblance of balance in its treatment of Christianity. But in today’s Hollywood, rarely are there positive depictions of Christians. I admit that there are a few crazies in the Christian community, but Hollywood chooses to falsely depict us all as Fred Phelps-types who hate homosexuals and indignantly push our beliefs on others.
Two years ago, Michael Medved, writing in USA Today and commenting on the film “Frailty” (about a man convinced that God has instructed him to murder several strangers), noted how some respected movie critics used the film to condemn what one of them termed the “intolerant fundamentalist faith.”
In the article, Mr. Medved said there was a “prevailing Hollywood bias against intense religiosity.” Several years ago, he scrutinized Hollywood’s obsession with portraying prostitutes in a positive light. The connection here is that Christians — who hold to the absolute truth of the Bible — are seen as adversaries of the situational ethics that have come to define Hollywood. Instead of addressing their own moral ambivalence, Hollywood leaders instead assault those who choose to walk with Jesus Christ.
It’s a childish tactic, but I insist that it is also very dangerous.
Don Feder, in “A Jewish Conservative Looks at Pagan America,” wrote, “Christians are the only group Hollywood can offend with impunity, the only creed it actually goes out of its way to insult. Clerics, from fundamentalist preachers to Catholic monks, are routinely represented as hypocrites, hucksters, sadists, and lechers. The tenets of Christianity are regularly held up to ridicule.”
Given the fact that The Passion of the Christ was so popular (as of May 11, it had made nearly $370 million) one would think that Hollywood would put its collective biases against Christians on hold in order to enlist more Christian moviegoers. But I fear that the hatred against Christianity has so invaded the Hollywood culture that insiders cannot see past their predispositions against us. The end result is that we can expect more movies like Saved to bitterly revile those who love the Christ of the Bible.
And they say Christians are the ones who are intolerant and divisive.
Jerry Falwell is pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., and chancellor of Liberty University.