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At the Movies

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Following weeks of controversy about not only its content but its filming and production, Ben Stein's documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed finished its opening weekend in April in the Top Ten among all movies that weekend.

The ninety-minute movie (PG, thematic elements, very brief language) explores the ongoing academic, legal, and cultural battle between supporters of Darwinian evolution and Intelligent Design, which is the belief that certain aspects of the world are so complex that they are best explained as having been created by an intelligent being, instead of by a random process. Stein talks to people on both sides of the debate, and in a climactic scene, interviews noted atheist and evolutionist Richard Dawkins.

The movie's premise is simple: Supporters of Intelligent Design are being "expelled" — fired, shunned, or ridiculed (or all three) — from institutions for their beliefs. Stein's famous dry humor is on display throughout the film.

Pro-family leaders, including Focus on the Family's James Dobson and the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's Richard Land, have given the film thumbs up.

"Expelled is a wonderful movie," Land said on the April 17 broadcast of For Faith and Family in which he interviewed Stein. "I think it should be required viewing for anyone who wants to understand what is going on and what is at stake in the debate over worldviews in this society."

Land encouraged Christians to tell their friends about it.

"This is one of these times when you can vote with your pocketbook. You can vote with your economic franchise, and Hollywood will listen when they see the dollar signs," he said.



The two brothers who directed Facing the Giants now are preparing for another cinematic release — Fireproof, starring Kirk Cameron — about saving a failing marriage.

Stephen Kendrick, co-writer and director for the newest movie from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, along with his brother Alex, wrapped up five weeks of filming their latest Christian drama in December.

Earlier releases Flywheel, The Movie in 2003 and Facing the Giants in 2006 received strong reviews and calls for another installment in the feel-good, faith-based, family values vein. Facing the Giants drew $10 million in box office receipts and remains a best-selling DVD.

Fireproof is scheduled to hit theaters in August; like Facing the Giants, it will be distributed through Provident Films, a subsidiary of Sony Pictures.

The storyline focuses on a young couple, Caleb and Catherine Holt, whose seven-year marriage is on the rocks. Caleb is played by Cameron; Erin Bethea, a member of Sherwood Baptist and a graduate of the Baptist-affiliated University of Mobile in Alabama, plays Catherine.

Caleb's father tries to persuade his firefighter son to delay divorce for forty days while secretly going through a process he calls the "love dare." Although reluctant and skeptical of his parents' newfound faith, Caleb agrees and embarks on a spiritual journey that redefines what love means to him.

As he takes the day-by-day dare with suggestions of how to unconditionally love his wife, he eventually comes to realize that he doesn't know the Giver of love. As he slowly becomes changed from within, he seeks to win back the heart of his wife who is suspicious of his motives.

The movie does not sugarcoat the real-world conflict between couples who have drifted apart and then begin the struggle to rebuild trust. Shunning sentimental clichés and sermonizing, Fireproof seeks to show that true faith, when placed in a crucible, will triumph.

There will be a special screening of Fireproof on Sunday afternoon, June 8, prior to the Pastors' Conference in Indianapolis, and on Wednesday afternoon of the Convention.

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