In the comic musical Hairspray, a hypocritical, churchgoing mother becomes the caricature of narrow-mindedness. Joshua, a thriller about a bad-seed who systematically destroys his own family, depicts an over-zealous churchgoing grandmother. In I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, a scene features a bigoted minister calling one of the leads a “faggot.” Jesus Camp warns unbelievers that Evangelicals have a powerful voice in the political world, one that threatens proponents of homosexuality, abortion and other secular progressive agendas. And in Deliver Us From Evil, the Catholic church circles the wagons in order to protect a pedophile. So, okay Hollywood, you think the Christian community is populated by hypocritical, overzealous, bigoted, politically conniving pedophile-protectors. We get it, already.
The word “phobic” has crept into our vernacular, attaching itself to any perspective that seems intolerant to the lifestyles or agendas of others. And every group is now defended by watchdogs determined to retool America’s mindset. They want to make sure every group with a persuasion is portrayed justly in the movies. If the story contains a Muslim terrorist, for example, then others must be represented as good guys, thereby eliminating the conclusion that all Muslims are villainous anarchists. And you can make a joke about a gay man in a movie, so long as the overall thrust of the story is in defense of that lifestyle. Everybody is protected by the Hollywood elite against the villainy of perspective. Everybody but Christians. Is this belligerent attitude toward Christianity a sign of more unsettling things to come?'
Why does this attack on Christianity go unchallenged by most studios and most movie critics? Doesn’t it occur to them that their ignoring of the offenses comes across as, ahem, PHOBIC?
While moviemakers have always thrown spitballs at the followers of the Christian faith, intolerance of said faith has lately become the percussion of their profession. Yes, the spotlighting of wrongdoing in churches should be continued, but to portray such characters in movies without offering any positive depictions of followers of Christ is akin to stereotyping any minority group.
But the truly tragic flaw with focusing only on faulty followers of Christ in films is that the un-churched are not given an honest revelation of Christ, himself. It wasn’t always this way, but today religious figures serve little purpose in movies other than to show hypocrisy and to subtly denounce religion as an archaic myth.
“Organized religions in general, in my opinion, are dying forms. They were all very important when we didn’t know why the sun moved, why weather changed, or why volcanoes happened. Modern religion is the end trail of modern mythology. But there are people who interpret the Bible literally. Literally! I choose not to believe that’s the way” (Bruce Willis quoted in SERVANT magazine, Spring 2002, from an interview in GEORGE magazine.)
Since there is now a swing in cultural behavior, is it inconceivable that the faith of our fathers would have to undergo the phobic attacks of those either ignorant of Bible teaching or those simply determined to besmirch biblical principles? After all, it’s not as if the world hasn’t seen such persecution before. The cause of blame once aimed at Jews in Germany is now being retooled and uttered with vehemence at those bearing the name Believers.
So what’s the answer? How do we followers of Christ cling on to the America that was? How do we defend ourselves against the erosion of our liberties? Well, if those are the foremost questions, then we’ve already lost. While we have an obligation to protect our religious rights, because others fought and died for them, we must remember that this is not our home. This is not our final destination. We have a more important obligation, that of relaying the true nature of our Savior to those whose only understanding of Him is from what they see in the movies.
Hell for many is so unfathomable they can only snicker at its conception. But what if the agnostic is wrong and he spends eternity where hope and God cannot be found? Would that be an I-told-you-so moment for us? If we feel that way, we really need to pay more attention to the commands Christ said were most important, “…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment great than these,” (Mark 12:30).
Hollywood isn’t going to portray the need for Christ. Are we? Speak up for your beliefs. Demand that God be reverenced. Proclaim Christ’s authority. But do so with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and with a touch of our Heavenly Father’s unfathomable love. “…But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15).