Hollywood vs. The Bible

Hollywood vs. The Bible

By Kevin Payne

Since at least the 1970's, Hollywood’s treatment of Christians has been only slightly more benevolent than al-Qaeda’s attitude toward Jews. Gone are the kindly Barry Fitzgerald priest, the wise rabbi and the steadfast minister. In their place is a rogue’s gallery of lusting priests, sadistic nuns, perverted pastors and con-men TV evangelists, not to mention ordinary Christians (Catholic or evangelical) who are depicted as superstitious nitwits, malevolent hypocrites, or both. 

To be fair, Hollywood has and still does, release biblical-themed films. The Ten Commandments, the 1956 version starring Charlton Heston as Moses and Mel Gibson’s 2004, The Passion of the Christ. For many average Christians, it is not so much the of the number of biblically based films that Hollywood releases each year as it is the historical accuracy of the films that concerns most Christian adults.

Results from a recent poll suggest that while nearly 50 percent of American Christians favorably view Hollywood, more than 40 percent believe that the major studios do not accurately represent their faith on screen.

According to respondents from a Christian News Service/Nicaea Movie poll conducted by American Insights, 49 percent of Christians view Hollywood in a positive light, while 32 percent feel that Hollywood is decidedly anti-Christian.

"People would like to be optimistic, but they have been disappointed many times over the years," Russ Jones, president of Christian News Service, told Variety.

In a similar poll by American Insights poll, 37 percent of Christians stated that they believed Hollywood accurately portrayed the Bible, while 42 percent disagreed. And a majority of Christians (79 percent) said that staying close to the Bible's interpretation was a large factor in deciding whether or not to see a particular movie.

The American Insights poll surveyed 1,200 American adults, 63 percent of them who identified as Christian, between May 1 and May 8. The margin of error for their study was plus or minus 2.8 percent.

The study was done as part of a larger campaign for the movie "Nicaea," which will tell the story of Constantine the Great and the Council of Nicaea. The film, which was supposed to be released in late 2016, has yet to give a new official release date.

"The biggest lesson we saw was that historical and biblical accuracy is really important to Christians," Jones said. "That should give folks a stern warning that it's crucial to use historical data, historical facts, and biblical themes as accurately as possible."

In April, Brett McCracken, film critic and author of Gray Matters, questioned what exactly the majority surveyed meant when they indicated they wanted a movie that followed the specifics of the Bible.

"Does that mean that we expect the film to not have anything above and beyond the actual words in the story?" McCracken told The Christian Post. "If that's the case, in the case of 'Noah,' there would be no words spoken by Noah in the movie, because he doesn't actually speak in the biblical story, except for one verse in the end when he gives the curse story of Canaan after Ham sees him naked and drunk."

What should Christians take away from these surveys?

The movie industry rarely portrays historical events with perfect accuracy. They add dialogue and action scenes to make the film more marketable. It is all about money and ratings. It always has been. If you want to be entertained, go see Hollywood’s version of biblical events. If you want historical accuracy, read your Bible.

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