Alpine Summit

Monday, July 11, 2005

God's Servants

This will probably touch a nerve with some people who read this, but I feel compelled to communicate my thoughts on this. A movie is coming out called "Heart of the Beholder" about an extremist Christian group strong-arming/threatening the owners of a video rental store. Apparently the movie is based on a true story. I don't know for sure, but I think it is. Also, my comments on these people are by no means sweeping remarks towards all Christians. As I don't think all Muslims are terrorists, I don't believe all Christians are completely insane. I'm also going to comment on the movie and the forces behind it as I have an issue with them. I also want it clear that I haven't seen the movie, but would really like to because I have been wrong about such things in the past.

First off I'm going to start with the people making this film, specifically, how they've marketed it. Under their "Making the Movie" link, they talk about how this isn't meant to trash on Christianity or Christians specifically:

In most cases, the project was just too controversial because it deals with the fanaticism of the religious right. This film does focus on radical members of the Christian faith. However, this film is not about trashing Christians or their faith, and many scenes make that point very clear. Pure and simple, this film is about the abuse of power - both religious and political.

Fair enough. There are several instances where Christians have gone overboard with their faith and perhaps tried forcing Christian morals on others (wrong) instead of leading people to said morals (right). More on that later. My issue, though, comes from how they refer to these extremists as "the religious right" which is a term used by liberals to describe pretty much any conservative with whom liberals don't agree. They tie that in with Christian fundies bent, dare I say *hell-bent* on cramming the Bible down people's throat. They do it very subtly on the website, but you can read about it yourself. There's also this quote in their "Buy DVD or VHS" section from someone at the Sundance film festival:

"BEHOLDER was not what I expected and better than most films I've seen at Sundance. But you have no big celebrity championing your movie and distributors want to see "movie stars" in your cast - not TV stars, even though they did a great job. Your biggest problem is the conservative climate that has taken over the country. No distributor has the balls to take a chance on a controversial movie at this time. You have to prove there is a market for your movie. Be the first indie movie to sell 100,000 DVDs on your own and distributors will be calling you." (emphasis added)

They quoted this person to let us know their goal was 100,000 Video/DVD sales, yet instead of just saying "our goal is to sell 100,000 DVDs in order to entice a distributor," they say "because those eevil kkkapitalis konservatives hate enlightened films, we're having a hard time getting someone to distribute it. Yet more evidence this film probably hates on Christianity rather than telling a story.

Also, they readily advertise the fact that they have been talking up the movie on Air America Radio- the new liberal radio network that has been failing miserably since its inception. Air America is made up by the likes of Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, and others known to be hostile and condescending towards Conservatives, American values, and evangelical Christianity. It gives me even more of an impression that this movie will be a wash piece for liberals to denegrate the entire Christian faith instead of recognizing- as they are fond of pointing out about Muslims- that these people are a minority and that they do not represent the Christian faith as a whole.

I also take a minor issue that they would use, for a story meant to illustrate the abuse of religious authority (among other things), would use a Christian example when Muslim examples are much more readily available. I'm not so upset about using a Christian example as it is, but it just strikes me as odd that they would use Christianity instead of Islam. Another subtle ploy, in my opinion, to create ill will towards Christianity.

As for the Christians portrayed in the movie, I have an issue with their religious dogma. From the preview, I gathered that they believe it's their duty to destroy that which is offensive to God. This would be an arrogant stance for a Christian to take. The Bible says that revenge is God's and that you are to love your enemy:

"Do not take revent, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay; [Deut 32:35] says the Lord."

Romans 12:19

So, it is NOT a person's duty to destroy what they think is bad in God's eyes, but to be loving and compassionate to such people (as well as everyone) and to try to show them the errors in their ways. But it is not their duty to take God's matters into their own hands. Our only devine commandment we need to worry about doing is spreading God's word- teaching others of Christ's love. The punishment department is left to God.

Another scene described on the website talks about a man making a death threat on these people's child:
They harassed the Howards and their employees, vandalizing stores and cars. The situation worsened when the couple received death threats to their little daughter saying she would be "... sent back to God to be reborn to parents who worship the Lord."

There are a few things wrong with this thinking. First off, vandalism of a person's property because you don't like what they're doing is not taught in the Bible (nor is it "protected speech" under the first amendment). I'm sure the fundies would point to Jesus turning over the tables in the Temple as evidence that they must do the same, but Jesus' reaction was specifically to religious leaders profiting on people's faith instead of allowing all the worship. He wasn't doing it because it was "an evil thing being done" he did it because it took away from God's glory and made God more accessible to the rich- which is contrary to God's view that we are all equal though we may be differently abled (1 Cor 12: 7-13).

As for the " be reborn to parents who worship the Lord" comment, it is an example of absolute zealotry and borderline (if not utter) insanity. According to the Bible, there are only two births- where we get the term "born again" (John 3:2-4). Everyone is born at least once- in the flesh. The second birth is through water and the spirit some refer to this as "getting saved". In no place does the Bible talk about reincarnation- which is what I would assume this person's thinking would be.

Also, the bible talks about being zealous about such things:

"It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you."

Gal 4:18

This was a letter of admonition written by Paul to people who had strayed from the church (that is, Christianity- not the Catholic church). As he mentions, being zealous is a good thing, but only when the purpose is a good one. I would argue that vandalizing people's property and making death threats is not a good purpose. But then, I may be posessed by the devil... who knows. As far as the Bible is concerned, as far as I know, the Bible does not advocate any type of violent action done in God's name (that isn't negated by the New Testament).