The Christian Conspiracy Against… a Christian Movie

(I borrowed the gist of that headline from Christianity Today’s article on this subject. Read it here.)

So I’ve written about the coming evangelical split here at Reflected Riddles before. There is a growing schism in the evangelical church between what some are calling the Reformed Conservatives and the Progressive Evangelicals — or, not to put too fine a point on it, the fundamentalists and the flaming liberals. (Aren’t stereotyping and labels so much fun?)

As I wrote in that article, I find myself torn between the two camps, spiritually homeless. I don’t know where I fit in anymore in this crazy world of faith and organized religion. What I do know is that I wish there was a little more focus on God’s love and his Kingdom instead of so much focus on style and doctrine. (Oops — I guess that pushes me over to the side of the progressives…)

Of course, it’s easy to live your day-to-day life completely unaware of the trouble that is brewing in modern Christianity. But every once in awhile something pops onto your radar that reminds you of the whole ugly mess. That happened to me at the end of last week when I read the article on Christianity Today’s website entitled, “A Christian Conspiracy Against Blue Like Jazz?”

Before we go any further, I should probably note that I loved the book Blue Like Jazz. It’s easily top 5 material for me and one of the most incredible books I’ve ever read — so I’m a little biased when approaching the subject. But here’s the gist of what’s happening: other Christian movie producers have issued a call to one another to never allow anyone who worked on Blue Like Jazz to work with them on other movies.

Even as I type that, I am still dumbfounded.

Seriously.

The declaration finds its roots at Sherwood Baptist Church and their executive pastor Jim McBride — the group that is responsible for recent Christian movies such as Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and most recently, Courageous. Apparently, working on a Donald Miller film is cause enough for them to excommunicate other Christians from their profession.

And it goes even further than that — Kris Fuhr, a Vice President at Provident Films (the distribution group that brings Sherwood Baptist’s movies to theaters), has written a letter to movie theater managers across the country. The letter asked that the managers not show trailers for Blue Like Jazz before any Provident Films movies (and specifically not before their current film out in theaters, October Baby).

What in the world is going on here?

Aside from the ridiculousness of expending energy to fight against films like Blue Like Jazz (which might just be the best thing to ever happen to the “Christian” film industry), can you imagine the reaction of the movie theater managers to a letter like this?

“There go those crazy Christians, fighting with one another again.”

If Blue Like Jazz isn’t even pure enough for McBride, Sherwood Baptist, and Provident Films, what does that communicate to the rest of the unwashed masses of humanity?

How in the world did we get to the point where we are boycotting our own movies? And how in the world is this sending a message of love, hope, and restoration to the world?

When you boil it all down, it seems to me what you’re left with is this uncomfortable truth: actions like these are the inescapable end result of a Christian culture where doctrine is more important than people.

Something’s got to give, or we’re going to keep embarrassing ourselves like this in the midst of a world crying out for the good news of the Kingdom of God.