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'The Blind Side' too hot for Christian bookstore
Sandra Bullock arrives at the premier of "The Blind Side." The film was recently pulled from Christian bookstores.
July 19th, 2012
07:23 AM ET

'The Blind Side' too hot for Christian bookstore

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - "The Blind Side" was a heartwarming movie about a real-life Christian family who adopted a troubled teen with a knack for football, helped him get into college, and eventually all the way to the NFL. It was nominated for a best picture Oscar, won Sandra Bullock the best actress Oscar, and it won over Christian audiences who for decades have said they were slighted and misrepresented by Hollywood. But all that was not enough to keep the movie on the shelves one of the country's largest Christian bookstores.

LifeWay Christian Resources, a division of the Southern Baptist Convention, had been selling the DVD at its 165 stores for two years with a sticker warning its patrons of strong language. There were rumblings about a resolution last month at the denomination's annual conference, and complaints from about a dozen people prompted LifeWay to remove the film from its shelves and online store.

At issue was the film's use of profanity, a racial slur and taking the Lord's name in vain.

That decision sparked outrage among some prominent evangelicals Christians who said pulling the movie over foul language was "legalistic" and "Pharisaical."

"What we have here is a clear case of straining out a gnat to swallow a camel. The blind leading the blind," best-selling author Eric Metaxas said to CNN using language Jesus charged against religious hypocrites in the Bible. Metaxas has been leading the charge against the film's removal.

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"We agree the movie as a whole promotes Christian values and a redemptive message; however, it does contain instances of street language and racial slurs against African-Americans," Marty King, LifeWay's communications director, said in a statement to CNN.

"LifeWay decided last month to stop carrying it because of the likelihood it would be the focus of debate and division at our annual denominational meeting. We were electing the Southern Baptist Convention’s first African-American president, and did not want to distract from that historic moment."

In June, the SBC, which had at one time advocated for slavery, elected Rev. Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Street Baptist Church in New Orleans.

In the lead up to the convention, Florida pastor Rodney Baker submitted a resolution titled "Maintaining Appropriate Content in Products Distributed by LifeWay Christian Bookstores" for consideration expressing that the convention "expresses dissatisfaction with 'The Blind Side' and any product that contains explicit profanity, God’s name in vain, and racial slur."

“I love the movie, the theme of the movie as far as adoption and deliverance of a young man,” Baker told CNN. “In terms of the theme, I’m with it 100%. What happened was Hollywood got a hold of it.”

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Baker, who pastors the 2,000-plus member Hopeful Baptist Church in Lake City, Florida, and who has nine children, bought the film at another Christian bookstore in 2010. “When I started watching it and heard the Lord’s name in vain, it I thought, ‘I hope LifeWay isn’t selling this.' ”

Baker said he first submitted the resolution to his state Baptist conference in 2010. He never asked for the film to be removed and doesn't think it should be removed from other stores. His concern, he said, was an SBC-affiliated bookstore carrying a film with language that the convention teaches is inappropriate.

“These people are not idiots, and they’re not making bad points," Metaxas said. "The idea that cursing in a movie is unnecessary or bad is a sensible sentiment 99.9 percent of the time.”

"When Hollywood does that incredible rare thing and portrays people of faith in a positive light, it’s such a rare thing, we have to be grateful," he said and not push to have the film removed from stores.

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John Stonestreet, a Christian speaker writing for Breakpoint.com, said the controversy highlighted a popular point about Christian art in some evangelical circles. "We’ve created for ourselves a kind of 'artistic ghetto,' and are willing to preserve it even at the cost of quality."

“There’s this kind of complex dance that we do as people of faith in this world and sometimes it means accepting something that’s not perfect," Metaxas said, “I think the reason this rankles, not just for me but for so many people, it reminds them of Pharisaical thinking, it's legalistic. I would say it’s misunderstanding the holiness of God.”

Baker said he was caught off guard by the push back against his resolution by other Christians.

“We have Christians who are upset with other Christians who are upholding a standard, that by the way doesn’t change,” Baker said.

“I am a small-town pastor who was lead by God to write this resolution,” he said.

Baker said the heart of the resolution is not a point on which he is willing to compromise.

“It’s not compromising. It’s called strategy and wisdom,” Metaxas said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Movies

soundoff (475 Responses)
  1. PaulBel

    OMG! Profanity??? Using the "lord's" name in vain??? Racial slurs????

    Welcome to the real world. NOTHING is ever achieved by hiding your head in the sand (or other dark, moist locations).
    Its a sad fact of life that these things exist, but it is a fact of life. The question that needs to be asked is, do you promote censorship because something does not agree with your world-view?

    Besides, this really is a tempest in a teapot. People are not so stupid that they can't find their way to the nearest WalMart or 7-eleven and pick up the movie. It just makes the SBC sound as dumb as they really are.

    Oh, and by the way, I love the line "....Christians who are upholding a standard, that by the way doesn't change."

    If that was the case, we'd still be having the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, and let's not forget that all time favorite, advocating for slavery.

    August 17, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  2. 2breastandasideof thigh

    Man there are alot of women who are going to be answering to that dude for screaming his name ... I'd say I pity them but if He actually does see and hear everything, I'm sure he will understand...I've read the bible many times , I keep a copy in the bathroom , it comes in handy anytime I eat at Juans roadside mexican cart, and i think I am about to die .

    August 3, 2012 at 5:04 am |
  3. mark

    Iam the lord and I am not vain .So all the religious zealots can you know what to my a–

    August 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  4. Daniel

    Christians have a bookstore? Do you need a whole store to sell one book? Christians are idiots.....the bible, the koran, and the whole Jewish thing are dead fantasies....we will NEVER have hope believing in antiquated stories...or should i say manipulative lies....

    Although..they do have the greatest story ever sold....

    August 1, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Jks

      Let's see if you still believe what you wrote within 1 minute AFTER your heart stops beating.

      August 4, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Rick

      Really? They can read? Why would they need a store for one book? The Buy-Bull.

      August 12, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Rick

      Just a bunch of used car salesmen.

      August 12, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Silly Jks. When people die, they don't think anything. They just stop existing.

      August 12, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • matt

      JKS, feel free to dig my body up and ask me what I'm thinking a month after my heart stops beating... the answer you get will be the truth... since I'm dead and all "......................................." Idiot

      August 16, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
  5. Dan

    “I am a small-town pastor who was lead by God to write this resolution,” he said.

    It's a shame his god didn't look up from text messaging this one man to lead the shooter in Colorado away from those kids last week.

    July 31, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Rick

      Amen!

      August 12, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  6. Ron

    "We have Christians who are upset with other Christians who are upholding a standard, that by the way doesn't change."

    Some standards are found to be wrong and so, they do change. Thank God the support of slavery standard was changed.

    July 29, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  7. Sadtimes7734

    God gave us free will. The SBC takes it away. I do not like others deciding what is good or bad for me. God has done a great job doing that for me. My faith is in God not man.

    July 29, 2012 at 7:53 am |
  8. Robert

    "LifeWay decided last month to stop carrying it because of the likelihood it would be the focus of debate"

    We all know how muchh religion hate to debate, god forbid that anyone pause a moment to think about anything.

    July 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.