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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. lindylou123

    What a bunch of looney tunes! What planet do they live on? For goodness sakes, this was a meaningful piece of art that crosses racial lines with a positive message and these guys ban it?

    What would Jesus say? It is frightening how narrow minded this nation's Christians ( some of them ) have become. They are living in the last century and trying to make the rest of us live there, too. Stupid.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • suns

      If they do not want to sell it then they don't need to. If a christian wants to watch the movie there are plenty of other places to buy or rent the move from. Do these particular christians rely on this bookstore to dictate every type of media they should use? If so, they reap what they sow, blind ignorance. This is not worthy of a fight.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Baba Wahwah

      Just call them the Born Again and Again American Taliban. No difference. Their way or they will kill you!

      July 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Steve the Goat

      They are living about 7 centuries ago. You have to remember that we're too close to the beginning of a century... last century doesn't quite mean what people think it does normally.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

      4 And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

      2 Timothy 4:3-4

      Amen.

      July 20, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Who invited me?

      HS
      What does your ancient quote from ignorant men have to do with anything.
      Didn't your jesus tell you to give away your possessions...so why do you still have a computer?...oh I know, because you aren't living the faith...

      July 20, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  2. Huh?

    Who the hell buys movies from a christian bookstore anyway? Who cares?

    July 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • bob

      impotent wierdos

      July 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      "complaints from about a dozen people"

      And they made the change since that was about half of their regular customers...

      July 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Answer

      Their religious books are all emotional works.. they appeal to feelings and are fleeting. It's so comical to see them going for those fable stories and little pieces of "love" and "inspirations" time and time again because it's like watching a dope addict going for another hit.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  3. bob

    Is there anything religious people aren't afraid of ?

    Things religions fear

    1) bad words
    2) naked bodies
    3) truth
    4) science
    5) hell
    6) intelligence
    7) common sense
    8) people who dont share their views
    9) Dying

    July 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • DN3

      Hey not all Christians! =P But I know what you're saying. This is a classic case of seeing the trees and missing the forest.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Mr.T

      He didn't say Christians, he said religious people. VERY big difference.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • A

      I consider myself religious. I swear up a storm, like being naked, like truth, am a scientist, don't believe in hell, would consider myself intelligent and try to associate with others that are likewise, have as much common sense as any scientist can, and really couldn't care less what anyone else believes. As far as dying, anyone that isn't a least a little afraid of that is lying, in my opinion.

      Generalizations aren't always the way to go.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • suns

      @ A, well said.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • DN3

      Hahaha, A!

      July 19, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • derp

      Boobies, they really are afraid of boobies.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • The USA, a country on its way to medieval standards

      Bob, they are also afraid of their oh so loving god because he makes them suffer and then let's them guess why they deserved it. and when it's all over, a few 4-letter words will land you in He.LL where they can sizzle in the heat and beg to get readmitted to the club.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  4. A guy named Moses

    Another example why organized religion is the root of the world's problems.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Mr.T

      Word.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Guest

      Here's your word which applies to both of you. Moron

      July 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  5. EatThemUpYum

    I've always wondered if "Thou shalt not use the name of God in vain" means don't use his name in a greedy, solicitous unethical manner (ie big haired TV evangelicals and pastors peddling hate to galvanize their congregations). You've gotta wonder if the Big Guy upstairs really cares if some blurts out JC's name when they hit their thumb with a hammer.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • babs

      I've always taken it to mean don't swear to something that isn't true. As in "so help me God".

      July 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • john the guy not the baptist

      @Eat
      You had better stay healthy and not need the sevices of a big haired faith healer, not with your att*itued, of course if you have enough cash faith won't matter will it?

      July 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  6. Rob

    There's just no pleasing some people.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  7. RadZap

    Here's one that no one else will mention: People are sick to death of getting hammered over the head with the message of multiculturalism.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • lindylou123

      The United States is a MULTI-cultural society, might as well accept it.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • ME II

      I'm confused. The US anyway has multiple culture, so isn't it multicultural by definition? Hasn't it been that way since Lafayette helped us win independence?

      July 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  8. Answer

    Run and hide you religious freaks. Run and hide. The world is finally getting rid of you.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Hana

      Answers

      Name calling does nothing to prove your point... and I notice that you frequent articles that are religion based... if you're so anti-religion/God, perhaps you should choose different reading material.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Answer

      @Hana

      Why? You want people to be silent and just accept the joke that is religion? You fear opinions?

      I will contribute the time I have on this world to end all religions. It is my gift from "god" LOL

      July 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • graham

      Hana I agree With you. Answer if you are saying you want to get rid of all religons you are for the most part saying you want to get rid of america, america is a melting pot and its what makes up our wonderful country, you are very ignorant and do not kno what you are talking about! maybe instead of calling people names go out and get a life, A never laugh at what God can do for you...

      July 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  9. Voice of Reason

    Taking a god's name in vain? Give me a break! That's just godda*mned f*cuking stupid idiotic nonsense!

    July 19, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  10. Reality

    Strange that the Tuohy's with all their money, only adopted a bruising 300 pounder who obviously was born to play football at Old Miss, their alma mater. The Tuohy's made sure of that!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Just amazing

      Christians ban a Christian movie. Just how nuts do they have to get before they figure out the whole thing is nuts?

      July 19, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  11. You just can't please religious people

    Isn't that the movie where Sandra Bullock threatens black kids with her concealed pistol? Kind of a Zimmerman gun-toting-Christian moment.

    July 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Yup

      Christians are quite angry, aren't they? Angry about Hollywood and angry about government and angry about the private lives of others and angry about having to share holidays and angry about having science taught at schools.

      Very angry people.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • what's a brony?

      Atheists are the one's angry.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      Whats the matter bronytrolldoll?
      Get tired of posting under all your other names,you decided to try again to attack atheists?
      Your going to get a time out mister!!!!!

      July 19, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Hana

      Yeah, she threatened black guys who were threatening her son. Race shouldn't matter in this case. She did what she did to protect her family. Go mom!

      July 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • babs

      @ Yup:
      Yup.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Baba Wahwah

      Extremism on both sides is lunacy. At this rate the left AND the right are surely sending this country to hell!

      July 19, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Steve the Goat

      Baba Wahwah: I'm assuming you mean in the metaphorical sense, since there is no actual hell. Just like there is no actual heaven. Perhaps you should say down the tubes if you want to use a metaphor that at least has some ties to reality.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  12. Loren

    Jesus preached among the sinners and recognized the hypocrisy of the established church. I feel sorry for the people of Lifeway who do not recognize that while there may be strong and inappropriate language in the movie, we live in a world of sinners and if we do not recognize the inherent life-affirming beliefs set out in the movie and make it as widely available as possible, then the message delivered to us by Jesus will only be heard by those who already believe.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Who invited me?

      and frodo had to return the ring to mordor
      and Harry had to stand up to Voldemort
      I know these things are true because I read them in a book!!!

      July 19, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • HeavenSent

      who invited? You have the right to remain foolish.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • rAmen

      Gandalf is a god because Lord of the Rings says he's a god. checkmate

      July 19, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • ann

      @"Who invited me?" You have the right to believe or not believe whatever you wish, but why heckle those who have a different opinion?what purpose does that serve? It certainly isn't going to convince anyone to share your viewpoint.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Steve the Goat

      ann: Because a stupid idea, no matter how well meaning, is still stupid. And it's completely understandable to want to point out to stupid people that they are stupid. And that's what religion is, stupid.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  13. K-switch

    When the movie opened here in Alabama, people flooded the theaters just because it had a brief appearence by Coach Saban, even thought he played the coach of LSU in the movie. A bit off topic, I know.

    July 19, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  14. HeavenSent

    I pray that Sandra is walking in Jesus Christ's truth after walking through the fires with that sociopath exhusband.

    July 19, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Matt

      What is wrong with you? Are you Billy Graham in disguise? This movie had a pg-13 rating. Is it rational to really believe you can shelter children and I guess weird Christian adults from curse words? The world isn't a friendly place in many ways. Use Satan as an excuse for things that go wrong and are "evil" in life and credit God for everything that is positive and that you do well? Takes away the power of human persistance and will. Makes little sense to believe in a God that was invented 1000 years before the Bible was even written.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  15. HeavenSent

    I wish I could fist fvck Sandra Bullocks turf cutter, then ride around town and force people to smell it.

    Amen.

    July 19, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • HeavenSent

      You really are lost in darkness phony heavensent.

      July 19, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  16. Susanne Lee

    I belive the name of the book store is LifeWays? What are the Southern Baptists afraid of? This is just anothe form of censorship, which both the owner of the book store and pastor of the church have endorsed. The Blind Side represents the humanity, compassion and treaty thy neighbor they way you would want to be treated. As far as the language is concerned, it is obvious that none of you have lived of those side of the tracks....and that is really what were talking about here. This is real life, not fiction, and I applaud the families courage to stand up against racism, predjudice and the stuck up snobs who think this book or the content is a threat to those right wing so called Christians. Give me a break!!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  17. AGuest9

    Why do I read stories like this and picture Ned Flanders standing outside the store with a sign and a bull-horn?

    July 19, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  18. Tim

    Reblogged this on HD Nazarene and commented:
    LifeWay Christian Stores (now the distributor of Lillenas Publishing?) has removed The Blind Side from its shelves due to 12 complaints about language and rumblings among Baptist leaders.
    So what do you think? Is it Pharisaical! Is it caving to a few squeaky wheels who could have other motives? Or, is it the right thing to correct a wrong? How far should movies go to be "accurate" vs "sanitizing" a story to make it family-friendly? What responsibility do Christian retailers in selecting products?
    Since the moral framework of the movie is never in doubt and the sympathetic characters don't support the language, I think this may be an adventure in missing the point. What do you say? I'd love to hear your thoughts below.

    July 19, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  19. Books & Art - Spirit & Soul

    Reblogged this on Inspiration Import and commented:
    "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. Mr. Mextaxes makes sense. Blind Side is a love story full of caring and belief. A dozen people does not a majority make!

    July 19, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  20. I once was lost, but now I have a GPS

    Why not dub in a "gee willikers" for the Jesus freaks?

    July 19, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • HeavenSent

      GPS, it's not to late, you too can love and follow Jesus' truth that will stop you from believing satan's lies.

      Use that free will carefully.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Gee wilikers you atheist swine are going to burn in the lake of fire as fat drippings, for Jesus loves you.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
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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.