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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. crabman

    12 people got this banned --- what a bunch of jelly fish

    July 20, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  2. Argle Bargle

    Wow. Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire...!

    July 19, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • gatornuts

      Not sure how this was a Christian movie... Not sure why this is news right now, of all times.

      July 20, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  3. Argle Bargle

    Sorry, but the "Southern Baptist Convention" is NOT a Christian organization. While there are many who attend churches belonging to that organization who are sincere and truly follow a good path, but the organization itself is more interested in power and wealth than in being Christlike.

    July 19, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Angus McNuggets

      AND THEY'RE NOT REALLY SCOTSMEN EITHER!!!

      July 20, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  4. Alex

    Well...Sandra Bullock is not a true christian person and she does not have the right understanding about God too...

    July 19, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Argle Bargle

      @Alex – LMAO!!! Oh, right. You know who is and who isn't a Christian, don't you? I'll bet your sh!t doesn't stink, either.

      Matthew 7:3-5

      July 19, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Mitchell Moore

      And, you know this because...?

      July 19, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  5. *frank*

    a christian bookstore is like a deli that sells nothing but spam and cheez-whiz.

    July 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  6. mars

    This is exactly why I sick my dogs on these religious fanatics when they try to come and spread their "B.S" to my house.Always trying to tell someone what they should or should not do,what they should or should not say,see or say.This is exactly why Hollywood lambasts these fruit loops ever chance they get,, see the film "PAUL" about the little alien guy.They made some true observations.If these people are offended by a word or deed...really simple,don't watch the movie and don't even try to tell someone else their business.

    July 19, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  7. Reality

    As previously noted:

    Said book/movei is so heavily embellished and fictionalized that it should have been banned for those reasons alone but doing that said bookstore would have to stop selling the bible.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    July 19, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Thanks for not wasting my time, Reality. Appreciated.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  8. sybaris

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

    Anyone read the christian bible? Anyone?

    Some swearing are grounds for censorship but the multiple examples of senseless carnage in the bible are just dandy!

    Belief in any god is a filthy perverted disease of the mind

    July 19, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Anonymous

      @sybaris You are so right. Belief in any god is a filthy perverted disease of the mind, but the belief in the one true God – the Creator of all is the only way to avoid hell. You need to brush up on the Bible; it prevents truth decay. God loves you even if you don't believe in Him. John 3:16 read it and believe in it. It will save your lost soul.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • shame on you

      @ Anonymous

      "@sybaris You are so right. Belief in any god is a filthy perverted disease of the mind, but the belief in the one true God – the Creator of all is the only way to avoid hell. You need to brush up on the Bible; it prevents truth decay. God loves you even if you don't believe in Him. John 3:16 read it and believe in it. It will save your lost soul."

      You are a hypocrite and you certainly are no Christian. Maybe you should brush up on the Bible before telling others to do so. The fact is, if you follow the teachings of the Bible simply to avoid Hell, then you are not a good person by any stretch of the imagination. You are not following those principles because you feel they are good or right. You are following them to gain something for yourself. Shame on you and every other "Christian" that shares your beliefs.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  9. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    July 19, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      July 19, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  10. K-switch

    I wonder if the carry "The Passion".

    July 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • sybaris

      Well that would be OK. Graphic violence is key to christian theology but naughty words are intolerable.

      July 19, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Mitchell Moore

      "The Passion Of The Christ" was the most violent movie I'd ever seen... But we don't want to hear any profanity, racial slurs or taking the Lord's name in vain. But, beating a man to death for two hours... Priceless!

      July 19, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  11. Dr Tom

    If they just want to sell DVD's that portray life as they think it should be, then they're making the right move. If they want to allow any hint of realism, then they're crazy for banning this.

    July 19, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  12. Jim

    Wow..I think it's a little extreme to pull the book for a couple words that are said each and every day. Does this guy really think none of his kids hear this crap daily. I thought the flic was good compared to what out there.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  13. Carol

    Yeah, show films with wholesome Christian role models – like George "It was God's Plan" Zimmerman.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  14. Mark

    Just another example of the expansion of Christian Sharia law in America.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  15. David

    Christians just love to ban things, don't they? It's hard not to side with them on this one, though - "Blind Side" is an awful flick, and nobody should be subjected to Bullock's "acting."

    July 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  16. glenn

    Jeez.................

    July 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  17. Guest

    This is not a great loss for anyone. This movie was just someone's politically correct project and not worth watching. I did only in the hope that it would get better, but it didn't. What dribble it was.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Bob

      "drivel" is the word you were looking for...

      July 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  18. Steve

    I noticed they waited 2 years after it was released to pull it. Guess they already made their profit from it and its just not selling well anymore. I fully support their right to do this. My question has to be why did they wait so long...oh yea, The almighty dollar!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Lanfear

      lol totally. Now that everyone has seen it and nobody talks about it... how convenient.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  19. Joel

    Repeating great quote from Ghandi :

    "I like your Christ. I do not like christians. Christians are so unlike your Christ".

    When I criticize christians, this is exactly the sentiment I have, as do many others.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • pervert alert

      would that be the same gandi who was known to drink his own urine?

      July 19, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  20. Barnboy

    Art can't hurt you.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:39 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.