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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. Nikolaus Baare

    these "christians" crack me up more and more every day! profanity and nudity are absolutely taboo, but they advocate some pretty horrific violence through their stance on firearms.

    who woulda thunk it?

    July 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  2. Brandt Ziegler

    Is watching a movie with swearing wrong? Good question. One question that doesn't need answered is this: Sandra Bullock is a beautiful and classy woman. I have a huge crush.

    July 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  3. BD

    I imagine the bible thumper's in thread can probably answer a question for me:

    In Revalations, does the censorship of good and honorable messages occur before or after the seas boiling and it raining blood?

    July 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  4. Kimberly McPherson

    Reblogged this on Kimberly McPherson's Blog and commented:
    (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.....
    "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.

    I personally love this movie. I like that it actually portrays Christians in a positive light for once. I think it is sad that it is being pulled from the shelves of Christian book stores because of a racial slur. I do happen to agree that using the Lord's name in vain is unnecessary and could have been left out of the movie. I do see where the people of the Christian book store would be offended at such a thing, however this is a Hollywood movie and us Christians have to take our positive light where we can get it.
    I don't condone taking the Lord's name in vain and If you were my friend saying it I would tell you to think about who and what you are talking about before spouting off such a thing. If I didn't know you I would turn the other way and not want to get to know you. I wouldn't say hey that's offensive (unless I was PMSsing) although, now that I think about it, maybe I should. Because, after all it is offensive. This topic is a tough one because like I said, we need to take our props where we can get it. Maybe they should just bleep out the parts that aren't representing Christians in the proper light. Now, there's a way to keep everyone happy. I think!
    What are your thoughts about this? I would like to hear what you have to say!
    Much love,
    Kimmy
    http://www.withoutalabel.me

    July 25, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  5. paris

    soul surfer was the perfect film ..........."carry the cross over".....

    July 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  6. Rob

    THERE WILL BE NO LOUD MUSIC AND DANCE IS FORBIDDEN!!!!!!!!!!! IT IS THE DEVIL

    July 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  7. elvinmerij

    Just when the movie was able to start to show that most Christians are actually normal ...

    ... LifeWay Christian Resources comes along to prove, once again, that no, they're not.

    July 23, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  8. NVTS

    That's nvts. N-V-T-S Nvts!

    July 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  9. Keith

    There are two types of Christian Values, the one that is portayed for marketing purposes and the one that is practiced by the majority of "Christians". The term "practice what you preach" comes to mind.

    July 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  10. dougmeeks

    Nothing like a little bias to whip up a crowd "the SBC, which had at one time advocated for slavery" and when was this exactly? Maybe over 100 years ago? What a crappy piece of journalism. I guess the facts of this case were not enough or too boring.

    July 23, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  11. vl

    Reading the comments on this article, I have to ask, why are you atheist so bitter?

    July 22, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • MCGH1

      Not all are bitter.
      Some of the most Stellar National and International Philanthropists in America and around the World are Atheists.
      They are, however, a minority group in America.
      A heavy cross for any American to bear, regardless of their Race, Creed, or Religion.

      July 22, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  12. Nietodarwin

    I loved this movie and I am an atheist who just HATES how ignorant xstians are. This just proves how far some of these "good judgmental folk have things stuck up........ Today is the anniversary of the "stokes monkey trial" where a teacher was convicted of teaching his students the theory of evolution,....in 1925. I was raised xstian, and am now an atheist. This happened because I have an open and inquisitive mind, and because I found education. Jesus just doesn't much matter either way. The things he said are fine, but all this religion is just messing people up, and has very little to do with JESUS or what he did. The proof is THE POMPOUS BOOKSTORE taking out this movie about someone really helping out another, xstian or not. EDUCATION is an enemy in these people's minds. THROW OFF the shackles XSTIANITY IS SLAVERY.

    July 21, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • b4bigbang

      So you were once an xtian and now you're a nothing?
      ok – got it.

      July 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • J

      Maybe you mean the "Scopes monkey trial".

      July 21, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • J

      I'm just an ignorant Xtian, of course, but I have read some history.

      July 21, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Sally Winters

      If you are an atheist , why are you commenting on this website ? What is it with you atheists and your intolerance
      of other people's beliefs? I'm so so tired of it . Live you own life , if you are truly happy with it , and stop trying to
      run down others . And show some respect for others .

      October 27, 2012 at 5:35 am |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    July 20, 2012 at 3:26 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 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • empathetic

      They said prayer changes things but not ALL things. You seem really worked up by the fact that those of us who pray have faith. Sounds like someone scorned to me. It's a shame you have such little faith. But a time will come where you will have no where else BUT to look up and call out to him. That is certain.

      July 20, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Think Instead

      Prayer is a blatant attempt to change god's perfect plan. Why do you hate god?

      July 26, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Frank

      "humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work" can also be said about chemotx. And why is it that it's illegal for me to use non-chemo for MYSELF even if I sign some legaleeze paper?

      July 26, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  14. Reality

    As previously noted:

    Said book/movie 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 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  15. Voice of Reason

    People don't like the really bad or the really good man prefers indifferene in other men.

    July 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Think Instead

      I like punctuation and grammar.

      July 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  16. slrman

    Even when something is favorable to their cause, the religious reich finds something to complain about. They seem to make a career out of always being offended about something.

    They do have a point though, always being offended does help distract from how absurd their religion is.

    July 20, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      I agree, they are CONSTANTLY offended by everything, and so judgmental. I AM WORSE. I am an atheist who is probably developing stomach trouble from hearing all the ignorant things xstians say everyday, from "god particle" to "church and state" and on and on. (I can't go on, xstianity involvement in government, and the degree to which has impeded science will give me trouble.)

      July 21, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • JesusIsComing

      @nietodarwin
      Christians don't condone the god particle theory, genius.

      July 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  17. Bobby McGovern

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.

    July 20, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  18. Bobby McGovern

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false and by the rulers as useful

    July 20, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Think for yourself?

      Bobby McGovern is regarded by the common people as a liar, by the wise as an idiot and by the rulers as expendable

      July 21, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      POKER and RELIGON I liked your comment Bobby. I was in a poker game in a card club in CA, (public, legal, etc.) and was talking about something and said, "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission." This guy in the game, who was a preacher (and even had "preacher clothe's" on) smile and laughed and said, "Oh, that sounds like a christian thing to say, are you a christian?" I answered that although I was raised xstian I was now educated, atheist, and hoped that xstianity and all religion would disappear from the planet before the end of my life. He got so red in the face and couldn't speak. He just left the game, and I still laugh about that.

      July 21, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • GiveNietodarwinAnEducation

      @Nietodarwin
      For someone who claims to have "found education", you sure are lazy with your spelling. And your grammar is atrocious.
      Idiot.

      July 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  19. Dennis

    Religion: the powerful leading the gullible and controlling what they see.

    July 20, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      Blessed are the meek and humble for they will inherit the earth.

      July 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Voice

      Isn't the earth supposed to just be a kind of doormat before you get to either heaven or hell? Seems like earth is a pretty shtty place to inherit.

      July 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • just sayin

      There will be a new heaven and earth, sorry you won't be there. God bless

      July 21, 2012 at 7:36 am |
  20. crabman

    dose that mean i can't say holy sh!t

    July 20, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Who invited me?

      apparantly not
      and it's does
      dose is what you had with breakfast

      July 20, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Brick Top

      It's apparently not "apparantly".

      July 20, 2012 at 2:09 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.