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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. Cate

    Heaven forbid (pun intended) a movie portray real life... these Christians need to get a grip, take their heads out of the sand and realize not everyone speaks with sugar coated words! The Bible is not exactly G rated. Seriously, we do live in 2012 not 1950, get over it!

    As for profanity, I thought it was tame compared to most movies. This is a wonderful movie and these morons don't deserve to watch it!!

    July 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Definitely not G rated:

      Ezekiel 23:19-21

      19 Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prost itute in Egypt. 20 There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. 21 So you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when in Egypt your bosom was caressed and your young breasts fondled.
      (NIV 1984)

      July 19, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  2. Bumper

    This also reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw once. "God loves spiritual fruit, not religous nuts"

    The irony of church and established belief systems can be so self deprecating.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  3. The USA, a country on its way to medieval standards

    Small mindedness, paranoid fear of the world around and fear of punishment from this god being, all good ingredients in a stew to keep the mindless flock of followers from thinking for their own. For some reason I thought this is the USA, but we are loosing ingenuity, the capability to deal with reality, science or disagreement. Pretty soon our closest allies might be the Taliban. Wait, no, they won't like christian fundamentalists either... oh fudge.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  4. LAC

    This is exactly why theology and religion have such a bad name. It is also exactly why I avoid religion all together. God doesn't enter into any of this. Some "PERSON" is inflecting his/her religious interpretation into this and then telling us that we should believe it. When "GOD" comes down and says that it is supposed be true I will start to believe.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • OOO

      Some person wrote in a book 2000 years ago that god would come back down. So don't believe that either.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • The USA, a country on its way to medieval standards

      @ little ooo, nope, won't come back, that being. Was never there. Besides, Krishna said that he/she has been around much longer, or was it Zeus?

      July 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • scott

      He did his name is Jesus. Please don't let a few bad moments keep you from the love or our heavenly father.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  5. HeavenSent

    I heard that in the movie they implied that joeseph laid mary after the immaculate conception, making joe a mother fvcker of the devine, how low can a man go. Joeseph is rotting hell with satan and worms eating at his genitals. hallelujah.

    Amen

    July 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  6. D, Raven Foncell

    There's a name for a person, or people who profit on peoples fears..That name is Coward! There is no Gog of anykind that would accept such blind thinking. No God that would want Billions to die for not believing as they say you should, and that few to live. Whatever you believe, that God will love you no matter what you watched, said, or did, unlike these people who proclaim themselves to be the word of God.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  7. scott

    Lets just maintain our little holy huddles and let the world go to hell. Hollywood cracks the door open just a little to the christian message and we complain.
    //"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. // Guess what, you just made it the point of next years denominational meeting.
    Baker – hypocrite – to love something but to be ashamed of it at the same time. For example, Peter in Galatians.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  8. Sharon

    That is beyond ridiculous. Heaven forbid "real life" be represented in its mild form. Thats "to hot" for christians. No wonder this world sucks.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Logic

      Just remember, 100 IQ is supposed to represent the average which means likely half are under and half are over, so we can assume 50% of the planet are probable morons and with 90% or more believing in religion, and more critical thinkers are less likely to be religious so let's assume 99% of atheists are over 100 IQ, which means 99% of persons with low IQ's are likely religious making religion the most likely thing for a moron to believe...

      July 19, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  9. Doc

    Idiotic. It's that complete disconnect from reality, that head-in-the-sand ridiculousness, that keeps people from taking the ultra-religious right seriously. They do much more harm to their cause than they have the sense to comprehend.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  10. AreYouKidding???

    If the church is hurting for positive promotion to the masses, and they feel this movie was a great step forward for them, why are they now shunning it? If you want to get a message across to people, you have to first speak their language. This movie did just that. I personally enjoyed the film, felt it was a real depiction of the "Life" these people lived – so what's wrong with that? Struggle goes hand in hand with bad language. Why sugar coat it by cleaning up the language for a movie's sake? It wouldn't be believable then, and much worse, wouldn't have been as great a promotion for the church as the "masses" wouldn't have believed it. Basically – life is life, and don't blame Hollywood for depicting it accurately (in this case).

    July 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  11. Christian to the core

    Hey Lifeway, it's called real life. Maybe we should boycott you. This is a great movie with plenty of values.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • sosideirish

      Thank you!! These so-called Christians are giving all religion a bad name. Pack of self-serving morons! God is surely shaking His head as well.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  12. Mordecai

    So, it's not okay to use street language in a Christian movie . . . but it is okay to promote the use of guns as means of resolving our conflicts? Why wasn't this addressed? NRA wins again. And what about that racial slur? Calling that guy "Deliverance" was terribly offensive. I can see getting hung up on that one. 😉

    July 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  13. guest

    *a christian sneezes* "God bless you"

    *mynameislegion sneezes* "when you die nothing happens"

    as per dane cook, i hope when you die you come back as a tree and that someone cuts down that tree and creates paper and that that someone prints the Bible on you!

    July 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • The USA, a country on its way to medieval standards

      Oh, guest, you're one of those nice loving christians. Well, my god would kick you in the behind for such hatred and viciousness.
      Besides your examples make no sense whatsoever. When you sneeze god doesn't say anything, in all likelihood it will be a human being, capable of the english language and with good manners, which you are lacking very badly. What would beJesus do, ey? Besides when german christians sneeze they say "Hatzi mein Schatzi"... Hahahaha

      July 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Krass

      Dane Cook: One of the unfunniest comedians in the business today. He's as bad as Carlos Mencia and Larry the Cable Guy in terms of not actually being funny. However, he sure thinks he is hilarious.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  14. M

    Even the Bible itself speaks against this stupidity. It's like these people don't understand what a metaphor is.Or why the Bible isn't important because of its words, but its metaphorical message.

    I believe Jesus might just save the truly faithful (those who follow his example), AND the atheists, and smite the Right.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • OOO

      A religious metaphor is what happened to a religious truth after science got a hold of it.

      July 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Ilovejesus

      Yeah, right. That's not biblical. Nice try though!

      July 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  15. Spwark

    what a bunch of whack-jobs...

    July 19, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  16. uos_spo6

    Religion would be great if not for all the people involved.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  17. Barry in Texas

    God's name in vain, really??? Didn't realize God's name was God? Thought his name was YHWH, or Yahweh, or Jehovah. Didn't realize God was a proper noun. If that's the case than if you look at me and say "man damn" you have taken my name in vain. Since no one really knows how to pronounce YHWH, its'nt it sorta hard to take that name in vain? But then, maybe that was the point of not saying that name and using Lord or Adonai, in place of the holy name. You can't use in vain what you don't know how to pronounce.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  18. Sunflower

    Jesus got down in the gutters with the lowly to lift them up.... these "Christians" could learn a thing or two from Him....

    July 19, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • sosideirish

      Exactly! Thank you!

      July 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • ReallifeChristian

      Amen!!

      July 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  19. Chefbda

    I, for one, welcome our SBC overlords and will watch whatever they tell me.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  20. wpsturgeon

    Going to war over religion is like fighting over who has the imaginary friend.. Did you notice all these historic religious events had no witnesses. It's like when aliens come to vist they seem to talk to the most ignorant folks. You'd think they'd want to talk to someone with reasonable intelligence.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:52 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.