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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. THX1953

    Bigot Please!

    The only reason that these poofters pulled the flick is because We Caint Have No White Woman Raisin No Black Boy.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • david

      HA!

      July 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  2. sybaris

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

    July 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  3. Josh

    People still go to bookstores?

    July 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • ME II

      lol

      July 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  4. AngieO

    I saw the movie. I do not remember any profane language. Many they are just being politically correct and don't want to promote a movie about an African American being helped by a Caucasian family.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • midwstrngrl

      han. just christian nutheads that arent happy about anything....

      July 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  5. HeavenSent

    My face smells like goat rectum.

    Amen

    July 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • bristoltwit palin... America's favorite dancing cow

      Mmmmmmm... goat rectum.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Goat Fvcker

      OMG, your'e right!! Don't ask me how I know but your'e right!!

      July 19, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  6. ty

    OMG! oh my God..no one from that group will read on now that God is mentioned.. what utter and total isolated folks..so superior. nowwonder this country has the likes of michelle bachmann and pat robertson etc...

    July 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  7. Tea party man

    Know why you always have to invite two Baptist to your party? If just one he will drink all your beer

    July 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  8. Libby

    This is one of the most heartwarming movies I have ever seen and for a Christian bookstore to turn it down is just absolutely CRAZY!! Where do they get off saying this movie is too "hot" for their bookstore...RIDICULOUS!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • david

      Sandra Bullock was smokin hot!

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

      She sure is.......... dang!

      July 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  9. palintwit

    Just more whacked out christian bs from the Sarah Palin/ bagger/ birther community.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • datablade

      Geez, get over the Sara Palin / Tea Party bashing already and try to stay on topic.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  10. fernace

    Yes, harsh language is ever so much more an important Christian issue to be concerned about, than say, hate videos from pastors, trying to enforce laws that espouse "Christian" values, such as denying gay civil rights, contraception for female employees (Viagara is still OK), & overturning Roe v Wade! I used to be a christian, but can't stomach the pure hatered & hypocracy! I might as well join the KKK! I still believe in a Loving God, who means us well, not harm & bigotry, but will never join a church again!!

    July 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  11. Senior Citizen

    These people need to get a life. What rock are they living under. This is one of the best films I've seen in years. If that is all they have to complain about they are a sad, sad bunch of people.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  12. James

    Myth = Religion + Time

    July 19, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  13. Informed

    Onward Christian solider, marching on to oblivion.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  14. shiney

    I'm a indepentant, fundamental baptist & I saw this movie... I have to say I wasn't offended at all & neither was my husband. Let's face it, life is messy as people are messy – nothing is perfect, including christians as everyone & everything is level at the foot of the cross – only God is perfect. The Blind SIde is all most christian movies (i.e. Fireproof, Courageous) not perfect BUT are still fantasitc movies.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  15. The Truth

    Ok. Really.

    The Bible of course does not have profanity, taking of the Lord's name in vain, murder, adultery, and any kind of slurs what so ever.

    No. Of course it doesn't.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  16. Busted

    Scary how the mind set of someone like Loughner seems so common within these radicalized groups.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  17. derp

    Lets face it, the real reason they hate this story so much is because of the black guy.

    If it were a poor christian white kid that moved in that hillbilly family, they would have gone all Tebow over it.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  18. Lindalou

    Where's the bubble these people live in? If there was ever a movie that instilled my belief in the good of other people it was this. Is there a different version than what I saw when it came out??????

    July 19, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • ImWithJeebus

      This is nothing for these people. I work in the print industry, and they have pulled several magazines from their shelves because a preacher or writer who doesn't match up with their religious doctrine is in one article. In this case, they are overlooking the "love thy neighbor" ideal portrayed in the movie and focusing on a few of thousands of words in the movie. Their loss...

      July 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  19. Bob Hope's Ghost

    but to have a movie where the over use of beating the crap out of someone nailed to the cross is A-OK! many slasher films don't even use that much violence.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  20. stop the madness

    Is it being removed because of the language or because the main character is a black guy? A bit of profanity doesn't hurt anyone. The real world is filled with profanities. Do they think that they can avoid the truth? Typical religious nut jobs.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Lindalou

      agree, agree, agree!!

      July 19, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Vesstair

      "Do they think that they can avoid the truth?"

      ...

      'Abstinence-only education works!'

      I think they've already proven they can avoid the truth.

      July 19, 2012 at 2:11 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.