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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. Smt001

    Available on Amazon for $11. End of story.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Ilovejesus

      EXACTLY. Goodness.

      July 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  2. FedUp

    This does more harm to the "Christian" faith than anything the film says or does.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Be Real

      amen

      July 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • DAVE, Ca

      If Jesus were around today, American "christians" would stone him to death for not hating and judging everyone they think they have the right to.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  3. Be Real

    So is this anything like CNN banniing posts with common, every day words in it, not even cuss words? Like r a p e or i n c e s t, etcetera? Which all appear often in graphic detail in the bible...attributed to god's people...

    July 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Different areas on CNN have different filters. On some of them you can say homosexual, and and some you can't.

      It's all based on variants of a WordPress nanny filter.

      You can't write constitution, because it has tit in it. You can't write assume, because it has ass in it.

      Pretty fucking stupid, if you ask me.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters or some html tricks to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ---
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in racc-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      cu-nt.....as in Scu-nthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      ho-oters…as in sho-oters
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      nip-ple
      o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      que-er
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sl-ut
      sm-ut…..as in transm-utation
      sn-atch
      sp-ank
      sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      sp-oon
      sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
      strip-per
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
      wt-f....also!!!!!!!
      There's another phrase that someone found, "wo-nderful us" (have no idea what sets that one off).

      July 19, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  4. Ryan K

    I bet any money they sell Donald Miller's "Blue Like Jazz." So ridiculous.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  5. ha

    what a horrible decision.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • jon

      The United States of America is one nutty place.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  6. Yep.Really.

    Oh, makes total sense! And movies like the 'passion of the christ' should remain at the front of the store because that has appropriate content for all ages.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Voice Reason

      Not for anything but the Passion of Christ doesn't have any swearing which is what it looks like they took umbridge with.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Yep.Really.

      I see your point, but it seems to be a double standard. It is ok to show graphic violence to accurately portray the death of Jesus, but its not ok to give a PG depiction of the challenges a student might face today.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  7. Jason

    Someone's drinking the kool aid.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  8. charles bowen

    When a religion ceases to please the will of its followers it will soon cease to exist Christians are far too judgemental of others to see the problems in their own churches and they fail to change as the world moves on...... Draw your own conclusions but remember we all sin..... Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    July 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Be Real

      Jesus would love this movie!

      July 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  9. oldgaffer

    I had just about zero interest in this movie before, but now that I know it pi$$es off some Christians, I just might have to see it. Besides, I really like Sandra Bullock – she's a fine actress and I'v ealways enjoyed her performances.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • moe smith

      it is a really good movie. well worth the watch. highly recommend it.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Be Real

      Real good story.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  10. Be Real

    This is why I left 'organized' christian church.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  11. chieftrainer

    There are way too many unnecessary foul words in movies. Hearing the F word dozens of times in a movie does not make the movie any more interesting and does not explain the plot any clearer. In fact, the more I hear foul language in a movie, the quicker I turn it off. Having said that, I think it is totally ridiculous to have removed that movie from the store. I've seen the movie a couple of times and frankly I don't remember the foul language because I was not trying to find it. Reality is that people do use foul language. Reality is that even Christians use foul language. I understand where they are coming from, but let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Be Real

      I agree, can't stand overused foul language in ANY setting...but there is a time & season for a good cuss!

      July 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • grist

      "even Christians use foul language"
      Is there some reason to suspect that Christians are any less likely to use foul language than non-Christians? Are Christians more ethical than non-Christians?

      July 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  12. W Bran

    They made these changes for 12 people? Leaders of large churches from which they don't want to lose funding. I'm a Baptist Pastor, but these pastors must live in a cute little world where no one uses bad language to mock them. That part of the movie connected with me because Christians are called bad things and mocked for their beliefs. If they or their children are not ever mocked or made fun of then good for them, but it is not the world of all believers. Again, SBC takes a step forward and a step backward.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • W Bran

      PS. After further thought, I think I will buy it and show it at church now.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  13. Mike

    One reason why Christians may get misrepresented in Hollywood is because they are entirely unrealistic in the views on humanity. You cannot tell a true story without being historically accurate. Otherwise it becomes fiction, which in my opinion is the world many Christians live in. The values they maintain are honest and good, there is no denying that, but to ignore the grit of life and pretend God provides all the answers goes against all that mankind knows. The true story of Michael Oher is gritty and real. If you want to tell that story then tell it how it happened. If you want a utopia then make a movie about The Republic.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Lycidas

      You also have to admit though that Hollywood (at least in the last 20 years) has the tendancy of using religious stereotypes quite a bit on those of faith. Films like "A Walk to Remember" where a christian is portrayed as intelligent, witty and brave (but not in a unrealistic sense) isn't the norm for Hollywood.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • chieftrainer

      Great post Mike

      July 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Dan

      I completely agree. This guy says "I love the movie, the theme of the movie as far as adoption and deliverance of a young man. In terms of the theme, I’m with it 100%. What happened was Hollywood got a hold of it.” I think what he means is, reality got a hold of it. It's supposed to be a true story, you can't blame "Hollywood" (I assume they mean the studio?) for putting what happened into the movie, especially when that's what all but 12 people want to hear. And to everyone complaining about the amount of cussing in movies, I'm not really sure what you're watching. Maybe Snakes on a Plane? Because in real life the things kids say blow what's said in the movies out of the water.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Voice Reason

      and pretend God provides all the answers goes against all that mankind knows
      --–
      Christians believe God provides all the answers. They are specifically asked to live in the world but not be of the world and all its pomps and deception and want material things that man makes.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  14. Linda Day, St. Louis Missouri

    Well, I feel much better. Now I know which Christians are without fault and behave as perfect Christians all the time. Heaven forbid a "movie" portray Christians with human frailties. Ban those heathens now, oh wait, they already did!

    July 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  15. Aaron

    Anti-racists conservatives.... who knew?

    July 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  16. Daniel

    Does the bible actually define some words as being profane and others as not? I mean I can say I have to go take a sh#$ and that's considered profane though it's referring to a natural thing people must do. However, if I say you're a piece of poop, no one cares. That should be considered way worse, not because of the word used, but the meaning of the statement. What a twisted society we live in.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  17. What?

    How Ridiculous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  18. pUCKLES

    Jensen"

    Go sit on your thumb and spin.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Jensen

      @Puckles: Let me get this straight, I corrected comments you made in regards to an article that you obviously hadn’t read and your response is an insult. Nice, really nice.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  19. pUCKLES

    RLG:

    YOU payed attention to me. YOU even commented – MORON!! LOL!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  20. citizenUSA

    Whaaaa? Christians don't think s**t happens in real life?

    July 19, 2012 at 2:49 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.