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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. dumb

    Are you people out of your minds? This was such a heartwarming movie and the family that did take this kid in had nothing but love in their heart's

    July 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      pretty sure they had muscle, sinew and blood in their hearts....

      July 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  2. jj

    On a more important note....Bullock is HOT.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  3. just sayin

    “When I started watching it and heard the Lord’s name in vain, it I thought, ‘I hope LifeWay isn’t selling this.' ”

    OH MY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    “I am a small-town pastor who was lead by God to write this resolution,” he said.

    Did he hear a voice? Was a force moving his hand? Did he "feel" another presence in the room? Yep, he needs to be in a straight jacket or medicated. Nutjob

    July 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  4. jj

    They consulted with Michele Bachman before making the decision....Doh!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Texas

      ...must have consulted with Zimmerman also. He killed because it was part of God's plan. Whhaaaattt?

      July 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  5. Katie

    Bookstore owners are free to ban anything they want. That doesn't mean they aren't hypocrites. The Bible is filled with hypocrisy, double standards, cruelty, violence, and oppression toward women and other human beings. I'll bet they sell those.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  6. ldean50

    I'm a southern born and bred and the Baptists can't really get too much by me. Tell the truth, fools. You're not offended by the language. You're offended by the close relationship between a white family and a poor black kid. Your offended to see a disenfranchised, black child become successful. You give real, caring, non-racists Baptists a bad name. heck, you give any good church going-love-your-fellow-man person a bad name. You give the south a bad name. I'm ashamed of you.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Joel

      If that's true, which I wouldn't doubt one bit, it's very sad. Here I was blaming all-too-common over-the-top religiosity, when it is even more sinister, pathetic and anti-progress. Thanks for pointing that out. On a positive note, I guess that we've made enough progress on racism that it wasn't the first thought that came to my mind.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  7. deathstalker187

    Load of crap is what it is if you ask me. I also think in order to take the lord Gods name in vain you actually have to know what Gods name is. Gods name is not God this much I know for sure.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • ldean50

      ... and sadly they fail to recognize what exactly "taking the Lord's name in vain." Universally, theological scholars of all religions it has to be used in the context of a curse – commanding bad things to happen to a person – in order for it to qualify as a sin. Saying it when you open the door on Christmas Morning and see a brand, new Lexus in the drive-way does not qualify. this movie does not qualify; but, Baptists ministers are not required to have a degree/or knowledge of which they speak.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  8. just sayin

    "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.
    ,
    .
    Lets keep it simple, this is what he was really saying:

    "We agree the movie as a whole promotes Christian values and a redemptive message; however, it does contain scenes of reality," Marty King, LifeWay's communications director, said in a statement to CNN.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  9. Carol

    You can't bunch all of Christianity under one umbrella just like you can bunch Muslims or what ever other belief system is in the world. Not all Christians think this is a "bad" movie many see the merits past the language.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Fred

      They did not say that it was a bad movie. They simply asked whether they should be selling it.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • ME II

      So, unlike Christians, all other religions only contain mindless drones who all think the exact same thing?

      July 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Jerry

      Well said, Carol. Sometimes it's good to have something in films we use as a teaching moment to open conversation between parent and child.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  10. Joe Schme

    Its simple IF YOUR OFFENDED – DONT WATCH IT!

    July 19, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • kathy

      Totally agree with you Joe!

      July 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  11. fintastic

    “I am a small-town pastor who was lead by God to write this resolution"

    Lead by god?..... god spoke to me?..... oh brother...

    I wonder if they have "Fahrenheit 451" on the shelves?

    July 19, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Fred

      Fahrenheit 451 was about the visual media (MSNBC, CNN, satellite, the internet, etc.) replacing books.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Katie

      The Devil works in mysterious ways, doesn't he? This deluded minister should do some praying to the real God for forgiveness is assuming he understands God's wishes.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  12. M. Edward

    Only an egotist can say, I was led by G-d, or G-d spoke to me. An honest person might say this may be the way G-d might want but anything else is presumptuous. Moreover, banning a Book or Movie that uses street language is absurd.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • ME II

      Unless, of course, God did actually speak to him and tell him to kill Martin. Are you saying such a thing is impossible?

      July 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • ME II

      Oops, wrong article.
      Could God not have said to ban the book?

      July 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Texas

      Zimmerman's take on God's plan is appropriately made because no comments were allowed in his interview.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  13. QS

    LMFAO!

    July 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  14. T

    The message is clear, if you have ever sinned, cursed, used the Lord's name in vain, then you are forever damned to hell, we don't want you in our churches.

    A decision like this stands against everything Christ stood for. It makes me feel ashamed to be a Baptist.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Fred

      Where did he say that? He simply question whether they should be selling it.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  15. MinSC

    Hitler banned books, art and music, too. Mr. Preacher. Was GOD leading him too?

    July 19, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  16. MinSC

    “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.

    So, is god only leading him or also leading the others against him?
    what a hypocritical idiot. Get a real job and work a pay

    July 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Fred

      Where is the hypocrisy? I have seen no evidence that he uses racial slurs or profanity.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  17. dc3gal

    My grandfather was a Baptist minister and I have been a member of a couple different Christian church's and I left them all for the same reason, reality. I found people who throw themselves into whatever religion lose touch with reality. If they have a problem with this then they shouldn't have put the DVD on their shelves to begin with. That movie is all about reality and it's the truth about a Christian family, so what is the problem? The world doesn't swear? Oh yeah that's right, I forgot about that bubble and boy do I wish I had a great big needle for that problem!!!

    July 19, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Fred

      Hollywood movies are NOT reality. Next time you watch this movie read the credits – including the disclaimer that refutes your claim.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  18. solex

    Ghandi had the greatest quote about Christianity of all time:

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

    Second place was Carl Sagan. When asked if he believed in God, he replied:

    "I don't want to believe. I want to know".

    July 19, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Kat

      Thank you for this.. Sagan has many great quotes like these and was a true champion of knowledge.

      July 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  19. Johnny

    Hot off the presses, "somebody somewhere is a goofball", next story please.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  20. Dave

    I get that it is ridiculous to have this book/movie "banned" at a bookstore, my problem is this is what the stories ALWAYS are even though muslims ban books and movies and all kinds of stuff in this country at a rate of probably 20 to 1 compared to Christians.
    But.... we never see those stories.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • ME II

      "even though muslims ban books and movies and all kinds of stuff in this country at a rate of probably 20 to 1 "
      Here, really? ...where?

      July 19, 2012 at 3:44 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.