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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. david

    Sandra Bullock too hot for Christians! aaaaaaaah yeaaaaaaaaaaaa

    July 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  2. no nothing

    I can't understand why Christians want everybody to live in their bubble, their magic bubble.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  3. Dann

    You gotta love it when the evangelical right begins to turn on its own.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  4. Graham

    Mike, Don't worry. Jesus offered his own life as a sacrifice and suffered such tortures and pain that anything Hollywood can do to denigrate his name is nothing compared to what he faced for the world's sinful ways. If he can take beatings, the crown of thorns, the cross and so much more, Hollywood and for that matter, all the rest, don't even register on the radar.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  5. Randy

    Oh, Jesus Christ!

    July 19, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Jesus Christ

      Yes?

      July 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Sane Person

      lol, silly christians.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  6. mike

    I am a Christian, this was an AWESOME movie, I wish there was more like this.. Sandra you go girl.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  7. Mike

    Hollywood's productions routinely include the f-bomb along with the slanderous / vain usage of the Christian Deity's name (Jesus / Christ). Christians have every right to practice their faith which includes respect for the name of the Christian God ("Hallowed be thy name" is from the ubiquitous Our Father prayer). One can scarcely imagine the uproar that would ensue if Mohammed were portrayed in a negative light or if the Torah were denigrated (God forbid), but curse the name of Jesus, sure no problem, who cares?

    I ask, what is the value added of including such denigrations of the name of Christ. Does it dramatically enhance the production to such an extent that the thoughtful regard for the Christian religion is so commonly abandoned?

    July 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Lester Singleton

      Can you tell us at what point in the movie that someone "cursed the name of Jesus"? I am just thinking that someone who is so against things like this would remember it immediately.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Lanfear

      So what? Maybe that's because people use f-bombs all the time in real life. I like my movies to depict reality and not a fantasy. BTW - using the lords name in vain, I can understand why you and your fellow Christians would never do that. But to be against it in a movie where it's acting? That's about as irrational as it gets.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  8. Joel

    And they wonder why common-sense Non-Christians like myself make fun of them (and any other religion for that matter).

    July 19, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Jon

      Yes, no kidding. It's amusing that this is even getting 'air time' on the news. Silly silly fools.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  9. Sam

    Well when a dozen people complain about flags on veterans graves they remove them and prohibit them. I am not sure if this isn't just the same sort of closed mindedness we are seeing about a lot of things these days. So much for political AND religious correctness run amok.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  10. s

    you know, i can see their point, in that there really IS a lot of gratuitous cussing in a lot of movies, and a christian store could be viewed as hypocritical for selling a book or movie where the lord's name is taken in vain or racial slurs are used. the problem with pulling this particular movie is that it's an account of the life of real people, not characters made up of whole cloth out of an author's head. in real life, young black men have racial slurs thrown at them. in real life, people cuss and take the lord's name in vain, and some of the people on both the giving and receiving end of such language are christian, or at least profess to be. taking the movie off the shelf will not negate real life, but it goes a long way towards helping some folks deny that "good christians" also can make mistakes and use bad words. out of sight, out of mind. if there is a god, he doesn't care if some of what flies out of your mouth is ugly when you're under stress or sad or angry, he cares if your heart and mind are as ugly as your language. the prettiest spoken, most charming people so often turn out to be absolute monsters, ted bundy coming immediately to mind. at the very least, let customers make the choice to endure the bad language for the sake of the over-all message in the story. if they've been warned and still sit down to watch it and get all huffy, they have no one to blame but themselves.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  11. Gary Sumner

    More Religious CLOSE-MINDED people. Its' amazing how many fools believe in the fictional bible! Still believe in Santa? The Easter Bunny? I guess IGNORANCE "IS" BLISS@!

    July 19, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • graham

      That is so far out of line its insane your mind needs to be opened up, why does it matter to you what someone believes. does it affect your day to day life! no it does not. This movie should be kept in the stores to sho close minded people what is really out there, but no ned to bash cristains such as myself!

      July 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  12. Julie

    Seriously? Becauuse a DOZEN people complained?!
    What's ironic is I bet these Christians use the "n-word" like it's their job. They just used that as an excuse to pull the movie. The fact that there are people like this in this country makes me sick. There are more pertinent things to worry about. If you don't like the movie, DON'T BUY IT! You don't have to yank it off the shelves!
    The faster we remove religion from our society, the more intelligent our country will be.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Ann

      Ann, it is very ironic how many racial slurs come from the "Christian" community and they feel its their right to talk like that, yet, swear in a movie and they are the first one to ban it. What small minded bigots these people are.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • cherie1234

      Many people are hypocrital and it has nothing to do with being Christian. I recently worked with a guy who cursed like a sailor while in conversation with his buddies. A customer used a word of profanity while on the phone with this guy and suddenly this guy is a saint and claimed to be horribly offended. Give it a rest people and stop bashing groups of people who have different beliefs, morals or view points than you have. Overboard or not, I respect Lifeway's decision. If someone wants they movie, it can be purchased elsewhere. It's not a bad thing to remove the movie from their shelves.. Removing it doesn't hurt anyone at all and certainly is no comparison to the hate filled comments some posters here choose to regurgitate.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  13. Lester Singleton

    I have never seen "Thou Shalt not Cuss" anywhere in the bible. Go beyond the legalistic aspects of your faith and get down to the reality of things. It is your rules and regulations that build that unbreakable wall between you and those you are trying to reach.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  14. Hollywood Insider

    What ever happened to Christian tolerance; or to turn the other cheek? Oh yeah, these baptist fat as ses are so large sitting aorund all day pontificating, they have difficulty turning the other cheek.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • open cinnamon shoe

      There's a difference between tolerance and acceptance. And you clearly dont understand the principle behind turn the other cheek either. Thanks for sharing your opinion though.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  15. Me1

    Incredible. Incredible.
    I'm a Christian Catholic and me and several Christian Catholic couples went to watch the movie together.
    Language? Yes. Do we speak each other like them? no. Do we swear like in the movies, ...no.
    Do we all say "Jesus!" here and there. yes, yes, yes.
    For God Sake.........yes I use that one too.
    And we are good families, with good children. we just choose not to learn from movies, but just observe, o b s e r v e – life in other worlds and situations. Great Movie. Narrow minds. thats all.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Becca

      Yes it is a great movie! And it is not like people do not use these words they do and I do not care if it is christian or not people has used these words. It is just a matter to me that this movie is just being picked on as they have nothing better to do right now. I do not use some of the words my self but that does not mean I can not see them or hear them in a darn movie. I just can not believe this at all.I wish these people could find something else to do.Like go pray for the people at AA or people that live under bridges. I think stuff would be more important for them to do and leave the darn movie alone.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  16. Sean

    Well it's time to take LifeWay Christian Resources off the shelf. What a bunch of idiots.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  17. Poolchick

    They call themselves christians? I don't think they should since they are finding a negative instead of the positive of the movie. There are way more pros to this movie than cons and these hyprocrites should pick and choose their battles.

    July 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • open cinnamon shoe

      You clearly have no idea what it means to actually be a Christian if you think their behavior is inconsistent with Christianity. It may be inconsistent with your idea of what Christianity should be but its not at all inconsistent with Christianity. God is God and standards are standards. Kudos to them for actually acting consistently with their beliefs.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  18. Lanfear

    Wow. Why does this come as no surprise to me. Why does being a Christian have to mean that you are a prude?

    July 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Scott

      I think it means you're not very smart. Being prudish is a symptom of the larger trait.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • open cinnamon shoe

      Read the bible. Jesus was a prude by your definition. We seek to emulate his actions. You defining those actions as prudish is your perrogative. Not caring what you call me and continuing to live a principle centered life is my perrogative.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  19. Kellea Tibbs

    This is amazing. We have so many other issues in the world than whether or not a child happens to hear a couple of swear words or a racial slur in a movie. I'm African American and if you think that's the only time your child will hear a racial slur in their lifetime then you have another thing coming. We hear them everyday on TV, all of the underhanded comments hurled at President Obama; Do you explain those to your kids? I'm thinking you don't. And if you think that's the only place they will hear swearing, then I have news for you, I guarantee you they hear it at least 10 times on the bus ride to school in the morning then who knows how many more during the school day. As a Christian who grew up just fine, swear words, racial slurs and all, all you can do is teach your child right from wrong, teach them what the Bible teaches, to love one another, and pray that their lives turn out okay. That's it. Creating a false sense of what the world is will only make them rebel in the long run. Watch stuff with them, answer their questions and keep it moving!

    July 19, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  20. Andrew

    And you wonder why people think you're backwards and make fun of you...

    July 19, 2012 at 4:04 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.