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'Soul Surfer' opens after fights over depicting faith
"Soul Surfer" is a feature film about Bethany Hamilton being attacked by a shark and getting back in the water
April 12th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

'Soul Surfer' opens after fights over depicting faith

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

"Soul Surfer," the feature film based on the true story of surfer Bethany Hamilton being attacked by a shark and her journey back to surfing, opened last weekend in the fourth spot on the box office charts - partly a testament to its appealing family-friendly message and a marketing campaign that heavily targeted religious groups.

But even though Hamilton and her family's faith plays a key role in the film, many audiences would be surprised to learn that the question of how to show their religion in the film caused huge debate on set.

"I think to get anything in the film was a battle," said Sarah Hill, Hamilton's youth group leader at North Shore Christian Church, who was played by Carrie Underwood in the movie.

"Basically, what you're doing is you have all these people who want to make a movie about Bethany and they don't know the Lord and they don't have a personal relationship with Jesus. For what we have in the movie it was such a battle."

In one scene, Hill's character is shown counseling Hamilton as she struggles with living as an amputee. She reads from Jeremiah 29:11 " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "

The morning they went to shoot that scene, said Hill, who was on set often, "Twelve producers, me and the director were all sitting at the table and they all are just adamant about the Scripture not being in the movie. And they were saying at least let's not have the reference in it."

"For me it was a hill worth dying on to keep God in the movie," she said.

Tom Hamilton, Bethany’s father, said, “In my heart of hearts I wanted as many Christians as we could get to play parts in the movie. They just have a different spirit about them. ... Craig T. Nelson, who is a really strong Christian and goes to our church in Kauai, I called him and begged him to be in the movie.

“A lot of the producers didn’t want to go too overboard because they thought Christianity doesn’t always sell well,” Tom Hamilton said.

Kevin Sorbo, who plays Holt Blanchard, the father of Hamilton's best friend, said, "Sony (Pictures, the film's producer) was afraid to throw in the word Jesus. They said you can have God but not Jesus. They were worried about that.

"The studios, you can't really fight them," he said. "Hollywood screams for freedom of speech but only if you agree with them. It's a very two-faced industry."

Sorbo said Sony wanted to take out another scene in which Bethany Hamilton wakes up in the hospital. Her father, played by Dennis Quaid, is shown reading a Bible. He reads to her from Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through him who gives me strength."

Tom Hamilton said the studio rented a house for the family during the filming so they could be on set every day.

“They changed the script a lot,” Hamilton said. “Dennis Quaid would come up to say, ‘Hey, this doesn’t sound right, we need a Scripture here.’ The script was in constant motion, it changed on the set even.”

“They listened to us. We had some pretty heated discussions. Everyone saw how passionate about it we were, getting the message we wanted out there,” he said.

Rich Peluso, the vice president of AFFIRM Films, a division of Sony Pictures, said the studio made no efforts to whitewash the Hamilton family's faith for the movie. He points out that Jesus is mentioned twice in the film and that the family's faith is central to the plot.

On set, he said, "There were certainly lots of discussions," specifically about the inclusion of Hill's character quoting Jeremiah.

"There were some that voiced the opinion that may have made it sound too faith-focused," Peluso said. "The counter-argument was, 'Well, if her character uses those words and doesn't attribute them to the Bible it seems like she's stealing them.' We came to the agreement the best thing to do was to use the Scripture there."

The biggest question the movie's producers were trying to determine was, "How do we have it come off (in a way) that is authentic to the family's faith and doesn't push it too far so that it appears to the viewer to be forced in?" he said. "We didn't want it to appear we were pushing in faith to appeal to the faith community."

The studio made a big push to attract faith leaders to the project, setting up screenings for pastors and ministry leaders. But it's hard to characterize "Soul Surfer" as a Christian movie.

Like the hit movie "The Blind Side," though, the characters in "Soul Surfer" are decidedly Christian.  The movie opens with Bethany Hamilton rushing into a beachside church service because the Sunday morning waves were just too good to pass up.

"It's not that it's a Christian movie, it's an American movie," Peluso said.

In 2003, when a tiger shark attacked the 14-year-old Hamilton near Kauai, Hawaii, the story gripped the nation. Just three weeks after the attack, Hamilton was back in the water learning how to surf with one arm. A year later, she won a national surfing title.

Battles over how to portray religious themes in movies are becoming more common, as Hollywood becomes more open to addressing faith and marketing movies to religious audiences but worries about alienating nonreligious audiences or viewers from other traditions.

“After all the back and forth - and there’s always back and forth - it’s always best to err on the side of authenticity,” said Michael Flaherty, the president of Walden Media, which has helped produced the Chronicles of Narnia franchise and other Christian-themes movies.

“It actually is not in your commercial interest to secularize something like that, people will reject it,” he said of “Soul Surfer.” “People think they are making these decisions to broaden their audience but what they end up doing is narrowing it.”

But Flaherty said he thought “Soul Surfer” struck the right balance. “To see a movie where she wasn’t talking about her faith … it would have flopped,” he said. “It’s silly to narrow (the family’s faith). It’s like someone saying, ‘Let’s make a movie about Bethany but not talk about surfing.’”

Today, Bethany Hamilton is a professional surfer. In 2010 she was ranked 23rd in the world. "The shy kid has gone on to have a legit pro surf career despite her massive physical impairment," Joel Patterson recently wrote in Surfer Magazine, "and, in the process, she's inspired uncountable people struggling against cruel twists of fate."

Hamilton has long been outspoken about her Christian faith and the positive role it played in her recovery.

"We work with a lot of films, but the Hamiltons have to live with this for the rest of their lives, so that balance was important to us," AFFIRM's Peluso said. "I think we threaded the needle after a lot of work."

Tom Hamilton said Peluso constantly went to bat for the family with the movie, adding, "There was some give and take, but everything that was very important for us to portray ended up in the movie. We were very happy over all with the movie. We just wanted the real story told.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Movies • United States

« Previous entry
soundoff (2,051 Responses)
  1. Miles

    What about Bethany's own strength through all this? Christians love to give God and Jesus lots of credit and rarely take the credit for themselves. She spent all that time learning to surf, learning to be in the water and knowing what to do it something goes wrong. We as humans use our smarts to persevere in all kinds of situations, good and bad. I think that faith and hope are good things, but its time we have faith in ourselves and not some sort of mysterious power that has never been proven or explained.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Amy

      Miles, that's just the point. Believing in something that (you say) can't be proven is the very definition of faith. Without faith in Christ, who provides us with strength and ability, how will we learn to have faith in ourselves?

      April 12, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Curt

      Speak for yourself. It's been proven to me many times. And the Bible explains it pretty well.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • Giant1

      Faith is a cop out. It's an excuse to believe something without any evidence at all. It is gullability. Show me something that I believe in on faith alone, and I'll be forced to stop believing it.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Thinkkkkkk

      Giant1: Religion is a jump in faith, kind of like you have a jump in faith in saying that there is no God. You can't prove that God doesn't exists, so basically saying that there is no God is your faith.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • Hugo

      @Giant1, how am I supposed to show you when you can't see me?

      April 13, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • Hugo

      @Giant1, how am I supposed to show you when you can't see me? (If you could see me and would participate in my demonstration, I could show you. However, what I would show you would meet what you said which might not be what you meant to say.)

      April 13, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • Jesuslandscaper

      @ Hugo,

      so what you're trying to say is that if Giant1 sees what you're trying to show then he would meet what you said about what he saw and you would then see what was said about the shown demonstration and he would become a participant of what was said.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • No One Is Safe

      @Jesuslandscaper – that made my eyes bleed, a little bit.

      April 14, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  2. Hory

    I want one of those harp-oon arm thingies!

    April 12, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  3. Livelystone

    Jesus never said that he would keep us out of tribulation but that He would go through it with us, and in the end it would be for our benefit.

    At best Hollywood is secular but in truth they are anti Jesus while maintaining a pro-Jewish liberal stance.

    Christians are to expect this and to have their faith tried by an unbelieving world. Jesus warns the church that because the world hated Him, Christians would also be hated by the world......... All you have to do to prove that is look at the animosity in the majority of comments made by atheists on a blog that should not be of any concern to them.

    Bless the young woman's heart and her testimony of faith against those who if they could, would belittle it.

    Philippians 1:28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • paul

      EVERY religion views itself as being "hated by the world" and addresses that concern with its followers.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  4. woodie

    The religious angle of a surfer story doesn't sound like good play. Morals are best as something found and not served up.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Curt

      If you don't like the movie go to another movie. Most of us think this makes an excellent story. If you weren't so judgmental you would probably enjoy it too.

      April 12, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Codifex

      What do you think about all these ghost stories and shows, vampires, werewolves, zombies and such. Wicca, druidism, atheism, humanism... all these philosophies and beliefs and interests. Many of them are anti-God in nature and people are just fascinated with them. Why is that? I mean, if you believe in that which is anti-God then is it too much of a leap to think that the other side of the equation is there? Maybe it makes a great story. If that is it then what is wrong with telling the other side of the story? Seems like alot of religious people out there; some of them unwilling to admit it.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • mightyfudge

      Calling someone judgmental is funny coming from someone whose entire religion is based on judgment.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  5. Lani

    To those who are upset with the faith aspect of this story/movie; I say you can complain to Bethany AFTER you have your arm clinched in a shark's mouth, realizing you are dinner...until then, your shallow comments mean nothing

    April 12, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • richunix

      and your comment means? More of the pot painting the kettle black I see.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Curt

      Good comment Lani

      April 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  6. Barbie

    Forgive them Father for their nasty comments, for they do not know.....

    April 12, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • richunix

      Yea...but I do know and no I haven't called up my father and asked if he cared what I said...but calling up a madeup deity..and asking forgiveness...ok I'm game....that should absolve me from man's law then...since he is a higher power...eh?

      April 12, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Curt

      Anyone who thinks God is made-up diety has it backwards. God is the one who made you. Why he would take the time to make a fool I do not know.

      April 12, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Chartreux

      That's about as self-righteous as one can be, Barbie. Not a great Christian example. Remember, God loves all of us, even Osama Bin Laden.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • Hugo

      @richunix – no you would not absolved from man's law. How about if you learn about Christianity before you bash it?

      April 13, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • mightyfudge

      Curt: God didn't make me. He probably made you though. He has a loooong history of manufacturing highly defective products as such.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  7. leeandra

    This is so stupid, this movie is about her and overcoming and how she did it, why would they not include her faith which seems to have played a major role in her success. Its as absurd as saying " Hey were going to write a movie about you but were not going to use any important parts, or points in your life. Actually were just going to leave out the utmost important part to you. hope thats ok?" ridiculous

    April 12, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Quite true. Their are reactionary nuts in both camps.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • jps

      Exactly! It's supposed to be based on truth, not some white-washed version of the truth that will be acceptable to atheists, etc.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  8. richunix

    Growing extremely tired of the one-shot canned answers about your deity:

    It is written: OK by who….mortal man (inspired in a dream or happen-chance see god in a burning bush and no one else see) doomed to die. Followed by the most unbelievable stories even by modern standard…and the plot thickens

    Stephen F. Roberts' popular quotation:
    “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    April 12, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Hugo

      Rich, I didn't dismiss all other gods. So...what's your point?

      April 13, 2011 at 1:33 am |
    • culchiewoman

      @Hugo: when you are baptised, you (or your sponsors) renounce all other gods and cleave to the one (or the Trinity, if you happen to be Catholic). Try again.

      April 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  9. Steve

    Yet again religion ruins everything. Can't just let people live and let live and make a movie. Zealots need to keep it in their church.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • History? Whats That?

      If you wanted live and let live, then explain why Christians cant express their views publicly? Oh right. Live and let live applies to things you're ok with.

      Cool story bro.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • joe

      oh yes it's so outrageous! those crazy "zealots" using the words Jesus and God. Oh no, I can feel the Christianity transforming me even as i type the words. I can't believe how extreme they are by trying to tell the story the way it happened. Its so offensive.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • FudgeMonkey

      @ History: What's Next?

      What do you mean, "Christians can't express themselves publicly?" Are you not doing that, right now?

      April 12, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • paul

      Steve, did you even bother reading the article? The movie is about this girl coping with life after a shark attack and getting back into the ocean. Her faith played a huge role in that confidence and her rehabilitation. You act as if thats an irrelevant part of the story when in fact, its a central part of the story.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  10. Dig that crazy chick

    Crazy chicks need love too!

    April 12, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  11. joe

    The amount of hate aimed at Christianity in these posts alone is amazing.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Micah J`

      Agreed! It speaks volumes...

      April 12, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Sybaris

      When faith based lobbyists and evangelical politicians quit trying to weave their christian dogma into the laws that govern this country maybe the negativity will subside.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Bobo

      It's still not even close to the amount of HATE Christianity has given us during the last thousand or so years. Let's pick up the pace peoples!

      April 12, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • peace2us

      Yeah, and the amount of hatred christians have spewed towards non-christians, gays etc. has been pretty staggering too. Live and let live just doesn't seem to be part of the religious mantra.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Nick

      Sorry not just Christianity.. ALL the weirdo organized religions. It's obvious we come off as mean... but do you think spouting ridiculous crap 2000 year old fairy tales makes you Jesus freaks come off as credible?

      April 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • History? Whats That?

      @Sybaris

      And maybe if the secular parts of this nation didnt make it their mission to absolutely remove anything resembling Christianity or Faith from any aspect of the government, be it the "So help me God" in the Presidential Oath, to the presence of the 10 Commandments in Court Rooms, maybe those lobbyists wouldnt be fighting tooth and nail.

      Do the words "God" offend you? Do historical depictions of the law, which are represented in a holy book, offend you? Because I dont know about you, but I'm pretty sure my practice of my faith, does not strip the liberties or rights away from anyone, yet the fundamentalist atheists seem to think their restrictions of that same faith being historically present in the government is somehow justified, by way of a completely miscontrued statement issued by Jefferson regarding the role of faith in politics, even though he is often quoted as the ONLY founding father, along with Franklin, to have been opposed to i!

      Which leaves, oh say, about a couple dozen or so more founding fathers that supported it. ie, Washington, ie John Adams, ie, Thomas Payne, ie, Benjamin Rush. Yet, their opinions are worthless, arent they? Because their views dont support this militaristic view, that God has NO place in government, in spite of the founding fathers almost all exclusively saying otherwise.

      Pick and choose, pick and choose. I dont seem to recall Christians leading a crusade to remove any atheistic references out of anything in the governmental stuff do you? Seems like religious groups are always fighting back, rather than starting them.

      Just a thought.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • joe

      That's it just lump it all in as one! That's ignorance. Just as ignorant as those people claiming to be Christians are. The ones that have done stupid, hateful and disgusting things now and in the past that are absolutely not Christian. However because they have a distorted view of Christianity and made it something its not people take that example as Christianity instead of researching it for themselves.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • awaysaway

      @History – yes I do find the pushing of the Christian faith (or any faith) offensive. We need it out of our Government unless we aspire to be a theocracy (Iran, etc.) or the type of country the pilgrims fled from in the 1600s.
      And despite what you say Christians do lead "a crusade to remove atheistic references" – the most current being the evolution deniers and those that believe the earth is 10,000 years old (incredible!).

      April 12, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • AmericanGirl

      Joe, LOL! That's why I just had to post Matt 5:11 =D

      April 12, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • pat carr

      "It's still not even close to the amount of HATE Christianity has given us during the last thousand or so years. Let's pick up the pace peoples!"

      AGREED. how long has this religion shoved itself down our throats? how much violence in doing so? now you christians trot out your ridiculous "persecution complex" as if you have no idea why there is so much anger against your cult.

      understand that christianity teaches that if we don't believe in one particular deity, we will burn in an eternal "hell" forever. it doesn't matter if you lived a good life or was a loving person. you'll still go to "hell". this is a vile and disgusting dogma. If you want us to stop reviling your religion, stop spreading it

      April 12, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • Codifex

      Having a person calling himself a christian doing something wrong and an actual christian doing it are two very different things.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
    • JD

      Joe,
      Remember, our fight is not against flesh and blood it's against principalities, powers and wickedness in high places. We are fighting against demons who hate Jesus, he is the unseen force that is controlling Gods creation, through those that have rejected Jesus. They can't help it until they get saved and receive the Holy Spirit. Until than there hearts, souls and minds will be under the control of the evil one. The bible says, that if God is not your father, the devil is and they will do what he does, he is a liar and that they will do also.

      April 13, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • God Loves You

      @sybaris Our country is based on Faith in Jesus and God. "One Nation UNDER GOD!" You are loved and you are in my prayers.

      April 13, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • paul

      Why be amazed, Joe? This is CNN.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  12. Stop Religion

    I wanted to vomit just reading all the garbage about putting that jesus crap in that movie. I'm really tired of all the christian propaganda spread by religious parasites.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Micah J`

      "Propaganda?" Its a movie! If you dont like it, dont see it! Its called freedom of speech.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • MarkinFL

      What BS, its part of the real story so get over it. Religion is an important aspect of many people's lives. So if a story is made about them it will naturally be a part of it. Big deal. sheesh.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • MarkinFL

      SEE SEE! Now THAT is an appropriate reference to Freedom of Speech!

      April 12, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Myself

      Here is a thought....don't go see the movie! No one is forcing you to read this article, which is located in the religion section and no one is forcing you to go see the movie.....See how that all works?

      April 12, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • NameAboveAllNames

      So you are saying that you want a "true" story that isn't true just because the name of Jesus Christ is mentioned. And this doesn't seem narrow minded to you? They couldn't even tell the true story because of the movie studio and some how this is truth, somehow this is justice? People only want to know the "truth" as long as it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy. The truth is there is a God, and He died on a cross for each and everyone of us. It doesn't make you feel warm and fuzzy to know this ONLY because you do not know the one that laid down His life for you. And regardless He still loves you!

      April 12, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • W247

      The religious parasite in this case is "SONY". Why don't you go boycott all their movies if you feel so strongly about it?

      April 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • History? Whats That?

      "Christian parasites"

      Classy. Stay tolerant bro.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Idiots

      Word up brah! I couldn't agree more.

      April 12, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • pat carr

      I totally agree. and yet you have legions of people on here defending that vile religion. I don't think half of them even know what it teaches. I won't be wasting money on this rubbish

      April 12, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Tchr89

      Would you prefer they completely change the story...basically lying? If the girl relied heavily on her faith, then that is part of the story. If she didn't...it would be wrong to insert it. But since her faith was important...then it goes into the movie. Don't watch it if it bothers you that much.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • God's Little Princess

      Your comment made me want to cry. But not because it hurt my feelings but because I hurt for you. All these vicious comments towards Christians are based at us for the wrong reasons. You need to stop the hate in your heart. Hate is a black hole that swallow up everything in your life. You are not being forced to watch these movies and you don't even have to read this comment. You are a child of God and he loves you know that. You are in my prayers. Love your sister in Christ

      April 13, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  13. Sybaris

    Glad she's recovered and been successful but people had the same results 2000 years ago after praying to Zeus.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  14. He Is

    Jesus Christ is the Lord God Almighty, HE is the one who helped her to recover. It wasn't just because of "faith"... It's not cause she thought possitively through her faith cause she believed in a deity. She has a true relationship with the Living God who sustained her. People, Jesus is a LIVING God... He's not just an imagination or just a belief.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • He isn't

      He's not. All you have is some papers someone gave you. Sucker.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Sybaris

      What is especially ironic about this story is that if she had had cancer and went into remission you would be saying your god cured her but in this instance, as in any other amputee case, your god fell short.

      Why can't your god grow back limbs?

      April 12, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Steve

      The Dr's name was Jesus? weird

      April 12, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Stop Religion

      The doctors saved her not your Thor.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • MM

      AMEN !!! Its such a shame that most people dont know the truth !!! The Lord our God is the master physician !!! Praise you Jesus !!!!!!!!!

      April 12, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Connie Lingus

      Shut up, moron.

      April 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • afreeman

      So, if this amputee had prayed to god he would have given her her arm back? see http://WhyWontGodHealAmputees.com/

      April 12, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • pat carr

      "jesus is a living god" except for the fact you can't see "Him", hear, smell, touch or detect in any way. The only "proof" is in the belief of millions of christ-bots and "testimony"

      April 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • mollyd

      Prove it. Prove what you proclaim. Where is the science here? Are you nuts?
      You believe in a fantasy. The bible was written to get control of people, property and their wealth.
      Jesus may have existed, but all religions since his time have only killed in their own name......and crushed women, all women. Name a religion that does not treat their women poorly? Religion is for the weak-minded. Pure and simple.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  15. The Truth

    Why make a movie based on a true story if they want to hide the actual true story? I bet if her religion was anything but Christian they would have no problem depicting it in film.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • I'm just saying

      I thought the exact same thing. What is the "fear" of Jesus? Is it perhaps the power in the name?

      April 12, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Rob

      Yeah, sure. I've never seen a film about Jewish people (Schindler's List, Anne Frank, School Ties, The Devil's Arithmetic, etc), or Hindu people (Ghandi, Neecha Nagar, Pyaasa, etc), Islamic people (Malcolm X, The Message, The Lion of the Desert, etc.), Buddhists (The Golden Child, Seven Years in Tibet, I Heart Huckabees, etc), Church of Latter Day Saints People (Out of Step, The Other Side of Heaven, etc.), Amish people (Witness), and so on and so on.

      Get over yourself, please.

      April 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Chancho

      Rob you just proved the truth's point? ha

      April 12, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  16. Edmund Jaja

    brainwashing

    April 12, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • mollyd

      Religion is all about controlling wealth, property, and crushing women and their rights........

      April 12, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  17. Jim

    I'm just curious. How much credit do they give to the surgeons who saved her life? How much credit to the lifeguards and all the other people involved in getting her out of the water, and getting her the medical assitance she needed? If you want to keep "an open mind" about faith, you have to also keep an open mind about reality. God didn't reach down with his own hands and pluck this young woman out of the water, real people did that. Real doctors, with real science, saved her life. They deserve some credit too.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • doug

      clearly you have not seen the movie to ask such a question.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Umm, the question about faith has more to do with her mental recovery and internal fort.itude to get back on her board. Me I'm a complete atheist. However "faith" is real. What they believe might be fantasy, but the belief is real and for some people it works.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • duhhuh

      I'm guessing they show people rescuing her and doctors saving her life in the movie. just a guess... sigh...

      April 12, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • KDC

      Well it was God that gave all those people you spoke of the ability to do that.......so in essence they didn't do that on their own.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Rob

      @KDC - please prove to me, using evidence, that some god gave people their skills. I think it would be more to give credit where credit is due and chalk it up to their hard work, the educational system in which they learned their skills, and the hard work of all of those who put them through school and worked to provide them with the tools to heal. Chalking it all up to some deity doesn't give proper credit to those who deserve it.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • charlie

      Rob, can you prove that God DIDN'T provide them with their means and skills? ....... Didn't think so

      April 13, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • Jose

      Niether argument can be proven or disproven logically if the existance or nonexistance of God is not assumed in the argument. You are both coming to the discussion with different assumptions. Why do I bother posting this? Because ive found long ago these discussions are fruitless for both parties.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • paul

      Another hater looking for a cause. The girls faith is what helped her cope with life after the shark attack and medical care. She is not crediting god with sewing her arm closed and blood transfusions.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  18. Harvey

    Harp-oon arm! And top-less! Go girl!~

    April 12, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  19. Faith

    Faith is real. All comments from those who think they are smarter than God, well, you are not. Schooling, rationalization, and logic will only take you so far.

    Please be open minded enough to let Christians practice their faith and tell their side of the story...you might learn something!

    April 12, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Alex

      BS report.... BS report....... god doesn't exist, faith is a illusion, and anything is a more intelligent than a mythical god.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Stop Religion

      There's nothing to learn. It's the same garbage for the last 2000 years. Christ Nazis keep forcing this crap on us believing that we would somehow overcome with their delusions aka faith.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • MarciaMarcia

      I agree, faith is very real...doesn't make god any more real though.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Howard

      Despite what the faithful might think, or choose to believe, this wasn't a battle over faith. It was a battle between those who wanted to include their religious message and the people (the studio) who were putting up the money for the film and were concerned about what would increase or decrease its box office appeal to the broadest possible audience.

      As Michael Corleone said, "It's nothing personal. It's just business."

      April 12, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Victor

      Hi Faith- Why does being Christian have to be opposed to "schooling" and "logic". Many of the best Western thinkers have been Christian, "schooled" and pretty logical.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Common Sense Guy

      Believing in make-believe will only take you so far. At some point in your life, when you realize all of the tragedy and disappointment the world has in it, could not possibly be attributed to the willful actions of an all powerful, all knowing, and benevolent god, you will experience enlightenment. Religion is for the weak minded. It takes a much bigger spirit and strong faith to realize that individual people have the power to create a peaceful and loving world without having to rely on the belief that supernatural beings exist.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Marty

      Faith IS real. I didn't always believe that, but I do now. Just quiet down a little and listen, you might be surprised. I am learning a little more everyday-but I'll never try to shove my faith down someone else's throat. It is my own personal relationship, you might say I stumbled upon it. Things that used to matter too much no longer get the attention I used to give it--wasted energy. The things I used to ignore, I realized were more important to me than anything else. My priorities changed and for the better. But, that is my own personal relationship................

      April 12, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Rapp

      @Alex... Wow, your intelligent response has convinced me to give up my faith. Thanks so much.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • richunix

      @ Howard:

      Nice comment and I do agree that whatever she believes in and it helped her overcome adveristy, is the real meaning of the story.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Alex

      @Rapp: You won't give up faith even I prove you with mathematical formulas so. You know why? Because you want keep believing in your god and mythical afterlife because it provides you confidence even if such feeling is a false one. I have not seen a morsel of evidence of an afterlife or a supreme god but I do have seen scientific evidence explaining everything that before was thought to be created for some supernatural power. That illusion of the good and the bad is just merely a human perception. People more often than not want to give meaning to things that happens purely by chance when in reality is random patterns. That is what god is noise that in some way gave some hope to people. But I have to ask, what is real? You know how the answer goes for that question.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Harry

      Alex, what is real? I believe you are real because you communicated with me through this electronic technology. I wonder how God would do it? Tell me do you have a girl friend or wife have you told her you loved her? Prove it.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • JAR

      Galileo, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Francis Collins (director of the human genome project.) All believe(d) in God and stated the fact publically. If these are not enough witnesses, know that only 16% of the world’s populations don’t believe in God; that leaves 5.546 billion people that believe in a god. Of the 5.546 billion that believe in some kind of god, 3.74 billion (that would be over half) Believe in Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
      Of course you posit that we are all wrong and you are right...NOT

      April 12, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Cobber89

      @ Alex: Your comments don't make any sense. You don't complete any thoughts and you don't use proper grammar. No one can follow your thoughts. How could you possibly provide anyone proof of anything?

      Well, you did prove that you aren't very bright.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Rob

      @Jar - your argument (aside from being factually incorrect) commits the fallacies of ad populum and an appeal to authority. Simply because many people believe in something doesn't make it true. Besides, most people in history, and most people living on the planet right now, don't believe in Christianity anyway. But that doesn't really matter. What matters is that Christians don't have any evidence for their hypothesis that god exists.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Alex

      @Cobber: Or maybe I am way too advanced for you, my friend. Listen the other one, @Jar, the fact that those scientists believed it (yes, they themselves were wrong) god doesn't make it true. And you are downplaying the problem as to the existence of god would be a democracy problem (Yay, take your vote and let's see who wins). There can be trillions of people believing in god and just one atheist on Earth, that doesn't make god real. The only thing that proves is that there more lunatic people out there. Have you seen people in a psych ward talking alone to themselves? And have you seen people in church praying? The similarities are striking. Both groups should be in psych ward.

      April 12, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • The Truth has no Agenda

      Yeah guys like Alex have such an amazing intellectual capacity...NOT.

      April 12, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Johnny 5

      No, faith is belief in something without evidence. It's the opposite of real.

      April 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Anita

      I agree with you on this Faith. I don't share the Christian beliefs...but in my view live and let live. Practice being a good Christian...include it in stories being told (like this movie) where it applies, but don't try to shove it down my throat calling me a sinner because I don't believe in your God(not saying you have done that...others on here have though).

      April 12, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • hmwallace

      Alex, you are being dishonest. You CANNOT make such a claim just as the believers can't fully prove that he does exist. You simply do not know. Stop fooling yourself.

      April 12, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Chartreux

      Stop Religion, why are you on this page if you're uninterested in matters of faith? If you're an atheist or an agnostic, there are better places for you to be than here in the Belief section. Are you lost?

      April 12, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • pat carr

      "Please be open minded enough to let Christians practice their faith and tell their side of the story."

      we've been doing that for 2,000 years. Stop with the christian "persecution complex". Your religion doesn't control the world anymore.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • charlie

      Alex,

      How do you know? I guess your omnipotent?

      April 13, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • Bible Thumper and Proud of It :)

      The proof of God is all around you. If you think we are "Christ Nazis" Why? We are trying to show you we love you by "trying to shove religion down your throat" In my world that last sentence should go like this The christians are trying to save you from the sinful deeds and bring you to see the glory of God! He loves you no matter what you say about him no matter what you do! Who else loves you like that? Who? Who would send there only child to save you? God is all around you. I have faith in God but you have an even bigger Faith in no God. It is easy to look around and see the beauty of God but it is hard to look around and see a big bang or evolution. Please know that you all are in my prayers.
      Sincerely
      A 16 year old Christian

      April 13, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • JAR

      Rob, true facts.

      Others, I guess if witness' are not sufficient we are left with faith, you have faith God does not exist, I have faith God does exist.
      I am sorry for you choice. Shalom to you and yours.

      April 13, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • paul

      I agree with the Op-ed. Most of the people who bash god and hide behind science don't know many scientists. Try to find an astrophysics book or cosmology book that doesn't refer to a "design" and "mind of god". The ironic fact is that some of the most religious people are scientists.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  20. Somebodyisgettingpaid

    God said to send me all the money you make from the movie!

    April 12, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • iknowurider72

      And then God convinced me to make this movie. He wanted me to share my story with the world. He said, "Bethany, gather my flock and have them each spend $9.00 to watch this wonderful story of how you lost your arm." "What, I have to loose my arm?" I screamed. "Yes my daughter, but do not worry you will be rich and all it will cost you is one arm," responded the lord. "And with this gift, you will be able to share my story of love and how I enabled you to overcome difficulty and sadness in your life." What a joke.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • walker

      Yes it is true , the moviemakers want to make money. but the Christians wants to tell the truth about Christ. To the true Christians, it's not about money, it is about the message of Christ

      April 12, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Ron St. Louis

      So the message from Christ is. "Surf and sharks will eat you".

      April 12, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • copanut

      @walker: "Yes it is true , the moviemakers want to make money. but the Christians wants to tell the truth about Christ. To the true Christians, it's not about money, it is about the message of Christ"

      Then let the Christians put up their own money to make the movie. Obviously the goal of the producers is to turn a profit, and they won't do that by turning off potential customers. It's easy for you to be cavalier with someone else's investment, isn't it?

      April 12, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • JD

      Stop letting the devil use you!! All of you!! Everyone who is not A son of God, is a son of the devil. John 8:44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. I know this is a mind blowing scripture, but it's the truth. You want to go to heaven than repent of your sins and accept Jesus as your savior, he qualified as your saviour because he died for our sins, or keep rejecting him and go to hell with your father the devil. Its real simple. I'm telling this because I love you.. IF you all want to stay related to the devil and go live with him in torment(hell), suffering, pain and agony(the pain and suffering in this world is nothing compared to how you will suffer in hell), than go ahead..God has given you freedom of choice, can't blame him if you choose hell. Stop rejecting Jesus, and accept who for who God has said he is and live for eternity with him in heaven and in Peace, and unspeakable JOY. Make your choice right now...because tomorrows not promised to anyone!!!

      April 13, 2011 at 11:19 am |
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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.