'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

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soundoff (2,051 Responses)
  1. Lynn

    What a bunch of idiots. The movie is about a girl, who suffered a tragic accident while surfing, and how she overcame obstacles as a result. She is a Christian with a strong faith, which is what got her through these obstacles. It's her story. Why would you take the Christian part out or focus less on it. It's clearly the core of her being. For those that don't like, don't see the movie.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • copanut

      Ah, well doesn't that just answer your own question? The producers pay millions to make the movie and they want people to see it. You do realize they aren't running a charity or a church, right?

      April 12, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • Thq

      Thank you! This is based on a TRUE story, Bethany Hamilton's story. She is a Christian and used her faith as strength for her recovery. This movie isn't pushing religious beliefs. It's telling the true story of someone who happened to have strong ones. If the story is changed it will be a lie. I can't believe this is a debate. It's about as stupid as someone being mad about " The Exorcism of Emily Rose" portraying a Catholic family!

      April 12, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • well

      then they shouldn't have made the movie

      April 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Motley

      copanut hit the nail on the head,... why should the movie studios pour millions into a movie that if focuses mainly on the faith portion could very well come across as preaching to an audience??? They are making the movie to attempt to obtain a profit,.. they are risking millions,... don't you think they have the right to consider the consequences of focusing too much on one aspect of the story???

      If the family doesn't like it,.. they don't have to sell the rights to their story without guarantees of focus on religion,... in turn, movie studios can then make the decision the risk of not making a profit increases too much to take a chance on the making the film,...

      I for one don't want to spend $50+ to take my family to a movie to be preached at,... I for one also won't spend a dime on this at the theaters or DVD rental,... but that is more due to the fact I don't think it is worth my money to see it in the first place,...

      April 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • MDS in AK

      Amen to that (if you will). I can scarcely imagine someone going through what Bethany did and come out the other side without a little help from above and within. I think they put it pretty well; Hollywood wants their freedom of speech, but only if you agree with their version (like some politicians).

      Keep fighting the good fight Bethany, from this recovering Catholic.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • Mike

      Wouldn't it have been cool if God spared her arm and didn't allow it to be bitten off in the first place?

      April 12, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • Mat

      When you are making a movie on a person get it right. Do you change the movie story because you dont want Jesus in there? Then dont make the movie.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • anton

      It wouldn't be a story if her arm was spared now would it?

      April 12, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Weep4America

      @copanut – Your constant comments saying "the producers want to make money" is getting very old, not to mention irrelevant. Of course the producers want to make money on the film. But it's the family's story their telling and they were firm about not hiding their faith. After that, it's up to the producers to decide if they're going to continue. The way you keep harping on it only shows how adamantly YOU don't want it in the film.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  2. Ana23

    I heard that her arm got bitten off because she went surfing while on her period, which is a no-no. Jesus can't fix stupid.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Lycidas

      You are an idiot.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  3. Sitnalta

    I do not think that losing an arm is that big of a handicap when you're a surfer.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
  4. brad

    Christianity is NOT a set of rules to live by, but it is a LIFE to be LIVED walking in close relationship with Christ. While some "organized" religions are "closer" to the mark then others.. and some are way off.. Religion is MANS way of getting to God, Jesus Christ is God's way of getting to man. Does religion in a movie REALLY change the quality of the life the movie's about? If there were more "christian" themes in movies , at the dinner table and in many churches, there'd be less problems in the world, specially in the US. Where morality and character and humility are at all time lows..

    April 12, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  5. Ashe

    I must admit to finding this whole affair to be rather odd. Statistically speaking, and depending on your wide-ranging survey of choice (Pew, RIS etc.), roughly 8-9 of 10 Americans believe in God, and roughly 7-8 out of 10 identify as Christian. Upon further checking, you find that roughly half the people who identify as "No Religion" actually believe in God. That a film about this admitted family of faith would have ACTUAL faith elements is not only true to the real life individuals involved, but also lines up with the beliefs of the vast majority of Americans. So why then is this at all controversial?

    It is only controversial because Hollywood is so entrenched in their own little microcosm, that they have long ago lost touch with actual Americans when it comes to things like personal philosophical beliefs. That this movie speaks to the faith of the general audience within the United States should be applauded.

    On a final note, it always gives me a good laugh to see the Internet atheist types show up en masse whenever a mention of the word "God" or "Christian" permeate any mainstream website. It's almost as if they can't help themselves. If they truly carry such an aversion to it, then please by all means, avoid unnecessary interaction with it.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Oh Really Now

      Odd that a person who rely's primarily on the tenets of their faith, which by definition is "a belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence" will cite mathematical and scientific evidence to bolster their argument, whilst in all probability dismissing the same scientific methods and pedigree should it conflict with a certain, tenuous, world view. An argument from strength in numbers..... really?

      April 12, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • Ashe

      @Oh Really Now - Gosh, this is full of so many logical and argumentative errors, I'm almost not sure where to start. Firstly, you've crafted a strawman here - unless of course you can tell me which particular scientific or mathematical evidence I will "in all probability" dismiss, and assuming I do not dismiss the whole of said evidence (which I won't), your assertion is not only a strawman, but it is also patently false.

      Additionally, you neglect to tell us which scientific method and/or pedigree is incongruous with the two primary tenets of the Christian faith, which is the existence of God and the historicity of the resurrection. This makes me think that you probably don't really understand the scientific method or the limits inherent to it, although I can see that you are scientistic based on the general science worship apparent in your response. However, being a devotee of scientism does not grant someone an understanding of the methods, scope, and limits of science any more than watching Top Gun grants someone the ability to
      be a fighter pilot, or play beach volleyball for that matter.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:32 am |
    • Ashe

      The moderation was giving me trouble, so there may be some duplicate posts here. Take care all.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:36 am |
  6. Greenspam

    Another christian dogma film trying to force religion down your throat. I admire the courage of this girl but trying to tie her tenancity to religion is just asinine. After all, if God was responsible for her return, why would God let sharks bite off her arm in the first place? Don't tell me – God works in mysterious ways. DUH!

    April 12, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • Sensor Ship

      I'm pretty sure its catholic priests trying to shove, ahem... 'religion' down our throats. She's not catholic, is she?!

      April 12, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  7. wale

    There must be something about that name "JESUS" that makes people literally block their ears. That name seems unbearable to so, so many. Anyone else curious except me? No other name draws so much contempt. Pure evidence of darkness vs. light.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • Bob Vila

      Yep, the dark ages.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  8. Polycarp pio

    If there is no truth to Jesus, then what are you afraid of? Why the big uproar and defensivness every time Jesus Christ is memtioned?? It is becuase deep down inside it makes you feel very uncomfortable, that is you SOUL telingl you everything is NOT alright.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • Bob Vila

      I don't like hypocrisy. Many people don't. When we feel that something is patently wrong headed, we have a kind of gag reflex. I support freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. It's refreshing to opening reject something as nauseating as the concept as the god of Christianity, who in his infinite wisdom tritely hands out reams of pain like lollipops, and is viewed as benevolent. Anthropomorphizing nature as God is a very, very sadistic thing indeed. It comes across cheesy on film as well.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  9. Name*Chedar

    Karma play an important part here. And if later Bettany gets swallowed by a shark , that is also Karma.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  10. Sitnalta

    The Noble Reason: A young girl is struck down by a cruel twist of fate. But she knows that God has a plan for her, and through perseverance and her connection to God she overcomes all obstacles to fulfill her destiny. Proving that while life may seem bad sometimes, as long as you believe you will emerge stronger from any crisis.

    The Real Reason: A shark was hungry and she kinda looked like a seal.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  11. Dr. Pangloss

    God's will is to have shark bite off her arm. That's a bad thing? No, that's god's will and she will discover his divine plan.
    God's will is to have shark kill her in very painful death. That's God's will and good thing.
    God's will is to have tsunami kill 25,000 people. That's God's will and a good thing.
    If you believe God's will was to take her arm, then why do you pray to prevent God's nonsense (death, dying, tragedy, illness) from happening. It's all good.
    Oh, almost forgot, when does God intervene to prevent pain and suffering? Only when it's a miracle.
    Wow! What a wonderful life we lead.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  12. Glen

    I don't give 2 sh1ts about your crazy religion. So just make the movie about surfing and keep the rest to yourself.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      You do realize that this is a movie (a true story) about a surfer who happens to be a Christian, right? It would not be a TRUE STORY if her faith was not addressed!

      April 12, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
  13. KO

    Aside from the religious aspect, the quote, "it's always best to air on the side of authenticity" reveals the lack of education on the part of whoever typed this article—the speaker clearly mispronounced "err" as "air," not "er," and someone revealed a further lack of vocabulary by failing to comprehend the error. This is more evidence of the decay of our educational system, which is far more important than how we refer to Jesus in a mediocre feature film.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  14. Scott A

    Too bad such a pretty surfer who seems intelligent puts so much faith in a religion. Its too bad she can't just believe in herself. And since when does somebody need a personal relationship with God and Jesus to be able to make a movie? A lot of people equate Christianity with hate thanks to the right-wingers in this country. If you want a mainstream movie that audiences will go watch, you have to tone down on the religious zeal or just be happy with your movie going straight into the $5 DVD bin at Wal-Mart.

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

      Sounds like someone has bee drinking the KoolAid... or just has a wee bit of a chip on their shoulder. Show a little grace please and try not to trip jumping on the band wagon.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  15. Jim

    Wow, Atheism is a big part of my life. If I were the subject of a movie, would religious folks protest the depiction of an Atheist as a normal guy?

    April 12, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • Lstein

      Atheism is the subject of every other movie. I think we can let Christians have one now and then.

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

      You bet they would. It what they do.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • LizLeigh

      No, I would just chose not to go to the movie which everyone is free to do in this case.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Bob Vila

      If the focus of the movie was on how NOT believing in Jesus miraculously healed your body and soul, transforming your life for the better.... probably.....

      April 12, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Jacob M

      @bob...how did Jesus heal her body? I'm pretty sure that science/technology and versatility of the human body can explain that. Sorry but there was no magic involved

      April 12, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  16. Melanie Fox, Montreal

    This movies is so important for people with disabilities. It is so great it is for all humans to watch and to enjoy. I will see it two times.

    April 12, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
  17. MomOfThree

    As a nonbeliever, I'm so turned off by this. It's wonderful and inspiring that this strong young athlete was able to persevere and thrive after an experience that could have been devastating. But it had nothing to do with a supernatural being or a god, as there's no such thing. It was her inner resources, and those of her loving family, that pulled her through. To choose to discount that, and credit a supernatural force, makes the family one that I would not hold up as models to my children.

    April 12, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • MizzouMama

      Thank you for saying that. Americans' obsession with religion is holding us back. People need to get out more, see the rest of the world. It would help.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • lucianne

      I think if it is her story, and she is all about Jesus, then that's part of the story. Her faith is clearly what worked for her, the quotes are certainly good ones even if you view the bible as literature, and if you don't want to watch, don't go. I won't, but that's just because, while I admire her, I don't care enough to see the movie, Jesus or no Jesus.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • Freeborn

      @Mom of Three How do you know God had nothing to do with it? Who do you think you are? You know all? You feel you know more than this family? You can prove there is no God?

      April 12, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Tom

      Could you please give some emerical evidence that there is no god or supernatural being? I recognize your viewpoint, but what supports it? This is not an attack by the way.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
    • jen

      I think you are being very offensive by saying this about this families faith! This is a TRUE STORY not FICTIon! What did you want them to do Lie in the movie about the truth???

      April 12, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • John M.

      MomOfThree, I will tell you why you are wrong. From reading this article, it does sound like a great reason for her success after her tragedy was her religious faith. It sounds like without that faith, this particular person might not have been sufficiently motivated. It really doesn't matter if her belief in God is based on a correct premise or not, because for her, it was the motivation. Other people have different motivations - as many movies have shown - but for Bethany, it was her belief in God. That's a fact, and that's the story as reflected in this movie.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • John

      To all you blind believers in god: instead of asking non-believers to prove that there is no God, why not just deliver to us rational thinkers one single piece of proof of the existence of a god - much less a loving, created-in-his-image god? You haven't because you can't - that's probably why they call it "faith." "I cannot prove it, yet it is true." I'm just so glad scientist don't rely on the magic in their work.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • Isis

      That is completely sick. If you ever faced hardships in life then turn to God and pray, your prayers will almost always be answered. Imagine this: Just because no one believes you or anything about you, they turn against you and never give you the time of day. This is what you are doing towards God. He died on the cross for OUR sins. If so, think about this: "The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he doesn't exist."Give me reasons to prove that God/Jesus does not exist, and I will tell you otherwise.

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

      @Mizzou: You say that people who believe in God in America "need to get out more, see the rest of the world". Hmmm let's see Christianity is illegal in China, people are killed and persecuted for believing in Jesus, they are forced to meet underground, but there are still over 100 million Christians in China, more than there are in the US where we have freedom of religion. Maybe YOU need to get out and see the rest of the world, christianity in America is not necessarily representative of true Christ followers and you'll find a radical, devoted, body of believers if you "get out and see the world".

      April 12, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • Almeda

      God's existence can be proved in many ways,but the simplest is that known as the argument from design! As a watch must have come from a watchmaker, so much so, us humans had to have had a great and intelligent MAKER! If you would expect to receive obedience,respect and honor from your children,how much more do you think a greater Being would be due to receive? That was a rhetorical question btw!!!! Failure to love God,our Creator,WILL result in tragedy for any person(with the use of reason and understanding) either now,or in the life after death! Human beings only disappoint..so to give human respect so freely will ultimately render one unhappiness! True bliss can only come from an ethereal source! God bless! 🙂

      April 12, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • Jacob M

      @ tom...that is the same pathetic reply every jesusfreak gives (I use this term because I know a lot of Christians who can logically look at the issue and not spout out that "god" exists without accepting any counterargument) , there is zero evidence that "god" exists, your holy text states that we were created in "gods" image, so you are saying that some person is sitting in "heaven" watching over us and influencing the world (sounds just as illogical as Scientology). I like a good science fiction story as much as the next guy but give me a break. I believe there may be some sort of higher being but I am not positive, I am however positive that it isn't anything like any religion portrays him

      April 12, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Marc

      I think it is pretty amazing that Bethany story was told and that she/her family fought for God to be given the glory...especially when they know it was Him that was at work through the situation in the first place. It is really sad when people blog and insist or impose their personsal basis over those of the people in the experience. This is not some made up story, it was her life, let her tell how she got through it.

      God bless you Bethany...if I would have been your youth pastor, you would have made it all worth the hours of work and hundreds of sleepless night!!! Phil 3:8-11.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  18. Holysmoke721..

    • It is said that with the expansion of the universe and time, that a event on a particle level will take place in a random alignment of those participles with enough time..A re-singularity if you will..
    At this point all the known physical laws will be null, break down, and void. In the beginning there was a void/singularity..To me, this is saying that something greater than all our knowledge and understanding is in charge , everything we know it subject to change, and in the face of this we are helpless to stop it. God Particle or Face of God, Everything is in the hands of it and our intelligence will not prevail against it. It must be more intelligent than we or we have not matched the intelligence of it..At the point of singularity we still don't have a clue..Atom and EVolve. or Adam and Eve . Alpha and Omega or Einstein's infinity in the equation..Seeing it into the rabbit that you see in a cloud in a perspective need to organize it into a personal quantifiable relationship of understanding..Does not Change the absolute reality of it.. Me thinks understanding is still too cloudy to resolve the obvious fact that it is there fully and falling far short of the grasp.."My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind." Einstein.."Not being bound or limited in any arena of understanding reveals the more in the infinite, that sacred place of the open mind, and the more of that will be revealed.. so don't go chasing rabbits reach for the clouds and then the stars "NC.. ." "God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically" All "I want to know is God's thoughts; the rest are details.".. AE..Truth is at a constant flawless state of being, I belive in it, just hope we can get a lttle closer to it in our limited fashion..

    April 12, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • fda

      well stated. Me and you would be friends if we are ever to meet.
      Is man really equipped to answer the question of eternity when they cant put nuclear power in a safe location? The carelessness and poor judgement of all scientists are well illustrated by the fruits of their labor.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • rafael

      These are technologists, not scientists. It might be worth learning what science is and what scientists do.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  19. Jen

    why is it such a big deal to say God or Jesus in a movie, but its not big deal to walk around will dollar bills that say in god we trust on them? everyone holds them, even u atheists out there. I just dont get what all the fuss is about over a movie that had christian aspects in it when the family was just trying to stay true to their story.

    April 12, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Well said Jen. It's a shame when ppl will cry out about having an open society but then denounce those that believe a certain way.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
    • sleepytime

      It IS a big deal to have "In God We Trust" on our money. It was added in the 50s as a result of McCarthyism and does not belong on our currency.

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

      Unfortunately, there appears to be no problem with using the word God or Jesus in movies . . . as long as it's done disrespectfully, in vain, or essentially as a curse word. Done that way, they're used dozens and dozens of times in popular movies. But use them in a respectful manner in depicting someone's faith? Apparently can't allow that. Shameful.

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

      You are both missing the point. The film makers to use overtly religious language because of the way it would constrain marketing the movie. That is, they perceive that more of our movie-going society doesn't like it. There is a point at which religiousity in film starts to look preachy and the majority just don't want to see it.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Jim

      And on the Dollar bill there is a Novus ordo seclorum (New SECULAR Order of the Ages)...what's your point!??

      April 12, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  20. shaleefa

    Jesus would be ashamed of what has been done in his name. Jesus was a Rabbi and a Jew and 60 years after his death a bunch of guys used him to start a religion that has been embellished upon for thousands of years for financial, personal and political gain. If Jesus is the lord then a lot of the folks who think that they are speaking in his name will be sorely surprised by the reward they receive

    April 12, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • colleen

      actually I think the "financial, personal and political gain" only started after Constantine's victory against Licinius won him political power, and he began protecting Christians against the widespread persecution being waged against Christians, and favoring them. Then the "converts" flooded into the churches... Is it people or is it the religions? There are good people out there in all religions, especially at the start of them. The early church leaders definitely didn't do it for much gain but martyrdom.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • CoRo

      Actually, Christianity was already around 60 years after Christ. For example Christ died in or around 30-33 AD. Emperor Nero tried to eliminate the Christians around 64 AD which was about 30 years later so they had to be around before 64 AD. Also, the Apostle Paul wrote most of his letters between 40 and 60 AD (He died around 64 AD). So the idea that Christian was made up 60 years later is debunked just by looking at ancient history

      April 12, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • me

      Yes! And let God be glorified! For His word never returns void but is alive. So all the believers naysayers and everyone in between be blessed! Blessed by the word of the Lord! And remember that you too "can do all things through Christ who strengthens" . He is real and His love is real ! Seek and you too shall find an amazing powerful loving brilliantly able God. Be blessed in Jesus mighty name! And I pray the Lord use this movie to give hope to many that He is able and even more importantly, willing to help us be overcomers in this life and throug Christ the one to come! Amen.... Glory to God in the highest!

      April 12, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
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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.