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With 'Monumental' Kirk Cameron emerges as Christian activist
Kirk Cameron released a documentary in theatres on Friday titled "Monumental."
April 13th, 2012
05:02 PM ET

With 'Monumental' Kirk Cameron emerges as Christian activist

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)– Kirk Cameron could have joined the ranks of former TV heartthrobs who rode off into the sunset, reappearing only for the occasional reunion show or career-reviving role in a TV drama. Think Ricky Schroder or Scott Baio.

But Cameron, known to millions of Americans as Mike Seaver on the hit ‘80s-era show “Growing Pains,” is carving out a new niche for himself, as an unlikely voice of politically conservative American evangelicals.

Cameron has a new documentary on the faith of America’s founders that arrives in theaters on Friday. He is neither a historian nor theologian, but the film, “Monumental,” shows him consumed with Christianity - and with rage over what he says has been the systematic removal of religion’s role from American history.

The film opens with Cameron sitting on an Adirondack chair in his backyard. Looking straight and silently into the camera, a voice-over of his own voice alerts viewers that the world around him is going to hell.

“There is something seriously sick in the soul of our country,” the voice-over says.

“Don’t worry about the fact the world is going to hell in a hand basket - just get out of the hand basket,” his friends tell him. But Cameron explains that he refuses to listen and instead sets out to make “Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure,” which investigates the debate over America’s soul.

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Over the last decade, Cameron has become the wholesome, boyish face of Christian cinema. He starred in “Left Behind,” the low-budget film based on the wildly popular Christian book series.

More recently, he played the lead role in “Fireproof,” a breakout film that shocked the Hollywood establishment when it debuted in the top 10 in its first week and wound up taking in an estimated $33 million. The film was made by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, for just over $500,000.

Cameron was one of the only professional actors in the film; the rest were congregants from the church.

Along with such popular movies as Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” ”Fireproof” showed the potential for a new market in explicitly Christian films. In the last two years, crossover movies like “Soul Surfer” and “Courageous” have had parallel advertising campaigns targeting churches.

The movement has propelled Cameron back into the spotlight.

“Monumental” is Cameron’s baby. He is its executive producer and its star.

“When I survey the landscape and turn on the news, all signs are saying panic,” Cameron recently said.

“Instead of listening to everyone play the blame game … maybe the best place to look for solutions was to talk to the men and women who built this country 400 years ago and laid the foundations that resulted in a nation that has experienced more blessing and prosperity and strength than any other nation in the world,” he said.

“That launched me on this journey to retrace the Pilgrims and find the sacred sauce.”

In the film, Cameron retraces the Pilgrims’ steps from England to Holland to the New World. He talked to scholars and historians, digging in on the faith of the Founding Fathers.

What he found, he said, is a forgotten historical narrative not taught in schools.

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Those first principles, as Cameron sees them, are spelled out in a scene depicting a large stone monument near Massachusetts’ Plymouth Rock, the spot memorialized as the place the Pilgrims landed.

“Faith in God … produces character, character will produce courage, courage to face the challenges of the day,” Cameron says in the movie, riffing off the Pilgrims’ story.

Cameron teamed with NCM Fathom, a company that streams live events to movie theaters nationwide, like live performances of the Metropolitan Opera and boxing matches, to offer a sneak peek at the film a couple of weekends ago. That debut was emceed by Cameron, featured live performances by Christian bands and was beamed out live on more than 600 screens, grossing $1.23 million, according to NCM and Cameron's publicist.

Kirk Cameron stares at an inscription at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington.

The new documentary has faced criticism for its inclusion of self-taught evangelical Christian historian David Barton.

A favorite among evangelicals for his Christian-centric views of the Founding Fathers and his vast collection of historical documents, Barton is heavily featured in the film.

“The reason I went to go see David Barton is because he owns the largest collection of original source documents from the founding era that I can get my hands on and that you can go and see,” Cameron said.

“When you look at those documents it becomes incredibly clear there has been a lot of cherry picking of the evidence done to support a very particular worldview, and that’s the worldview our children are learning in school and it’s not the full and complete historical record because it doesn’t reflect the faith of our Founding Fathers,” the actor said.

In a version of the film made available for screening and in clips posted online, Barton shows Cameron the “Thompson Hot Press Bible,” which Barton said was printed in 1798 and was funded by 12 signers of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, including John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

“They wanted the word of God out to every family,” Barton says in the clip. “If these guys happen to be Christians it makes a lot of sense.”

Barton then picks up a small rare Bible known as the “Aitken Bible.” “The Bible of the Revolution was printed by the Congress of the United States. So Congress printed the first English Language version of the Bible,” Barton said. He goes on to say the Congress said, “This was a neat edition of the Bible for use in our schools.”

Warren Throckmorton, an associate professor of psychology at Grove City College, a private Christian school in Pennsylvania, has criticized Barton’s version of history and Cameron’s films.

About much of the history featured in the film, Throckmorton said, “That’s just not what happened.”

After seeing clips of the documentary, Throckmorton fact-checked some parts.

He said he found that the “Thompson Hot Press Bible” was not funded in total by 12 Founders. Instead, he said, the Bible was funded by a subscription base of 1,200 customers that included 12 Founding Fathers. “The printers funded that Bible, the Founders didn’t fund it. It was a business venture for them.”

As for the quote Barton attributed to Congress about putting the Bible in schools, it actually came from Robert Aitken’s petition to Congress. Aitken was a colonial printer. The Journals of Congress from 1782 shows Aitken completed the Bible on his own and sought the blessing of Congress.

The record shows a report from two congressional chaplains who examined the work, which they praised.

Congress passed a resolution to recommend “this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States and hereby authorize him to publish this recommendation in the manner he shall think proper.” That resolution did not mention it being put in schools.

“David Barton gets the facts wrong when it comes to these two Bibles,” Throckmorton said. “The facts of the case are stretched and embellished to create a narrative that is misleading.”

Cameron defended Barton’s work. “No one is more guilty of cherry picking evidence than those who bow to the god of political correctness, especially historians,” Cameron said. “Everyone is going to select the information that is important to their thesis. If you’re bent on being politically correct, it’s very easy to fall into that trap.”

Throckmorton noted that he and other critics of Barton’s work hail from Christian colleges and universities.

Early controversy surrounding Cameron's comments on social issues have given the film more media coverage than Cameron could have imagined for a small-budget documentary.

Appearing on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight last month, Cameron fielded questions about abortion, gay marriage and what he would do if one of his six children came out to him as gay.

None of the topics appear in the film, but Cameron expressed views on same-sex marriage, abortion and homosexuality that are common among conservative evangelical Christians.

Cameron called homosexuality “unnatural,” adding, “I think that it's detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization."

His comments sparked outrage from gay rights groups like GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The group led a campaign to counter Cameron’s comments with other 1980s TV stars and evangelicals on the other side of the theological spectrum.

GLAAD spotlighted a bevy of celebrities who chided Cameron for his positions on homosexuality, including a tweet from Rosanne Barr, who suggested Cameron was “an accomplice to murder with his hate speech.”

Cameron said his support for traditional marriage is rooted in faith and thinks it should inform policy decisions: “You either believe marriage and human sexuality are sacred or you do not.”

Cameron jokingly described his faith as “high octane” but said he considers himself part of the evangelical Christian tradition. He said he goes to a small nondenominational community church near his home in California, though his publicist later clarified that he is not a member of the church, whose name he would not disclose because of privacy and security concerns.

Cameron said he was caught off guard by the controversy around his comments.

“It is my goal to love everyone. I hate no one,” he said. “Regardless of their race, religion, their proclivities, the desire of their heart and how they want to live their life and the decisions that they make. I can even respect people’s decisions and lifestyle choices just as I hope they have the courtesy to respect my decisions and my choices.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Religious liberty

soundoff (2,339 Responses)
  1. Carol

    Way more informative:
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RT6rL2UroE&w=640&h=360]

    April 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Writerscramp

      I so thank Carlin as having been one of the major influences in my life to wake me to reality

      April 14, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  2. BillBones

    Another closeted gay man who buries his real desires in religious dogma....boring.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  3. Kirk was once an atheist
    April 13, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Candy

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOj0SgDqNAU&w=640&h=360]

      April 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Cq

      All of us were atheists at one time because children don't believe in God until you teach them to. We're also trained to believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy as well, but that's another argument.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • Robert

      There's a difference between being an atheist and being intellectually lazy when considering things spiritual. I get the impression Kirk was the latter, he just didn't think about God/gods/etc. Besides he descibes himself as having been a "devout" atheist which demonstrates he really has no idea what atheism is.

      June 6, 2012 at 1:33 am |
  4. Peace be with you!

    Cameron-You have been chosen for such a time as this. May God bless you and may his favor be upon you!

    April 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Carol

      This is more informative than what Kirk has to say.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RT6rL2UroE

      April 13, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • rick

      yeah, god will like you more now (rolls eyes)

      April 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • It moake you wonder

      I wonder why God always choses the Gumpian tanglebrains like Kirk Cameron, Fred Phelps, and the many just sayins? How come he NEVER chooses someone who is articulate, respectful, and capable of defending his ideas intelligently?

      April 13, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Kathleen

      Funny how this god always chooses the dimmest wits to represent him.

      April 14, 2012 at 3:31 am |
    • steven harnack

      Hey Rick, that's great! Sometimes a simple statement like that can sum up so much. Thanks.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • waitasec

      he chose himself

      April 15, 2012 at 1:27 am |
  5. Kirk Cameron, Jesustani Mullah

    “When I survey the landscape and turn on the news, all signs are saying panic,” Cameron recently said. Of course, had he had the tiniest of brains, he would recognize it as the usual political fear-mongering, no different from the Red Scares of the 20s and 50s.

    "maybe the best place to look for solutions was to talk to the men and women who built this country 400 years ago" Okay, ignoring Kirk's desire to talk to dead people, I hope he realized that the Pilgrims were not the first people building colonies in America – Spain came well before – none, Kirk doesn't want to talk to them, then Jamestown, which was economic in focus. Then the French – economic again, the Dutch – economic opportunities, and finally the Pilgrims.

    And the country was built 236 years ago, not 400 years ago. There was no country before that.

    “That launched me on this journey to retrace the Pilgrims and find the sacred sauce.” Okay, the Pilgrims rejected all forms of idolatry, INCLUDING CROSSES! The Pilgrims did not celebrate Christmas and Easter. Ouch! And the Pilgrims considered marriage a civil affair, not to be handled by the church ministers, OUCH!

    Ayatollah Cameron has produced ugly propaganda, an extreme perversion of the information, to support his desire for the replacement of America with Jesustan.

    You are too high on the secret sauce, Kirk!

    April 13, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  6. Nick Knight

    Kirk Cameron read your bible again. Kirk Cameron you are judging others, that is not for us or you to do. Kirk Cameron is not lifting up his brother or sister he is tearing them down. Kirk sweetie we are responsible for what we do, when judgement comes we all will be accountable for what we have done. Kirk you are stepping over your bounds here. Pray for these people instead of bashing.

    April 13, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  7. 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

    Rather than pining for the past and a return to religion, people should look at the elimination of religion as the natural advancement (evolution!) of mankind from cave dwelling superst!tious ignoramouses to a more advanced fact based society. But there will always be throwbacks, shamans and charlatans. . .

    April 13, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  8. Snow

    Monumental.. Idiot !

    April 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Potion4

      Why Cant we all just get along? BECAUSE YOU CANT HANDLE THE TRUTH

      April 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  9. green lyon

    John Adams' letter to Thomas Jefferson of January 22, 1825- "The Europeans are all deeply tainted with prejudices both ecclesiastical and temporal which they can never get rid of." The movie is just more lies from the antichrists

    April 13, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  10. The Great God Fraud In Jesustani America

    Right-wingers and religious fanatics are just starving for propaganda, and Kirk is here to cash in. There is big money in it, as Limbaugh can tell you.

    Just tell the right lie, and money will pour all over you.

    The only thing that is "seriously sick in the soul of our country" is the people who believe that "there is something seriously sick in the soul of our country."

    April 13, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  11. tbreeden

    People like Kirk and David Barton make me scared for this nation.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  12. MennoKnight

    I am a Born-Again Evangelical Christian.
    I like Kirk, he is a good guy. I really liked Fireproof, great movie.

    I did not like the Left Behind books and movies (so much bad theology).

    Beware of revisionist history Kirk. Some of the founding fathers were Christians. Others were not.
    Ben Franklin was not. He is famous for saying, "Build more lighthouses not churches." He was a Deist
    Thomas Jefferson cut up the bible and removed more than half of it because it was offensive.
    Thomas Paine hated organized religion, saving his harshest words for Moses.

    Don't attempt to whitewash history. Our history includes strong Born Again Christians working together with those who did not hold our core values and doing and out of that creating a great nation.
    Much can be learned from that fact.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • MennoKnight

      Sorry to all, I forgot to proofread. I hate that when it happens.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Do you also support his stance on Gay Marriage?

      April 13, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • MennoKnight

      Yes, because his view lines up with what is taught in the New Testament, which is our guild-line for how we should live our lives as Christians.
      I disagree with Kirk's revisionist history of the United States of America.

      April 13, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      There is one word to describe you-BIGOT!!!

      His view on gays states that it is abnormal and he is wrong-we know from testable scientific evidence that being gay is as normal as being male or female-you might know this if you grew up ad stopped reading fairy tales. The NT is no longer a valid docu.ment in society, what it states is outdated but you continue to live with your ignorance. Please do the world a favor and do not breed...people who are bigots make bad parents.

      BTW: For the strong minded, a book is not required in order to live a good life. So that would put yo in the weak minded category...how pathetically sad for yo...try thinking for yourself, oh and read that book cover to cover-it really is a horror story more than anything else.

      April 14, 2012 at 6:16 am |
    • SayIt

      Whoa. And honest evangelical; kudos to you.

      April 14, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • Keith

      TP vs God. God 1. TP 0. You lose, TP. Do you really love the gay sinful lifestyle enough to spend an eternity in the lake of fire for it? Seriously?

      April 14, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • jdubz

      TP was just looking for fight. like she always does. Likes the use the word bigot a lot. In the years to come, the morals of this country and world will be so out of whack, even most atheists here today will be called a bigots for opposing them. TP only calls us bigots because we use the morals that were set thousands of years ago. Im glad to be a "bigot"

      April 16, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  13. Keith

    Kirk is a stand-up guy with an eternal perspective. His reward will be great as he has helped to lead many to understand their need for a Savior. Good job, Kirk!

    April 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Can he help you understand that Obama isn't a Muslim, Keith?

      April 13, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Keith

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCAffMSWSzY&w=420&h=315]

      April 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Kirk Cameron-Brainwasher Extraordinaire

      oh wow...the guy is a bigot!

      April 13, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • sam stone

      he is an arrogant dweeb with an eternal delusion

      April 13, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Keith

      Being called a bigot by someone of your caliber is a compliment.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Keith

      did you go & watch that video, Tommy? The man is his own worst enemy. He's a good litttle muslim. Mohammed would be proud.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Where've you been, Keith? The video doesn't amount to proof that Obama is a Muslim. Your inability to figure out what was said in the interview does, however, amount to proof you're an idiot.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Keith

      Keep on drinkin' that Kool-aid, Tom.....Big gulps....

      April 14, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  14. Denise

    Christian god obviously doesn't exist. Kirk is an idiot and a charlatan.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  15. just sayin

    Just another delusional nutjob that has the right to vote. God Bless

    April 13, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  16. HeavenSent

    I am sure he can also hear God's voice.

    Amen.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "I am sure he can also hear God's voice."

      Nope it's only his own they proved it's all about your brain.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Hearing voices in the real world is defined easily as schizophrenia.

      April 13, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • just sayin

      He can – it comes from his pants. God Bless

      April 13, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  17. Monumental

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIIqXiF-z6E&w=640&h=360]

    April 13, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Kirk Cameron, Jesustani Mullah

      The original title of the movie was "Monumental Dickhead"

      April 13, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • tallulah13

      @Kirk Cameron, Jesustani Mullah

      Possibly the best comment ever.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • Cq

      What Kirk doesn't realize is that we non-believers are fighting for our families too. We can't see them having a bright future under the influence of religious superst.ition.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      There are certainly more secular democracies extant in the world today than there are theocracies. That's the lesson of history that matters. Anybody want to create a christian Iran? Anybody? Hello?

      April 14, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  18. Mr Chihuahua

    Hey Kirk, I got your sacred sauce right here lol!

    April 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • BRUCE

      I WOULD LIKE TO DO KIRK. HE IS STILL HOT.

      April 14, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  19. sam stone

    gosh, speaking for god is so arrogant.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  20. Kirk-Love ya!

    God bless you!

    April 13, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • steven harnack

      Are you telling god what to do or are you second guessing him? Things like that just show that you created god and that he does what your imagination tells him to do.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:49 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.