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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. TheMostWise

    Kirk said, "“Faith in God … produces character, character will produce courage, courage to face the challenges of the day."
    He ignores the very reasonable assertion that "faith" is choosing or deciding without reason" and therefore is a rather cowardly abandonment and betrayal of reason to the degree that it could be deemed 'treasonous'. This is not courage, but just the opposite. His assertion is patently false. One's confidence in reason provides the real "courage to face the day"...this is the courage to face reality. Avoidance of reality using the leger demain of faith is not only cowardice...it's also dishonest.

    April 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  2. Worship Poseidon

    Allah would destroy Jesus in a fight, seeing how Jesus was a long haired hippy q u e e r!!!!

    April 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • james

      Say what you like,you have the freedom to do so but every word you say will be held against you when you stand before the Lord Jesus Christ.

      April 22, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Rick

      God made gays, too. Perhaps Kirk is angering God

      April 22, 2012 at 5:42 am |
  3. danielwalldammit

    Heaven forbid that professional historians should fail to humor the dabblings of an idiot when they write their textbooks!

    April 21, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  4. Stephen

    People like this tend be having issues within themselves. They turn that outward to other people. I think Kirk is in some internal battle with himself.

    April 21, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Worship Poseidon

      I think all that man juice from Tim Tebow's penis that Kirk has swallowed is effecting his judgement.

      April 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  5. Jim

    Scene: Liberal atheist politically correct Piers Morgan interviews a Christian. Who is the most tolerant? The harsh intolerant British atheist or the sincere honest tolerant Christian who admits his condition and weaknesses? Who is trying to foist their view on the other one and mock him? This is a great example of the modern liberal. The past four thousand years of history and experience are immaterial to the modern liberal. WE KNOW WHAT IS BEST FOR EVERYONE!

    April 21, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • sam stone

      tolerant? kirk is blaming gays for the downfall of civilization and he is tolerant?

      April 21, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • sam stone

      liberals claim to know what is best for everyone? as opposed to christians?

      April 21, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Worship Poseidon

      Kirk Cameron and Tim Tebow finish on each other before or after prayer time?

      April 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  6. jabby

    Christ is for the saved and those of His brothers and sisters, Jews and Gentiles, who are yet to be saved. Christianity or the Church, however, is for the mature in Christ, who preach His Gospel to the world of unbelievers, as a witness to all that God is holy and just. For every knee must bow and every tongue on earth must confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to God's glory. Amen.

    April 20, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Worship Poseidon

      Jesus Christ was a long haired hippy gay.

      April 21, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  7. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    He's as relevant today as when he was on TV – NOT!

    April 20, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  8. tom5634353

    That's what happens when your celebrity was gone before puberty. You'll do anything to get people to notice you.

    April 20, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  9. pastmorm

    NEWS: Kirk Cameron emerges and insane religious freak that make movies about how people will BURN if they don't listen to his dead god.

    April 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Jayjay

      I LOVE this picture. It's a metaphor for fundamentalist Christians: they set themselves facing a window, only to stare at a brick wall. PERFECT!!!!!!

      April 20, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Eusi

      It is sad that you (pastmorm) believe God is dead, but you will find out just how alive he is one of these good days.

      April 21, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • james

      If kirk Cameron is wrong,he has nothing to lose but if he right in which he is,you,my friend has everything to lose.

      April 22, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Rick

      james: look up "pascal's wager". your argument is specious. if kirk is wrong, it could be that there is a different god than he imagines, and he could be in as much hot water as you claim those who do not believe in your (and, presumably kirk's) god are

      April 22, 2012 at 5:47 am |
    • Rick

      also, james, we are not your friends, so spare us the false piety and the empty proxy threats

      April 22, 2012 at 5:48 am |
  10. Ken F

    Want evidence of Barton's usefulness as a historian? Quote from this article: "So Congress printed the first English Language version of the Bible." Really? Ever heard of King James?

    April 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • jeffreydaniel

      I was wondering about that one. Has to be a misprint. wonder what they/he mean?

      April 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      Barton's credentials as a historian have never been taken seriously by anyone who actually cares about history. He is a hack, who writes for hacks, and is loved by hacks.

      April 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  11. Futon Torpedo

    Cameron staring at the words of Thomas Jefferson...a democrat. yeaaahhhhh.

    April 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • tray

      I LOVE KIRK WITH SHORTS ON.

      April 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  12. Bob

    He is truly a Monumental Moron.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  13. Grumpy

    Not my kind of Christianity, not my favorite actor. Is he following his heart or the money? He and his God are the only ones who can say. As I see it, he's just another voice for ignorance in American religion.

    April 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  14. bdl1978

    When his acting career didn't pan out he discovered where the money was really at = christianity. Go to church and give your hard earned money to support something with no evidence of its existence. what a rational thing to do and brainwash your children into. god bless america

    April 20, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • SoM

      wh is it about athiests that feel the need to destroy something that someone else holds dearly? Go pick a fight somewhere else.

      April 20, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Susan

      SoM – why is it that Christians insist on shoving their beliefes down the throats of others. Please tell your faithful to keep to themselves. People have done absolutely horrific things throughout history in the name of the church. Why anyone follows these people is astounding to me.

      April 20, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • wimanf

      Those with demon controlled minds, such as atheists, gays and lesbians and child molesters will not understand people with principle like Kirk Cameron. I am telling you; if you do not not repent of your hatred toward God, Eternity in hell is what you will face. Give up that hopeless like and come to Jesus. He is waiting for you with opened arms.

      April 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      SoM: When those who hold these thing so dearly stop trying to make them into law, you will have a point.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • sam stone

      wiman: how do you expect that people can "come to" something in which they do not believe? answer that, or shove your empty proxy threats up whatever body cavity is most pleasurable

      April 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • sam stone

      wimanf: we DO understand bigots. we simply speak up against them.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • SoM

      I am not religiouse nor do I waste my time talking about God to athiests because it is pointless. Athiests like picking fight with Christians, but to be honest, I wish they would take religion out of government.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • SoM

      @wimanf, Asd a Christian and your useless belief of etenal hell, I only have this to say to you. We do not read the Bible the way it is; we read it the way we are. If you combine a carnal view to scripture with fear, blind ego, self-righteous pride, a hidden desire for vengeance and spark the religious engine with a pharisitical spirit. You get a determined believer of hell. To suppose that God would bring beings into existence for both His purpose and pleasure who He knew in advance without mercy would be infinite losers by that existence, is to charge him a hypocrite with the utmost malignity. So much for Jesus turning the other cheek.

      April 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • jeffreydaniel

      why is it people always want to talk about the horrors done in the name of Christianity, but are strangely silent on all the atrocities committed by atheist, which, I may add outnumber them about 10000 to one. Even in the spanish inquisition it is estimated at most 20000 people died, while in the 20th century, over 80 million people were killed by Stalin, Mao, and a host of other completely atheist leaders. And people are always screaming how ignorant believers are. I guess according to popluar revisionist history, that seems accurate,?

      April 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Bob

      jeffreydaniel, Mao and Stalin did not "kill" 80 million people. Upwards of 70 million died during mao's "Great Leap Forward", but that was due to famine as a result of poor planning, not out and out murder. During Stalin's Great Purge, an estimated 700,000 to 1.3 million died, but they were mostly Stalin's rivals in the communist party and the Politburo, then soliders and officers in the military that the thought were disloyal. When's the last time you wrung your hands over the innocent civilians who have died in the Middle East wars at the hands of American Christians?

      April 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I'm an atheist, wimanf, and I assure you, I don't have a "demon controlled mind", as you so comically suggested.

      In fact atheism, or to be more precise, agnosticism, is the only rational and supportable position that an intelligent person can take, in the absense of evidence to the contrary.

      You can speculate about the nature of the universe. And you can believe your own speculation. But don't think for a second, that just because I don't believe your stories I'm consequently possessed by the very devil that you also invented in your dogma. I don't accept one single word of your assertion, and your pronouncement make you sound like a complete nitwit.

      April 20, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • momoya

      Well said, NJC.. Non believers aren't obligated to accept the stupid magical terms thought up by the believers.. If you want to believe that some invisible darkly magical being is "possessing" atheists–go right ahead, but don't act like your ridiculous terms mean anything in the real world or to sensible people who aren't in your little club that discusses imaginary beings never proved to exist and never proved to be worth even considering whether or not it exists..

      Keep your delusions to yourselves and your own children.. (yuck!)

      April 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  15. SoM

    Though I dont believe all things that Kirk believes, I know in my heart he is sincere in his motives.

    April 20, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • momoya

      Drunken hobos are sincere when they ask you for pocket change.. Sincerity is not a virtue, nor does it indicate any level of accuracy.

      April 20, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • SoM

      @momoya So tell us, who is accurate?

      April 20, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • sam stone

      SoM: So were the people that flew the airplanes into the towers on 9/11

      April 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 20, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • Susan

      Please show us where you find this information.

      April 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Faith Healing Cures Cancer

      If you have cancer please send $1,000,000 to me for the cure. If your cancer is not cured within one month, then your faith must not have been strong enough and we'll need another "treatment"...

      April 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Bob

      Atheism is not healthy is right–praying leaves you less time to actually get things done.

      April 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Atheism is perfectly healthy, and has no effect whatsoever upon children or any other living thing, other than to free individuals from the constant flood of unsupportable dogma from the world's religions, and allow one the peace, happiness, and harmony of rational thought.

      April 20, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  17. jabby

    God's New commandment to all men and nations, Jews and Gentiles, for them to love replaces the Old commandments which He gave to Israel only and which could only produce hate within one's self or towards his fellow man – Jew or Gentile, male or female, etc. If you don't believe me, ask Jesus.

    April 20, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • SoM

      I agree jabby, but I believe that as long as followers of Christ believe in ECT or annilihation theology, there will always be hate in the Christian community.

      April 20, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Futon Torpedo

      Wow you actually get it jabby. Thank you.

      April 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ..

    April 20, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Jayjay

      Well it's not making you go away, or for that matter, gay people. So how do you explain that?

      April 20, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Atheism has improved my overall health, because it has freed me from the brash loudmouths of organized religion.

      Ah... how I enjoy the peace and quite of rational thought. And so do my children, and so do all the other living things in my household. What a paradise! Thanks for reminding me.

      April 20, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • poopmeister

      STOP REPLYING TO THIS PERSON, THEY SAY THE SAME DAMN THING IN ALL THESE POSTS. DON'T FALL INTO THE TRAP OF REPLYING TO THEM....THEY ARE STUPID

      April 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Well first of all um... poopmeister ...he would post these comments regardless who responds to him. Secondly, his posts provide a wonderful platform from which to expound rational thought on a daily basis.

      He mistakenly believes that he is driving his point home, day after day, when what is actually happening is that those of us who disagree with him, get an equal voice, and usually the last word at that.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Actually, let me expand on that last point. We don't "usually" get the last word, we always get the last word, because he never responds to any rebuttals, replies, suggestions, comments, or complaints.

      This is, presumably, because he is unable to justify his views, or respond to any rebuttals. All he basically has is this flaccid prayer shtick, and that's his one trick pony.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things..
      Proven

      April 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      Keep saying that and maybe you'll forget what a conscious lie it is.

      April 21, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  19. edwardo

    Nothing like making a fortune as a womanizer on a sitcom, then using the money to promote his hateful religion. I don't think he's very attractive anyway. There are guys that work in my office, that could lay him in the shade, and walk all over him, when it comes to good looks. Cameron is pushing a bronze age religion, in the face of the technological and scientific era. Good luck loser!

    April 20, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • james

      THANKS TO THE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST,HE FOUND OUT AT A VERY YOUNG AGE THAT THERE WAS MORE TO LIFE THAN FAME AND FORTUNE.HE COME TO THE CONCLUSION HE WAS A SINNER AND NEEDED A SAVIOR,SO CAN YOU BEFORE ITS TOO LATE.

      April 22, 2012 at 12:20 am |
  20. tray

    KIRK PLAYS THE SKIN FLUTE

    April 19, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.