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)
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    June 26, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  2. Kindness

    Some thoughts to consider without a typical ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Let go and let god".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    Your all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome .

    May 22, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Your all smart people . I tell the truth."

      LMAO! Your all smart people . I tell the truth. = EGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      May 22, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
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  4. Pat

    1796 Treaty of Tripoli
    "As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion..."

    May 1, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  5. Tracy Lee

    to sam stone......hello...sam.....where are you.......hello...

    April 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  6. Tracy Lee

    to sam stone .............ouch!!! fire.....

    April 26, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  7. Tracy Lee

    to sam stone ....so you know the secret service still owes her 20.00 for last night......:)

    April 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  8. Tracy Lee

    to sam stone....do you even know your mother???

    April 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • sam stone

      i know my mother. how many have "known" yours? so, still dreaming about taking all of jeebus's gooey godliness down your throat?

      April 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  9. Tracy Lee

    to HawaiiGuest

    April 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      At least you can accept it. Now if you could only figure out that reply button. Unless you're hoping that people will think you're some awesome poster since you have so many posts in a single page.

      April 26, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  10. Tracy Lee

    to sam stone ....just because your mothers brother happens to be your father ........ that doesnt make you right...:)

    April 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Congrats Tracy, you have now denigrated yourself to completely irrelevancy.

      April 26, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • sam stone

      tracy: is that why you folks call similarly minded people "brother" or "sister"? because you cannot figure out who your daddy is? maybe god knocked up mommy, too.

      April 26, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  11. Tracy Lee

    to sam stone .......you must be a intellectual sigle and sad man......you bet I will be on my knees...praying to GOD....praying we never meet in person because I might break one of the ten commandments....I am a sinner ...I never claimed to be perfect nor with out sin.. I am a sinner and I fail at being the better person all the time but that doesn't change the fact I am still saved by JESUS CHRIST and you are not.....

    April 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • sam stone

      Yeah, I am sure you are a tough man. You will be on your knees, but does the verb "Lewinsky" mean anything to you? After all, nothing is more blessed than having the savior shoot his goo all over your pious face

      April 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  12. Tracy Lee

    to sam stone.........wah wah wah...

    April 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • sam stone

      Good Comeback, Tracy...

      Now, go sod-o-mize your bible

      April 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  13. Tracy Lee

    to sam stone....I dont speak for GOD.... GOD doesn't need me to speak for him.......GOD SPEAKS FOR HIM SELF......all you can do is hide behind this blog......you are a single coward who never had any friends so I understand why you are the way you are......I have never been hit hard by anyone if you knew what a tackle did you would know I did the hurting.....just goes to prove you are a sad little man...or child......who lives in his room...

    April 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • sam stone

      Yeah, Tracy, I am sure you are every bit the bada$$ as you are the intellectual giant. I do know what Defensive Tackles do, and I know that they take plenty of punishment themselves.

      You have not answered my question, so get back on your knees, slaveboy

      April 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Huebert

      Then shut up and let god blog for him self. And this is a debate...ok that's to generous. This is an argument, no one cares how big and strong you are, only how smart you are.

      April 26, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      That's a lot of ad hominem attacks from someone who apparently can't even find the reply button on this blog.

      April 26, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  14. Tracy Lee

    to sam stone .....me, myself and I does not mean you have alot of friends.......who are you trying to kid.....

    April 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Huebert

      You're prayer troll, Heaven sent, just sayin' aren't you?

      April 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • sam stone

      Still begging for salvation, eh?

      April 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  15. Tracy Lee

    TO lucifer's evil twin.... at least you know you will burn in hell......poor sam stone...please take it easy on him ....

    April 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  16. Tracy Lee

    to sam stone... ...you don't have a problem with CHRISTAINS??? have you read your own posts??? this is how twisted you are...this proves your double minded, two faced and lame...you need CHRIST!!!

    April 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      actually, i don't. i have many friends who are christians. i have a problem with pious bigots. that includes you

      April 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • sam stone

      you need to get off your knees. tell me, does slavery run in your family?

      April 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Magic

      I dunno, sam stone... can you imagine Tracy Lee thinking for him/herself? **shudder** Maybe we are better off letting her/him stay on his/her knees so we know what to expect. Stick a halo on it and she/he will follow you anywhere!

      April 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • sam stone

      Magic: I don't think Tracy Lee has the electrical energy in his synapses to think for himself. But, he can sure parrot a book. Good boy, Tracy

      April 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  17. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Tim: Follow. But. Follow only if ye be men of valour, for the entrance to this cave is guarded by a creature so foul, so cruel that no man yet has fought with it and lived. Bones of full fifty men lie strewn about its lair. So, brave knights, if you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth.

    King Arthur: What an eccentric performance.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  18. Tracy Lee

    to Melody.... sorry for being so harsh on sam stone, but someone has to defend CHRISTAINS on this blog....go back and read his posts and you will see the whole picture....sorry but I will not stop posting...

    April 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • sam stone

      i got no problem with christians. i got a problem with bloward cowards. tracy fits squarely in the latter category.

      April 26, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • sam stone

      who is asking you to stop posting? your persecution compex is amusing, for a while. all i am asking is for you to answer a simple question. you cannot, or will not.

      April 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  19. Tracy Lee

    to sam stone ......because it is fake just like your ideology and name......ouch.....

    April 26, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • sam stone

      tracy: and what do you know of my ideology or my name? pompous coward. get back on your knees

      April 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  20. Tracy Lee

    to sam stone ......your welcome...TRUTH hurts doesn't it....you are the coward you hide behind a fake name ....

    April 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • sam stone

      you are the coward for refusing to answer a simple question. get back on your knees. and, what makes you think it is a fake name?

      April 26, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Melody

      ".you are the coward you hide behind a fake name"

      You are not a true Christian so please stop posting because you are doing more damage to our religion than helping it.

      April 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      Be careful, Melody. Tracy Lee is a former Defensive Tackle who weighs 275 lbs. So, basically, he is a obese man who has been hit in the head way too many times. He feels he speaks for god, and woe are those who criticize his self proclaimed piety.

      April 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Huebert

      Watch out Sam the keyboard warrior may come after you.

      April 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • sam stone

      Huebert: Tracy is a runt with a capital C

      April 26, 2012 at 4:23 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.