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. Nancy

    Kirk Cameron has been a Christian for many years. He's not new on the scene.

    April 14, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Stephen

      Exactly. No one is born a Christian. People tend to believe whatever is forced down their throats at a young age. It's only the wise who question the validity of fantastical claims, and the foolish who bask in the ignorance that is synonymous with faith.

      April 14, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  2. Sardukar

    I thought I would read something about Thor....

    April 14, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • 13monkees

      Yeah, Thor is a much better God. He has a cooler name and he carries a hammer and he drinks. Their dead go to a big party in Valhalla not some "borefest" of quiet worship and reflection.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  3. Welled

    Good point Donna. You think a place like CNN would have one. I've met Ted let me tell you he just ain't all that happy about religion. But then again you gotta play the game.

    April 14, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  4. Welled

    When I played football with these guys. I actually gained some respect for them. When I had fights with them even more. They are good at that. How bout some cipher'in now. Figure out where your best interest lay. Think about the future now that the train is switching the track. See? Why be a playa' when you can be a leadah'?

    April 14, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Heather

      'Welled', please enough already! We already know where you stand – on shaky ground...

      April 14, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  5. Donna

    The Belief Blog is bull. As usual Atheists are ignored in order to (once again) put a spotlight on the religious. How about a non belief blog, or is that too fair?

    April 14, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Rick

      Donna, your comment spiked my curiosity. What would be discussed on a "non-belief" blog? I'm honestly curious.

      IMO, both belief and non-belief are matters of choice: I'm a believer (specifically, a follower of Jesus Christ), and I assume from your comment that you have chosen to be an atheist. We have both made a choice regarding what we believe. If either one of us depended solely on hard evidence to support what we believe, we'd both have to label ourselves as agnostic.

      By hard evidence I mean evidence that either of us could present to others. Personal experiences that I have had that support what I have chosen to believe are useless as evidence; you would be completely justified in suggesting that I might be either delusional or a liar. Likewise, since it is logically impossible to prove a negative, I could never buy into the atheist arguement (in additon to my opinion that an atheist realilty would be utterly depressing).

      I'm sure that we can agree on one thing: At least one of us is wrong 🙂

      April 14, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  6. Heather

    God bless you Kirk! You are doing a great job but unfortunately it will only get harder, but we have something awesome and eternal to look forward to! Keep fighting the good fight!

    April 14, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Stephen

      I'm sure he will, so long as people such as yourself keep burying your heads in the sand.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Donna

      yes it will get harder as science basks in facts, and you bask in delusion

      April 14, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  7. Welled

    Jefferson was the biggest "boot licker" every to walk the planet. They still have the boots he licked in the London museum of banking and finance.

    April 14, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  8. Carol Wojtyla

    Can't fight the Seavers!

    April 14, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  9. Welled

    Kirk is open for business and takes donations. Probably has a Christian agent. I guess its obvious how he makes his living ever since he was "transfered" from TV drama to promulgating Christianity.

    April 14, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  10. Sean

    I find it interesting that he (Cameron) is shown in his film humbling himself before the writing of Jefferson..yet forgetting the words of Jefferson:

    WE the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no

    man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship,

    place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained,

    molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise

    suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all

    men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their

    opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise

    diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

    April 14, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • T

      How do you figure? Just because he makes a movie or espouses an opinion, doesnt mean he is forcing it on anyone.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Truth7

      Sean – it would behoove you to read the Bible. God always placed strangers in their towns. There were strict laws regarding how they were to be treated, and that was as one of their OWN.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • from Missouri

      I don't think he would be surprised.....Jefferson basically said the same thing Kirk said.....I don't agree with you but you have the freedom to do what you want! Kirk said he didn't hate anyone, he respects their freedom to choose. But he, like Jefferson and you and I, does not have to agree with it!

      April 14, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  11. .

    Yet another CNN softball to the left wing hate-theists so they can vent their bigotry.

    CNN condones bigotry as long as it is directed toward people who may interfere with the left wing socialist agenda.

    April 14, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      pot meet kettle!

      April 14, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • .

      Truth prevails. You're a racist, to boot.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Stephen

      Why is TruthPrevails a racist to boot? Because both the pot and kettle are black? You should seriously considering refraining from posting on the Internet. Why advertise your own stupidity?

      April 14, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Racist??? Not at all...I don't ever judge anyone based on color.

      April 14, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  12. T

    How old is this story? Kirk has been doing this for years now. God bless him for doing so.

    April 14, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  13. Pipe-Dreamer

    God the conceptualization was long before man became flesh and bones! For the concepts of Creation itself needed to be nourished! Easy are the deniers' ways but weighty are their yolks. Would any of us humanists truly give up your Lfe in order for all of mankind to be spared death's beds of sorrow and forlornments? The Love from God is not without His Wrath but the Love of Christ Jesus for all of Humanism is our redemptions' branches! Clamoring to throw pea-like pebbles and spit toward the very traditions of the Gospel Truth in salvations' benefisciaries is harmful to one's simplest ideologies and humane strengths!

    April 14, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Stephen

      Your name says it all. Way to believe everything you read.

      April 14, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  14. Tyler

    A *new* niche? This is the same Kirk Cameron that appeared in "Goliath Awaits" in 1981? He's been a religious moon-bat for decades.

    April 14, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  15. Truth7

    Three Arks:

    1. SHIP
    2. COMMANDments / LEVI
    3. CROSS / WATER / HOLY Spirit

    The western countries have the highest percentage of people who believe in God and Jesus Christ, that's why they are being attacked. We are at THAT time. Draw closer to God, become one with His Spirit and let HIM teach you, per Jesus'statement "they are to be taught by GOD". FOLLOW Jesus when He says "I take testimony from no MAN". YOU are to be the temple, not your church.

    Many in this country are descendents of the tribes of Israel (Jacob and his 12 sons). God said many would be made deaf (unable to hear the meaning of God's Word(and blind (without knowledge)

    April 14, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  16. Dave

    Why the virulent, hateful discussion when at the very least evangelicals simply strive to live like Christ who we believe was the embodiment of love and purity? Don't be so mean guys... We're human and we're going to screw up but be careful of rushing to judgement, we believe we can't judge anyone because we're just as sinful as anyone else and rest on our faith to go "home". Kirk was seized upon by the media, I highly doubt he sought out the interviews, and even if he did he tell anyone that he "hates" no one, but despises the sinful nature that affects us ALL. From what I've heard, he speaks what we believe.

    April 14, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  17. Oh really?

    A loving God gave us a book ( the Bible) so we could know how we can know Him and His will for us.
    If you have not read His book and understand the message of salvation presented in the gospels, why do you think you have something beneficial to post? Sure, there are Christians who are off track but that does not mean the way of Christ is off track.

    April 14, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Stephen

      Just listen to yourself. Rambling on and on about "His will" and other such nonsense buzzwords. I've read the Bible. It's complete garbage. If you want to believe that there's a perfect place for good people and an awful place for bad people, and that someone's out there keeping score, then you're simply not embracing intellectualism. There is no God – be serious. People alive in 1000 years will look at us today and think how completely backward we were. Kirk Cameron is a brainwashed fool, and worse than most, because he's been given a platform to air his ludicrous beliefs. Hope he dies very soon, and realizes that all we have is there here and now, and we're meant to enjoy it.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      The fact is that most of the people commenting have read the book and it is the reason they are non-believers. The quickest way to make one a Atheist is for them to read that book.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • FreedomFromAtheism

      Of course, there are plenty of highly educated people who have read the Bible cover to cover and still believe. People reject the Bible because they don't want it to be true; it would cramp their desired lifestyles.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Bo for Chirst

      I disagree, in that all of us start from the same premise, lack of proof. The Atheist will claim no god because there is no proof, and then the Christian will give their testimony based on the same lack of proof, although there is a perscription in the New Testament to know if these things are true or not, it is not by showing someone else proof, only to be found by individual knocking. So the Atheist will claim believers to be fools for finding a different conclusion than theirs, based on the same lack of proof. When will it end?

      April 14, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Stephen

      Um, actually, I rejected the Bible because it's complete nonsense. I have nothing against Christ the man. I think he set a wonderful example for how to live. I wish you Christians were more like him. I also think Gandhi and Marlin Luther King, Jr., were great men, but I don't believe they were executed for my sins. Nor do I think they were immaculately conceived, rose from the dead, walked on water, turned water into wine, spoke through burning bushes, set sail with every animal on a giant ark, lived inside the belly of a "giant fish" ... the list goes on and on. Anyone that reads that and believes it, regardless of how many degrees they have hanging on the wall, is not very bright, in my opinion. It's incredible to me how many people vehemently deny logic and reason in favor of fairy tales and magic.

      April 14, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  18. Welled

    See its not about philosophy (greek) more like divide and conqueor democrat (demo's) vs republican a people divided will not stand. Dosen't say that about the leaders or the debt merchants they throw you to and promote. It's not about religion. Its about stealing everything not nailed down or prying loose what is nailed down. Before you get happy and say thats good for me that part just don't happen. What you get is debt. Once you get in they don't like letting you out.

    April 14, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • There never was a god

      you make no sense whatsoever. your medication is calling

      April 14, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  19. God bless Kirk

    A humble Christian using his gifts to share God's message. What is natural is plain and simple. Human s3xuality is clearly and naturally for male and female as everyone knows. The beginning of a new human life when a sperm and egg join. Our founding fathers indeed knew this nation would prosper under God's blessings so long as we remained one nation under God. God bless us all.

    April 14, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Wholly Mary

      Yeah-yeah-yeah, sure-sure-sure, blah-blah-blah, yadda-yadda-yadda.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Sean

      "Humble"? Really? Apparently you and I have truly different definitions of that word.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  20. Saved

    When you die, another reality will begin, even more real than the one you are living, just hope you have a saviour...

    April 14, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Please back your comment with something that is verifiable in the real world.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Already Rescued

      How does reality get more real? What a silly comment. A Saviour? Is that what all this Brown nosing is about? Will I get a front row seat if I Brown nose my Saviour too? Who sits in the back?

      April 14, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Saved,,,,,,,,,,,, ,.

      God has a long held tradition for all us humanists who do and whomever doesn't believe in Godly reconciliations! One part heads North while the other part heads South! We all do service the users and even the abusers of Godliness endeavorments. Love therefore, one's own rationales and keep safely tucked away one's simplest of Truths for fear of the dawdlers of bickering and condemnation! Their days are as but second-hand clothes to be handed down come their End of Life!

      April 14, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • honest joe

      All I have ever seen from any anti-religious person is hate speech and Christians are the ones who hate because we disagree. Just because we believe in a savior and salvation, we warrant things like ignorant and stupid. But yet we still teach our kids to love and respect those who would call them such. By the way so called "real" world claims are contradicted every day by "real" scientists. So that means I should not believe that vaccines, tv, or cell phones cause you no harm.

      April 15, 2012 at 8:20 am |
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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.