Church gets more drama than it bargained for in film
First time actress Persis Karen plays Annika in the movie 'Not Today.'
April 13th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

Church gets more drama than it bargained for in film

By Alan Duke, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) - When a film's credits list "prayer coordinator" before the hair/makeup and wardrobe teams, you might guess it is a faith-based production.

"Not Today," which premieres on 50 screens in 20 U.S. cities this weekend, was not funded by Hollywood investors, but with $1.6 million from the collection plate at Friends Church in Yorba Linda, California.

Still, the church couldn't avoid the controversies that seem routine in Hollywood productions — including a lawsuit over pay.

The idea for the film began during a trip to India where the church began building schools for the Dalit class - considered the lowest in India's caste system - in 2002. It's a project that fits Friends Church's Quaker tradition, said Creative Arts Pastor Brent Martz. President Richard Nixon's parents worshiped at the church, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year.

"Our hearts were totally ripped open for the Dalit people," Martz said. Social rules and poverty make their children vulnerable to human-trafficking in labor and sex.

Instead of a typical church fundraiser - perhaps a bake sale - Friends Church's leadership proposed a feature film shot on location on two sides of the globe and with a powerful message about the $32 billion world slave trade. Film profits will go toward the $20 million needed to build 200 schools for Dalit children.

Why a church would make a movie

"Media is the language of our culture, so what better way to communicate a story of a huge global tragedy like human trafficking than with a film," Martz said. "What better way to motivate a church audience that can sometimes be sheltered and not want to walk into situations or topics like human trafficking but with a story, a story that they can hear, that they would understand, that would compel them to get involved."

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

The story is also about the power of faith and prayer in changing lives. More than coincidentally, making the movie changed the lives of those involved.

The cast includes veteran Hollywood actors John Schneider (TV's "Dukes of Hazard"), Cody Longo (Nickelodeon's "Hollywood Heights") and Cassie Scerbo (ABC Family's "Make It or Break It").

The 7-year-old sex slave

But the most memorable performance comes from Persis Karen, who played Annika, a 7-year-old girl sold into slavery in Hyderabad, India.

Like her character, Persis is in the Dalit class. But unlike Annika, she attends one of the 40 Friends Church schools. Until she was chosen for the role, Persis had never seen a movie or left her village, Martz said. "She grew from day to day during the shoot."

Persis, whose big brown eyes proved to be a powerful cinematic force, won the award for best breakout performance by an actress at the Monaco Charity Film Festival in 2012. She now aspires to be an actress.

Longo called her "my little angel."

Annika's story is not unusual. She and her father live on the streets of Hyderabad trying to survive by entertaining tourists with a ragged puppet and her songs. Her survival seems uncertain when they cross paths with Cade Welles, the 20-year-old played by Longo. He drives an orange Lamborghini back in Southern California but travels with friends to party in India.


But Welles' partying is interrupted by the reality of the Dalits' suffering and the horrors of the slave trade.

"Get a job, feed your own kid," Welles tells Annika's father when he asked for help for the starving child.

CNN Belief: The new Christian abolition movement

But back home, Welles' mother is praying "that God would get ahold of him and shake him up" during his trip. The power of her prayer is seen as Welles' eyes eventually open to Annika's suffering. He begins praying that he can find the child again so he can help her. He finds the father, only to learn he just sold his daughter.

"What kind of man buys a child," he said. "What kind of father sells his daughter?"

Her father said he had no other choice, and he believed Annika was on her way to work in a rich household, not a brothel in Mumbai.

When he calls home to his girlfriend, played by Cassie Scerbo, she tells him "You have to trust in God. Sometimes we have to be broken to be useful."

The rest of the film is a frantic search through the slums of several cities for Annika, punctuated by intense prayers and frustration.

A real change for the actors

John Schneider plays Welles' stepfather who is there to provide the crucial advice and help needed at the end. "I do believe that God will make a better way," he said.

"What makes this film so special is there's so much truth in it," Longo said. "The fact that we shot in the actual slums and actual brothels that had been raided before created this truth."

Cinematographer Abe Martinez and Director Jon Van Dyke review the footage in Hyderabad, India.

The lack of millions of dollars to build soundstage sets forced the production into the streets of India's slums for 21 days of shooting but guaranteed authenticity.

It also meant that Longo experienced the same thing his character did - traveling to India and being shocked by its reality.

"It changed my life," he said. "It took me from the bubble we live in. We become accustomed to this little bubble and nobody realizes until we get the opportunity to see what is going on elsewhere in the world."

The movie was shot in August and September of 2010, when "I was struggling at that point in my life a little bit with my faith and which direction to go," Longo said. "I feel like God placed this in my life at the perfect time, and he's also releasing it at an incredible time and at the perfect place.”

A split and a lawsuit

As the movie opened this weekend a lawsuit about the production and compensation was making its way through the courts. The film's director, Jon Van Dyke, filed a federal lawsuit alleging fraud by church leaders who he claims cheated him out of his pay.

In his lawsuit Van Dyke tells of internal bickering, cheating and outright fraud.

Director Jon Van Dyke and Persis Karen review steady cam footage – Mumbai, India.

Van Dyke was director of the Friends Church media department when he wrote the screenplay, but his boss, Creative Arts Pastor Brent Martz (you met him earlier in this story) threatened to fire him if he didn't give him 50% co-writer credit, the lawsuit said. "He had not made any copyrightable (or other substantive) contributions to the screenplay," it said.

The suit also contends Van Dyke has never been paid for directing the movie, a job he did while still the church's media director. He spent 10 weeks in India where most of the movie was shot on location. The suit demands either overtime pay or a share of the film's profits.

The profits are intended to fund hundreds of schools for the Dalit caste in India, according to Martz. Van Dyke's lawsuit claims the budget was "significantly inflated to include numerous illegitimate and improper expenses" in an effort to dilute profits.

When Van Dyke raised these concerns last August, "he was unceremoniously terminated," the suit said.

An attorney for the church responded to the suit in a statement to CNN.

"While we understand that members of the church body will have disagreements, I can say that we are sad that Jon chose to file a lawsuit," Friends' lawyer John Cone said.

"Friends Church offered Jon both mediation and binding arbitration to address his concerns. Jon and the church also signed an agreement in which they consented to resolve any disputes between them through binding arbitration. Nevertheless, we have faith in the judicial process. And if that is where this matter is resolved then we are confident that the court will make a fair and wise decision,” the statement said.

End Result

There is no doubt despite the lawsuit, the actors and crew - including Van Dyke and Martz - put a lot of hard work into the passion project.

As a film, it wanders into familiar territory other faith-based films find themselves in. Critics will likely call the film “preachy.”

And that is because it is. And that in many ways is the point.

The film carries a powerful message about the global slave trade and has a call to action for viewers to help fight it. The cast, script and production style should appeal to young adults looking for direction in their lives.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories,

While the suit carries on and viewers settle in for a healthy dose of “activismtainment” the church will be in prayer. That’s where the film's prayer coordinator comes in.

"For us at the church, having people praying from the very beginning of this project and even up to today and this opening weekend has been a huge part of it," Martz said. "We believe that God led us into making this film, and he's ultimately responsible for it, and so every bit of this journey has been covered through this prayer team, and they've been so faithful to pray for all us during the writing and during the production and during the post-production and now during the marketing and PR."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: California • Christianity • Church • Courts • Movies • United States

soundoff (391 Responses)


    April 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  2. Alias

    This article could be tied to the next one in this Blog – about the Nazi assignment was right.
    The same type of propaganda that teacher was warning against is present in this story and film.

    April 15, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • William

      coward- does it feel good for you to be enjoying your freedom posting these vitriolic comments while those small innocent children are suffering abuse?

      April 15, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  3. Sam Yaza

    by the way this was so not in my local theater, so i seen evil dead for a fourth time,... yeah i know its not that good, but the more money it makes the greater the possibility for evil dead 4.

    and ashley J. williams>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Jesus

    April 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • William

      you are a pervert

      April 15, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      define pervert... and how would you even get that from my post?

      April 15, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  4. Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

    "For us at the church, having people praying from the very beginning of this project and even up to today and this opening weekend has been a huge part of it," Martz said.
    To pray is lack of faith. If prayer works then the future is uncertain and your god would then lack credibility.

    April 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • William

      Who cares whether you watch the movie or not, go free a slave then write your stupid comments

      April 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      And prayer helps free them...rolling eyes

      April 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  5. Gandolph The Lundren

    A film I won't be watching. Conversion is the motive. Not helping anyone.

    April 15, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • William

      Yes conversion is the motive from slavery to freedom. How many slaves have you rehabilitated you moron?

      April 15, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      How many prayers have freed them? Time and places please..and names of the slaves

      April 16, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  6. meifumado

    Where's islam today? they have a story on his favorite kind of people.

    April 15, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  7. steady555

    Would like to know more about Prakash's claim of christian abuse. I have not seen anything of the sort and have only seen charity from those people that come to village.

    April 15, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • William

      So, this was a story about chrisitans abusing the slaves? really, what kind of stupid are you?

      April 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  8. catholic engineer

    "There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic. We believe our work should be our example to people. We have among us 475 souls – 30 families are Catholics and the rest are all Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs—all different religions. But they all come to our prayers." – Mother Theresa of Calcutta

    April 15, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Science

      catholic engineer............................ are you the generated ghost this new device has created ?

      Engineering 'Ghost' Objects: Breakthrough in Scattering Illusion

      Feb. 19, 2013 — A team at the NUS Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering led by Dr Qiu Cheng-Wei has come out with an optical device to "engineer" ghosts.


      April 15, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Seyedibar

      Yet there is no religion that preaches only one god. The Hindus/Muslim/Christian/Jews have a pantheon of deities as evidenced by their holy books and histories.

      April 15, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • Sam Yaza

      but who do i pray to?; she most certainly is not your god, because your God says don't pray to her.

      April 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • fred

      God is more than competent and will call any soul that belongs out of the darkness (The Prince of this world (evil, Satan, emptiness, darkness or whatever title suits your fancy). God also has infinite grace, mercy and love that is in unity with his infinite Jusitce not compartmentalized. If there is a God be thankful that these are Gods attributes. If there is no God then be tankful you had opportunity to observe the wonder that abounds.

      April 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      More assertions, no substance. When will you actually understand that you are a joke here fred?

      April 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • fred

      Thank you for that well supported appraisal. May the peace of God be with you.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Oh no unsubstantiated quips about my supposed "nonsense worldview" of which you know nothing about? Ah, that's right, when you get tired of unsubstantiated stupidity, go for the passive, condescending stupidity. Soon you'll either go back to irrelevant tangents, or run like the coward you are.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • fred

      Not sure what your true beliefs are but they certainly do not reflect values that most would find encouraging or hopeful. I would not wish upon anyone to go through this only journey we get with such a cloud over their existence. This is why I prayed for you. You seem to be in a great deal of pain.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Actually

      "You seem to be in a great deal of pain."

      Actually fred you're the one that is in a great deal of pain which is why you need your imaginary friend to try and make you feel better about yourself but guess what, it's not working. It's also why you are reading pain into Hawaii's posts when there isn't any.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • fred

      Part of that is correct as my past has made me very aware of the evil in this world and in the hearts of many. It did bring me into the presence of God so that I have a clear understanding of what sin looks like to a Holy God. What man did to Christ on the Cross is a picture of evil and what Christ did for man is a picture of Gods grace and mercy. When we all see Jesus I doubt anyone will complain that had you only drawn me a picture I would have understood.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Oh look, an irrelevant tangent. How...expected. Will you be using a fallacy next? Ignoring my posts? Or just running like a coward?

      April 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • fred

      I replied to your post. If you want to respond your comment that I am a joke I would be forced to use circular reasoning. As far as my post being unsupported it is supported by the Bible and I did not see the need of again discussing the authority of the Bible. If the Bible is false then of course I would not have a clear picture of God as revealed.

      April 15, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • Actually

      "It did bring me into the presence of God so that I have a clear understanding of what sin looks like to a Holy God. What man did to Christ on the Cross is a picture of evil and what Christ did for man is a picture of Gods grace and mercy."

      That's not true since you are still in pain yourself, especially when you have no clue about the person you are accusing of having that pain when the reality is they are not. That is what is so wrong with religious people they think everyone is broken unless they believe as you do and it simply isn't true. There is no proof that anything you wrote is true, especially when the bible is viewed as not an historical document and there are studies out that atheist live happy and healthy lives.

      April 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      You have your own concept of what you want god to be, regardless of logic, or what the bible actually says. In your mind, the bible only says what you want it to when you want it to. You don't want to discuss biblical authority with me because I don't take your assertions of why the bible says what you want it to instead of what it actually says.
      You really can't support your point with any logic. You never have, and never will, because it is indefensible through those means.

      April 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Actually

      " If the Bible is false then of course I would not have a clear picture of God as revealed."

      Which you don't.

      April 15, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • fred

      The basis of the Bible is that we are all broken and need God. If would be natural that you believe you are not broken and do not need God. Your comment is like saying I need to become an atheist or follow another feel good religion because man has the capacity to become holy and get to nirvana on his own power.

      April 15, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • fred

      How is it I do not follow the Bible?

      April 15, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Kristalyn

      "That's not true since you are still in pain yourself, especially when you have no clue about the person you are accusing of having that pain when the reality is they are not."

      The problem with people like fred is they don't deal with the root causes of their own emotional pain and they are using a God as the excuse for not having to work through pain. Emotional pain arise because they give us helpful information about the world and about ourselves. It's the process of working through and accepting your emotions and yourself that allows them to be what they are, without judging them or trying to change them. Acceptance means letting go of attempts to control your emotions and learning that emotions themselves cannot harm you. It makes you a far more of a mature responsible person and you don't need a God for it.

      April 15, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Actually

      " Your comment is like saying I need to become an atheist or follow another feel good religion because man has the capacity to become holy and get to nirvana on his own power."

      But guess what fred that is exactly what you are already doing because there are no gods.

      April 15, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      And the ignoring has started. I wonder how long before fred runs like a coward. It's usually not very long.

      April 15, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      Fred, the basis of tyour faith starts in man

      April 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  9. bags longchamp

    it basically screams Cup me May possibly more capital than I do know the direction to go with... bags longchamp http://www.bagslongchampuk.info

    April 15, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  10. Satya

    thank you Prakash. I can understand aggressive Christian charities trying to cash in on few extinct divisive practices in India. Trying To make movies with paid actors compared to this true story is worth users reaction.

    What is difficult for me to comprehend is why CNN like channels give coverage for these type of religious propaganda?CNN should apologize or cover with equal detail the Kandhamal story

    April 15, 2013 at 6:35 am |
    • William

      Fool would you rather see a child be abused as a s e x slave?

      April 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness


      Fool would you rather see a child be abused as a s e x slave?
      Are you foolish enought to think that prayer saves slaves?

      April 16, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  11. Ahappyfarmer

    Movie worth seeing, but also tough to watch. I've seen that kind off stuff first hand traveling with my photojournalism study. It's an ugly seen.

    April 15, 2013 at 6:17 am |
    • ..

      As a photojournalist, you should know that it's spelled s c e n e...

      April 15, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      A Happy But Not So Smart Farmer, taking pictures of your cows in a "seen" does not count. Spelled scene...not sure what college you attended but you might want to ask for $ back.

      April 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  12. nikhil

    these christian fundamentalists have started making way into India for conversions.......so sick.....

    April 15, 2013 at 3:58 am |
    • Sam Yaza

      Hindu is one of the last great pagan religions after all, they tried this in japan years ago. but they outlawed it. even to this day postalization is consider harassment. the Shintoist read about what they did to the Druids and they were like uh-uh we ain't having non of that, which is why I'm a Druidic-Shintoist.

      India if you were smart you would outlaw them now...

      April 15, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • William

      nik, you must be that pimp that holds these children as slaves. disgusting pig

      April 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  13. sdgman

    Well, I'm not religious and pretty much hate organized religion, but I hope this film makes a good profit and benefits those people!

    April 15, 2013 at 3:46 am |
  14. Atheist, me?

    The question here is do you know you pray? A prayer is just your sub-conscious telling God what you will should happen. If the only one for you is that your prayers should fail of course they will.

    April 15, 2013 at 1:56 am |
    • Code Breaker

      @Atheist, me?

      You are stupid atheist. Why you pray if you atheist? What is subconscience? Part of imagination of stupid atheist?

      April 15, 2013 at 2:46 am |
  15. Caiha

    A religious nuts. When the world doesn't fit your perspective, turn to an imaginary one where prayers have real world effects... sad really.

    April 15, 2013 at 1:17 am |
  16. rymnd87

    Always skeptical at such religious films even if they highlight real existing social evils. It always ends with the message that if those poor people changed gods, things would be great for them. Judeo-Christian beliefs always have an imperialist drive, earlier it was by the sword and in today's world its more by means of charity. Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism etc are soft targets and Christian missionaries take advantage of it, trouble comes when they try the same mechanism with other Abrahamic faiths such as Islam/Judaism. Africa is a prime example with Muslim north at war with Christian south, the modern day crusade/jihad.

    April 15, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • tallulah13

      It seems to me that the really story could be better served by a documentary rather than a scripted film. I would rather see the facts than a propagandistic fiction.

      April 15, 2013 at 1:27 am |
    • Matt

      Exactly not. Christianity is probably the one religion that doesn't preach your life will be awesome if you follow it. In fact, the opposite is true. All the disciples minus John were killed for their faith. Jesus said if you follow him you will be persecuted and they will hate you because you follow him. That doesn't sound like the good life. No, my friend, some Christians actually preach and serve others out of the kindness of their hearts, out of concern for their fellow person. I'm glad you have a critical mind, but don't let it degrade into cynicism.

      April 15, 2013 at 3:22 am |
    • MarkinFL

      I think the problem is that so man "Christian" churches do not teach self sacrifice. Many do, but oh so many teach "Christianity" as a means to improve their lives (and I mean materially).

      April 15, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • Bill Deacon


      Can you list links to any Christian doctrine that contradicts what Matt says and supports what you say? I'm not talking about what some store front preacher might have said. I'm talking about Christian doctrine.

      April 15, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • meifumado

      Its a shame the muslim Africans dont realize that the only reason they are muslim is their ancestors were force converted by Arab slave traders.

      Why would anyone follow the religion of those that enslaved you?

      April 15, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      meifumado couldn't agree more, the main reason why I'm not a christian, just wouldn't be able to look my ancestors in the face.

      so ill just put it out their; if your Irish, African, Aztecan, American, Greek or any indigenous European(non Roman decent/blue eyes), your ancestors are weeping. I think you have Stockholm syndrome.

      April 15, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • William

      moron- keep your skepticism to yourself.let the good hearted people take care of these children that are caught in such an unfortunate situation for no fault of theirs.

      April 15, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness


      moron- keep your skepticism to yourself.let the good hearted people take care of these children that are caught in such an unfortunate situation for no fault of theirs.
      Good hearted peoplke who just pray are about as useful as a dried up dog t_rd

      April 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  17. JE

    Dalit Freedom Network

    April 14, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
  18. Prakash V


    April 14, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
  19. Prakash V


    April 14, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
  20. Prakash V
    April 14, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
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.