There is something terribly amiss when Christianity Today, one of the largest Christian publications in the country, will advertise a film filled with extreme violence but then refuses to advertise a video that promotes Christ’s love for gay youth and families.
Last weekend, my wife and I were planning to see a movie and one of the new releases was “The Counselor,” starring among others Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz. Those two Hollywood names were such that I decided to sit down in front of the laptop to see what the critics were saying.
It was a little surprising to find that one of the first several Google hits included a review in Christianity Today because the limited information on the theater web site indicated the film perhaps wasn’t exactly church-viewing material.
The review was on the Christianity Today web site and was written by Alissa Wilkinson, who is listed as Christianity Today’s chief film critic. She rated it 2.5 out of 4 stars. It listed the MPAA rating as: “R (for graphic violence, some grisly images, strong sexual content and language.)”
What made the four-page film review most interesting was the fact that it appeared on the web site of Christianity Today coupled with the fact that Faith In America, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBT youth and families and which I serve as executive director, last year had requested the magazine publish a Christian-themed ad about LGBT individuals. The magazine declined the ad on the basis of content, which featured a cross filled with faces and words that read: Do you have a child who is gay or lesbian? Do you embrace that child just as they are? Christ does. The Faith In America ad can be viewed at [faithandequality.com/cross/] (http://faithandequality.com/cross/)
Now read the conclusion in the Christianity Today review of “The Counselor” addressing content: People (more than one) are beheaded. Blood sprays everywhere. There’s a well-choreographed and fairly brutal gunfight, and other occasions in which people are shot. Bodies are disposed of in various ways, including in a barrel. There’s some very frank discussions of sex, including one long and weird story that will probably go down in movie history partially for its particular metaphor for female genitalia. Two characters are in bed together at the start of the film; though there’s no nudity, there is a clear discussion and then depiction of oral sex. Two women have a conversation while draped scantily with towels. One character goes to confession and talks graphically to a priest. The plot hinges on a massive drug trade. And everything you think of when a movie is rated R for language happens. The review is at [www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/october-web-only/counselor.html] (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/october-web-only/counselor.html)
Coincidentally, the Faith In America organization recently released a video of a public dialogue held at a university in North Carolina at which CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer served as host. The dialogue, whose discussion panel included a Baptist minister and an AME Zion minister, was entitled “Politics, Religion and LGBT Equality.” It focused on the immense harm caused to LGBT youth and families when religious teaching is used to place a religious and moral stamp of unworthiness on the lives LGBT youth.
Ironically, both pastors who served on the discussion panel have served as Christian counselors.
The Faith In America organization currently is promoting the full-length video of the dialogue, including an ad that is appearing on the Religion News Service web site’s homepage [www.religionnews.com] (http://www.religionnews.com).
After seeing the movie review on the Christianity Today web site, the obvious question was whether the magazine’s web site would approve an ad whose content involved Christian affirmation of LGBT youth.
After contacting the Christianity Today ad representative and submitting the public dialogue web ad for approval, the response was simply: “Unfortunately, we are going to pass on it.”
It truly is unfortunate when the leading Christian magazine in America will advertise a film filled with violence and one that ends with a drug dealer’s elaborate beheading but declines to advertise a public dialogue filled with a message of Christ’s love and one that ends with a pastor’s heartfelt prayer.
Is it any wonder so many people, particularly youth, are taking a pass on Christianity today?
The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a case involving government-sponsored prayer and some Christians believe such limitation is a form of derogation of the Christian faith.
Factions within Christian faith communities – like Christianity Today – which refuse to affirm gay and lesbian individuals and acknowledge the harm caused to LGBT youth and families are doing much more to further such derogation than those advocating for limitation on government-sponsored prayer.
Brent Childers once aligned himself with the anti-gay religious industry and now serves as executive Faith in America, a nonprofit organization which works to educate the public about the immense harm caused to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people when certain church teaching is used to promote and justify stigma and hostility.