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Idol Chatter

To evangelicals bent on conquering Hollywood, it was this month’s sign of the apocalypse. Last week, the Motion Picture Association of America—invented by Hollywood executives in the 1930s at the behest of Christians to monitor morals in the movies—warned parents that kids might need guidance when viewing “Facing the Giants,” a football movie made by two Baptist clergymen from Georgia. In assigning the movie a PG rating, the MPAA said the movie was guilty of proselytizing, especially a scene in which a coach tells a kid, “Following Jesus Christ is the decision that you’re going to have to make for yourself.”

The filmmakers, whose titles are actually “associate ministers for media” at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, were sorely put out. Christian commentators pointed to the PG rating as evidence that black is white and up is down in today’s America. But ironies aside, a risky rating may be the best thing that could happen to a preachy movie about redemption on the gridiron—or to a fledgling Christian media industry. Evangelicals in film need to emulate their Christian-rock colleagues and depend less on their bully pulpit as the majority religion than on their hard-won status as an upstart minority voice.

An executive at the film’s distributor, the Sony subsidiary Provident, who knows the value of a racy rating, said it best: “It is kind of interesting that faith has joined that list of deadly sins that the MPAA board wants to warn parents to worry about.” Much more interesting. Vive l’apocalypse.

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