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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A lot of youth pastors might love the chance to share their faith with a movie star for two hours and then be featured in the star’s next motion picture, testifying about Jesus.
Jody Trautwein, youth pastor at Point of Grace Ministries in Birmingham, got that chance when an outrageous gay Austrian showed up earlier this year with cameras in tow.
Sacha Baron Cohen, the actor best known for his comedic character Borat, pulls one over on Alabama once again in his latest movie, “Bruno,” in which he sits down for a counseling session with Trautwein, who explains that faith in Jesus Christ can help lead someone out of homosexuality.
At one point, Trautwein asks whether “Bruno” is ready to ask Jesus into his heart.
“Are you hitting on me?” Cohen replies in the character of flamboyant fashionista Bruno, who wears purple thongs and other outrageous attire while shocking people with vulgar antics.
Trautwein’s scene has been featured in trailers for “Bruno,” which hits theaters Friday (July 10). Trautwein realized he’d been deceived when he started seeing the commercials for the film.
Trautwein said his comments and reactions to the Bruno character are edited and spliced out of order for effect, but insists he’s glad his forthright witnessing remains in the movie.
“He proceeded to ask me many vile, repulsive questions,” Trautwein said. “It obviously turned out to be just deception and perversion, but the message in my heart is actually going to be shared with millions.
It’s turning out to be a positive thing. If nothing else, people will hear me sharing Jesus.”
Trautwein said he never watched Cohen’s 2006 smash hit, “Borat:
Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” although he’d heard of it.
Trautwein said he was contacted in January by a movie producer who found through an Internet search that Trautwein had been executive director of the Alabama Coalition Against Same-Sex Marriage in 2005. The producer said he was working on a German documentary.
“Christ has a way of penetrating through deception to the heart to meet the needs of the individual,” Trautwein said. “What the devil intends for harm, God has a way of turning it around and using it for his glory.
“I see this turning around and being used for good. There are people all over the world who may not go to a church. Somewhere in the middle of this movie they’re going to hear about the name of Christ.”
Trautwein said he maintained his composure as Cohen made outrageous comments.
“It didn’t matter whether I was talking to Bruno or Sacha Baron Cohen,” Trautwein said. “I truly prayed that he would be changed and ask Jesus into his heart.”
Trautwein is not the first Birmingham minister pranked by Cohen.
Mountain Brook Presbyterian Church Pastor Cary Speaker and his wife, Sally, were included in “Borat” in a scene shot where Cohen’s character is coached by Birmingham etiquette consultant Cindy Streit at a dinner party. Borat flabbergasts his hosts by bringing a bag of excrement to the dinner table and inviting a prostitute to join them before they ask him to leave.
For “Bruno,” Cohen also tricked the Alabama National Guard into allowing him into the Alabama Military Academy on Feb. 13, giving him a uniform and briefly letting him train.
The movie reportedly includes another Alabama scene in which Cohen gets lectured about his lewd attire by a Madison County sheriff’s deputy.
Trautwein said his scene was filmed at a house in Huntsville rented by the movie producers and made to look like a counseling office. He said he wants to see the five-minute segment of the movie that he appears in, but doesn’t want to sit through the R-rated movie.
“There can be very blasphemous things in there,” Trautwein said. “I have no desire to see the movie in its entirety. I have no desire to expose my heart and mind to what’s in there.”
Trautwein said his appearance in what is likely to be a hit movie among teens offers a great teaching opportunity for him as a youth pastor.
“It’s an example of the deception and perversion that is trying to enter our world through the entertainment industry,” he said. “The holy and precious things of God are not to be touched and not to be mocked. I pray God has mercy on Sacha Baron Cohen.”
By GREG GARRISON
c. 2009 Religion News Service
(Greg Garrison writes for The Birmingham News.)
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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