I love the 1st amendment. It may be my favorite amendment and as a History teacher, I loved teaching students just what it meant, what it protected, and how far reaching its authority was. The aspect that applies more to me now with FCA than any other is Freedom of Religion. California state laws in addition to the 1st amendment state that if a group of students organize a club on school campuses, the club can exist as long as it remains student run. This protects everything from Chess Club, to Islamic Club, to a Gay and Lesbian club. One of the best parts of the 1st amendment is that it doesn’t judge, it simply provides an opportunity for Americans to express themselves in a respectable manner.
Filmmakers have taken advantage of this for years. There have been a spectrum of films about Christianity, Islam, and every other religion that can be named. That being said, why was there so much opposition to the recent film Soul Surfer? If you’re not familiar with the plot of the movie, the main story revolves around Bethany Hamilton, a young and promising surfer from Hawaii who was attacked by a shark while out in the water and tragically lost one of her arms in the attack. The movie revolves around her will to continue to surf, compete, and live a normal life while leaning on her faith, her youth pastor, and Scripture. According to an article I read on the CNN website, many of the non-religious producers of the film had an issue with Scripture being quoted in the film and went as far as saying that the use of the name God was acceptable, but people didn’t always welcome the name of Jesus. For those who are regulars to the movie theaters, this is hardly shocking, but shouldn’t it be?
A 4th place weekend opening at roughly 11 million dollars was deemed a success for this film. While some argued that the film succeeded mainly because it was advertised to religious groups seems farfetched, but there is some truth to the marketing plan. After all, don’t all films market to whoever they think will enjoy the film? Soul Surfer has been compared to The Blind Side in documenting a true story with main characters who loved the Lord. So what makes Soul Surfer so different? What makes it a target and not The Blind Side?
Taking on and trying to understand Hollywood is a futile effort that I won’t even attempt. But what made me respond to this article is something that I think some of you may be thinking: aren’t we past this point? While the 1st amendment protects our freedom of religion, whether in film or meeting on campus for FCA, we are constantly under attack. For those who don’t like the religious aspects of Soul Surfer, don’t see it. If you don’t like the idea that a certain club whether it be an FCA Huddle, Gay/Lesbian Club, or Chess club exist, don’t attend. One thing that I think we’re missing is the constitutional right of anyone and everyone to congregate and share peacefully. I hope I don’t sound like the uber-defensive Christian field worker. Whether I agree or not with a film or club, I will defend its right to meet, but I don’t have to be a part of it.
This film, maybe a Wednesday night youth group, a Thursday FCA Huddle or an awesome friend can introduce someone to the Lord. Fight for the right to share the Gospel, take a stand for Jesus, because he certainly took them all for us. I encourage you all to step out at some point this week and share your faith with someone else. It’s like I tell the kids on campus, invite your friends to a Huddle, the worst they can say is no. But maybe, just maybe, they’ll say yes and let the Gospel do the rest.
Posted on Wed, April 20, 2011
by Matt Clinton