6 Pro-Christian Films That Made Christians Look Like Jerks
Christian films have a reputation for being heavy-handed, but they're more or less consistent in their messages of the importance of spirituality and family. However, some Christian filmmakers lay on the rhetoric so thick that they accidentally reveal some hidden part of their own personalities, be it deep-seated prejudice, a torture-porn fetish, or an affinity for Twilight slash fiction. Warning: The last entry is pretty gruesome.
Billy Graham Accidentally Makes Atheism Look Badass
For decades, deathless specter of televangelism Rev. Billy Graham went on TV to worship, pray, and hold up Bibles in dramatic ways. Graham's faithful viewers, moved by his spirituality, responded by sending him enough money to ransom individual planets. So, what was America's Pastor to do with all that cash? The answer was obvious: become a Hollywood producer to spread the good word.
The bulk of Graham's films are about sinful people living morally bankrupt lives until they come across some Billy Graham stock footage and see the error of their ways. The only problem with this formula is that Graham accidentally made the "immorality" parts of his movies look rad as hell.
The 1973 film Time To Run, for instance, follows an 18-year-old who runs away from home and gets to do cool shit like wear leather jackets and kick open gates with his feet.
As you know, this is the only way to open a gate once you're an independent adult.
By 1983's The Prodigal (another "wayward son" tale), we start to get a very specific image of what Billy Graham thinks a life without God looks like, and it looks exactly like a high-octane action movie. There's romance! Fistfights! Motorcycles!
"Repent NOW, or you too will have a hot woman under each arm."
Two years later, Graham went for an adventure story with Cry From The Mountain, about an ungodly dad who takes his son on an ill-fated kayaking trip. They manage to survive with the help of a mysterious, almost magical bearded stranger (spoiler: It's Jesus). The lesson is clear: Turn your back on the Lord and your life will become an incredible Indiana Jones adventure you get to share with your father.
Kayaking deaths went up 87 percent that year.
But Graham's masterpiece is probably Caught (1987), in which we find out that if you leave your good Christian family to look for your shady biological dad in Amsterdam, you'll take a lot of drugs, have boatloads of sex, go on car chases, and tackle people with guitars. All of this will of course be set to a soundtrack of hardcore rock music.
There's more action in this one GIF than in Schwarzenegger's last three movies.
You may have noticed a pattern in that all these movies involve estranged fathers and sons. Well, it turns out that around the same time Graham started making films, his own sons were off getting high and drinking booze, so his movies were undoubtedly his way of trying to reach out to them with the word of God. Pro tip: If you want your kids to stop using drugs, don't make a dozen movies about how badass drugs are.
Gramps Goes To College: A Movie About Christianity On Campus Mostly Focuses On How Awesome The Director Is
According to the official plot synopsis, Gramps Goes To College is about a recently retired gentleman who "seeks how he can spend his time serving God." In reality, that description is a little misleading, since it's pretty obvious when you watch the movie that Gramps is God, or at least some type of immortal magician. The plot makes no sense otherwise.
Prolific self-published author Donald Parker (who also wrote and produced the film) plays Gramps, a 65-year-old computer programmer/chess champion/tennis player/cross country runner/basketball star who believes that evolution is a sin and that fluoride in public water causes cancer and government mind control. Ironically, Donald Parker is also a retired computer programmer, which is a piece of information we gleaned from the biography he wrote for himself on IMDb. Clearly, at some point during his quest to make a positive Christian movie to bring the word of God to young people, Donald Parker decided to just make a movie about how awesome he, Donald Parker, is at everything.
The movie opens (as all films starring senior citizens should) with Gramps working his bod in a gym, at which point he announces that God wants him to go back to college. This is not a joke.
"That's great, but I just asked if you know where the bathroom is."
What happens next makes God's Not Dead look subtle and balanced -- Gramps is so smart and awesome that the previously apathetic students end up literally chanting his name through the halls of the college. As if to prove that his perfection is physical as well as spiritual, Gramps enrolls in an inexplicable sports potpourri competition and completely destroys his opponents, despite the fact that they are all at least four decades younger than he is. Also, they all happen to be godless heathens:
That guy's receding hairline is meant to be devil horns.
Even the arrogant and fiercely atheistic Biology teacher can't resist Gramps' powerful anti-evolution arguments, which seem to have been culled from the comments section of YouTube. She is equally helpless in the face of his raw sex appeal -- Gramps accidentally seduces her just by existing, and she quits her heathenistic job for him, which is apparently a common annoyance in his life, judging by his "oh boy, not again" face.
"Professor Scarlett Johansson, I told you we can't ... oh, sorry, I was reading from the original draft of the script."
Gramps' supernatural status is confirmed when a girl dies from an overdose and he brings her back to life by praying -- which makes us wonder why he bothered to debate anyone in the first place. He could have just used his incredible powers in front of everyone and have been done with it. Considering Donald Parker wrote a novel about a thinly veiled version of himself romancing a thinly veiled version of Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, this is actually only slightly above his normal bouts of wish fulfillment.
It was followed up by the sequel, Against The Restraining Order.
The Unexpected Bar Mitzvah: A Movie About Religious Cooperation Is Clearly An Anti-Semitic Rant By The Director
The Unexpected Bar Mitzvah starts with a 10-minute conversation about how Tim Tebow is the greatest quarterback of all time, despite the fact that the film is set in 2015. Thereafter, the plot follows two kids named Paul and Abraham, a Christian and a Jew, respectively, trying to overcome the obstacle of their different religions and become friends. However, what the movie is actually about is the evils of Judaism, as evidenced by the dazzlingly offensive cover art:
The Jewish dad is literally wearing a crown of fire.
In the movie, Abraham's family moves to a Christian neighborhood, and the young boy is naturally curious about this exciting new religion. Abraham's extremely strict and extremely Jewish father forbids him from learning more about Jesus -- but then, the kid starts getting visions from the Christian God himself. As with the Biblical Abraham, God has a very important message for this boy: He must stop reading Harry Potter books.
"I mean, you're like, what, 12 now? Time to move on to some Danielle Steel."
Soon, Abraham is speaking in tongues and telling other kids that they too must burn their witch novels. He then comes out as a Jesus fan to his cartoonishly racist caricature of a father, whose reaction singlehandedly resets Jewish stereotypes back by about 2000 years.
"You wouldn't like me when I'm verschimmelt."
Abraham's dad sends him off to New York City to get straightened up by his uncle, but instead of getting the Christian God beaten out of him, the kid winds up converting his relatives to Christianity when he cures his paraplegic cousin with his divine powers. Also, Abraham's uncle is played by none other than Donald Parker, he of Gramps Goes To College fame.
"Hang on, Scarlett Johansson, I have to call you back. My nephew is using magic to prove the existence of God."
Yes, Donald Parker also wrote and directed the film, which is based on one of his many self-published novels (we promise the rest of the article won't all be Parker material). The movie ends with Abraham's entire family converting to Christianity and leaving their Jewish roots behind, solidifying Parker's message that peace between the religions can be reached, so long as all the Jews go away forever.
Accidental Activist: A Movie About Freedom Of Religion Gradually Becomes A Movie About How Evil Gay People Are
Accidental Activist is a movie about tolerance, standing up to oppression, and being allowed to practice your faith free from the judgment of your fellow man. As such, it exposes the plight of one of the most persecuted groups in America today: homophobic white men. It all starts when a good Christian man is asked to sign a petition against gay marriage.
"No, trust me. This film's going to age like wine."
Our brave protagonist signs the petition, thinking nothing will come of it (except, you know, hopefully banning people from getting married), but then a gay newspaper thoughtlessly publishes his name and address. Soon, word gets out that he's a bigot, and anti-bigot bigots start picketing his store while he and his family wonder what they did to deserve such treatment.
Here they are, spewing their "Gay is OK" hate speech.
The flamboyant head of the LGBT Pride Community (and the only Hispanic character in the film) is so mustache-twirlingly evil that he actually wants to close the store down and put a gay pride rally headquarters in its place, which is a thing that has never happened to anyone, ever (however, plenty of gay small-business owners do struggle to stay in business).
"Or a Banana Republic. We haven't decided yet."
However, we're quickly shown that the protagonist simply can't be homophobic, because he has one gay friend. Similarly, an old black woman gives him permission to compare his predicament to the Civil Rights Movement, which he does, without a trace of irony.
And who knows more about oppression than a white screenwriter writing dialogue for a black actress?
Incidentally, the movie was funded by the American Family Association, which is classified as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and whose director believes that "homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler." At the end of the film, our protagonist gives a rousing speech about the First Amendment and walks off into the sunset with his family, a valuable lesson learned by all.
Hangman's Curse: Always Be Yourself, Unless You're A Weirdo Or Something
The trailer for Hangman's Curse looks like your average slasher flick, but any horny teens looking for a suitable excuse to make out were sorely disappointed. The movie is set in a high school where students are mysteriously dropping into comas, and rumors abound of the ghost of a bullied kid being responsible. It's up to the Springfields, a Christian crime-solving family, to go undercover and figure this one out. This is roughly the moment where the movie flies off the rails like an Amtrak disaster.
"OK, we're ready to solve mysteries in a Meatloaf music video."
In between preaching to everyone and arguing with the teachers over their right to pray in class, the Christian Scooby Gang discover the truth: The culprit is a nerdy outcast who uses a spider to make his victims hallucinate. Of course! After that, they foil the plot and leave us with a nice message about how nerds, geeks, and goths are all alike and loved by the Lord. So what's the problem? Well, here's what the victims of the ghost attacks look like:
And here are the goth kids who worship the ghost of Bullied McDeadkid:
"THE POWER OF CHRISTIAN MUSIC COMPELS YOU!"
We're told that all of the students are equally important in their differences, but when we see the goth kids at the end, we find out that after being removed of all demonic influences, the goths apparently went to Forever 21 to celebrate.
In fairness, shopping at Hot Topic is the devil's work.
In other words, the film is telling us that God loves all his children equally ... as long as they all dress the same and have the same benign, non-threatening interests. If you wear black and have trouble making friends, you are in league with the goddamned devil.
If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?: A Movie About The Threat Of Communism Becomes A Violent Fetish Film
If Footmen Tire You is a 1971 film about how television, with its mindless violence and Bible-distracting car chases, is leaving America open to conquest by the Soviet Union. It gets that message across by gorily murdering dozens of children on-screen.
Spoilers: This is about a quarter of the running time.
The whole movie is about a loose woman named Judy listening to a sermon in church and vividly imaging the future horrors the pastor describes (note: It is entirely possible that Judy is high as fuck). According to the pastor, if we let the evils of TV and sex education distract us from the Bible, America will be conquered by Communists by 1974 (spoiler: This did not happen). Some of the surviving children will be forced to pray to Fidel Castro, while others will simply be stabbed in the ears so they can't hear the word of God.
"Yeah, well, I can still rea- never mind."
Meanwhile, dissenting Christian adults will be executed by having their own children lower them onto pitchforks, which is honestly pretty smart, because it saves the Communists the expense of having to hire extra staff.
"Excellent! But I really want you to aim for the groin and butt area next time."
At one point, an orphaned kid is given a choice between stomping on a picture of Jesus or having his head chopped off. The kid bravely announces to the clouds that his father died for him, so now he'll die for Christ.
Because subtlety has no place in this film, the camera makes no attempt to move or cut away as the little boy is decapitated right in front of us.
It's clear that whatever earnest message the filmmaker wanted to deliver was quickly forgotten once he discovered the iron-hard boner granted to him by torture porn. We hope Judy got her life turned around, though.
Matt Fazio does stand-up in L.A. Follow him on Twitter! Adam Koski's short film might not be as funny as If Footmen Tire You, but it certainly does a better job spreading the Word of Christ. Tara Marie writes for Cracked and wanted to be a pastor when she was growing up. You can talk to her about your favorite Christian movies at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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