Hollywood’s gloves are off, and its war against Christianity and traditional values has become obnoxiously aggressive.
Case in point: the Grammy Awards Show in January, when the entertainment industry delivered an in-your-face message to evangelicals and conservatives, unleashing what almost certainly was the most graphic, vulgar, demonic program in the history of broadcast television.
“We’ve always heard that Hollywood is about making money, but I think it’s really about an immoral or amoral agenda to promote lifestyles, relativism, compromise and shades of gray with no black and white,” said Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., which produced and released the successful Christian-based films Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous.
“There is a force in that community,” he added, “that says more important than making $100 million is to plant seeds in the minds of young people that will take them away from Judeo-Christian ethics.”
The Grammy program was an abhorrent example, starting with the top of the show in the 8 p.m. hour, when still-awake children and teenagers were subjected to lewd performances filled with sexual innuendo.
Ultra-successful marketing consultant Gordon Pennington, an evangelical with numerous connections in Hollywood, puts it succinctly: “Whoever controls the image of culture controls culture.”
And that’s just what the Grammys sought to do before an estimated audience of 28 million viewers. As the show’s opening act, Beyoncé and Jay Z arrived with the No. 1 ranking on Billboard magazine’s power 100 list. Billboard defines power in the context of its rankings as “the ability to reshape the world around you according to your vision.”
That description epitomizes the seedy side of Hollywood’s attempt to take over society and strike Christian values from the landscape.
One of the movies nominated for an Oscar, The Wolf of Wall Street, contained more than 500 utterances of a word that begins with the letter F.
“How do you call that creativity?” Catt said. “You don’t need to drop profanity into a sentence to make it powerful. It actually shows a lack of creativity. It’s as if screenwriters sit around and try to find ways to put in enough language and sex to be gratuitous.”
Pop singer Miley Cyrus has devolved from the relative innocence of playing the role of Hannah Montana on The Disney Channel to giving unabashedly raunchy performances.
“The problem is that sex sells and evil is tempting,” said Christian filmmaker and actor David A.R. White, whose new feature film God’s Not Dead strongly and faithfully presents the Gospel. “Sexuality in these live events has grown so much, it’s sad.”
The Grammys didn’t stop there, however.
Singer Katy Perry’s rendition of Dark Horse was deemed to be satanic even by critics who don’t profess to be Christ followers. It featured fire, alluded to witchcraft and included demonic dances.
The Grammys also served as an infomercial for the LGBT/same-sex marriage movement. Actress/singer Queen Latifah officiated a bizarre mass wedding of 33 couples, mostly of the same sex, to the tune of the song Same Love.
Christian actor and filmmaker Kirk Cameron responded the next day on Facebook, calling the ceremony an “all out assault on the traditional family.”
“The lines were drawn thick and dark,” Cameron added in the post. “Now more than ever, we must work together to create the world we want for our children.”
Conversely, a New York Daily News story labeled decency old-fashioned, proclaiming: “People, it’s the Grammys, not the grannies!”
We’re a far cry from the days of John Wayne, Pat Boone and The Brady Bunch.
Instead of wholesome family values, today’s secular offerings smack of smut, including network television series openly promoting homosexuality and polygamy.
Last month’s Oscars were co-produced by two gay men and hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, a lesbian.
Modern culture didn’t get here overnight. Catt, the Sherwood Baptist pastor, says it’s been a gradual decline.
“Like anything, if you’re exposed to it enough, you become numb to it and you don’t see its effects on you,” Catt said. “I tell the folks at our church it’s like eating cheesecake. We wake up and can’t feel its effects. But if we ate it and woke up with a big lump of fat that had appeared on our side, we’d say, ‘Whoa, that’s not good.’
“It’s the cumulative effect that wears down our resistance. The devil is willing to bide his time and wait for the end result. Scripture tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7)—but first it says to submit ourselves to God.”
Contemporary Christian singers Mandisa and Natalie Grant sought to follow those biblical instructions during the Grammys.
Mandisa won two Grammys, but she wasn’t present to personally receive the awards. She said it was part of her conviction to make sure she’s not of the world even though she lives in it.
Grant attended the awards show but left early.
“I’ve many thoughts, most of which are probably better left inside my head,” she posted afterward on Twitter. “But I’ll say this: I’ve never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I’ve never been more sure of the path I’ve chosen.”
Grant received mixed reaction for her exit. One Twitter follower accused her of being a gay hater—a common label these days for even the most winsome Christians. Grant replied that she has gay friends and that “there is absolutely no hate in my heart.”
She’s just one example of evangelicals in Hollywood coming under attack or getting blacklisted for their beliefs.
Christian author, radio host and singer Joni Eareckson Tada’s rendition of the title song of the film Alone Yet Not Alone had its Oscar nomination rescinded by the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for improper lobbying by the songwriter.
Though the Academy’s explanation seemed shaky, Tada didn’t label the controversial decision anti-Christian. However, she told Decision she was intrigued by the backlash against the Academy when the nomination was first announced, since it was for a limited budget, limited release, independent Christian film.
Actor Kevin Sorbo formerly played Hercules in one of the most successful shows in network TV history but is now ignored from even auditioning for most roles because of his faith in Christ and the fact that he speaks out about the hypocrisy that permeates Hollywood.
“They scream for freedom of speech and they scream for tolerance, yet they have none themselves if anyone has a differing point of view,” said Sorbo, who at age 14 answered the invitation to accept Christ at Billy Graham’s 1973 Upper Midwest Crusade in St. Paul, Minn.
Sorbo appears mostly in Christian movies now, including a lead role in God’s Not Dead.
That film is one of several faith-based films releasing in the first half of this year, an encouraging development that reflects the influence of Christian audiences and the presence of evangelical filmmakers trying to shine light in the darkness.
Even with more big-screen choices, however, believers have to be careful. Some of the new films are doctrinally lacking far beyond the creative licenses taken sometimes with Scriptures.
Son of God opened to huge crowds in late February and gave a powerful depiction of Jesus’ life, death by crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, but failed to make clear that the reason He died was for the forgiveness of our sins. It omitted “will not perish” from John 3:16, essentially removing the consequence of hell for those who refuse Christ’s offer of atonement. Three times, it half-quoted John 14:6, leaving out the part that makes clear that Jesus is the only way to the Father.
Noah, which was released in late March, admittedly took non-biblical liberties with a treasured story. Russell Crowe, the actor cast as Noah, told Entertainment Tonight that he finds it amusing that people consider Noah benevolent.
“This is the dude that stood by and watched the entire population of the planet perish,” Crowe said. “He’s not benevolent. He’s not even nice.”
That’s a gross misrepresentation of a biblical hero described in Genesis 6:9 as a righteous man who walked with God.
Though Christians must march forward in efforts to loosen the stronghold Hollywood has on culture, Joni Eareckson Tada says it’s important to keep evangelism at the forefront of the battle.
“We need to remember that these people are utterly and absolutely lost,” she said. “They have no spiritual sensibilities, and whatever laws of God that may have been imprinted on their hearts have been seared by constantly choosing idol worship, lasciviousness and things that are so anti-God.
“I don’t think we should be surprised. It’s part and parcel to living in a post-modern culture where Christianity is just not looked upon with favor as it was 20 or 30 years ago.”
The battle is far from over, but evangelicals must mobilize and realize that sometimes it takes true grit to pave the way for the message of true grace.