NPR looks at how Hollywood is getting religion wrong
National Public Radio's David D'Arcy reports on a spate of recent films with spiritual overtones, including Chocolat, Battlefield Earth, The Legend of Bagger Vance, and The Family Man (apparently spirituality isn't doing too well at the box office—none of these were blockbusters, and several are considered major flops). "Neither the youth audience these new films target nor the filmmakers themselves seem to know much about religious history or practice, or even about Hollywood's epic approach to the Bible," D'Arcy says. "Today's filmmakers are trying to give spirituality to today's icons." Loyola University film historian and Jesuit priest Gene Phillips agrees, saying the message of the films "is therapy rather than faith or spiritual enlightenment." Or, as Phillips says, "the brotherhood of man without the fatherhood of God." D'Arcy also talks to James Twitchell (who's very critical of religion) and Stanley Crouch (who's less concerned with charges of racism in Bagger Vance than he is with gangsta rap). (Listen at 14.4 or 28.8 kbps if you have the RealPlayer.)

More on films:

Left Behind: The Movie

  • At the movies: LeftBehind | "This is B-movie pap, a weak proselytizing device masquerading as a movie" (Associated Press)
  • Faith can mount movies | Christian filmmakers Peter and Paul Lalonde are taking a page from Hollywood's bible — their $17.4-million picture Left Behind has explosions and gunplay, but also a strong religious message (National Post)
  • Putting fear of God in film | Bring popcorn and leave the Bible at home, say the makers of Left Behind (New York Post)
  • 'Rapture' believers back 'End Times' film | Friday's theater release of Left Behind: The Movie will be a second coming of sorts, although nothing like the Second Coming trumpeted in its plot. (Cincinnati Post)
  • Christian filmmakers fill niche | Left Behind part of effort to broaden Christian films' themes and raise production values to reach a bigger audience (Associated Press)

Other Christian films:

  • Christian comedy aimed at youth | "This isn't your father's Christian movie," says spokesman for Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's World Wide Pictures. "We've got motorcycle gangs and car chases and '72 Cadillacs flying through the air and muscle cars … there are things in here you wouldn't expect from Billy Graham." (Associated Press)
  • Billy Graham backs comedy movie (Associated Press)
  • Kid Vid: '3, 2, 1, Penguins' The creators of the "VeggieTales" series presents a new children's animated series full of fun, faith and flightless birds. (The Hartford Courant)
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Christian music:

Death-metal murder lawsuit:


Indian politician resigns after calling earthquake God's judgment
The minister of state for civil aviation and infrastructure development in the southern Indian state of Karnataka resigned from his position after a national furor over his comments that the earthquake in Gujarat was divine retribution. "The catastrophe that has befallen Gujarat is God's punishment to the people there for ill-treating Christians and minorities," he said at a televised event organized by the Christian organization Good News Society for Global Peace. "Injustice was done to our people. Churches were destroyed. For this God has punished them." He later issued a statement saying, "I regret this issue. … I am sacrificing my post to ensure that my utterances are not exploited politically or incite people." And he later told The Times of India, "My only intention was to make the people have faith in God."

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More on religious freedom abroad:

Religion and politics:

Bush's faith-based initiatives:

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  • Faith-based charity plan gets bipartisan backing (The Washington Times)
  • A great leap for faith, but don't oversell it | If Bush believes money can go to faith-based groups without the funds being used to promote religion, why doesn't he also believe money can go to overseas family planning groups without the funds being used to promote abortion? (Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune)
  • Jay Leno: "President Bush announced his new faith-based funding for Americans in need. The way faith-based funding works is, if you're poor and you need help, then you pray the Republicans don't cut the program."

Religion in schools:

With discovery of human remains, Madalyn Murray O'Hair's story seems at an end:

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