Why do mainstream moviemakers so often portray Christians as foolish, legalistic, and condescendingly snobbish?

I get a lot of answers—often accompanied by intense emotion—when I ask that question. Some Christians blame a conspiracy of liberal, anti-Christian Hollywood powerbrokers. Other believers argue that if more Christians were telling good stories and making good movies for general audiences instead of within the bounds of a Christian subculture, truer representations would be offered more frequently. Still others suggest that Christians have earned flak by sometimes behaving in a condescending, judgmental way toward unbelievers.

Whatever the cause, the trend may be shifting, at least for a while. Two of three wide-release films opening this week present heroes whose successes are linked to their belief in a benevolent God. Still, there's more to good artmaking than avoidance of caricature; the films are garnering various complaints about onscreen religiosity and other aspects as well.

Hot from the Oven

Director Adam Shankman's (The Wedding Planner) A Walk to Remember, based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks, has religious press journalists on their feet and cheering. But mainstream critics are remaining seated, or else they're headed for the lobby, where they're jostling to come up with the best joke headline—"The Bland Leading the Bland," "Forgettable," and "A Walk to Forget." Are these naysayers merely prejudiced? Or is the movie really just preaching to the choir? If you've seen the film, let me know what you think.

The heroine is Jamie Sullivan (pop singer Mandy Moore), daughter of a kind-hearted pastor (Peter Coyote) in a small North Carolina town. We're given the impression that Jamie is considered unattractive. (This ...

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