Dan Merchant has an agenda, and he doesn't care who knows it.
"I want us all to have a conversation," he said while weaving his car through traffic, sandwiched between events promoting his new film, Lord Save Us From Your Followers. "My agenda is for people outside the faith to come away with a more complete picture of who Christians are, or are at least are trying to be.
"My agenda is for Christians to understand how we sound to others and actually listen to those who disagree with us or who don't understand us, instead of being so quick to fight. I think that some of the basic fundamentals of the gospel—love your enemy as yourself, love one another—have somehow been lost."
Merchant's documentary turns on a deceptively simple question: Why is the gospel of love dividing America? Christianity, he contends, is far more interested in the "gospel of being right" than the gospel of Jesus Christ. Fed up with the strident language and angry rhetoric that have come to define modern Christendom, Merchant, a veteran of the entertainment industry, set out to explore the flashpoint of faith and culture in America.
Merchant is ready with a quick answer for what he sees as Christianity's principal failings. With a nonchalant manner that miraculously never comes across as judgmental, Merchant zeroes in on politicians who use God to win elections, Christian organizations who bait the world and then cry foul when the world fights back, religious leaders who set themselves up to interpret global events as God's wrath, and the church's attitude toward abortion and homosexuality as its pet sins.
"We're not good at living the truth," he says. "I just want us all to live up to it instead of making excuses for why we can't. What grieves ...1