• Faith-Based Entertainment Popular…If It’s Authentic

    by  • March 23, 2016 • Movies, Sex, Television, Violence • 6 Comments

    But taking liberties with Scripture is a sure path to failure.


    With everything from History Channel’s 2013 mini-series The Bible and the movie Son of God, to the current theatrical movies Risen and The Young Messiah, to soon-to-be-released pictures like Miracles From Heaven and God’s Not Dead 2, Hollywood is realizing there’s big money to be made from faith-based entertainment.

    However, there have been just as many failures, from the 2014 film version of Noah (complete with stone Transformers), to the recent cancellation, after only two episodes, of ABC’s much-hyped miniseries Of Kings and Prophets, which was filled with graphic sex and violence.  

    In a recent article in Ad Week, screenwriter, producer, and PTC Advisory Board member Dave Alan Johnson pinpointed the difference between success and failure when it comes to faith-based entertainment: authenticity.

    Changing Scripture, or treating it as a mere “story” which can be altered on a whim for dramatic effect, does not go over well with faith-based audiences. Nor does excessive violence, gore, language, and sexual content, particularly if it seems that the producer or showrunner is more interested in being “edgy” or “pushing the envelope” than he or she is in treating the Bible authentically.   

    “Consumers have become more discerning, and they won’t just support anything that’s touted as faith-and-family values,” Johnson says. “You have to be authentic. Hollywood has found that marketing God isn’t as easy as they thought it would be.”

    If those in Hollywood were as careful and solicitous of the sensibilities of Christians as they are of those of other groups, they might find greater success when appealing to the faith audience.



    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    6 Responses to Faith-Based Entertainment Popular…If It’s Authentic

    1. Wayne
      March 26, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      I used to discuss this a lot, in any faith based entertainment, God and Biblical people become characters. In reading the Bible we get feelings of what these people are actually like. In comparing DeMille’s “Ten Commandments” to Ridley Scott’s “Gods and Kings”, the feeling of God and Moses in these films is very different. Neither movie fit with a direct reading of Exodus, but one is faithful to the spirit of the narrative and respects and the other I felt like did not. I am simplistic, I want Biblical heroes to be heroes and I want God as Tolstoy portrayed his character… the ultimate good from which all others judge themselves, because that is what I see when I read the Bible.

    2. March 24, 2016 at 11:37 am

      “Hollywood is realizing there’s big money to be made from faith-based entertainment” And I would add more. Hollywood has realized that since “The Passion of the Christ” release in 2004. Just check the difference between the film budget and checkbox.

    3. Spaz53@icloud.com
      March 23, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      The movie Noah was a failure because it wasn’t even close to Scripture. But now the new miniseries of kings and prophets was canceled because of its scriptural accuracy! Too much sex and violence you say? Well if you read the Bible it’s full of that stuff. God wrote it, deal with it! Personally I thought it was excellent and I couldn’t wait till the next week only to find out that you hypocrites canceled it. What are you so afraid of? That somebody might learn biblical history? What a shame!

      • Mallen
        March 24, 2016 at 6:04 pm

        I totally agree with your comments! The Old Testament is filled with sex (which they didn’t need to go in that much detail) & a lot of violence/wars. If watch any soap operas or late night shows, they show about as much as this show did. I don’t see them taking the soap operas off the air!

      • Tehiya
        March 25, 2016 at 8:43 am

        It was not the sex and violence that made Of Kings and Prophets such a bad show. It was that the producers fundamentally didn’t get the characters. The characters all seemed like they were acting in a soap opera. It was all sex and intrigue and power-play. Yes, those things happened, but the fundamental narrative was the peoples faith in their God and their purpose and mission in this world. Every time a character on of Kings and prophets spoke about God they seem to be mocking it. They always had this sly look on their face, like they were really just kidding about their faith, and it was actually all about the sex, the power, etc. That’s not who those people were.

      • Sue
        March 25, 2016 at 8:44 am

        You can tell the truth without it being too graphic for young (or older but decerning, such as myself) audiences. Yes, there’s sex and violence in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean we have to see it graphically displayed on our screens. If you’re really a good director you can allow the viewer to know what’s going on without having to actually see it. That takes more talent than just putting it all out there. And is preferable if you are a Christian who would rather not have their spirits defiled by watching smut.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *