by Don Feder
What do you get when you cross the village atheist with the village idiot? "Saved" - the alleged comedy polluting theaters nationwide this weekend.
Recall the wailing and hand-wringing that accompanied the release of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, in February. Given the hysterical reaction to Gibson's opus, you'd think Hollywood had suddenly become an adjunct of "The 700 Club." But The Passion was an aberration that never would have been made without the influence of its famous producer/director.
Saved is far more typical of the way the movie industry does religion these days. The teen sex comedy is politically correct, tedious, nasty and loaded with anti-Christian stereotypes.
The heroine, Mary, attends a Christian academy - American Eagle Christian High School - a combination of the Valley Girls' school in "Clueless" and a parody of a revival meeting.
Mary learns her boyfriend has homosexual tendencies. Jesus comes to her in a vision - Jesus and Mary, get it? - and commands the good girl to do everything in her power to save the lad. She ends up pregnant and ostracized by the school's Bible-belt Barbie in-crowd.
Mary joins the academy's misfits, including a Jewish girl who claims she's an ex-stripper - in modern movies, Jews are okay, as long as they're safely secular - a skateboarder, and a wheelchair-bound cynic, played by a grownup MaCauley Culkin, who would have been better off at home, alone.
Naturally, the outcasts are all swell kids, while the Christian students are portrayed as Nazi airheads.
What's more interesting than this latest cinematic assault on Christianity, is the mind-set behind it: Not how, but why Hollywood hates the followers of Jesus.
Since at least the 1970s, Hollywood's treatment of Christians has been only slightly more benevolent than al-Qaeda's attitude toward Jews.
Gone are the kindly Barry Fitzgerald priest, the wise rabbi and the steadfast minister. In their place is a rogue's gallery of lusting priests, sadistic nuns, perverted pastors and con-men TV evangelists - not to mention ordinary Christians (Catholic or evangelical) who are depicted as superstitious nitwits, malevolent hypocrites, or both.
Saved joins the Hollywood hit parade of blasphemy and slander, including:
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) - wherein Jesus is given a fantasy sex life.
Priest (1994) - a good, homosexual priest battles "repression" in his Church and heterosexual incest.
Dogma (1999) - another reputed comedy, wherein an abortion clinic worker (the perfect heroine, from Hollywood's perspective) and the great-grand-niece of Jesus (?) saves the world from destruction by fallen angels trying to enter a church to reenter Heaven. Don't ask. When it comes to an opportunity to bash Christians, no plot is too ridiculous.
The Magdalene Sisters (2003) - set in a convent school run by nuns who could pass as concentration-camp guards.
The Order (2003) - teen heartthrob Heath Ledger battles yet another secret order within the Roman Catholic Church bent on no-good.
Stigmata (1999) - the entire Roman Catholic Church is shown to be hiding the "real" Gospel, and a priest tries to murder its last true disciple.
The Saint (1997) - frequently, anti-Christian characterizations bear little or no relation to a movie's plot. They are gratuitous, but damaging nonetheless. This movie opens in a Far Eastern orphanage run by a brutal priest who beats and starves the children and is responsible for the death of one of his charges.
Along the same lines, but somewhat more restrained, there's the paddle-wielding priest in The Basketball Diaries (1995) and the brother who thinks he's Mike Tyson in Heaven Help Us (1985).
The above only skims the surface of Hollywood's anti-Christian crusade. As they do in so many areas, movies shape popular attitudes and perceptions here as well. According to the Barna Group, the percentage of Americans who only attend religious services for holidays or on special occasions, increased from 21 percent in 1991 to 34 percent today.
When it comes to different denominations, Hollywood isn't an equal-opportunity offender. Here's a short lists of religious groups it wouldn't dream of baiting: Unitarians, Presbyterians, members of any liberal, Protestant denomination, Cafeteria Catholics, Reform Jews, Buddhists, Wiccans and Moslems. (Producers and directors may be anti-religion, but they aren't suicidal.)
Why are traditional Catholics, evangelicals and - to a lesser extent - Orthodox Jews, considered fair game?
Because the Hollywood Left (in other words, 98 percent of the self-styled artistic community) views them as the enemy - more even than the military (which occasionally come off well in action films) and corporate executives, and about on par with the CIA, Southern sheriffs, Republicans and companies bulldozing the Brazilian rainforest.
Hollywood hates authentic Christians, because Christianity is diametrically opposed to its worldview - a dogma reflected in the very deep thoughts of Michael Moore, Tim Robbins and Barbara (color me stupid) Streisand. It's based on the following tenets:
1) Sexual Liberation - the glorification of pre-marital sex (including adolescent experimentation), adultery, homosexuality, abortion and the sexualization of children. This may be contrasted with the Judeo-Christian ethic of sexual restraint/responsibility, and the sanctification of sex within marriage (raising the carnal to a spiritual plane).
2) A Live-for-the-Moment Ethos - the here-and-now is all there is, or as the beer commercial used to put it, "You only go around once; so grab all the gusto you can." This is opposed to the Christian emphasis on life eternal. Christians and religious Jews live not for the moment but for eternity. Hollywood's seize-the-moment ethic must ultimately lead to a total rejection of the Ten Commandments and all biblical morality.
3) The Cult of Self - or to put it in the lingo of pop psychology: "self-actualization," really self-gratification. From this perspective, putting anything ahead of your own happiness is dumb, if not psychotic. Christianity and Judaism both teach that your life isn't your own. It belongs to the One who gave you life.
4) Gender Sameness - the bizarre and amply refuted doctrine that men and women are psychologically identical, that gender roles are socially imposed, instead of reality-based. This dogma lies at the heart of liberalism's push to radically remake the family. The worse invective the Left can hurl at the family (from its perspective) is "patriarchal" and "male-dominated."
5) Militant Secularism - the belief that religious expression should be confined to a white, clapboard building, and that traditional faith should play no role in shaping our laws and institutions. Thus, someone who speaks of rights being "endowed by their Creator" (like the Founding Fathers) or saying that America is a nation "under God" (like Abraham Lincoln) becomes an enemy of democracy.
What really enrages the Hollywood Left is the realization that, more than any other group in our society, evangelical Christians - who now constitute the nation's largest identifiable voting bloc - stand in the way of its political agenda: abortion on demand, a contraceptive culture, erotic indoctrination masquerading as sex education, universal day care (the literal Nanny State), the complete societal blessing of gay marriage and hate-crimes legislation that criminalizes religious speech. By attacking Christians, Hollywood is advancing its agenda.
Actually, it is to the credit of Christians that Hollywood considers them the enemy. Similarly, Jews can take pride in the fact that, in the 20th century, both communists and Nazis hated them, as do Islamacists today.
Over the past 40 years, Hollywood has been primarily responsible for the rapid degeneration of our culture. Modern cinema is filled with violence, sadism, sex at its most animalistic, crudeness, nihilism and despair. If Hollywood wants to treat Christianity as the antithesis of all it holds dear, Christians should feel complimented.
Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. Reprinted with permission from FrontPageMagazine.com
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It's Open Season on Christians Again
Bigotry is Bad!
(Unless of Course, The Target is Christians.)
by Rabbi Daniel Lapin
One time girlfriend of quirky California governor Jerry Brown in the 70s, singer Linda Ronstadt has been busy lately. She dedicated her song Desperado to Michael Moore and his bogus-mentary, Fahrenheit 911, she got herself tossed out of the Aladdin casino in Las Vegas, and she gave an interview to a newspaper. Although I doubt this was her intention, she has actually taught us three lessons: One, she and many of her fellow entertainers do have a religion-I'd call it "secular fundamentalism." Two, it's open season on Christians, the last unprotected minority in America. Her third lesson, well, I'll tell you that in a minute.
When loud protests greeted her sycophantic tribute to Moore and his anti-Bush movie she got thrown out of the Aladdin. The casino management ejected her, not because they are all Republicans but because they are all businessmen. Given current political demographics, it is likely that at least half of any randomly chosen audience is conservative and business professionals dislike their hired entertainers insulting half of their customers.
How could someone who has been entertaining professionally for thirty-five years not know that people come to a Las Vegas show to be entertained not to be politically polarized? The answer is that, of course, she knows this but she is serving a higher cause than her career. She has found religion, the religion of Secular Fundamentalism.
Just as both Judaism and Christianity each puts a face on evil, so does Secular Fundamentalism. At this stage in America's second civil war, the face belongs to George W. Bush. Linda Ronstadt, as one of the priestly class of entertainers, feels the call to denounce the face of evil, and that call of her faith is more important to her than her career.
Her soul told her to say, "The Bush administration is awful, and so lying and so deceitful. And they're doing so much harm. They're making it more dangerous for us. They have to be stopped, I think. We have to throw the neocons out," (Note to Linda: President Bush is not a neocon.)
Then, in a remarkably candid interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, the entertainer said: "It's a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment."
What do you suppose might be the reaction if an entertainer would say, "It's a real conflict for me when I find out someone in the audience is Jewish. It can cloud my enjoyment"? Or what if some politician had once announced, "It's a real conflict for me when I find out that someone in the audience is homosexual. It can cloud my enjoyment"? Of course almost no entertainers or politicians would ever say anything as bigoted.
But singer Linda Ronstadt did. The point is, however, that she didn't insult protected minorities like Jews, homosexuals, Moslems, or blacks. She insulted what she calls "fundamental" Christians. (Note to Linda: the term, if you must use it at all, is Fundamentalist.) To quote a line from the lyrics of your song Desperado, Linda, "Lighten up while you still can, don't even try to understand."
The media and the do-good-kiddy-clubs all explode in paroxysms of righteousness any time a public figure inadvertently insults one of the protected minority groups but nobody ever demands an apology when a secular celebrity demeans Christianity. That is because many Americans view Christianity as a problem, an execrable obstacle to America's progress. The rest of us, including many serious Jews, view Christianity as part of the solution to America's problems. We think "progress" is the problem and what we need is a return to traditional morality. That is largely what today's civil war is all about and Ronstadt has shown us on which side she fights.
Oh, and I did say that I'd tell you the third lesson we can learn from Linda's antics. It is that she herself has learned little since those far-off days when she consorted with Governor Moonbeam. She backed losers then and she is backing the losing side now. To quote another line from that song she sang before being banned from the Aladdin Hotel, "We may lose and we may win though we will never be here again."
www.towardtradition.org Radio talk show host, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, is president of Toward Tradition-the American Alliance of Jews and Christians-a Seattle-based, bridge-building organization providing a voice for all Americans who defend the Judeo-Christian values vital for our nation's survival. For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact: Rachael Whaley (206) 236-3046
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Where is America Going?
By Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
Did you know that only 7% of the American adult population are Christian evangelicals? And did you know that 12% of the adult population describe themselves as atheists or agnostics - a considerably larger group, with another 11% of other religions? These are the findings of the respected Barna Group, Inc. which has been conducting national surveys for the last 20 years. From this figure, one can understand why some analysts are talking about post-Christian America.
However, Barna also identifies another large group - 31% of all American adults - which the survey defines as non-evangelical, born again Christians. (Others such as Don Feder in the first article of this issue would define this group as also being evangelical Christians.) This sector of the population answers in the affirmative when asked if they are born again. However they may not necessarily possess the same belief system that includes the Bible being completely accurate in its teachings or accepting a personal responsibility to share their faith with others. According to Barna's surveys, they are less likely to live the lifestyle of evangelicals. Nevertheless, their basic orientation is toward Christianity. These two groups which actually consider themselves to be born again, together make a large minority of 38% of all American adults.
There is one other group - actually the largest group in America, according to Barna - who are nominal Christians. A whopping 39%. Though they do not consider themselves born again, they do possess a residue of the Judeo-Christian ethic upon which the United States was founded.
Altogether, this "Christian" segment is mammoth - 77% of the United States population, whereas the atheistic/agnostic 12% plus 11% of those of other religions only amount to 23% of the entire population. Even if a hefty percentage of nominal Christians have gone to the dogs, still, there is clearly a giant majority of Americans that identify with their Christian background. (Footnote: American Asians consist of only 1.3% of U.S. population, yet 65% of them are either atheists or belonging to other religions, making them the most unreached group in America. Unfortunately, Barna does not give figures concerning American Jewish beliefs.)
Why all these numbers? These findings enable us to see that America is being subjected to an aggressive downward moral spiral by a relatively small but determined percentage of Americans who hate Judeo-Christian values and a belief in the one and only true God.
These anti-Christian, anti-God groups are attempting to revolutionize America into a godless, prayerless, licentious, and lawless society. Where preaching against sin would be considered inciting hatred, and Judeo-Christian values would be obliterated. Mandatory education for our children would (and already often does) include evolution and hedonism and exclude creationism and the Ten Commandments. Where parents must accept homosexual teachers for their children. Where drugs, abortions and guns are an integral part of daily life at school.
Shall we take a peak into the black hole? Our friend of many years, Professor Jeff Seif, who studied under professors from Yale, Oxford and Princeton, has close connections with former Harvard faculty. Hear this! Professor Seif told us that a donor has given a large endowment to Harvard for the purpose of having an evangelical presence in the Harvard Divinity School. However, the school has adamantly refused to hire an evangelical Christian professor to teach there.
One probable reason is that William A. Graham, Dean of the (supposedly Christian) Harvard Divinity School is a professor of Islamic studies. His scholarly work "has focused on early Islamic religious history and textual traditions" according to the Harvard website. He has received numerous awards for his Islamic research and has written such books as Divine Word and Prophetic Word in Early Islam. Furthermore, according to Dr. Seif, the Chaplain of the divinity school is Peter J. Gomes, an avowed homosexual who has written such books as Strength for the Journey: Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living. His latest courses include "The Christian Bible and Its Interpretation" and "Introduction to Public Preaching." Enough said.
Even though such institutions as Harvard started out as Christian institutions, and some of Harvard's faculty might call themselves "Christians," schools of higher learning in America - and especially on the East Coast - are hotbeds of educators whose god is themselves; they are vicious armies on the attack against the righteousness of God and the standards of the Bible, and they are training a new generation to intensify the battle.
Paul described them in Romans 2:
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper…and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them." (Verses 28 & 32)
But, we believe there is yet time to return America back to her roots. Even today, in what some call post-Christian America, a Barna survey shows that 82% of all Americans don't want the Ten Commandments removed from government buildings! Yes, that's right! Only 18% want them removed.
Six out of ten Americans want creationism taught in the schools. Only 15% of all Americans would allow foul language like the "F-word" to be broadcast on TV. Eighty-four per cent of Americans oppose eliminating the phrase "In God We Trust" from the nation's currency and another 84% oppose removing "One Nation Under God" from the constitution. There is still a majority of Americans who, to a greater or lesser degree, want to keep Judeo-Christian moorings on which the nation was founded.
This means that in America, despite the fierce opposition of anti-God forces, born again Christians have a lot to work with.
So how can the people of God rise up against the enemies of God who wish to plunge America into paganism and ultimate disaster? First, a bombardment with the heavenly air force - active pray-ers individually and corporately warring against the evil empire inside America. By forming groups in congregations, by uniting in cities and by organizing more statewide and national gatherings to call on God to save America from the pagan idolatry of flesh, lust, instant gratification and demonic control in media, education and the courts.
But standing against this wave of spiritual filth also necessitates action by the foot soldiers - we're talking about physical action. Bold action. Action taken in faith and courage. Standing up to the devil and his tactics. Unashamedly making your voices heard - in city, state and national government. Should the people of the world be the only ones to protest in the cities of America?
And that brings us to the coming election. One of the surprising results of a Barna survey was that born again evangelical Christians - that 7% - are the least likely group to contact a political official - in other words to get involved in any way with politics. Certainly, these 7% should be the most likely to contact their political representatives. And vote, vote, VOTE!
We have heard many Americans and Israelis express the fact that this next presidential election is the most critical one in the entire history of the United States. Probably at the top or near the top of the list of critical factors is the fact that the next president will be selecting a number of new Supreme Court judges. These judges will either continue to uphold the values upon which this nation was founded or will tow it far away from its moorings - a ship without a sail, heading straight into the hurricane of certain divine retribution.
But here is the heartening news: The Barna surveyors conclude that, as of today, "most Americans are on the same wavelength when it comes to faith and matters of public policy." Barna concludes that their surveys "certainly indicate that given effective leadership, American Christianity could play a larger role in shaping the norms of our culture in the future."
What an incredibly important observation! Here, for example, are a few of the areas often dominated by the enemy to strike at the foundations of the nation.
Newspapers. Proactive solution: Bombard the newspapers with letters to the editors.
Hollywood. Do not attend movies that mock the things of God. Call your local TV station and complain against offensive screening.
Education. Start with basic education. Join the parent-teachers committees of your children's schools. Be active and vocal concerning what is being taught your child. Get other parents to co-ordinate efforts with you.
Politics. Be active, active, active in local, state-wide and national elections. Call and write your congressmen. Hard-copy letters are even more effective than emails. But do something! Nobody is going to do it for us!
Let us harness the mighty power of praying Christians and believing Jews. Let us call on Christians and Jews of every stripe to stand up vocally against the religion of atheism, paganism and New Age. Work while there is still hope!
Oh yes…why are we as Israelis so interested in America and her future? Because at this moment in time, America is Israel's only friend through thick and thin. Every Messianic Jew in Israel will tell you that God has used America to fight for Israel's survival. Yes, we are thankful for the support of Great Britain and Australia. But without America, this nation would be fare for the Islamic beast. We believe that at this time, America is here for such a time as this.
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Dear Maoz Partner,
You won't believe this story!
As you know, many of you gave to purchase DVD/duplicating equipment for our messages, teachings and in the near future, worship music - all in Hebrew.
Through your generosity we were able to buy the equipment and get a large stock of DVD and CD blanks ready for recording!
We sent the first set of teaching tapes to an outside company to do the conversion from video to a DVD master, and waited patiently for the results. However, the worker who was doing the conversions left on vacation and his boss, an ultra-Orthodox man, was stunned when he saw that these DVD masters were Messianic messages in Hebrew about Yeshua the Messiah.
He went to his rabbi to ask what to do, and the rabbi told him that under no circumstances could he do this work for us. He gave us our original videos back (for which we praise God!) and that was that.
At first we were dismayed, but then we began to wonder how much it would cost us to buy our own conversion equipment. Why take the chance on some anti-Messianic business or person who could cause us loss of irreplaceable materials?
We checked the prices, and to our amazement, we found that the only additional equipment we would have to purchase would be a bit of hardware and a professional editing software package for video editing and conversion to DVD for a cost of $7,000!
We discovered that we would even have the possibility to do some editing on the teachings - taking out rough spots, adding audience reaction, writing out Scripture verses on the screen, etc. If we used a commercial business, they would not be doing any editing at all - only conversion - and at a much higher price!
We have also calculated that with our own people doing the editing and conversion (we have two at the moment in our congregation that are skilled in this profession) it would cost us a maximum of $35 - $45 per tape with editing, instead of the commercial rate of $100, without editing!
And there is still more! With this extra equipment package we will have in-house ability to begin making our own video clips or whatever we want to do. We have desired to use our video equipment for our teens and young adults, and this would give us the ability in the future to do so.
You don't have to be reminded that the devil uses every modern technology to trap both youth and adults into his kingdom. Why should he have a monopoly in Israel on such equipment?
We would love for you to get on board with this opportunity and to continue to partner along side us as we increase our ability to minister to the lost and raise up mature leadership for the multiplication of the Body. And as we spread Yeshua’s Gospel throughout the land, we do not forget to bless the poor among the believers, and to victims of terror through your gifts to istandwithisrael.com.
Together, by His grace and power, we go forward!
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
P.S. With any gift of $30 or more, please ask for your new Messianic Jewish calendar which starts with the Jewish New Year this month! (16 month calendar) Supplies are limited, so send your gift today.
And help us spread the Good News with Hebrew DVD's. Your gift towards this project will bear much fruit all across Israel!
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