When I see things like this I am reminded of the fantastically sanctimonious (and sub par) movie Saved! The film industry has way too easy of a time caricaturing Christians into representations of people I have never known. The old adage “It takes one to know one” doesn’t apply if it really is the case that people who wear the label “evangelical Christian” are so two-dimensional. In fact, no one I know is really all that comfortable using the word “evangelical” to identify themselves… it is too sociological.
Dan Merchant’s documentary plays on the these sensibilities, but it is a bit more interesting than meets the eye. It smacks of a Donald Miller-esque view on things which inevitably skirts burning issues and takes the high rode, setting up mock “confession booths” where a Christian confesses his sins of omission to non-Christians (i.e. not being loving and so forth), and makes calls for lots of social action like helping the poor and stuff. Yet, the question he asks in his subtitle is an important one: Why is the Gospel of love dividing America?
I suppose there could be a number of answers to this if one reflects on the political motivations of believers, but few if any are particularly passionate about being represented by the self-appointed spokesmen for those political beliefs. For example, I know of no one who thinks Pat Robertson is some great voice of prophecy speaking great truth to a wandering culture. James Dobson doesn’t score too much higher, and Jerry Falwell has been irrelevant for years. Yet these voices persist in being the emblems of evangelicalism in the public square with John Hagee waiting in the wings.
If you take a look at the clips page you will find a video of Al Franken giving his take, and it is honestly a bit shocking. He says, “I used to go to Christian Coalition events quite often to kind of find out what the other people were talking about. And I like the people at Christian Coaltion events. I’d say the people at a Christian Coaltion event are nicer than the people at the Democratic Convention… By and large.” (he goes on to say in this extended preview that there is 10 percent that is very hostile).
No matter what you think of Franken, you have to admit that’s pretty interesting.