Conservative Babylon in “Persecuted”: Free Speech, Patriotism Replacing the Gospel of Jesus Christ
At last, a conservative movie! Days ago I enthusiastically watched “Persecuted,” a movie that, according to leftist Dorri Olds, is “made up of mostly real-life conservatives.” Olds, who watched its premiere last year, adds that it “was pure religious right propaganda” and that it is a “A Movie For Christian Conservatives Only.” So it is just for me!
According to WorldNetDaily, “‘Persecuted’ tells the story of evangelist John Luther’s life-and-death battle to preach the gospel without compromising its message to a political agenda motivated by greed.”
MovieGuide says, “‘Persecuted’ is a suspenseful political thriller about a renowned evangelist who finds himself being targeted by a secret conspiracy to limit religious freedom in America.”
A Framed Telelevangelist
James Remar plays John Luther, a nationally acclaimed Christian televangelist whose fame and influence make him an essential political tool for Senator Donald Harrison (Bruce Davison) in his efforts to get his “Faith and Fairness Act” through Congress. The ill-defined bill, having something to do with providing equal standing to all religions, doesn’t sit well with the televangelist Luther, who refuses to cooperate, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Since the action takes place in the sort of cinematic Washington, D.C., where political conflicts are resolved through heinous criminal acts, Luther soon finds himself abducted, drugged and photographed, in racy photos, with a young girl in a plot, executed by nefarious Secret Service agents, where the senator orders him, to destroy his credibility and ensure passage of the senator’s bill, to be framed for the rape and murder of the innocent teenage girl, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Luther escapes and becomes a rosary-carrying version of Harrison Ford’s character from The Fugitive, according to Jon Webster in the Examiner. He becomes a wanted man with his face all over the media. So he uses a classic disguise — dark sunglasses and a hoodie. To watch the trailer, go here: https://youtu.be/vurFMz8bfNY
He attempts to find the evidence that would prove his innocence, while trying to avoid the police and government agents and while his ministry is being taken over by its opportunistic vice-president (played by conservative Christian comedian Brad Stine).
A Televangelist and His Father, a Catholic Priest
Vulnerable and desperate, he cries out to God for direction. Luther’s father is Fr. Charlie Luther, a Catholic priest, played by Fred Thompson. The priest helps his son, but he knows that big forces are against them. The senator sends government operatives and assassins after them. Fr. Charlie is killed.
MovieGuide says, “the movie also implies that the President of the United States is in on the schemes to get the evangelist out of the way, but that plot twist could use more clarity. Finally, the movie as now edited doesn’t explain how exactly the evangelist could have a father who’s a Catholic priest.”
There is no explanation on how a traditional Catholic priest became the father of a popular televangelist. Even though the movie has no malicious innuendo, there was obviously a breach of the Catholic celibacy. But because father and son are very conservative, no suspicion was raised about the hybrid televangelist who loves the Bible and the rosary.
MovieGuide says that “Persecuted” “gives a warning to the Christian Church, the Body of Christ, to be careful about getting in bed with the government. In the movie, the new law offers churches and religious groups a special tax benefit to entice religious leaders into supporting the new law. When the evangelist gets framed for the girl’s murder, his right-hand man convinces the organization’s board of directors to support the new law so they can get more financial donations. This leads to an intense confrontation between the evangelist and his board of directors, including his right-hand man who clearly wants to take away leadership of the group from the evangelist.”
MovieGuide labels “Persecuted” as “a provocative political thriller from a strong Christian, and somewhat conservative or libertarian, perspective.”
The Hollywood Reporter says, “By the time the film reaches its violent conclusion, Luther, armed with rosary beads and a gun, is forced to take matters into his own hands.” This for me is Babylon, a word that means “confusion.”
In many respects, I liked “Persecuted.” It has no foul language. I am very tired of U.S. movies with dirty language, even from supposedly Christian actors.
Yet, even though Luther was almost murdered because he did not put his support behind legislation to unify people of all faiths, “Persecuted” gives the message that the Catholic faith and the evangelical faith are equal.
Free speech: a problem only in Russia and China, not America and Saudi Arabia
The movie also seems to suggest that the most important value is free speech and, fully satisfying the will of neocons, Luther tells about his worry that America could become a “Russia, China or Iran,” with repressive laws against free speech.
This is exactly what neocons want to hear. Yet, if free speech is so important, why not include Saudi Arabia, which is as Islamic as Iran, but much worse in Christian persecution? In Saudi Arabia, no churches and Bibles are allowed, and this is the most important Islamic ally of the U.S. Why not expose it?
Russia does not persecute people who express their views against abortion and sodomy. What about America? How should we measure free speech in these critical conservative cases?
About China, why complain about them? America has been the main financial feeder of China, which is building the largest communist army in the world through massive investment from U.S. companies in Chinese soil.
Besides, while Protestantism in America, the largest Protestant nation in the world today, is shrinking, in China evangelical Christianity is increasing and it is poised to surpass the Protestant population in America in the next few years. That is, China will be the largest Protestant nation in the world.
America has free speech. China has not.
Protestantism in America is shrinking. In China, it is increasing. What does it tell us?
True Christianity grows under persecution. The early Christian church had no free speech, but she increased.
Free speech is not essential for Christian survival. The preaching of the Gospel is.
In an interview with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, “Persecuted” producer Daniel Lusko said, “John Luther is the hero of our story. And he becomes a major evangelist at the level of a Billy Graham, at a time when America becomes an unwelcoming environment for the Gospel.”
My mother was converted to Christ through Billy Graham’s Gospel message. She had her rosary. But after accepting Christ, she understood that a rosary is not necessary to pray to God, who hears us through Jesus Christ. Yet, John Luther’s example seems sometimes to suggest that a nationalist conservative lifestyle is more important than a Gospel lifestyle and that you can be a hybrid Catholic-evangelical-non-denominational conservative, with no spiritual loss.
We can gain the whole world to conservatism, but if conservatives do not know Christ in a personal way, what is it good for?
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?” (Matthew 16:26 ESV)
Fundamentalists Yesterday and Today
Jon Webster said, “To sum up, this is a film that fundamentalist Christians will be drawn to.”
If these fundamentalists are like the original fundamentalists, they will certainly not like “Persecuted.” The original term for fundamentalism was used for evangelical Christians who developed and followed “The Fundamentals,” a massive theological book, edited by R. A. Torrey, to confront liberalism, ecumenism, socialism and heresies among Protestant churches in the early 20th century.
“The Fundamentals” rejects many of the Catholic doctrines as incompatible with the Bible. It encouraged U.S. Protestants to avoid the hybrid Christianity of John Luther.
Among Brazilian evangelicals, a rosary-loving evangelical would be labeled a confused and disturbed Christian. In fact, they would not understand why their American counterparts see no problem in such evangelicals.
I am not worried about Catholics or Orthodox with rosaries. But an evangelical televangelist? A “Billy Graham” with a rosary? Could John Luther be representative of what is happening to U.S. evangelicals?
The ministry of the hybrid televangelist Luther is named “Truth,” a bold name requiring bold words and attitudes. So it is very appropriate to tell the truth about this movie.
“Persecuted” does not attack Islam, the single greatest persecutor and murderer of Christians today and for many centuries. But it attacks the geopolitical enemies of the United States: Russia, China (a special trade partner, a muy amigo “enemy”) and Iran. This greatly pleases neocons.
“Persecuted” does not attack the complete ban on free speech in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic dictatorships that are allies of the United States. This greatly pleases neocons.
Pro-Family Union, Yes, Hybridism, No
“Persecuted” pleases Catholics and evangelicals by creating a hybrid Catholic-evangelical conservative: a “Billy Graham” with a rosary. Why not a hybrid Catholic-Orthodox-evangelical-Jewish conservative? My worry is that this dangerous trend can lead to a future hybrid Muslim-Christian-Hindu-Buddhist conservative, and all of us know how America is prone to “diversity.”
I am not against a pro-family union among Catholics, Orthodox, Jews and evangelicals. But, in a very profound spiritual level, do we need to create hybrids? Do we need a genetically (in a spiritual way) modified televangelist?
Sometimes, John Luther seems more nationalist conservative than an evangelist. Other times, he seems more evangelist than a nationalist conservative. This is confusion. This is Babylon.
Conservatism is important, but it is not the Gospel and it cannot replace the Gospel. I talk as an evangelical to evangelicals.
Let Catholics be Catholics. Let Orthodox be Orthodox. Let Jews be Jews. Let evangelicals be evangelicals. Let them be united in conservative pro-family efforts. But why use the Gospel to break differences among Christians and create hybrids for the sake of a nationalist conservatism? Why create a strange “ecumenism” in the name of conservatism, patriotism or nationalism?
In the WorldNetDaily article, Daniel Lusko said, “Once you have put all that trust into an institution that cannot replace God, then it becomes a trap. That’s why this story is so essential because he could have been a believer in any kind of faith.”
I could also add, “Once you have put all that trust into in nationalism or patriotism, which cannot replace God, then it becomes a trap.”
Take away his rosary, and “Persecuted” will be perfect. If Lusko wanted a hero with a rosary, he should let the Catholic priest be the only hero.
Take away also his nationalist criticism only of nations not aligned with the U.S., and “Persecuted” will be perfect. Saudi Arabia deserves to be criticized for its complete ban on free speech.
And why not praise Russian laws banning homosexual propaganda to children? If America is better than Russia in free speech, why in Russia Christians can criticize sodomy, and in America cannot they do it? Why Russia protects children from the gay agenda, and America does not?
Introduce this Russian example, and “Persecuted” would be perfect.
It is remarkable that John Luther (two Christian names combined; one right from the Bible, the other from Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation) fights for a new reformation.
Yet, while the original Luther fought corruption in the Catholic institution 500 year ago, modern John Luther is an American patriot fighting the dark forces of the U.S. government as represented by Senator Donald Harrison (Bruce Davison) and a cartoonish white-haired corrupt president (James R. Higgins) of the United States who looks like Ted Kennedy and sounds like Bill Clinton.
Patriot evangelical hybrid Luther opposed the “Faith and Fairness Act,” supposed to protect all religions and give them equal free speech.
Religious Freedom Above the Gospel
In the WorldNetDaily article, titled “Trust in God or government?” Fred Thompson, who played Fr. Charles Luther, said “Quite frankly, any religion people should feel the right to practice what they believe in. That’s why I think this movie is central to anyone who has ever felt that freedom of speech or religion is under attack in any shape or form.”
Concisely, is not this the “Faith and Fairness Act”?
So the father of the hybrid televangelist eventually betrayed his son and his movie.
Yet, on the other hand, John Luther is a mirror of the “Faith and Fairness” with his hybridism that equals the Catholic faith and the evangelical faith. Somewhat, he opposes something that he lives. This is confusion. This is Babylon.
An evangelical minister with a Bible and a rosary is also a betrayal, not to Catholics, who follow these traditions, but to R. A. Torrey and all American evangelical leaders who defended their faith against what they saw as unbiblical Catholic traditions.
Lusko said, in a ChristianPost piece, that he is a pastor’s kid and that he has grown up around megachurches and preachers — both the good ones and the charlatans. I wonder how many of these preachers prayed to God with rosaries.
In all my lifetime, I have never seen a televangelist or any evangelical using a rosary in his desperation and troubled times. Why would an evangelical seek God this way?
Is preaching patriotic religious hybridism to save the national honor more important than preaching the Gospel that offends trust in religious objects, but saves eternal souls?
Sometimes, “Persecuted” shows the correct Gospel. Other times, it shows confusion. It shows Babylon.
In the end, “Persecuted” shows a John Luther tired of corruption in the U.S. government, of ministry filled of opportunists eager to go to bed with government and he seems to want only to preach the Bible — with or without a rosary?
What is happening to evangelicals in the U.S.?
“Persecuted” was screened at the February 2014 National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, Tennessee and March 2014 at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C, becoming a model for evangelicals and conservatives.
What’s a real Christian?
“Persecuted” producers committed the error of inviting liberals to attend the film’s world premiere in New York City last year. One of them was pro-abortion feminist Dorri Olds, who wrote about her talks with “Persecuted” actors and producers.
“Much of our culture is eroding,” actor and producer James R. Higgins told her. “There aren’t as many real Christians as there used to be.”
Olds asked, “What’s a real Christian?”
Higgins replied, “Somebody who will stand up for what he believes in and will not back down.” He praised the Luther character, saying, “Whenever people are willing to die for their cause, I think that is really special.” As recorded in TheBlot, Olds added, “Yeah, that’s it. Let’s all become suicide bombers!”
She also remarked, “When Higgins voiced how important it is to protect our right to freedom, I asked if he thought women should have the freedom to do what they want with their bodies. He said, ‘Oh boy, that’s a tough question. That’s what I call a social issue.’”
To defend freedom and free speech in a Christian society, as happened in the U.S. 200 years ago, produces freedom. In contrast, to defend freedom and free speech in a morally decaying nation today produces freedom for abortion, sodomy and other evils.
In Higgins’ definition, as written by Olds, even radical Muslims can be “real Christians.” But is such definition correct?
If feminist Olds had asked me, “What’s a real Christian?” I would have answered: “A real Christian is a man who knows and follows Jesus Christ. His passion is to preach the Gospel to every creature to give them an opportunity to know that Jesus can rescue and save their eternal souls from the eternal hell.”
Preach free speech to feminists like Olds, and they will use it for abortion. Preach the Gospel to them, and they can be delivered from their sins, including abortion activism.
To preach the real Gospel, regardless free speech, produces freedom, here and forevermore.
The power of Jesus and his Gospel have never been dependent on free speech. Just ask Chinese Christians.
With information from MovieGuide, WorldNetDaily, Hollywood Reporter, The Blot and Examiner, ChristianPost, CBN and Wikipedia.
Portuguese version of this article: Babilônia conservadora em “Perseguição”: Televangelista híbrido cai em armação de neocon pagão, e o “evangelho” da liberdade de expressão, do patriotismo ou igualdade substituindo o Evangelho de Jesus Cristo
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