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Controversial Religious Films

The Golden Compass
Starring Nicole Kidman and newcomer Dakota Blue Richards, “The Golden Compass,” based on a book Philip Pullman, is a fantasy tale of a young heroine who tries to save kidnapped children from an organization trying to rid them of their souls. Before the film hit theaters this past winter, the film was already causing controversy; the Catholic League called a boycott on the film. The book’s evil organization, The Magisterium, is based on the Catholic Church, but the film version tones down any religious undertones. However, the Catholic League is afraid the film will drive kids to pick up the books, which they consider to be Atheist. (Laurie Sparham/Newline/

Passion of the Christ
Before actor/director Mel Gibson made headlines for a DUI arrest and a reported string of anti-semitic slurs, his film, “The Passion of Christ,” had come under fire from Jewish organizations for perceived anti-Semiticism. The film’s critics believed that the film, which depicted Jesus of Nazarath in his last 12 hours, suggested that Jewish leaders were responsible for the crucifixion. Additionally, the graphic violence in the religious film prompted criticism. (AP Photo)


In addition to a female God (Alanis Morisette) and a 13th apostle (Chris Rock, left), who insisted he was left out of the Bible because he was black, the crux, no pun intended, of the movie, written and directed by Kevin Smith, was two apostles trying to get back into Heaven through a loophole, suggesting they had found a fault in the higher power. The Catholic League accused the film’s distributors, Disney and Miramax, of being anti-Catholic. A appropriately satirical disclaimer ran before the film, which included, “So please before you think about hurting someone over this trifle of a film, remember: even God has a sense of humor. Just look at the Platypus.” (SIPA)

Monty Python’s Life of Brian
Handling religious subjects for film with a little humor comes with its costs, apparently. When the Monty Python team took on the birth of Christ, or rather a man, Brian Cohen, who is mistaken for the savior, religious groups considered the film blasphemous. Among the protesters’ claims was that the foolish depiction of Brian’s followers reflected an attack on religiosity. (Evening Standard/Getty Images)



The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
Willem Dafoe, left, stars at Jesus Christ in this film, directed by Martin Scorcese, which to this day is banned from certain video chains and libraries. The protests began before the film’s production ended; Christian groups took issue with a scene at the end of the movie in which Jesus is told he is not the Messiah and goes on to marry Mary Magdalene and have a family, rather than save humanity by dying on the cross. (SYNDICATION INTERNATIONAL/SIPA)


Stigmata (1999)
This film’s namesake is what the Catholic Church believes is a miraculous connection to Jesus through the physical infliction of the crucifixion wounds from the cross. However the film, directed by Rupert Wainright, depicts the stigmata, exhibited by an atheist (played by Patricia Arquette), as almost demonic. Additionally there are allusions to a romance between a senior priest and the atheist. (WEBER/SIPA)


Da Vinci Code (2006)
After the huge success of Dan Brown’s book, an on-screen version seemed inevitable. However, the book’s success didn’t stop Catholic groups from criticizing the film’s depiction of the Catholic Church and its suggestive plot. The film follows a plot, involving the Catholic Church, to hide the true nature of Mary Magdalene, who the movie suggests was Jesus Christ’s wife. Despite worldwide demonstrations against the movie, it was one of the highest-grossing movies of the year. Meanwhile, Tom Hanks has signed on to star in the onscreen version of the book’s prequel, “Angels and Demons,” also written by Brown. (LILO/SIPA)


Battlefield Earth (2000)
While more people remember this film for its critical panning rather than the film’s controversy, it spurred religious discussion nonetheless. It depicts the origins of Scientology, based on the novel of the same name by Ron L. Hubbard. Critics of the religion claimed that there were subliminal messages in the film,which was just part of the pre-release onslaught of negative press for the movie. Devout scientologist John Travolta produced and starred in the film, which, along with the controversial attention, helped push the religion into the limelight, and as a result, an object of criticism, it occupies today. (WEBER/SIPA)


The Message (Mohammed: The Messenger of God) (1976)
Actor Anthony Quinn, left, starred in this film, which portrayed the Islamic religion. It chronicled the life and times of the Prophet of Islam, Mohammed. However, depicting images of Mohammed is considered heresy, therefore, he is never seen in the movie and organ music is meant to symbolize his presence. However, Hollywood was hesitant to financially back a movie about the origins of Islam and when producers walked, Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi helped finance the film’s completion. (John Bryson/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)


Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Actress Mia Farrow starred in this controversial film, directed by Roman Polanski. Farrow plays a new wife who becomes pregnant and surrealistic dream sequences reveal it may be the son of Satan. Catholic groups not only took aim with the film’s portrayal of the occult, but also for underhanded stabs at Catholocism, per Farrow’s characters own Catholicism. (SIPA)


Priest (1994)
There’s no doubt that director Antonia Bird knew this film would not go over well with the Catholic Church. The British film depicted one Liverpool priest dealing with, and acting on, his homosexual desires, while the head priest is having sexual relations with his housekeeper. (SIPA)


The Exorcist (1973)
Many consider this film to be one of Hollywood’s scariest, but its frightening satanic themes also make it one of the most controversial. The movie depicts a young girl who is possessed by the devil. However, at the time, the violent and freakish scenes were considered extreme and led some religious leaders to consider the film satanic in itself.


Water (2004)
Production on this Canadian film, written and directed by Deepa Mehta, was halted when protesters vandalized the set in India for what they perceived was anti-Hindu subject matter. Mehta had previously stirred controversy with her two previous films, “Fire” and “Earth.” Despite the burned-down set in India, Mehta was able to film in Sri Lanka. The film, which depicts widows in an ashram in the 1930’s, was considered to paint Hindu traditions in a negative light by Hindu conservatives. The film would go on to be nominated for a 2007 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. (AP Photo)




March 23, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Movies, Religion | 1 Comment

Atheists are becoming more visible and vocal in America

Going Godless: Atheists Rise

Good Morning America Story
Atheists are becoming more visible and vocal in America

March 23, 2008 Posted by | Current Events, News, Religion | Leave a comment

Angry Goat Kills Pastor

A Tennessee pastor suffered a fatal heart attack after being rammed by his pet goat. What this story fails to say, rather than the cause of death being an angry, possessed, mean-spirited goat, it was probably due to the Pastor being overweight with a history of heart trouble. Hmm, maybe farm animal love had something to do with it.

March 23, 2008 Posted by | Animals, Current Events, News, News of the Wierd, Religion | 1 Comment