Fox will do anything to make money – even court Christians. The same corporation that brings you Temptation Island is also bringing you FoxFaith, a new specialty film division aimed specifically at Evangelical Christians. The idea is to tap into that Passion of the Christ market, to get the holy rollers who think the cinema is the work of the Devil. Which is silly, because Robert Evans stopped producing films a long time ago.
The first FoxFaith film will be October 6’s Love’s Abiding Joy, based on a novel in Janette Oke’s series Love Comes Softly, which really sounds far too racy to be about Jehova. "A segment of the market is starving for this type of content," Simon Swart, general manager of Fox’s U.S. home entertainment unit told the LA Times. "We want to push the production value, not videotape sermons or proselytize."
That’s all well and good, but this brings up a point that pisses me off – and keep in mind that I’m a very loudly self-proclaimed agnostic: is this all of Christianity? Hell, is this all of faith? The world of Evangelical Christians is about as frightening as the world of extremist Muslims, and both give their moderate brethren a terrible name. The Evangelicals are the ones who want to pass an anti-gay marriage amendment, who want to bomb abortion clinics and who want to get involved in Holy Wars in the Holy Land.
I don’t have a problem with movies of faith. This might seem like a weird example to some hard right-wing Christians, but The Last Temptation of Christ is one of my favorite films. If church made me feel the way that movie did, I would be there every Sunday. It’s a beautiful exploration of faith and meaning, and it allows us to really understand what it must have been like to be Jesus Christ and make the sacrifices he did – I can understand giving up love and happiness much more easily than I can understand being tortured. Of course the Evangelicals hated Scorsese’s vision of a Christ tempted by marriage, sex and happiness and loved Mel Gibson’s vision of a mechanical Christ taking endless punishment.
I would love to see more films that are made by and for people of faith, but of all faiths. Any faiths. Films about love and beauty and forgiveness, not films that are aimed at a small but vocal segment of the population who seem to believe that the message of Christ was hate and anger. Maybe FoxFaith will branch out and deliver moving films from points of view as varied as Muslims, Zen Buddhists, moderate Christians and Catholics or even Pastafarians.
But I suspect that FoxFaith is really the new guise of the money changer in the temple, and that piety has been left off their spreadsheets.