"Facing the Giants" is the latest religious film facing a firestorm. This one involves what it will be rated. The movie won't hit theaters for another three months but the controversy has already begun. The makers of the film say the movie was rated PG, parental guidance suggested, not the family-friendly G, or general audience. The reason given? Because of its "explicit religious content." East Texas religious leaders we spoke with disagree on whether the rating is "fair". They say, the controversy might actually be a good thing.
"Facing the Giants" is about a high school football coach struggling with his professional and personal life. He begins to see a chance after he turns to God. The makers of "Facing the Giants" say although the movie has adult themes in it, it's not sex or violence that landed them a PG rating. Instead, they say Hollywood's rating board, the Motion Picture Association of America, is biased against the movie's celebration of religious values. "It's interesting that the Bible, which used to be the standard for what is good and right and virtuous and true is now taboo and we have to warn people about it," said movie producer Alex Kendrick.
One East Texas pastor we spoke with agrees. "It seems to me, whether they intend to or not, by this rating the MPAA is placing Christian themes in the same category as gratuitous sex and mindless violence," said Sylvania Baptist Church Pastor Matthew McKellar.
But First Christian Church Senior Associate Minister Brett Winters thinks some may be taking things a little too far. "I think there are other concerns in the world and in life that we should be focusing our attention on rather than if this movie is being picked on," said Winters.
Both Winters and McKellar agree more people might go out and see the movie now with the publicity it's receiving. "If this can get parents to go with their children to a movie then have a conversation about what they believe God to be, then I think giving this a PG rating is successful," said Winters.
"A PG rating may actually cause more people to consider the film or take it seriously or show up to watch it on screen," said McKellar. The MPAA is saying publicly their decision was based on the movie's "more mature themes".
"Facing the Giants" opens in September in 90 cities across the U.S. The movie will be shown in Tyler. There's no word yet on which theater will carry it.