Hollywood a Reminder Not to Take Blasphemy, Idolatry Lightly
- Shawn McEvoy Faith Editor
- 2007 24 Jul
Ray Comfort has taken on the challenge of witnessing to people on the street, and of debating atheists over the existence of God on national television. Now, in his latest project, the New Zealand native and co-host of The Way of the Master is taking on the entertainment industry.
Comfort’s latest book is titled Hollywood Be Thy Name: The Idol Makers (Bridge-Logos, 2007). He recently sat down with Crosswalk.com to discuss what’s going on in Hollywood and what Christians can do about it. . . .
One of the promos for Hollywood Be Thy Name said that “If people would apply what is in this book, it would revolutionize America.” How so?
First, we’ve got to understand that Hollywood has an agenda, and that agenda is anti-Christian in nature.
Let me give you a little background on Hollywood: when it first began, in the 1900s, it went really bad. In the 1920s, there was violence, movie stars up for murder, and there were drugs, and Hollywood had a very bad image. The executives in Hollywood hired a guy named William Hays – have you heard of the Hays code? Williams Hays was a Presbyterian senator. And they said, “We want you to give Hollywood a good image.” So what he did is he instituted the Hayes code, which outlawed blasphemy, profanity—the name of God, the name of Jesus, even the words “damn” and “hell.” They weren’t to be said irreverently. In 1934 they enforced the Hays code, and they were able to do it by saying that any movie theaters that showed a movie without the Hays code seal of approval would be fined $25,000.
So from the year 1934 to the early ’50s, we got some good movies. I mean, real good, wholesome family movies. You got Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, It’s a Wonderful Life—all those great movies that are heartwarming and family oriented.
In the 1950s, Hollywood began to push the envelope through First Amendment freedom of speech laws. They said, “It’s our right to say what we want.” So, there were some innuendos and profanity in the ’50s that got kind of bad. In 1968 they threw out the Hays code—they outlawed it. They just said, “You’re outta here,” and they gave parental control.
Is that when the ratings system came in?
Yeah. That unlatched the door to profanity, adultery, unspeakable violence, and especially blasphemy. That’s when it really started, and they could say those words they’d been forbidden to say.
Now for some reason—no one seems to know why—but in the late ’60s crime rates in the U.S. tripled. Not only that, but for some reason during the late ’50s and the ’60s, a whole generation became rebellious, and turned against the Judeo-Christian ethic of their parents. No one knows why. But I think I know why, because I can see the power of the media.
I mean, why do we pay $30 million for a 30-second advertisement during the Super Bowl? Because people are influenced.
So what concerns me is this: in this little 13-minute DVD that we’re giving away [Hollywood and God is free with purchase of Hollywood Be Thy Name or can be viewed online at HollywoodandGod.com]—we want to get it in the hands of pastors—I ask Christians: “Do you go to R-rated movies?” And they say, “Yeah.” And most of them do.
“So whaddya think of the blasphemy in them?”
“I don’t like it. I hate it.”
“Do you stay in the movie?”
“Eh, it depends on the story line.” It’s what they say. So okay, here’s a question for you: would you go to a movie that used your mother’s name as a cussword? And they go, “Never!” Well, would you go to a movie that used God’s name as a cussword, and they go, “Whoa. I never thought of it like that.”
And what we’ve got . . . in 2005, the box office take in the U.S. was $8 billion. Just under $7 billion came from churchgoing people in America. So who’s supporting these blasphemous movies that don’t blaspheme Mohammed? They don’t go near Mohammed. But continually they blaspheme the name of God, and of Jesus, and it’s a hard thing to say, but they say things like, “Jesus [expletive] Christ” throughout the movie.
Why?! What has that go to do with it? Why use someone’s name to express disgust? Why don’t they say “Mohammed?” Why don’t they say, “Buddha?” Why don’t they say, “George Bush?” Why use the name of Jesus?
It’s offensive to Christians. I can’t do anything about their adultery. People love it. Can’t do anything about their violence. But I can do something about their blasphemy. And here’s what I can do. . . .
We’ve started a website called HollywoodandGod.com, where Christians can go in, and they can find out which movies have just come out that use blasphemy. And in that website it’s got the e-mail address of the producers of that movie. So you can e-mail whatever production company has produced it and say, “You have used blasphemy in this movie; you’re not getting my money at the box office.”
Now, we’ve got incredible power as Christians. We showed the power to speak to Hollywood with The Passion of the Christ, over $700 million. There’s 177 million professing Christians in the United States. If even a percentage of those were prepared to say, “Okay. They cannot blaspheme the name of the God I profess to love, I will not support,” and later say: “Here’s an e-mail! We’re not goin’!”. . . they get enough e-mails, we’re talking millions and millions of dollars—that will speak to Hollywood. It will hit them where it hurts in the box office. So I think that’s how we can do it.
Now what’s wrong with a little blasphemy? It’s what comes with it. If your favorite movie star says, “I like driving this sort of car, I like wearing this sort of clothes, I eat this sort of food . . .” millions of fans follow them. Whatever they like, people tend to like. How they talk, we tend to talk. Why is there so much blasphemy? Why did 900 atheists go on YouTube earlier this year and blaspheme the name of God? Why did they do that? Whey didn’t they say “Mohammed?” Why didn’t they say “Buddha?” Why Christianity? It’s because Hollywood has an agenda. It’s made up of a nucleus of people whose life’s philosophy is anti-Christian.
Why? I think I know why. I think Hollywood attracts a certain type of people. Usually good-looking, intelligent people with large egos—they’re not the type of people who gravitate toward the humility of Christianity. And so we’ve got an “unreal” nucleus of people in this place we call Hollywood who’ve got an anti-Christian, anti-God philosophy, and it’s reflected in the industry. When Christians are portrayed in movies and on television, they’re almost always portrayed with a negative slant. And that’s what I bring up in the book again and again—that some idiot who’s lustful and hypocritical and uses bad language as he talks about God portrays Christians [poorly]. And mainstream America isn’t like that. Eighty-seven percent want “Under God” kept in the Pledge of Allegiance. So Hollywood’s got this thing they’re pushing and it’s turning a whole generation—or generations—against the God of Christianity. That gets up my nose big time, because I live to turn them to the God of Christianity.
We want to give away hundreds of copies of the DVD [Hollywood and God], we want pastors to screen it in their assemblies—I screened one in Chicago recently. Didn’t hardly have to say a word. I just stood up afterwards and said, “If you’re watching blasphemous movies, you need to repent and say, ‘God, I’m sorry.’” They just streamed forward. No music, no nothing – they just came forward and knelt. I think it can purify the Church, because it’s hypocrisy when you sit and listen to someone cuss the name of God, who you profess to love, because God has highly exalted the name of Jesus and given Him a name that’s above every name.
So when you say in the book that we have one rock with which to slay this giant, it’s that e-mail, and letting the studios know that you’re not going to tolerate blasphemy anymore?
Mmm-hmm. Just say, “We’re done with it. Hollywood, we’re gonna hit you in the dollars.” And that’s Hollywood’s language. If they knew that millions of dollars are not going to come in just because they use blasphemy, then they’ll stop using blasphemy. Every time we go to a movie and pay money, we’re saying, “Hollywood, bring it on. We like what you’re doing. We’re paying you to do this.”
So, I’m not saying boycott movies, I’m just saying, stop them doing this. This is turning a generation against Christ, and that should be grievous to every Christian. Especially when we’ve got Islam. If they should be angry at anything it should be Islam.
You would think.
Yeah, go to the Red Cross . . . the Salvation Army, soup kitchens worldwide, hospitals named St. Jude’s, St. John’s, St. Peter’s . . . they’re there because of Christianity. We’re here of benefit, we love our enemies, do good to those who . . . we don’t go around cutting people’s heads off or bombing buildings or any of that. So why do they hate Christianity? Why are they hating Christians? Because of Hollywood’s agenda. And they won’t do it—Mohammed isn’t written into any of those movies, he’s not in the script, they wouldn’t use his name, and why? They’re scared to do it. But they’re not scared to do it to Christianity.
Do you think it feeds the negative image that Hollywood and the culture may have of Christianity—the hypocrisy that we would be okay with going to movies where God is blasphemed?
[Laughs]. Absolutely I think it does. It confirms what they’re portraying us as, you know? They portray us as hypocrites, then we watch movies that use God’s name as a cussword, and we’re consuming what they believe and we shouldn’t be like that. We’re a generation that’s drawing near to God with our lips but our hearts are far from it. We’re proving that in what we’re entertained by.
What do you think it is that Hollywood doesn’t want us to know?
I would say their agenda . . . well, I mean . . . most people know that Hollywood is anti-Christian. But they don’t realize the negative repercussion that’s upon this nation. I mean, if we want God to bless our land, if we want God to give us blessing back on fruit of the womb, if we want God to bless our weather so we’re not having hurricanes lined up to where we run out of names to give them, or tornadoes that run around six or seven states . . . I mean, God’s in charge of the weather. One part of the country’s in drought, the other part people are drowning with so much water . . . I saw yesterday where thunderstorms are sending water but the water’s dissipating before it hits the ground . . . and a lot of the fires that are started are started by electricity and we know who’s in charge of the electricity department—it’s the lightning strikes that are starting fires . . . and cancer is just spreading on the land, it’s a plague, and if we want God’s blessing upon the land we’ve got to come to Him with a sincere heart and humility and ask Him to heal our land. And since judgment begins in the household of God, we’ve got to clean up our own house first.
So you’re calling for repentance. You’re also exposing idolatry (referring to Hollywood as “idol makers” in your book). But beyond not carving graven images, is idolatry a sin many postmodern folks are familiar with, or even know they are committing anymore? Can you define idolatry biblically for us, and tell us how Hollywood is going about making idols?
Idolatry is Exodus 20:1-7. And you don’t have to create a “graven image” to be bowing down to an idol. You just have to create an image in your mind, which is what I did before I was a Christian. I created a god to suit myself, a god I felt comfortable with, one I could snuggle up to, one that didn’t have a moral dictate. And that’s the image that Hollywood portrays of God. Very rarely do you hear the name of Jesus used in truth in a modern movie. You hear “hell” and “damn” and “Jesus” used all over the place, and blasphemy or profanity, but you won’t hear a prayer end in Jesus’ name. And they won’t portray an image of God that’s biblical, a God of righteousness, justice, truth. They’ll portray a god who’s a god of love, and mercy, and grace, and he just forgives everybody and he’s like an old man in the sky wearing a sweater, and he gives gifts to those he’s pleased to. But God’s nothing like Hollywood portrays Him; He’s a God to be feared, and that’s what we’ve got to realize—we’ve got to stand before a holy God who is to be feared, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Until the Church understands that, it won’t fear God, but will have this image of God that they can have within their minds and hold on to their sin at the same time, which shouldn’t be.
Is there anything else about HollywoodandGod.com or Hollywood Be Thy Name that you want our readers to know?
I think I covered everything! Oh, another little thing confirming the fact that Hollywood is out of step with mainstream America—in the book, on page 15 [is the story of when] Jim Carrey went to Hollywood for the first time, and he was reading The Late Great Planet Earth in his hotel. And he wanted to check a Bible verse so he pulled open the drawer and there was no Gideon Bible. So he called the desk and said, “There’s no Bible here.” And the guy says, “Sonny, you won’t find a Bible in the whole of Hollywood.”
It really epitomizes the unreal nature of that little town that they’re such an influence on this world.