‘Left Behind’ and ‘The Good Lie’ face off during Hollywood’s year of faith-based films

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Actors Reese Witherspoon and Jeremiah Ger Duany in a scene from "Good Lie." Photo courtesy of Alcon Entertainment

Actors Reese Witherspoon and Jeremiah Ger Duany in a scene from "Good Lie." Photo courtesy of Alcon Entertainment

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(RNS) "Left Behind" and "The Good Lie" both aim to attract a faith-based crowd, and they’ll both test Hollywood’s appetite for religion.

  • Larry

    Left Behind may be the new “Atlas Shrugged”. A film series created entirely by the vanity of wealthy producers which keeps audiences away in droves.

  • Faith-based movies
    have a very powerful effect on culture:

    1. They increase the number of Atheists.
    2. They make a lot of money.
    3. They usually destroy acting careers.
    4. They make religion look even more ridiculous.
    5. They transparently pander to a credulity, gullibility and superstition. Which makes them look very dumb after a few years.

    “The Greatest Story Ever Told” – since its release in 1965 there has been a steep drop off in attendance at church.

    “The Exorcist” – Church attendance continued to drop dramatically in the years after the film’s release. It makes religion look ridiculous. Even the actor who played the Exorcist, Max Von Sydow, became an Atheist!

    “The passion of the Christ”? As an ‘artist’ Gibson’s snuff film is a national disgrace, this $500 million grossing obscenity was a huge contributor to Atheism.

    “NOAH” – finally a film which gives Noah what it deserves. A completely fictional, mythical interpretation. Nobody would believe this Noah could be a real person anymore than they could believe Godzilla is a real lizard.

    Soon there will be so many Atheists
    thanks to these films
    “The Bible” will be nothing more than one more mythic source material on the level of “The Lord of the Rings.”

    And that is exactly where the Bible should be. Mythical FICTION.
    And it isn’t even that good.

  • Jonny Boy

    Hey Max, surely atheists have got some better arguments than these? People become atheists because of movies???? Must do better, c’mon!

  • Larry

    The better argument is that people don’t see those movies because they are displays of faith. Usually much more purient interests prevail:

    1. Sign of the Cross-Claudette Colbert in a milk bath and dozens of Christians being tortured and killed Pre-Code style

    2. Exorcist-Pea soup vomit, owl neck twisting, Mercedes McCambridge creepy voice and diddling with a crucifix

    3. Passion of the Christ-Hostel 35 AD! Gore for people who protest gore films

    4. Noah-CGI apocalpyse!!!!!!!! (domestic flop, became a hit overseas)

    5. Greatest Story Ever Told, major box office flop but worth seeing John Wayne as a Roman Centurion

  • It isn’t so much what Atheists have for arguments. We are only reacting to the claims in the culture around us.
    It is more the lack of argument coming from those who claim a god is real.

  • Maybe a lot of Christians aren’t interested in arguing with you, Max. Maybe having the conversation is enough. Speaking for myself …

  • Art

    @ AM. “We are only reacting to the claims in the culture around us”.
    With all do respect AM; reacting is probably not working all that well. Keep up the “good work”. 🙂

    Pew Research Center:
    The number of people who identify themselves as atheists in the United States has been rising, modestly but steadily, in recent years. Our aggregated data from 2012 show that 2.4% of American adults say they are atheists when asked about their religious identity, up from 1.6% in 2007.

  • Larry

    OK lets discuss things peaceably.

    Can you believe the reviews for Left Behind are even more harsh than the Kirk Cameron version?

    How do you feel about the uptick in interest in religious related subjects in film?

  • GeeEs

    I strongly disagree with your take on The Passion of Christ, a sweaty swarthy muscled Jesus of European descent was the best softcore gay porn ever released. It was way better than Charleton Heston in Ben Hur, what a lard butt. Grow some abs if you are going to be running around in a loin cloth. It was like watching Ron Jeremy, who has never done gay porn because, well, duh. Only straight guys are attracted to ugly hairy fat Jews.

  • Art

    Thanks ABC news poll… Hardly right wing.
    Ask Americans their religion and you’ll get an earful — 50 individual answers in an ABCNEWS/Beliefnet poll, ranging from agnostics to Zen Buddhists. The vast majority, though, have something in common: Jesus Christ.

    Eighty-three percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians. Most of the rest, 13 percent, have no religion. That leaves just 4 percent as adherents of all non-Christian religions combined — Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and a smattering of individual mentions.

    Was that “smattering”… that hurts.

  • Art

    What’s that buzzing in my ear? Just a tiny, tiny Gnat.
    With all due respect of course!

  • @Todd,
    Or any other Theist who wants to discuss this:

    I’m completely ready for conversation.
    Let me ask you a question which should not be argumentative in the least:

    Is there any situation – any circumstance at all –
    where a man would be justified in personally amputating
    his wife’s leg or arm
    and still be IRREFUTABLY morally correct in doing so?

  • @Art,

    I’m going to play a trick on you.

    It is absolutely true that many people claim to believe in a god. I do not deny it.
    But they don’t really believe at all. Almost none of them.

    How do I KNOW this?
    Because they pray. Especially for the sick.

    “THY WILL BE DONE” – Jesus
    Yet, Every person who prays for the recovery of a sick person
    is admitting they do not believe in God:

    Why is this conclusive?

    1. Heaven probably isn’t real – otherwise, why pray to put it off !?
    If you believed in God and Heaven you would pray for death – not healing and certainly not more life.
    Your prayers are secret proof that you don’t believe in god. Your prayer is a sign that you are afraid of death. Death is not a gateway to anything. And you know it.

    2. You know this life is all we are certain of – otherwise, why ask for more of it?
    Putting off death is the first clue that you don’t want the perfect peace and everlasting perfection of God’s Heaven. You KNOW it isn’t there.

    3. A person who prays would be rejecting God’s WILL and asking God to change it. Yet they claimed God’s Will to be perfect – and already set in motion since the beginning of time – otherwise, why ask God to change it?
    When you pray you are rejecting the will of your God – but you do it because you are afraid. You are afraid because you do NOT believe in God at all and you do not think anything will be on the other side of death.

    Fear and obedience. That is all religion is.
    And you are so unsure, and unsteady about it that your only confirmation of its truth is the ‘faith’ of those around you.

    You do not believe Heaven is real. And you prove it when you pray.

  • Fran

    Left Behind will prove to be another movie that distorts the truth of the Bible when it claims that “only God’s true believers are swept away and the rest are left behind on earth.”

    Revelation brings out that a great crowd, which no one was able to number, out of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, come out of or survive the great tribulation (Revelation 7:9,13-17). They will receive protection from God on earth and will be the ones “left behind” on earth to receive the 1,000-year rule of God’s kingdom.

    The wicked ones/terrorists will not be survivors.

    The only ones who the receive the heavenly realm at that time will be the remnant of those on earth who are spirit-anointed Christians (of the 144,000; Revelation 14:1-5; 20:4-6) to complete the Kingdom of God with Jesus as King, ready to exercise its rule over the entire earth.

    I will not be viewing this film, but the “Good Lie” (altho no lies are good) looks believable to me and appeals to the brotherhood of man. 😀

    I always enjoy watching Ben Hur and it has a great ending. 😀

  • Earold D. Gunter

    Amax, you owe John Tolkien an apology. His trilogy flows seamlessly with no contradictions. That can’t be said about the bible at all.

  • Earold D. Gunter

    “The good lie”. It is no wonder “To find the Lost Boys actors, the filmmakers held casting calls at churches that have helped resettle actual Lost Boys.”. If they would have went to many other christian churches they would have found only hate, which would have revealed the true meaning found in the title.

    “Left behind”, yet another Darby derived rapture movie in a long line of rapture movies; this one destined to be as unsuccessful as all the others. Cage’s career is in jeopardy of vanishing like a “Thief in the night”, and this snoozefest won’t help it.

  • mfa

    Jesus still.loves atheists

  • So much for the common Christian trope that Hollywood is hostile to them.

  • Re: “It is more the lack of argument coming from those who claim a god is real.”

    But don’t you get it, Max … ? They’re in charge! They’re the ones who make the rules. They don’t have to offer an argument. It’s up to you, as an atheist, to offer up one of your own. Either that, or bow and scrape to their deity already.

    Seriously, this is how they think. In a comment on another article here (http://religionnews.com/2014/09/26/splainer-fatwa/#comment-1351727) one believer actually challenged me to produce an “experiment” proving God doesn’t exist; yet he explicitly stated that he did NOT conversely have to produce an experiment showing that God does exist … because apparently his belief in God isn’t predicated on an affirmation that said God exists.

    Yes, really. These are the weird dances and shuffling of delusion and illogic they’re required to perform in order to hold onto their beliefs and, at the same time, castigate non-believers for insolently denying the reality of their metaphysics.

    Someday they’ll grow up and stop ordering the universe around. Until then, we non-believers have to keep putting up with it. And sadly, we have to keep explaining why we have to put up with it, even though the same people who demand we explain why we have to put up with it, are themselves the reason we have to keep explaining why we have to put up with it.

  • Larry

    So JW’s are not an intended audience for the film.

    Are you aware that Stephen Boyd played the villain Messala as a jilted gay lover of Ben Hur? The trick was not letting Charlton Heston in on it.

  • Larry


    Its a gore film!

    Its gay porn!

    Its a gore film that happens to be gay porn! 🙂

  • Truth etold

    Max I must say how non- intelligent you sound. If we prayed for death it would be murder Jesus in the garden of gethesenme was tempted by satan, he said the will be be done and prayed to the father we Pray not to heal but Gods will that is in the scripture you soundike a heretic ? What you think feel say need to prove in the end every knees will bow(even you) every tongue will confess Jesus is King of Kings and lord of lords and of you and me!

  • susan

    The first Left Behind movie establish the main characters. It slso is stating at the moment the rapture takes place the true believers will be taken. Rev 7:9 is refering to those who go through the tribulation not before(a multitude from the great trublation).

  • I absolutely loved this movie and plan to see it again on the big screen before it goes off. I both laughed and shed tears, feeling so much emotion throughout the movie. Yes, I would put it in the same category with the Blind Side and hope it wins!!

  • Larry


    I take it you are referring to “The Good Lie” not “Left Behind” 🙂

  • @Truth told,

    “how non- intelligent you sound….. we Pray not to heal but for Gods will”

    Did you Christians
    even read what you write?

    Isn’t God’s will the one guarantee you don’t need to pray for? Isn’t God already in charge of his own WILL?

    If God is not in complete charge of His own will, who would be in charge of it? Satan?

    Isn’t God’s Will the one inevitable thing one does NOT need to pray for? And, good grief – does God need your prayers – YOUR help?

    What insanity it this?
    And exactly how is it that I sound dumb while you say this contradictory nonsense?

  • Fran


    There will evidently be a great crowd of disappointed humans when they are not “raptured” up to the heavens; and end up on this stupendous earth instead! But I’ll still give them a hug after the fact! 😀

    I remember Messala (Stephen Boyd) being a good friend of Ben Hur (Charlton Heston) when they were young boys, but no homosexuality was hinted in the movie. They did end up becoming bitter enemies, however, because of what he did to Charlton’s mom and sister (ended up with leprosy in prison).

  • Larry

    “Script doctor” Gore Vidal slipped it in there and claims Director William Wyler and actor Stephen Boyd ran with it during filming.

    Its like many things of that nature at the time. If you were looking for that kind of subtext, it almost looks obvious. If you weren’t it is practically invisible. Like the reason Batman and Robin lived with Aunt Harriet in the 60’s TV show.

  • Larry

    The films are another story altogether. Trying to shoehorn Lord of the Rings into The Hobbit is literally an epic fail.

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  • Melanie

    The 144,000 are the Jewish people who will except Christ after the rapture. After the rapture there is 7 years tribulation for unbelievers but God allows them during this time to come to him. After this 7 years Jesus returns and regins on earth as King. All will see him and still some people will not praise Him. After the 1000 year regin All will bow before Him and see Him as the one true God. All who still live in sin and refuse to except His love are condem. To Hell. It’s not God who decides who goes to Hell, its people. We make the choice to love him or not. He already chose us, we must make the choice to follow Him.

  • Melanie

    You spend an awful long time worring about a God you don’t believe in. You think about God as much as a believer in Christ does, if not more. It seems you are searching for God by all the things you have said. I noticed you said, “Heaven is probely not real” You are questioning this yourself. The answers of Heaven are in the bible. You just need to PRAY and ask God, “If you are real show me?” If you really want to see God, you will find Him. I do pray that you will find God and see how He loves you. He died for you, and rose again to give you new Life In Heaven when you die. Please stop all the fighting and just ask God to show you His presence and Love! I promise you with a sincere heart, He will make you aware of Him. If you don’t beleive in God that’s your choice but you better make sure it’s the right choice.

  • Larry

    Its less worrying about God than it is worrying about the behavior that people engage in when acting in service of their belief in God. If they weren’t trying to give their beliefs color of law or were acting in a way respectful to other beliefs, there would be far less for atheists to talk about.

  • @Melanie,

    “You spend an awful long time worring about a God you don’t believe in.”

    Absolutely not. I don’t care about ‘God’ at all.

    I worry about believers and their immoral actions in the name of a God who commands those immoral actions:

    “Execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

  • I just want to be sure everyone understands that a small minority of religious persons believe the weird theology of “Left Behind.” Most Christians actually understand what it means to be a follower of the Christ.

  • Larry
  • Prof. Ben Witherington: ‘Left Behind theology shoud be…left behind.” http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2014/10/08/dispensationalism-the-rapture/

  • I believe there is God, as a child I saw an angel come threw a window before my grand mother die. I am sad for people who dont believe, for they have nothing to look forward too after spending a short time here on earth. I lost my son last week who suffered from crohns he is now with. God.

  • Esther

    I invite everyone to Google “Left Behind or Led Astray?” and “The Pretrib Rapture Jackpot.”