Friday, December 14, 2012
"Selling God" shows up the need to proselytize
“Selling God”, directed by Carl Christman, music by GlennMorissette, from Guide Media (and now Breaking Glass Pictures), is an 85-minute documentary (2009), poking fun of the way fundamentalist or evangelical religious denominations “sell” their faith to others. Their world is very much about winning converts, not arguments.
I recall back in 1979, as I had gotten to know MCC Dallas, that a particular young man (Skip) made a great deal of probing what God meant to me. I’ve covered this before once, and it can get very personal.
But many faiths demand that one go out and reach out to others. One could call it “marketing” – overcoming objections – or one could see it (in some people’s minds) as a mission of salvation – of saving people from original sin. The film quotes Kirk Cameron -- “the most important duty is to seek and save the lost.” No one, in this view, can escape the need for God, for Grace, or for fellowship. I actually wrote about this somewhat on my “BillBoushka” blog on March 13, 2011.
The film covered the direct proselytizing of some faiths – the nearly mandatory missions that Mormon young men go to, to sell their faith (they pay for it themselves – and I wonder if Washington Nationals’ star Bryce Harper will do so). They also covered the door-to-door work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Getting unsolicited visits at home today is less acceptable (partly for security reasons) that it was in earlier generations.
Another interesting aspect of selling God is procreation. Actually, that runs a gamut. The Shakers thought of all sexuality is evil and therefore could not reproduce themselves. The Catholic church has a celibate priesthood but opposes contraception and demands openness to procreation from most of the faithful. The LDS Church also believes it is important for adults to gear themselves to have and raise many children, with gender roles.
Jerry Falwell (the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA) appears frequently, proclaiming that everyone needs salvation and warning about Hell – and also is quote blaming gays and lesbians (and some others) for 9/11.
The film makes the point well – that religion is the one area where people are encouraged to leave rationality and critical thinking aside and just believe what they are told by authority.
The Facebook site for the film is here.
A good film for comparison would be “Religulous” (Bill Baher, Lionsgate, 2008)