Reading Time: 19 minutes

Continuing the long tradition of evangelical urban legends and worn-out tropes in movies*, I’m in Love With a Church Girl offers up a rehashed and cliché-riddled bit of schlock that is “based on a true story,” which means it bears only the faintest hint of a trace of the real story. This movie looks at the topic of mixed-faith relationships–and it does so in quite possibly the most offensive, misogynistic, and insulting ways possible.

You heard him.

I saw this movie trailer the other day and just about hooted in laughter at it. Is this seriously what Christians think of as quality entertainment? Is this what Christians seriously think of mixed-religion relationships? Is this how they see non-Christians? Yes, yes, and yes. And it only gets worse.

No way am I sitting through this tedious-looking movie, but let’s take the trailer from the top. Here’s the official trailer so you can follow along:


The Mega-Review.

0:01: What? This is PG? Oh yes. “Thematic elements, a scene of violence, suggestive content, brief language.” I don’t think Kirk Cameron would have approved much.

Photo taken at the 41st Emmy Awards 9/17/89
Photo taken at the 41st Emmy Awards 9/17/89 (Photo credit: Wikipedia). I’ll take the drug dealers over this guy any day.

0:07: This is how all drug dealers and high-rollers look and act. Oh wait, no it isn’t. Even the really high-end dealers don’t hang around in expensive suits. When one is committing a serious crime, it’s not generally a good idea to look conspicuous. Cops pay attention to really nice cars in run-down areas, so even the top levels of criminals tend to dress and act rather ordinary. So basically, this entire first sequence is what Christians think of when they think about criminals, gangs, and drugs–skimpy clothes on the women, suits and ostentatious jewelry on the men, fancy cars, expensive clubs, loud rock music, and a distressingly high percentage of minorities involved. BTW: Now look, I’m not gonna claim I know everything there is to know about the world of crime and drugs. I’m pretty innocent myself; I’ve never even done pot. But I do know folks who are very, very familiar with it and who aren’t out to glamorize it like this guy is or use their pasts like some kind of religious bludgeon, and I asked a lot of questions so I wasn’t laboring under illusions like the viewers of this dreck are. Clearly the person who wrote this story is out to make the “sinful” side of Drug Dealer Dude’s life as sinful as he humanly can. That’s part of the “Amazing Grace” myth Christians love so much–the turnaround doesn’t mean much if the initial sinfulness isn’t really that bad, now does it?

0:10: This might be Compton or African-American culture in this particular area, but it isn’t necessarily drug culture. But we know immediately that the guy in the red jacket (which I cannot imagine any real criminal wearing, incidentally) is not only a bad guy, but one with way more money than he knows what to do with. Incidentally, I can’t help but think that they put the hero in a red jacket because they figured this way you’d be able to differentiate him from the other African-American men in this film. I don’t like thinking that, but it’s hard not to notice and wonder why he’s the only black man in a bright color where all the other black men are in dark, undifferentiated clothes.

0:13: Actually this crowd looks like it might be a drug crowd. Mixed-race, generally middle-class, yeah, this fits pretty well. Notice the really nice watch on the old white dude. You want to spend money if you have it, but if you’re under a mandate to look inconspicuous, you’ll go for the fancy accessories: watches, cell phones, glasses/sunglasses, etc.

0:19: It’s a bit weird to see a drug dealer as young as this guy is with a private plane. It’s a relatively appropriate plane, actually, but the red carpet is a little weird. Mostly you see the older criminals who have this. It’s a funny image though, amirite? This young man in saggy jeans slouching up to his own plane. And let’s not forget that megachurch pastors are infamous for having their own private planes–so it’s just a little dishonest and disingenuous to act like planes are some special marker of worldliness. Is it okay for a megapastor to have one if s/he is Christian and doesn’t dress like a hoodlum? Is that what we’re saying? Or did this movie forget how many of the wealthiest pastors have these accessories?

0:20: Haha! Guns in both hands! Oh man. We’re hitting all the clichés. That’s how you know this guy is a Grade-A Certified Bad Ass Mothafucka. Oh wait. No, actually, that’s how you know this movie doesn’t know what the hell it’s talking about. Seriously, folks, nobody does this. You can’t reload guns held this way–no hands free to reload, and that’s just the start of the problem. It’s also hopelessly inaccurate–you can’t aim with both guns; you only have one set of eyes. If you want to shoot more people at once, then you get a semi-automatic weapon, or else you go get a gun that fires faster or has a bigger clip so you don’t have to stop to reload as often. But for goodness’ sake, if you hold guns this way, you deserve to get shot. If this were Bad Boyz III or an Eminem video, I might not care so much, but this is supposedly a true story, which means it’s based at least somewhat on reality. I now doubt every other thing about this movie.

0:25: Okay, the money counter thingie is accurate. Yay! Something accurate at last! But the piles of money on the table is beyond ridiculous. That’s a great way to end up staring stonily at a prosecutor across a crowded courtroom–those kind of images have a funny way of getting captured on people’s cell phones. It’s like they just leap there or something. Nobody I’ve ever talked to mentions anybody sitting around with big stinky piles of money in front of them; that’s just a myth.

0:30: No, criminals don’t put money in suitcases most of the time, and definitely not at clubs. That’s pretty obvious. Cops notice stuff like that when they search cars and people carrying briefcases stick out in people’s minds. You try it: go put on jeans and a hoodie and go wandering around with a briefcase. See how many people remember you. Maybe the head honcho and a bunch of large friends would do it before going to the bank. But either way, putting that much cash on a table is idiotic. You show drug dealers’ henchpeople that kind of cash, and someone will get stupid. These are criminals who lack a certain skill in critical thinking and don’t generally grasp concepts like “consequences,” and many of them are armed as a matter of course. So money gets moved discreetly and in small amounts. Even someone at the level of this movie’s hero wouldn’t be doing something this harebrained. I mean, unless he’s trying to spark a shootout. That might be.

0:35: WTF how did they get Michael Madsen in this? Flamethrowers aimed at his loved ones? BTW, taking out a big dealer won’t stop drug trafficking. You want to stop trafficking, you take out the suppliers. All that happens if a dealer is taken out of the chain is that another person gets moved into that position. These cops act like all they have to do to stop drug dealing in that area is arrest this one guy. Most cops aren’t that stupid.

0:43: Oh yay. Here’s the religious appeal. A woman I assume is an older female relative tells our hero that he has to get to church. That’ll fix everything. Except when it doesn’t, of course. Church-going people do drugs and deal drugs like anybody else. It’s worth remembering that the Mafia is very Catholic. Even more offensively, this relative tells him he’ll find a “good woman” there. Because that’s what all drug dealers need: a good woman who’ll help them live straight and clean. And where else would you find this type of woman except at church? Because good women are Christians. They’re never atheists or pagans or Buddhists. You know, that’s kind of offensive.

0:45: Four women. Two are blonde. One is Asian. One is black. Guess which one our hero will gravitate toward? (Hint: This is a Christian movie geared toward terrified middle-class zealots who think non-Christians are horrible people.)

0:49: Wait, so the middle-aged white/Hispanic dude’s wife is a regular church-goer? Okay, I guess, but whoa. (Bonus: Yes, the gold necklace is beyond stupid. I guess it’s like Dilbert’s tie curling upward–it’s a dog-whistle signal telling those with ears to hear: yep, still a sinner) He does make sure to tell the drug dealer that Vanessa, the pretty African-American woman we saw a few seconds ago, is way into church. OH NOES! She’s into church! Considering the high rate of fervency among African-Americans, is that really shocking? You’d think the drug dealer would have automatically assumed that.

0:51: My mother would not have let me out of the house wearing that dress or those shoes. It’s always a little weird to me to see “church girls” who dress like, um, hookers. And I mean it’s okay that she’s wearing what flatters her and makes her happy. I love the dress and think she looks wonderful. But there are enough Bible verses about wearing revealing clothes and such a prevailing church culture toward “modesty” and “not making brothers stumble” that you’d think someone way into church wouldn’t dress like that. It’s weird. Her pastor must be incompetent.

0:52: The trailer makes it look like this is one of the couple’s first encounters. I’m wondering what nice Christian woman would go to a guy’s house like this. It seems a little, well, worldly. Where is her chaperone? How did such a gullible, trusting little soul manage to hang onto her V-card this long?

0:54: “What church do you attend?” she chirps. He replies, with a squint, “Right now I’m kinda in between churches.” She just gives him a coquettish look from under her lashes. She’s on to him. She knows that means he’s not a churchgoer or a serious Christian, as if the giant gold necklace didn’t clue her in. Weirdly, it just makes her giggly to hear him. He’s deceiving her, and she knows he’s deceiving her, but she’s totally okay with it.

1:01: “We’ve been praying for a godly man for Vanessa,” an older lady informs the hero, her tone stentorian and authoritative. She fixes him with a serious stare: “Are you that godly man?” Don’t you want to know how long they’d been dating before this inquisition occurs? And can’t Vanessa suss him out herself without sending in a posse to grill the poor guy? Why is it Older Lady’s business what Vanessa does with her free time or who she dates? Whatever the case, the fact that the actress says the line with the exact same inflection Carrie Fisher’s nun used in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back to ask, “Can you.. do it?” destroyed me. I would not have blamed the hero for thinking this was some bizarrely nicknamed sexual fetish.

1:05: He confesses the drug dealing thing to Vanessa. She’s in a surprisingly conservative outfit this time and clearly not happy about hearing that her super-duper-rich, pimp-dressing, bling-sporting boyfriend is–GASP!–involved in something nefarious. You know, I’m starting to think Vanessa is an idiot. Next up we get a montage of rap music playing as the DEA arrests tons of drug dealers–breaking windows, handcuffing people, invading houses, etc.

1:20: Drug Dealer Dude hasn’t learned much. Here we go again with the “gun in each hand” craziness. Remember, this is what non-Christians think about criminals. One gun = bad. Two guns = REALLY bad. On the plus side, crime-committing Christians might come out of this movie thinking that this is a valid way to hold guns, which would cut down considerably on the numbers of gun-toting Christians.

1:23: “What do you want from me?!?” he screams, I guess at the Christian god. It’s a little over-the-top. You know, I tried doing that once, but all I got was a hoarse voice and the ceiling didn’t even change color or spout an extra-dimensional vortex or drop old gold watches or really anything. It was weird. Is he expecting Alan Rickman to step out from a shadow dressed in a hoodie to explain things at him? I admit, with this movie, I wouldn’t have been surprised at a sudden appearance from the Metatron. Oh wait. That’s mostly a Catholic thing.

1:27: “What is so bad about going to church?” she cries, genuinely perplexed. Well, gee, I dunno, maybe that going for the wrong reason doesn’t seem like a jolly fun time to him? Maybe that he doesn’t believe what your church preaches and isn’t willing to just engage in a facade to make you happy? Maybe that he realizes it won’t fix his problems or help him in any way? Maybe he doesn’t want to burn half his weekend watching an auditorium full of people talk to their imaginary friend? Vanessa’s really truly mystified here, and it’s actually kind of hilarious because ex-Christians get this same line from our still-Christian spouses. It’s like she’s asking what’s so bad about eating vegetables or doing calisthenics. It quite literally doesn’t even occur to her that plenty of folks have very good reasons for not wanting to go to church. Again, folks, remember: this is what Christians think about church. They really can’t imagine why every person alive wouldn’t want to go there.

1:29: We get our ham-fisted answer: “Because God don’t want nobody like me in his church.” OHHH, okay. Now we see what this movie’s about. This is what Christians think about non-Christians who don’t go to church, people. They think there’s some easy answer like this one, some answer that nobody ever said ever anywhere, some rationalization that sounds like nothing I ever heard from any real person who’s ever refused to go to church, and you know that Christians cling to this straw man like Dumbo to his lucky black feather. Once the loving Christians sweep away the straw man of “I’m just too naughty” (which seems like a weird rationalization to me, considering the religion’s biggest claim to fame is how it’s supposed to redeem naughty people), the non-Christian will simply have to concede that yes, church is wunnerful and they should go. Next step, we’ll all be saying the Sinner’s Prayer!

1:35: She looks so very happy to have her boyfriend going to church with her, to this massive megachurch. No word on whether or not he converted; the trailer implies he’s just humoring her by going with her. Because that’s a perfectly valid and great reason to go to church–to maintain a pleasant facade. A gorgeous white convertible car drives past as the couple is walking in–this flock is ready for the fleecing, all right. (A review implies that the driver of this car is none other than the guy who wrote this movie and claims it’s based on his life story, who also plays the pastor of this megachurch–because obviously success in Christianity is measured by the size of the church, wealth of the pastor, and number of adherents, which means wow these churches are going to be in for a surprise in a few years as Christianity’s numbers continue to erode.)

The well-scrubbed flock sits in movie-theater seats listening to the sermon and Vanessa and Drug Dealer Dude hold hands–squee! Aren’t they cute. I mean that: they are very cute together. She explains Basic Church Stuff 101 to him: “no, baby, he doesn’t get paid–he’s a greeter.” Because it’s just so unlikely that Drug Dealer Dude ever stepped foot into a church at any point in his life. Oh wait, no, his background is actually that he grew up in church, according to the official discussion guide. And somehow he didn’t realize that greeters are volunteers? Is he just messing with her by acting like the stereotypical non-Christian? I’ve met all kinds of Christians who think that non-Christians are completely, totally ignorant of their religion. I don’t think many people left alive on our planet are ignorant to that extent, though. And this guy specifically grew up in church and drifted out. He’s distinctly not some savage from the Amazonian Basin or something. He’s an American citizen who is clearly educated, aware of himself, and well-steeped in church culture. And he’s black, which means that like it or not, he’s been intimately acquainted with that church culture since his earliest years. But in this movie, non-Christians are stereotypes. They don’t understand Jesus or church at all, and the implication is that once we find out about it, we won’t be able to resist. We just had the wrong ideas, you see.

1:50: She’s a little surprised to see the huge bankroll her boyfriend is dropping in the collection plate. He answers “What, is this a lot?” like he’s totally confused. First, I don’t know how many visitors feel compelled to put money in the collection plates, but I don’t think it’s that many, and second, I think that anybody who isn’t from Mars would know if that lump of cash is a lot. He’s just messing with her head again, maybe? Maybe. That’s definitely one way to show your future conquest that you’re loaded. I’d be offended at such an ostentatious show of wealth, or else amused as all get-out, but then again, I’m not a Church Girl.

1:51: Inspired by a True Story. Oh really. Maybe, in the way the story of the Amityville Horror is based on a true story (spoiler: reality isn’t much like the book or movie at all). The Discussion Guide the website offers tells us that this movie is based upon the life story of Galley Molina, who credits his girlfriend Vanessa with helping him go clean. He claims that he wrote the screenplay for this movie while in prison. I didn’t find any dirt on the guy, and his story at least sounds generally plausible, but part of me seriously doubts things went down the way he’s depicting. That he lists “God” as one of his movie’s executive producers seems a little, well, suspiciously attention-seeking and ostentatious. Also, if Galley Molina says he ever held his guns like this actor does, then you can pretty much discount anything else he tells you about being some kind of badass.

1:56: The annoyingly chipper girlfriend Vanessa informs Drug Dealer Dude that her god just wants him to “come as you are.” It’s an appeal that comes straight out of a religious tract, and again, it’s hard to imagine who would actually be swayed by something as ham-fisted as that. Someone saying something like to me, who has her mind in the gutter most of the time, would probably get a barking laugh and a really off-color reply. Christians: don’t say that to anybody.  Seriously. I’m just thinking of you, here. You really don’t want to know what the jokes are that circulate about this sort of asinine statement.

2:00: Gorgeous dress. Lovely woman. Whore of Babylon. Don’t talk to an ex-Pentecostal about being godly. You’ll lose. The way the camera pans along her body, we’re clearly supposed to have some sexual ideas about her, which again is kind of weird given the “rape culture” churches buy into about “modesty” and “purity.” She sure doesn’t look like any “Church Girl” I ever knew. Churches sure have changed a lot, haven’t they? I guess that’s not a bad thing. I think that whole “modesty” stuff is ridiculous. But churches don’t think it’s ridiculous, and that’s where my confusion is coming in. What are we saying here? Church Girls are gorgeous and dress sexy? Is that really the selling point they want to make?

2:02: I think this actor is kinda cute but he gives off a real 80s-era Eddie Murphy skeezy vibe here that I don’t like (and I say that as someone who adores Eddie Murphy’s early work). If any guy ever leered at me with that kind of lopsided smirk, he wouldn’t be doing it twice through the same set of metaphorical teeth. But Church Girl, who has ostensibly abstained from sex her whole life and is outgoing and sexualized enough to have had plenty of opportunities to shed the burden of virginity, doesn’t even seem to notice. I’m sorry, but that’s the sort of thing I’d have noticed when I was a Christian. I did get leered at sometimes and I always knew it was leering.

2:04: Can duckface please go away forever now? Please? Please? Look, I’m sorry you have to be in this movie too, but there’s no reason to pout. I’m not sure what emotion this guy’s trying to convey, but it’s just awful to look at.

2:10: This looks like the church from The Blues Brothers–you know, the scene with the gospel service at the beginning? Neat stained glass. Obligatory scene of Drug Dealer Dude standing in front of it staring at Jesus like Zoolander staring at his spoon.

Yay! It’s over!

I think I officially put more thought into examining this trailer than the filmmakers put into making it.

The Power of Jesus Redemptive Genitalia.

So what did we discover here?

This movie is what Christians think about non-Christians. It’s how they think of their women–like these Holy Grails, these magic artifacts, that have the power to change men’s minds and hearts and make them shining good Christians in turn. Speaking as a woman, I find it offensive to think of myself as someone else’s fix-it glue and reason to change. I know that people have to want to change because it’s what they want to do, not because they want to get into another person’s underwear. That’s a pretty lame reason to change, and you’ll find out quickly how (in)effective it really is.

The heroine of the movie is an idiot. Pure and simple. She’s going out with this guy whose church allegiance is clearly not demonstrated when clearly church allegiance is important to her, and when she finds out he’s still in legal trouble from drug dealing, she doesn’t turn around and immediately walk out the door. She is genuinely shocked to discover he’s into a criminal lifestyle when the movie does everything but tattoo that fact on Drug Dealer Dude’s forehead (the house didn’t clue her in? The gold chains and pimp outfits? The ridiculously “worldly” lifestyle?). Everything she says in this trailer is hokum-riddled tract fodder. She annoys the hell out of me and I don’t even have to spend any time around her. Hopefully the movie makes clear just what it is Drug Dealer Dude finds so fascinating about Christian Girl, because at the moment, it just looks like he’s intrigued by the challenge she represents–and it’s not even that big of a challenge.

And while we’re on that subject, Vanessa is clearly not a “girl.” She’s easily in her mid-20s. That makes her a “woman.” It’s a little irritating to see her described by other adults and even by the movie’s title as a “girl.”

I’ll also note that the trailer makes it quite clear that the hero, whose name I figured out eventually was Miles, is going to have some kind of massive personal setback that is going to make him question his life choices, including his choice about Christianity. The discussion guide makes clear that the writer of this dreck, who claims it’s based on his life, is damn proud of the fact that his life was ruined before he converted–or reconverted, as the case may be. I’ve heard plenty of Christians crow about preying upon the weak and vulnerable, like the sick, children, and the elderly who are staring at their own mortality mocking them. It’s sickening to see this kind of Christian porn play it out though. It’s like they chose the worst caricature they could of a non-Christian and then took enormous glee in wrecking him as much as they could so his miraculous conversion/reconversion would seem all the more blessed. And they think this is a wonderful and fine thing, that their god would wreak this sort of havoc upon them or allow it to be done to them. Someone tell that jerkwad how to text, all right? Save everybody some hassle.

Remember what I wrote about the Cult of “Before” Stories? The lower the sinner claims to have sunk, the less likely you’re hearing a true story. The more wreckage, the less truth. And also remember, people don’t really change much. Temporarily, perhaps, but a liar before Christianity is a liar afterward. A cheater, still a cheater. A fraud, still a fraud. It’s hard to fathom that this is really that true of a story. If it is, then it’s kind of strange that there’s no corroboration of the story anywhere I could find. You’d think the writer would offer that immediately in his movie’s discussion guide. Was he really in jail when he wrote this? Sure, I can believe that. Was he really involved in the drug industry? I can buy that too; as I said, his basic story doesn’t contain that many outlandish elements in my opinion. But this fictionalization of his story is not in the slightest bit believable. It has as much to do with reality as, perhaps, the song “Amazing Grace” and mythology around it have to do with the real life story of the person who wrote it.

It doesn’t sound like critics are any happier about this movie than they are with fundagelicals’ other attempts at mythology-making; as of this writing, it’s running about 6% on RottenTomatoes, with reviews contributed to that site ranging from “heavy-handed sermonizing” to “formulaic plot” to “synthetic in the extreme” (though reviewers really seemed to like Ja Rule’s performance as Drug Dealer Dude). Incidentally, Battlefield Earth got like double that score.

This movie isn’t destined to be anything more than pandering apologetics to keep Christians feeling secure in their faith. That’s it. It won’t talk non-believers into converting, and will only give Christians even more ridiculous ideas about what non-believers are like. It will widen the gulf between people in church and out of it, and propagate myths about non-Christians that aren’t true. It’ll make “the world” look even more scary and weird to Christians and give them even stranger ideas about what non-Christian life is like. It’ll further distort their ideas about criminals and their culture.** It’ll convince them even more that non-Christians’ reasons for not wanting to go to church are inconsequential and easily brushed aside, and give them a few more easily-debunked talking points to use in “witnessing” to non-believers.

Hey, anything to avoid really communicating.

And it will, mark my words, lead to Christians encouraging non-Christians to go to church to find women. Not that they don’t already. If a guy wants a nice easy lay who digs the weird stuff, he knows all he has to do is show up at a church on a Sunday and say he’s a visitor. But is this really what churches want to tell people? “Come to our church! Our women are stupid and easy!” Are Christians really wanting people in the door that way? Are they seriously not seeing how that could backfire? As my homeskillet Rachel Held Evans wrote as a comment regarding misogynistic megapastors, “Pastors should certainly strive to reach and serve men. But we can’t do this by twisting Jesus to fit into our culture’s skewed views of masculinity. Getting men to go to church is not the same as making disciples of Jesus.” She could have said this exact same thing about a church culture that encourages men to visit and attend so they’ll find nice girlfriends and wives. This is a situation where way too many Christians are happy to let the ends justify any means, and though this strategy has been deployed for thousands of years to advance Christianity, I never did see it as particularly, well, loving or Jesus-like.

Flirty Fishing in the New Age.

I’m bothered, too, by the implication that Christians would date non-Christians with the goal of converting them or that non-Christians would deliberately seek out Christian women to date with the idea that they’re somehow better than other women. In what way are they better, by the way? Are they more faithful? (No, they aren’t.) Are they more loving? (No, they aren’t.) Are they more willing to have children? (Okay, possibly–but I wasn’t.) Are they worth the drama that will erupt as they try to convert their non-Christian love interest? (That’s up to the love interest, I reckon, but I sure wouldn’t go there.)

The idea that a family member would send a drug-dealing guy to church to find “a good woman” is offensive. It’s like “Flirty Fishing.” Does this relative really think that little of her sisters as to send a wolf like that into their midst? What are we saying here? “Come to church! Free woman to every new member!” Are they matching up guests with incredibly hot virgins at the door? What’s with the idea of making a hot girlfriend/wife the reward of joining a church?

The discussion guide has the writer and inspiration for this movie saying that only the idea of meeting women could have gotten him into church. It doesn’t seem like a really healthy reason to go to church to me.

One last observation. This movie makes it clear that there’s only one acceptable outcome for this star-crossed couple: them both being Christian. Miles will only be acceptable if he converts. (I bet Vanessa wouldn’t be with him at the end if he didn’t convert–though she does seem to love lecturing and haranguing her guy about Jesus, so maybe she thinks of herself as a “relationship witnesser.”) The movie trailer makes it quite clear that the movie will be about how Vanessa fixes him. And that may be its most pernicious message yet, even more than its bizarrely sexist habit of treating women like door prizes. Mixed-religion couples whose relationships are succeeding know that there are a lot more outcomes that work than just that one. If someone’s “perfect except for….”, then maybe that person’s not perfect after all.

English: Ben-Hur (1925) film poster.
Ben-Hur (1925) film poster. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not that this couple even seems to explore that option. It’s either he converts, or they’re through, though Vanessa is coy enough that I’m not sure she’d be that hardline if this situation were playing out in real life. You know, had he just been honest with her from the get-go instead of fibbing about his church involvement, most of this movie would have been unnecessary, I’m thinking. But we can’t have people communicating, can we? They might realize the truth:

A religious outlook, like a size or a color or a past, is not something you see past or ignore in order to be with someone.*** It’s not this tedious thing you put up with so you can be around this person. It’s something you embrace about your loved one. It’s part of that person, just like color or gender or nationality or anything else. You can’t take the person without the religious outlook like you’re ordering off a restaurant menu (“I’ll have the hot boyfriend, but put the atheism on the side, okay?”). You can’t shave bits off someone and still say you love that person. Love’s about embracing everything. You may not be crazy about every single aspect to your loved one, nor are you required to, but you need to recognize that all those ingredients go into what makes your loved one who and what s/he is.

I think I’ll stick with Ben-Hur. It’s got suggestive elements and violence too, but at least it’s a good yarn. Or, ya know, The Blues Brothers. They were on a mission from God, too, but these two conjobs’ story is ten times more sincere and honest than this misogynistic crapsplosion of Christian glurge, urban legends, myths, stereotypes, and outright lies.

* This last one in the list, What If…, features Kevin Sorbo, who also appears in God’s Not Dead, an observation which made me feel just terrible for Kevin Sorbo–or at least it did till I saw some of his interviews while researching this piece and discovered that he sounds kinda, um, whackadoodle.

** Obviously one cannot generalize totally about the criminal world, but it does seem a little weird that this “true story” possesses so many blatantly false elements that even someone like me can spot them.

*** When I was a really big gal, one then-boyfriend told me he had looked past my weight to care about me. I was quite offended by that. He probably still doesn’t understand why that attitude bothered me.

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ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...