What’s REALLY Offensive About The SNL Parody of God’s Not Dead 2

Last weekend, Saturday Night Live aired a movie teaser that was a parody of the Pure Flix film, God’s Not Dead 2. In the parody, a religious baker is forced to go to court to defend God’s honor after she refuses to bake a cake for a gay couple.

As you might imagine, the response has been across the board. On the pro-SNL trailer side you have people saying this:

Cineblend called the parody “hilarious” and said that it was “one of their best pieces in the past couple of years.”

Buzzfeed said that the parody was “brilliant” and “spot on.”

Vulture said the parody was “inspiring”, although there may have been some tongue in the cheek of that one.

Others have been just as clear regarding their less positive feelings about the parody:

The Blaze said it was “sacrilegious.”

CharismaNews said it was “blasphemous.”

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, actor Pat Boone called the parody “anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, cowardly, “diabolical” and even demonic.”

And when Pure Flix founder (and most-active-actor) David A.R. White linked to a story about the trailer on his Facebook page, fans of the God’s Not Dead movies were quick to rush to the film’s defense, saying things like:

“This movie must have really rattled the enemy’s cage.”

“Evil will never let a good thing go unchallenged, and your movies are very good things. That SNL would mock you means you have arrived, Mr White. Your success is huge so go make more good movies!”

“If SNL did a skit about Allah, there would be a bloody war. Why is it ok to bash Christianity but no other faith?”

“The simple fact is that if they are mocking it, they are afraid of it. Despite the blasphemy and ignorant childishness of the liberals at SNL, this is a victory for Christians.”

“This is disgusting. But it qualifies as persecution, doesn’t it. If they hated us, they hated Him first, but I hate to see God almighty mocked this way. But it’s like what was said in the first movie. “How can you hate someone that you say doesn’t exist?””

And the kicker…

“Hell will be full of SNL individuals.”

Here’s the rub…

SNL was not mocking God.

I know, I know… the name of the parody is “God is a Boob Man”, which on the face of it, seems to be making fun of God and mocking those who believe in God, regardless of their faith (after all, “Allah” is the Islamic word for “God”).

But SNL wasn’t aiming at God with this parody, they were just using the idea of God to push the message of their parody video.

Using God to push an agenda or to earn a profit is something that people of all religious persuasions have done for years, including Christians.

So it’s not that.

SNL wasn’t mocking Christianity. 

Yes, there’s a line where the baker says, “Christians are the most oppressed group in this country.” But it’s not an unearned jab. A cursory examination of the comment section of any story about Christian persecution in America demonstrates that there really are Christians in America who feel that we are oppressed. Otherwise, there’s not another mention of the Christian faith anywhere in the trailer.

If SNL intended to mock the historical Christian faith, they could have done a lot more to “Christianize” the character. The baker’s not even wearing a cross necklace, for heaven’s sake!

So, if they weren’t mocking God or Christianity, who or what were they mocking with this parody video?

SNL was mocking the God’s Not Dead movies.

I think this is pretty obvious. The God’s Not Dead movies are infamous for the way they negatively portray people who are not Christians. With their villainous Atheist professors, their non-believing heartless businessmen boyfriends, their violent Muslim and Chinese fathers, their Satanic ACLU lawyers, their spineless separation of church and state school boards, they’ve done a pretty good job calling everyone else awful, and Christians the only good in the world.

Basically, they’ve been asking to be parodied for quite a while now. I’m just surprised it took so long before it happened on the big stage.

So we Christians can calm down on all the calls of blasphemy, sacrilege, and anti-Christianity. Parodying and mocking the films of Pure Flix is not the same as parodying and mocking God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, or the Church.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 5.58.01 AM[And if I might add, Pure Flix is acting in a dangerous and irresponsible manner by permitting and even encouraging the conversation to imply that they are the same thing. Pure Flix should be the ones stepping out and saying what I’m saying, but I don’t see that happening. It’s almost like they are happy for the controversy. It’s almost like they are fully aware that it emboldens their fans, and they know that SNL just gave them a big gift…]

But I’m getting off topic.

Let me just to say it one more time… THE FILMS OF PURE FLIX ARE NOT THE CHURCH. They are bits of entertainment in pop culture, just like superhero movies and sports flicks, and they are wide open to parody and ridicule as much as anyone or anything else.

That’s just a part of the game.

But having said all of that, Pure Flix was not the only target of SNL’s ire, and maybe not even the primary target. Or, maybe they were, but SNL just so happened to hit a more important target in the process of parodying God’s Not Dead.

SNL was mocking FAITH-BASED FEAR.

You know what I’m talking about, right?

I’m talking about the fear that Christians are losing something because of the color of a coffee cup at Christmas.

I’m talking about the fear that Obama is a secret Muslim who wants to forcibly convert you to Islam.

I’m talking about the fear that same-sex marriage will turn Christians gay.

I’m talking about the fear that baking a cake for a gay wedding will somehow cause more harm than refusing to do so and going to court over the issue.

I’m talking about the fear that dark forces are plotting how to take our children and indoctrinate them into rampant social liberalism.

I’m talking about the fear that our neighbors are dangerous because they wear the head covering of a certain religion, or because they have different colored skin then we have, or because they come from a part of the world that makes us nervous.

I’m talking about the fear that public schools might teach our children about other religions.

I’m talking about the fear that took a low level state bureaucrat in Kentucky and made her into a folk hero for not doing her job.

I’m talking about the fear that encourages Christianity-themed movies that demonize just about everyone who isn’t a Christian for the sake of helping us feel better about ourselves as Christians.

I’m talking about the fear that we will soon be rounding up teachers and putting them on trial for mentioning the name of Jesus in a public school history class.

I’m talking about the fear that our faith isn’t as influential as it once was, that our voice isn’t as loud as it once was, and that our opinion doesn’t matter like it used to.

And this is the most offensive thing about the parody trailer, that it shows us who we really are, and what we’re truly afraid of. It shows us that we are not being salt and light as much as we are being pains in the butt. It shows us that we are being ruled by our fear in the eyes of the culture.

See, fear is a very powerful thing, but it’s not real. It’s based on what we think could happen, whether those fears are founded or not. And it’s not supposed to be a part of who we are as the Church, and it’s not supposed to be a part of who we are as individuals who claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

And yet in America we are letting fear set the agenda for just about everything we do on the public stage.

Christians, that’s just not right.

So, instead of getting upset and up in arms over the SNL parody video, we need to take it for what it is – a parody lampooning Pure Flix films, and a parody lampooning our un-Christlike fears, and a mirror reflecting who we can often seem to be as Christians to the rest of the world.

We should take it, learn from it, and let it encourage us to be the kind of Jesus follower that God wants us to be.

Not fearful.

And in the spirit of God’s Not Dead flooding their end credits with court cases that have little to do with the cases presented in their films, I leave you with a list of Bible verses that have everything to do with how a Christian should handle fear.

Psalm 23:4

Psalm 27:1

Psalm 118:6

Psalm 115:11

Psalm 103:17

Deuteronomy 31:6

1 Chronicles 28:20

Isaiah 41:10

Isaiah 41:13

Isaiah 54:4

Matthew 10:28

Romans 8:15

1 Corinthians 16:13

Hebrews 13:5-6

1 Peter 3:13-14

1 John 4:18

2 Timothy 1:7

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Fear, Reason, and The Ebola Virus

What is the most frightening word in America right now?

Depending on your level of media coverage, it might just be a word that rhymes with Coca-Cola.

Not Ayatollah.  That’s so 1980’s.

The word we’re looking for is Ebola, and I’m joking about it because it frightens me.

This is a new fear for the lexicon.  For years,  Ebola was just a device in a movie or a novel.  Like the fictional virus in the film starring Dustin Hoffman, the film that had something to do with monkeys and people dying horribly and Donald Sutherland wanting to drop a nuke on a small town in California.

Or maybe Steven Soderbergh’s film where Gwynth Paltrow cheats on Matt Damon and winds up spreading a hybrid bat/pig virus that wipes out a bunch of people.

It’s really odd, how fascinated we are with fictional doomsday movies and books, but when one is teased as actually being on the horizon, we freak out as if we are the hysterical characters in a fictional doomsday movie or book – the panicked crowd running from the monster, or being crushed under the falling building as the superheroes duke it out in the sky.

Could it be that we’re afraid with good reason?  What scares us about something like this current outbreak of Ebola?

That’s easy enough to answer – the possibility of a potential nightmare scenario becoming a living nightmare reality – as it is doing in three countries in West Africa – with devastating effects.

But for those of us not in those countries – why are we afraid?

It’s because of the fear of what might be.  It’s terrifying to imagine that one of those nurses from Dallas may have passed Ebola on – somehow – to someone who is carrying the disease and doesn’t know it.  Yet.  And that those ignorant carriers might somehow pass it on to someone else until the growth becomes exponential and we have a 21st Century global plague that decimates the world population.

It could happen.  Right?

Nevermind the odds.  Nevermind statistics.  Nevermind healthcare professionals and precautions and the CDC and the WHO and the government.

Nevermind God.

It might happen, and the possibility is terrifying.

That’s how fear works.  It’s based on things that could happen in the future.  It’s based on the unknown.

And fear misused can be one of the most dangerous and paralyzing things on the planet.

Fear itself isn’t bad, of course.  God gave us fear to keep us from harm, and that makes it a wonderful thing.  A gift.  For example, fear of falling keeps us from approaching the edge of a cliff, and this saves us from falling.  Fear of getting bitten keeps us from approaching a strange dog, and that keeps us from getting bitten.

God also gave us the ability to reason, to help us understand what we should fear and what we needn’t fear, and when we have the two in balance, we’re fine, operating the way we’re supposed to operate.  We can decide what is deserving of our fear, what isn’t deserving, and what things we need to keep our eyes on – just in case.

Where we get in trouble is when we let fear get the upper hand.

It could be that our fear of Ebola needs to be balanced with a bit of reason.

So, if you are fearful about the potential for an Ebola disaster of summer blockbuster proportions, I’d suggest you ask yourself the following important question:

As of October 17, 2014, what does reason tells us?

1.  Ebola has mostly affected Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea in West Africa.

2.  It has not spread substantially to neighboring countries, largely because of the active intervention of those other countries.

3.  There has been one death caused by Ebola in the United States: a man who travelled to West Africa and had direct contact with an infected person.

4.  Two healthcare professionals in the United States have been identified as having contracted Ebola as a result of caring for that man, and they are currently being cared for by teams of medical personnel.

5.  The people who had contact with the three individuals above are being tracked down and closely monitored – a situation where our Big Brother world is actually coming in handy.

6.  The virus is not airborne, so being in the same room (or airplane) as an infected person does not mean you will become infected.

7.  Ebola is transmitted by having direct contact with the bodily fluids of a person who has been infected, or possibly by having contact with things that have been infected by having contact with fluids from an the infected person – such as soiled clothing or linens.

8.  Ebola isn’t passed on during the 21 day incubation period, only after the person has become symptomatic.

9.  The virus cannot go through skin.  It is transmitted when a person touches someone or something infected and then touches their own eye, nose, or mouth – or through an open cut in the skin.

10.  There is no known cure for Ebola, so when a person contracts the disease, he or she will fight it off on their own.  The things that seem to have an impact on the person successfully fighting the disease include the following:  age, access to modern medical support, nutrition, and prior health.

You can read more facts about Ebola here and here.

What will happen tomorrow?  I have no idea.  None of us do.

But tomorrow isn’t my concern, because right now I can’t do anything about it.

In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I’m an elementary school teacher, a want-to-be writer, a dad, a husband, and ultimately, I’m just riding the same wave you’re riding, hopeful that we’ll all make it to shore.

And here’s the big thing:  I can’t control the wave.  None of us can.

I can only control my response to the wave.

Using reason, I will ask myself what I can do to prepare.  I will educate myself on the disease and how to recognize it.  I will be careful to wash my hands as often as possible, especially after being in public.  I will be vigilant to do what I can, but I will not be afraid.

Using reason, I will ask myself just who stands to make the most out of an increased amount of fear in the population as a whole.

I wonder who?  Who stands to profit off increased newspaper and magazine sales?  Who gets more ad revenue when we desperately click on their links to find out the latest bit of news?  Who thrives off sensationalism and agitation and unrest?  Who – like a Dementor in a Harry Potter book – loves to suck out all our joy and peace and replace it with fear and panic so that we keep coming back for more?

Who, indeed?

I will make the choice to not permit fear to outweigh reason.

I will make the choice to be wary and careful today, but to let tomorrow worry about itself.

And finally, I will make the choice to continue trusting God, regardless of what happens tomorrow.

An outbreak of Ebola in West Africa or the United States or anywhere doesn’t make God any less God, and doesn’t make Him in any less good, or any less trustworthy – just like cancer doesn’t change who God is, or a job promotion, or meeting the love of your life, or losing a baby in a miscarriage, or any number of the other good and bad things that happen in our lives.

God is still God, even in the face of everything that life throws our way.  And He’s still good.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

Fear balanced with reason, held up by faith.

I can live with that.