Tag Archives: controversial films

Christians & Hollywood: 20 Moments of Tension

25 years ago this week, Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ came out in theaters. It was controversial in the truest, non-“manufactured publicity stunt” sense of the word. Many, many Christians were up in arms about the film. In his Christianity Today article looking back on the controversial film, Ken Morefield writes that the film “wasn’t simply criticized: it helped establish the battle lines. It is the prime example in the book by Michael Medved that gave this particular battlefield a name: Hollywood vs. America.”

As I write in my Gray Matters chapter on the history of Christianity’s relationship to Hollywood, the Last Temptation “battle” was, indeed, probably the single biggest clash between Christians and Hollywood in the history of cinema. But while Last Temptation might have been the high water mark of the Christians vs. Hollywood culture wars, it certainly isn’t the only example.

Below is a list of 20 “moments of tension” that I include in chapter six, “A Brief History of Christians and Movies,” of Gray Matters. It’s not an exhaustive list of all the films that provoked the wrath and boycotts of Christians, but it gives a general sense of the narrative, going back to the earliest decades of film history:

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