2012 SBC Annual Meeting, New Orleans
LAKE CITY (FBW) – LifeWay Christian Stores will no longer sell “The Blind Side” movie after a Florida pastor proposed a resolution to next week’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting expressing “dissatisfaction” with its continued sale.
“The Blind Side,” released in 2009, is based on a true story about Michael Oher, a homeless African-American football player, adopted by a white family. The NFL’s Baltimore Ravens chose Oher in the first round of the 2009 draft. Sandra Bullock received an Academy Award for her role as Oher’s adoptive mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy.
Submitted to the SBC Resolution Committee last month, Baker provided his resolution to Florida Baptist Witness on June 7. The same day, the Witness contacted LifeWay seeking a comment about the proposed resolution. LifeWay pointed to its August 2010 statement that defended sale of the movie issued in response to Baker’s letter to the editor published in the Witness.
On June 11, LifeWay contacted the Witness to say the movie would no longer be sold.
“LifeWay Christian Resources does not wish to create another issue that would divide the Convention. Therefore, LifeWay Christian Stores and LifeWay.com will no longer sell the movie,” Marty King, LifeWay spokesman, said in a statement to the Witness.
King said “The Blind Side” has been “highly acclaimed by both secular and Christian audiences,” citing Focus on the Family, the Dove Foundation and its use by Baptist and other evangelical churches.
The movie is a “realistic portrayal” of Christian family who “put their faith in action,” he said.
“The movie does include instances of street language we would have preferred not have been included. If highly profane words or words denigrating God’s name would have been used, of course, we would not have sold it,” King said.
Contacted June 11, Baker told the Witness, “I praise God that the week before an historic Convention that LifeWay has followed the Holy Spirit’s leading to remove” the movie.
“I know our God who is holy is pleased with this action,” he said.
Baker noted his actions to express concerns about the sale of “The Blind Side” were prompted by the Holy Spirit.
Baker said he would not withdraw the resolution in light of LifeWay’s action since he believes it has wider applicability than just one movie. He said he hopes LifeWay will implement a new policy to “better screen” content of products it sells consistent with biblical values.
In the proposed SBC resolution, Baker contends the film contains “expletives that spiritual sensibilities will not allow the first letter of the words to be stated, God’s name is used in vain, and [a] racial slur is used.”
While noting it’s an “inspiring movie,” the resolution “expresses dissatisfaction” with “The Blind Side” and “any product” with “explicit profanity,” the use of “God’s name in vain” and racial slurs.
Baker’s resolution does not ask LifeWay to take any action, but requests the statement “be forwarded” to LifeWay Christian Stores “on behalf of Southern Baptist churches.”
In the resolution, Baker contends LifeWay set a “historical precedent” by selling the film with an advisory label warning about objectionable language.
In comments to Florida Baptist Witness before LifeWay reversed course on the movie’s sale, Baker said he contacted LifeWay in 2010 to express his concerns. His concerns remain today.
“The Holy Spirit has now led me to present the resolution to the Southern Baptist Convention,” he said.
Baker said as a Christian and “spiritual leader of my home, a pastor and a discipler,” he believes the sale of the move is “unprofitable” due to its use of profanity and other objectionable content.
The sale of a movie with a “racial slur,” is inconsistent with the SBC’s repentance of and denunciation of racism, he said.
“Just because a movie is popular in Hollywood and to some Christian organization doesn’t mean it should be sold in our Christian bookstore,” he told the Witness. “LifeWay is known for setting the industry standard for product distribution. However in this case, it appears to have listened to and followed the industry standard.”
Baker’s concern about the movie has been previously expressed in a resolution offered at the 2010 Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting. Messengers overwhelmingly approved Baker’s resolution expressing sentiments similar to those in the proposed SBC resolution, which notes the 2010 FBSC action.
In a letter to the editor published in the Aug. 12, 2010, print edition of the Witness, Baker also expressed his concerns about LifeWay’s sale of “The Blind Side.” In response to an invitation from the Witness, LifeWay offered a statement.
“Within the SBC there is a wide diversity of preferences, tastes and expectations about issues such as this,” the 2010 statement noted. “In this case, the movie is of high interest to Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians and they expect us to carry it.”
The chairman of the 2012 SBC Resolutions Committee is Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach. At press time, Scroggins had not responded to the Witness request for a statement on the disposition of Baker’s resolution.
The SBC annual meeting will be June 19-20 in New Orleans.
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