The 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America grants freedom of worship, speech & press; the right to petition the government & to assemble peaceably. Specifically with regard to "religion" it states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Many on the left have tried for at least 50 years to re-write history with regard to "separation of church and state" and to downgrade the religious beliefs of the founding fathers. This quote should satisfy both questions: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports ... and let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." George Washington, Farewell Speech, 9/17/1796 (from "Being George Washington"). The Liberty Institute lists the many & varied current activities to attempt to eliminate Religious Freedom in America. A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology by researchers at the London School of Economics and Erasmus University Medical Center found that the secret to sustained happiness lies in participating in religion. “The church appears to play a very important social role in keeping depression at bay and also as a coping mechanism during periods of illness in later life,” an author of the study said.

Secular Hollywood Quietly Courts the Faithful

from The New York Times,

The Rev. Roderick Dwayne Belin, a senior A.M.E. Church leader, stood before a gathering of more than 1,000 pastors in a drafty Marriott ballroom in Naperville, Ill., this month and extolled the virtues of a Hollywood movie. “Imagine this clip playing to your congregation, perhaps tied to a theological discussion about our sacred lives and our secular lives and how there is really no division,” he said, before showing the trailer for “Hidden Figures,” which 20th Century Fox will release in theaters nationwide on Jan. 6. The film has no obvious religious message. Rather, it is a feel-good drama about unsung black heroines in the NASA space race of the 1960s. But Fox — working with a little-known firm called Wit PR, which pitches movies to churches — sought out Mr. Belin to help sell “Hidden Figures” as an aspirational story about women who have faith in themselves. He became a proponent after a visit to the movie’s set in Atlanta, where Wit PR invited seven influential pastors to watch filming and hang out with stars like Kevin Costner and Taraji P. Henson, who spoke of her own struggles to succeed in Hollywood. “I came away really interested in using film to explore faith,” Mr. Belin said. On the surface, Hollywood is a land of loose morals, where materialism rules, sex and drugs are celebrated on screen (and off), and power players can have a distant relationship with the truth. But movie studios and their partners have quietly — very quietly, sometimes to the degree of a black ops endeavor — been building deep connections to Christian filmgoers who dwell elsewhere on the spectrum of politics and social values. In doing so, they have tapped churches, military groups, right-leaning bloggers and, particularly, a fraternity of marketing specialists who cut their teeth on overtly religious movies but now put their influence behind mainstream works like “Frozen,” “The Conjuring,” “Sully” and “Hidden Figures.”

The marketers are writing bullet points for sermons, providing footage for television screens mounted in sanctuaries and proposing Sunday school lesson plans. In some cases, studios are even flying actors, costume designers and producers to megachurch discussion groups. Hollywood’s awareness of its need to pay better attention to flyover-state audiences has grown even more urgent of late, as ultraliberal movie executives, shocked to see a celebrity-encircled Hillary Clinton lose the presidential election to Donald J. Trump, have realized the degree to which they are out of touch with a vast pool of Americans. Tens of millions of voters did not care what stars had to say in support of Mrs. Clinton. Are those voters also ignoring the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Meryl Streep when they promote movies? Would they listen if it were a church leader telling them to buy a ticket instead? Film companies can no longer afford to take any audience for granted. Despite a growing population, North America’s moviegoing has been more or less flat — not exactly what investors want to hear.

Hollywood is under pressure to reverse that trend. Churches may seem like an unusual path toward young people, but 41 percent of millennials engage in some form of daily prayer, according to a 2010 Pew Research paper. To reach them, many ministers have built vast social media networks. The Rev. Jamal H. Bryant, a megachurch pastor in Baltimore, has 250,000 followers on Twitter. (His church also has a smartphone app.)

People of faith and their sheer numbers — by some estimates, the United States has roughly 90 million evangelicals — are not a new discovery in Hollywood. Moviedom’s leading Christian consultancy, Grace Hill Media, was founded in 2000 by a former publicist for Warner Bros. Studios woke up to the power of the market in 2004, when Mel Gibson’s $30 million “The Passion of the Christ” came out of nowhere to sell $612 million in tickets worldwide.

What is new is the aggression and sophistication. Even in the wake of several flops — among them this summer’s “Ben-Hur,” which cost at least $150 million to make and market and collected $94 million — studios are working on at least a dozen movies in this arena, including “The Star,” an animated film about the animal heroes of the first Christmas. Last month, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced the introduction of Light TV, a faith and family broadcast network. Other media companies are considering the creation of faith-based streaming services, essentially Netflix for the pious. Movie executives tend to view the Christian audience as monolithic. It is not, of course. That may be why “Noah” sold fewer tickets in 2014 than Paramount had hoped. The studio figured the big-budget movie about the biblical figure would attract religious viewers en masse, but “Noah” landed poorly with more literal interpreters of Scripture, who objected to the film’s depiction of fallen angels as “Transformers”-style rock monsters.

“Nobody wants to feel used, and sometimes the movie business acts like people of faith are there to be turned on and off as the marketers see fit,” said DeVon Franklin, an ordained minister, an author and a producer of films like “Miracles From Heaven.” Undoubtedly aware of that perception, studios try to keep a tight lid on their efforts, sometimes even insisting that no faith outreach is happening on behalf of a film, when there is actually a coordinated effort. Studios live in equal fear that obvious appeals to religious audiences will alienate more secular ticket buyers. Almost all studio executives contacted for this article rejected repeated interview requests, citing policies not to publicly discuss marketing strategies of any kind.

Sony’s faith-based unit, Affirm Films, has lately been working to tap Christian audiences overseas, an area that studios have largely ignored. “There are pockets of evangelical Protestants around the world, but it takes a lot of preplanning

More From The New York Times:

365 Days Page
Comment ( 0 )
Leave a Reply