Believers and Nonbelievers to Hollywood: Stay with Bible or We Stay Home

Poll shows audiences value Biblical, historical accuracy.

Before “Noah” director Darron Aronofsky proudly told critics that his film was “the least Biblical film ever made” he might have wanted to ask audiences how important following the Bible was to them. A newly released survey by Christian News Service found 79 percent of Christians and 71 percent of non-believers in a group of 1200 respondents say historical and biblical accuracy is important to them when they choose whether or not to see a faith or Bible-based film. 

According to the survey, “80 percent of the Christian community and 74 percent of non-Christians plan to see the upcoming ‘Exodus’ movie if it remains true to biblical accounts. However, 69 percent of Christians and 68 percent of non-Christians reported it would be ‘totally unlikely’ for them to see the film if it was not Biblically accurate.” 

Russ Jones, President of Christian News Service, along with Charles Parlato, executive producer for “Nicaea,” an independent film about Constantine the Great and the Council of Nicaea, came up with the survey in an attempt to get a better a sense of the makeup of Christian moviegoers.

Jones told Variety, “The biggest lesson we saw was that historical and biblical accuracy is really important to Christians,” Jones said. “That should give folks a stern warning that it’s crucial to use historical data, historical facts and biblical themes as accurately as possible.

An earlier Faith Driven Consumers survey found 98 percent of religious audience members were bothered by the Biblical inaccuracies in “Noah.” Breitbart suggested that this hurt the film in the box office. Perhaps that’s true. Less than half of audience members liked the movie, earning it a dismal 2.9 out of 5 stars from movie-goers on the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes. Additionally the CNS poll revealed 77 percent of non Christians, and 76 percent of Christians did not see Noah when it was in theatres.

The survey also found that Christians and non-Christians alike recognize that Hollywood has some work to do to more accurately portray Christians in films. Respondents were divided on the issue, but both groups’ majority opinion was that Christians were not “portrayed fairly” by Hollywood (43 percent Christians, 39 percent non-Christians). A similar question found that 46 percent of Christians and 40 percent of non-Christians believe Hollywood takes a negative view of Christians.

According to Gallup, half of Americans identify as “Christian” or “Protestant” with another 24 percent identifying as “Catholic.” Christian media critic site, Movie Guide found that nine out of 10 of the highest grossing movies of 2013 contained “strong, or very strong Christian, Biblical or moral worldviews.”

Recently the movie industry seems to have rediscovered the Bible as a very lucrative topic. Three major movies will be released based on Biblical narrative, with another five faith-themed movies also coming to theatres in 2014. Four more Bible-themed movies are in the works for 2015 as well as “Nicaea” in 2016.

It’s nice that Hollywood has finally realized that it pays to pay attention to religious audiences. Now it should make sure it treats the subjects they care about with respect.

— Kristine Marsh is Staff Writer at the Media Research Center. Follow Kristine Marsh on Twitter.