WARNING: Mild spoilers for the hit show, “The Last of Us.”
Last weekend, Rainn Wilson, who famously played Dwight Shrute on “The Office,” tweeted:
I do think there is an anti-Christian bias in Hollywood. As soon as the David character in “The Last of Us” started reading from the Bible I knew that he was going to be a horrific villain.
“Could there be a Bible-reading preacher on a show who is actually loving and kind?”
To answer his question, yes, there could be a bible-reading preacher or Christian who is actually loving and kind, and there often are on TV. Just look at “The Office,” a show that Wilson himself starred in. While the character of Angela Martin plays the role of the judgy Christian, it is a fair portrayal. She is flawed, but is not a “horrific villain” or evil. President Bartlet on “The West Wing” was a devout Catholic who often relied on his faith to guide his principles and policies. He even quoted the bible as a way to defend his decisions. Reverend Lovejoy on “The Simpsons” preaches faithfully even while dealing with the antics of Homer and Bart, and he’s been portrayed on TV for more than 30 years.
Bible-believing characters who can do no wrong are not entertaining, and that is probably why they don’t pop up more often in popular media. Just look at the “God’s Not Dead” franchise. It is roundly criticized for its proselytizing and only appeals to evangelical Christians. In fact, the newly released “Jesus Revolution” is the first movie focused on religion I can recall that isn’t being widely panned by critics and non-evangelical audiences. It actually has positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and that’s explicitly because it chose not to be preachy or overly deferential to Christian characters.
Even if Wilson’s comments have some merit, that has been quickly overshadowed by conservatives using Wilson to advance their right-wing agenda. The Daily Citizen, a “news” outlet from Focus on the Family, gleefully covered his comments and added:
You can probably count on one hand the number of A-list celebrities who are openly Christian or conservative. Despite the left’s often-repeated trope about the importance of “diversity,” there is a clear lack of spiritual diversity in Hollywood. This fact is perhaps part of the reason why so much entertainment content in our society is imbued with leftist propaganda and a particular sexual agenda.
If Hollywood and big movie production studios want to stop losing millions of dollars on many of their films, perhaps hiring more Christian and conservative actors, directors and filmmakers would be a good first place to start.
Of the top grossing films of all time, you have to scroll all the way down to 173 to find the first film that could be considered “Christian and conservative.” “The Passion of the Christ” grossed more than $600 million worldwide. And, as you are probably aware, this is a major outlier. Most Christian movies don’t even come close to earning the kind of money that secular movies do.
To his credit, Wilson later followed up on the comment clarifying that he is “not even a Christian” and mocked Fox News for covering his view.
Here’s a couple of funny things about the anti-Christian bias in Hollywood. My opinion tweet was picked up as front page news by @FoxNews. Talk about bias. An organization created as a corporate shill to create division solely for profit based on culture-war outrage. Print that!
Wilson himself is not a Christian, but a member of the Baháʼí Faith. Baha’i members acknowledge and respect all world religions and their messengers or prophets, including Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Zoroaster, Krishna and many more religious figures. Baha’is believe that these figures are “manifestations of God,” messengers of the one divine God.
Wilson is hardly the first person to raise the issue of “anti-Christian bias” in Hollywood over the last few weeks. Just a couple weeks ago, Kelsey Grammer was on a press tour for “Jesus Revolution,” and several “news” outlets covered that he ‘won’t apologize’ for his faith. Similarly, in February, Mark Wahlberg lamented, “It’s not popular in my industry, but, you know, I cannot deny my faith.”
But, shifting the focus back to HBO’s “The Last of Us,” a great show that I encourage everyone to watch, the show’s creators explained that the portrayal of a horrific villain using the bible as a cover for his evil ways was a very intentional choice:
We see the worst of theocracy summed up with David. He is a terrible person who rules alone through fear and oppression while pretending to be a loving father figure.
To my personal delight, the creators also expressed their support for the separation of church and state:
Mazin elaborated by saying: “I believe very strongly in the separation of church and state not only because it’s important to protect people who are of religious minorities, but because religion doesn’t do a good job of running a state.” He added theocracies don’t usually have backup plans if things go bad. Druckmann also pointed out that in most theocracies, the people in charge are the most un-Godly of everyone.
Craig Mazin’s views have merited his inclusion in FFRF’s Freethought of the Day.
Something interesting to note that was brought up by a user on Reddit is that no Oscar winners thanked God on Sunday. I have not reviewed every acceptance speech to confirm this, but assuming it’s true, it’s a good sign that we as a society are moving away from the erroneous notion that you have to be Christian to be good, that atheists are bad and that we have to give credit to a deity, instead of to ourselves and humanity.
Listen, I understand where Wilson is coming from. I personally have many friends who are Christians, and they are good people. But, I believe they are good people despite their religious beliefs, not because of them, and I, for one, am glad that most TV shows and movies reflect that reality.