Family Movie Receives ‘PG’ Rating For Having Too Much Religious Content

The world has taken another turn for the bizarre. CNSNews reported on Friday (hat tip to NB reader RJ) that a new family movie about football, “Facing the Giants,” has been given a “PG” rating by the Motion Picture Association of America apparently for having too much religious content.

Too much religious content? Are you kidding me?

This story appears to have first been reported by Terry Mattingly at the Scripps Howard News Service on Wednesday: “‘What the MPAA said is that the movie contained strong 'thematic elements' that might disturb some parents,’ said Kris Fuhr, vice president for marketing at Provident Films, which is owned by Sony Pictures. Provident plans to open the film next fall in 380 theaters nationwide with the help of Samuel Goldwyn Films, which has worked with indie movies like ‘The Squid and the Whale.’"

Just what kind of “thematic elements” are present? The article elaborated:

“The MPAA, noted Fuhr, tends to offer cryptic explanations for its ratings. In this case, she was told that it ‘decided that the movie was heavily laden with messages from one religion and that this might offend people from other religions. It's important that they used the word 'proselytizing' when they talked about giving this movie a PG.’”

“Might offend people from other religions?” Are you kidding? Just what religions might that be? Is this the MPAA expressing concern that Jews might be offended by such references, or Muslims? Furthermore, are there any such religious restrictions in the guidelines given by the MPAA for its ratings? Here are the specifics concerning the "PG" rating directly from the MPAA website:

“This is a film which clearly needs to be examined by parents before they let their children attend. The label PG plainly states parents may consider some material unsuitable for their children, but leaves the parent to make the decision. Parents are warned against sending their children, unseen and without inquiry, to PG-rated movies. The theme of a PG-rated film may itself call for parental guidance. There may be some profanity in these films. There may be some violence or brief nudity. However, these elements are not considered so intense as to require that parents be strongly cautioned beyond the suggestion of parental guidance. There is no drug use content in a PG-rated film. The PG rating, suggesting parental guidance, is thus an alert for examination of a film by parents before deciding on its viewing by their children. Obviously such a line is difficult to draw. In our pluralistic society it is not easy to make judgments without incurring some disagreement. As long as parents know they must exercise parental responsibility, the rating serves as a meaningful guide and as a warning.”

Certainly doesn’t seem to be any reference to religious content, does there? Regardless, according to Mattingly, there may have been one scene in particular that caused the “PG” rating:

But the scene that caught the MPAA's attention may have been the chat between football coach Grant Taylor -- played by Alex Kendrick -- and a rich brat named Matt Prader. The coach says that he needs to stop bad-mouthing his bossy father and get right with God.

“The boy replies: ‘You really believe in all that honoring God and following Jesus stuff? ... Well, I ain't trying to be disrespectful, but not everybody believes in that.’

“The coach replies: ‘Matt, nobody's forcing anything on you. Following Jesus Christ is the decision that you're going to have to make for yourself. You may not want to accept it, because it'll change your life. You'll never be the same.’"

In an industry rife with gratuitous acts of violence and pornography, it is hard to believe that this exchange between a football coach and his player could possibly be considered offensive to children.

As the Wicked Witch of the West said after Dorothy threw water on her, “Oh what a world.”

Maybe we’re all melting.

As a post script, for those that are interested, the following is a description of this film’s storyline from the movie’s website, and a trailer can be seen here:

From the award winning producers of FLYWHEEL, comes an action-packed drama about a Christian high school football coach who uses his undying faith to battle the giants of fear and failure. In six years of coaching, Grant Taylor has never led his Shiloh Eagles to a winning season. After learning that he and his wife Brooke face infertility, Grant discovers that a group of fathers are secretly organizing to have him dismissed as head coach. Devastated by his circumstances, he cries out to God in desperation. When Grant receives a message from an unexpected visitor, he searches for a stronger purpose for his football team. He dares to challenge his players to believe God for the impossible on and off the field. When faced with unbelievable odds, the Eagles must step up to their greatest test of strength and courage. What transpires is a dynamic story of the fight between faith and fear. Facing the Giants is a powerful experience for the whole family inspiring viewers to live with faith, hope, and love!

Certainly sounds like something we should make sure children shouldn’t be able to see without their parents present, doesn’t it?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.