Andrew Denton's very Christian anti-Christian film

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Andrew Denton's very Christian anti-Christian filmSay what you like about Andrew Denton—just don’t accuse his documentary, God On My Side, of being anti-Christian.

"I think that’s a misstatement," retorts the television veteran and interviewer extraordinaire. "It’s a film about some of the beliefs of Christianity, but it’s far too broad to say it’s an anti-Christian film."

To be fair, God On My Side deliberately takes a very specific demographic as its focus group—one that’s not intended to be representative of Christianity in general.

"Evangelical Christians make up 40 per cent of US President George W. Bush’s vote—they have the ear of the most powerful administration in the world," says Denton. "They’re part of the jigsaw puzzle of the clash of civilisations."

"I would never suggest, and nor does the film attempt to, that they’re running US foreign policy, but it would also be disingenuous to suggest they don’t have a voice at the table. That’s why it’s relevant to look at them."

With that in mind, Denton and his production crew headed to the 63rd National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Dallas, Texas, where the delegates comprised some 6,000 Christian communicators. It was a predominantly evangelical, fundamentalist gathering, whom Denton queried not only about their personal faith stories, but also about how faith affects their perception of their world, their country—and their president.

The responses, as seen in God On My Side, are alternately moving, baffling and infuriating. It’s difficult not to be affected, for example, by one man’s story of finding faith amid the carnage following the 1947 explosion of the SS Grandcamp, which claimed 576 lives. On the other hand, it’s hard to sympathise with viewpoints that blithely hitch faith to George Dubya’s warmongering bandwagon.Andrew Denton's very Christian anti-Christian film

"The thing that most surprised me was that everyone I spoke to believed George Bush is ‘God’s man’," says Denton. "It’s one thing to support him politically, or to like him, but to suggest he’s been put there with God’s approval is a pretty frightening concept. I have deep respect for people’s individual faith, but when faith gets connected to the machinery of state, or the machinery of hate, I find it very confronting."

Equally confronting is the segment of the film dedicated to the “End Times” (i.e. the end of the world), which many of the talking heads believe is imminent.

"A poll earlier this year showed that 42 per cent of Americans believe we’re in the End Times," says Denton. "The movie contains footage from a mainstream news story on CNN about End Times. All the major networks in America ran stories about Armageddon and End Times—serious stories in prime time."

"That’s another reason for the relevance of the film: this is part of the worldview that is being heard at the table of the administration of America."

God On My Side premiered at the Sydney Film Festival in June, and Denton reports that the response so far has been positive, from both the religious and the non-religious corner. "We had people come to the festival that had been at the convention in America, and when they saw the film they said, ‘That’s very fair’."

Andrew Denton's very Christian anti-Christian film"I think the people interviewed embody and believe they embody the Christian ideals of love," he adds. "But one of the points of the film is that absolute faith can blind you to the consequences of the actions you allow. It can tell you it’s okay to drop bombs on another country, or that it’s okay to hate a group of people such as homosexuals."

"What I hope people will take away from the film is a clearer ear for the absolutes of faith," Denton concludes. "I think anyone, no matter what their faith, who says ‘There’s only one truth, I know what it is, and if you don’t ascribe to it you’ve got it coming to you’ … anyone like that needs to be looked at carefully."

 

 

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Existing comments

I wonder if Denton believes it okay to promote the scaremongering from the Greens when it comes to global warming (sorry climate change) in prime time. Seems to me they have more faith in dodgy religion than those who support President Bush.
Bill Kirkland | 01 January 2007


I was impressed with the respect with which Andrew treated his interviewees and topics.
Peter Flint | 23 June 2007


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