In the not-to-distant future America, the Faith and Freedom Act is the final step to shutting down traditional Christianity. Only one man stands between religious freedom and tyranny: John Luther.
That is the premise of the newest Christian movie, “Persecuted.” Staring John Remar (as the not-to-subtly named hero, John Luther), Bruce Davidson (as Luther’s friend-turned-traitor) and Fred Thompson (as Luther’s father-turned-priest).
Naturally, the powers-that-be set him up as a murderer and a rapist and the rest of the movie follows the typical political thriller pattern. The movie and advertisement promise to bring a relevant story for the many Christians concerned with the increasing legal hostility in America.
But does it deliver?
The point of the movie is uttered clearly at the beginning when Luther declares “I cannot water down the gospel to advance anybody’s political agenda. ” But then the movie loses it way.
Surprisingly, the movie is not overly preachy. The religious talk is mostly inoffensive, with talk about God in a non-offensive way more often than not. Although Christ is mentioned early on as the only Way, Truth and Life, the Gospel is not unambiguously presented.
During the bulk of the movie, while on the run, the main character is mostly believable as a everyman-pastor standing upon his convictions. But the fact that he runs a multi-million dollar ‘ministry’, uses a comic warm-up act and hobnobs with political big-wigs undermines the full effect.
The vagueness of the anti-religious bill, the damage it may or may not do, the remoteness of any persecution of the average parishioner dilutes the religious persecution theme.
“The Holy Spirit inspired me to write ‘Persecuted’—I woke up one morning, and it was there. The government is trying to take control of everything, including the very source that gave our country its foundation, which is Biblical truth.”
Interestingly, the director, Lusko, explained an important theme in the movie expressed in the relationship between John Luther (Remar) and his Roman Catholic father (Thompson):
“The father-son relationship…represented the schism between the Catholic and the evangelical church…under persecution…these denominational differences disappear, as with the evangelical son and his Catholic father.”
As a thriller the movie is almost average. As a political message the movie is muddled. But, then, the seriousness of the topic cannot but be undermined by the medium: movies are good for entertainment, but rarely for prophetic utterances.