Through a series of circumstances, I was able to send an email to Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder, the minds behind Movieguide.* (Click here to go to the website.)
On December 29th, I sent the following email to Ted Baehr and forwarded the email to Tom Snyder (there’s two typos in it):
Dr. Ted Baehr,
I am a Roman Catholic, and a lover of movies and popular culture.
As a result, your organization, Movieguide, should be right up my alley: The mission of Movieguide being to praise goodness, truth, and beauty, and expose evil, falsity, and ugliness.
However, more often than not, I find myself disappointed by Moviguide’s content.
The reasons for this are the following:
1. There is Right Wing bias to Movieguide.
2. There is a tendency for Movieguide to attack those it disagrees with.
To address both of my criticisms of Movieguide:
1. There is a Right Wing bias to Movieguide.
In order to give prove that Movieguide has a Right Wing bias I will quote excerpts of Movieguide reviews:
From Movieguide’s review of City of Ember:
Bill Murray sounds like every loony leftist National Socialist politician. His sycophants do a perfect job of creating an aura of National Socialism, or liberal fascism with a happy face. He may remind many viewers of another politician currently running for president.
From Movieguide’s review of Runaway Jury:
Unhappily, there are many people who will fall for such superficial cinematic techniques. This is exactly what happened in Germany when Adolph Hitler and his National Socialist demagogues used movies like TRIUMPH OF THE WILL to convince the German people that murdering Jews, handicapped people, sickly senior citizens, and unborn children was a good idea. The pro-abortion, pro-gun control leftists in Hollywood are the rightful heirs of these socialist monsters.
- There is a tendency for Movieguide to attack those it disagrees with.
In order to prove that Movieguide has a tendency to attack people or groups of people it disagrees with I will quote excerpts of Movieguide reviews:
From Moveiguide’s review of Monster’s Ball:
These trite stereotypes haven’t stopped Roger Ebert, the liberal movie critic of the Chicago Sun Times, from naming MONSTER’S BALL his top movie of 2001. Of course, this is the same critic who loved BELOVED, the awful, politically correct occult movie about slavery starring Oprah Winfrey.
From Movieguide’s review of The Counselor:
…THE COUNSELOR has no heart, no moral courage, not much intelligence or wit, and no honor. Also, there is no Wizard of Oz to lend it any of those things. Except, perhaps, for the obsequious, phony pseudo-intellectual elitists running the news media and America’s critic organizations, who like to insert redeeming qualities and artistic value when there are none.
From Movieguide’s review of Of Gods and Men:
This movie is a wake-up call to western civilization. The unrelenting advance of Islam on helpless and loving people continues to this day. Their so-called god is the delusional ravings of a child molester who loved killing people with his own sword.
I am disappointed by Movieguide because Movieguide frequently acts in an un-biblical manner.
How is Movieguide’s behavior un-biblical?
This is how:
If you read the excerpts of the reviews that I have posted above, you will see that there is a lack of love for Roger Ebert, the mainstream media, Hollywood, and Muslims.
Judging by the excerpts of the reviews that I have posted above, Roger Ebert, the mainstream media, Hollywood, and Muslims are treated like God’s enemies by Movieguide. Not like God’s children.
One gets the sense, from reading Movieguide’s reviews that Roger Ebert, the mainstream media, Hollywood, and Muslims, are not to be trusted because of their worldviews. That such people are like wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Such a view of people is un-biblical.
This is why:
Jesus says “Love your enemies.” (Matthew 5:44)
God’s second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor:
“‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind.’ This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:35—40)
In this email, I have presented my opinion – Movieguide’s actions are un-biblical – and I have backed up my opinion with facts (excerpts of reviews from Movieguide) and with verses from the Bible.
Thank you for reading.
On January 1st, I sent the following tweet to Tom Snyder:
Today, January 2nd, I was emailed by Tom Snyder and told that he and Ted Baehr are working on a response to my email:
We’re still crafting a response.
Ther end of the year is very busy and then there’s the holiday. . .
I took this opportunity to write a follow-up email (one typo in this email):
OK. Thank you.
To take this opportunity to make one thing clear:
In my criticism of Movieguide, I’m not out to try and take down the organization or anything — I’m not trying to see that all the work that you, Dr. Ted Baehr, and your employees have done ultimately comes to nothing.
The reason I criticize Movieguide so much is because it is an organization that influences hundreds of thousands of people.
Movieguide’s influence, from having read much of the writing on the Movieguide website, is an influence that I think does more harm than good.
When I read Movieguide’s writing, more often than not:
I see an attitude of “Hate thy neighbor.” Not “Love thy neighbor.”
I see a Christianity that has been influenced by Right Wing American politics, when Christianity — the teachings of Jesus, the son of God — are supposed to transcend human institutions like politics.
I see a view towards movies that is, ultimately, concerned with a movie’s message/worldview. If a movie supports the wrong worldview, than it ultimately doesn’t matter how well-made it is — it is to be avoided.
I see a group of people who don’t understand that God makes everyone in His image. Who don’t understand that even atheists, socialists, and Muslims are capable of producing movies that are good, true, and beautiful (Philippians 4:8) because God has made all people in His imagine (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Now I’m waiting for a response from Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder and will update this blog post when I have it. And I will update this blog post with any further interactions the three of us have.
Today, January 3rd, I got two responses:
Thank you for your letter.
Movieguide® does not “attack” those it disagrees with, but follows the biblical mandate to “expose” the “fruitless works of darkness” (Eph. 5:11) of those who disagree with God and disagree with biblical truth, including biblical morality. As Christians, our theological and moral standard is the Bible, which says, among other things, that adultery, incest, perversion, and child murder are evil and loathsome (Leviticus 18:1-30). It also says in Romans 13 that government authorities are ministers of God who are given authority to “punish evildoers.” When government fails to do that, and, as with perversion and abortion, does the exact opposite, then it is our duty as Christians to expose that evil mistake.
Also, the Bible tells us that families are supposed to take care of families and people are supposed to give private charity. In one instance, Paul took up a collection among other churches to help poor Christian brethren in Jerusalem, who were undergoing intense persecution at the time, apparently. You can find an article on what the Bible says in many passages about politics, government, taking care of the poor, education, taxes, and even immigrants on our sister website on www.theculturewatch.com <http://www.theculturewatch.com> (taxes of 10% or more are signs of tyranny according to God in 1 Samuel 8:1-20):
These, and other biblical passages, have led us to support a biblical view of social issues and moral values. That’s not “right wing” (a pejorative term invented by fascists and leftists to cut off debate and ridicule or demonize their opponents). That’s biblical.
Also, Jesus Christ’s striking condemnation in Luke 17:2 of those who would be the cause of children to sin, leads us to take a strong stand against depictions of sex and promotion of graphic violence and revenge in the mass media. At the same time, we commend movies and television programs where the hero or heroine takes a stand against evildoers and stops them from harming others, especially when they risk or sacrifice their own lives, as Jesus did when He went to the Cross.
Of course, in doing all this, our focus is preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which promotes salvation and sanctification by the Holy Spirit for all people. This requires repentance as well as a knowledge of the biblical principles and values that God has given us in His word, the Bible.
Jesus Himself was not afraid to condemn the behavior and attitudes of the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Matthew 23. Was He “attacking” them, or just exposing and condemning their sins and their tyranny? Was He treating them like the enemies of God? Was He violating His own rule to “Love your enemy”? As 1 Corinthians 13:6 says, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”
Evildoers are indeed the enemies of God. Shouldn’t we obey God’s Word written to expose them?
What we do, therefore, is expose and condemn evil while offering deliverance from sin through preaching repentance and faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes following the moral, economic and political precepts and principles outlined by the biblical text. That’s why we urge people in the mass media, including movie critics and filmmakers, to follow the Bible in all that they do. Exposing and condemning sin and injustice, including economic and political evil, is part of that.
The politically correct fascists have a lot to answer for because of their support for socialist tyranny, abortion and sexual sin, all of which affects children, teenagers and young adults most of all as well the poor and the middle class. This is especially true of the atheist leftists who under Stalin and Mao murdered and oppressed more people in 75 years in the 20th Century than any other ideology throughout human history except for Islam. If you aren’t upset about these things, you should be.
In light of all this, we stand by our comments in the reviews you cited. [Emphasis mine.] We aren’t “attacking” people, we are strongly chastising them and condemning the evil they do or support.
Finally, it is an historical fact that Hitler used propaganda in the mass media to promote the policies that led to the Holocaust. Politically correct leftists are doing similar things in movies like RUNAWAY JURY. To condemn the filmmakers behind such movies is a good thing, not a bad thing. That’s doing the “right thing.”
Therefore, we now welcome your support.
Yours in Christ,
Dr. Tom Snyder with Dr. Ted Baehr
PS: Many of the “good” movies we commend are indeed made by Non-Christians, and even strong liberals, and we give out many awards to them commending their efforts and to encourage them to come to Christ and adopt more biblical, more conservative principles. In fact, our website always lists the better movies first, so visitors have to dig to find our Minus Three and Minus Four reviews, and even the Minus Two ones.
The Bible applies to all areas of life, including politics. Also, many passages in the Bible deal with rulers and government, such as Romans 13 and many passages in Proverbs. Our duty to the parents of children is to warn them about unbiblical, immoral political content, not just Anti-Christian, Non-Christian moral and theological content, that violate biblical standards and precepts.
Also, the Fall damaged the image of God in man. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God, and the intentions of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Without a personal relationship in Jesus Christ, you can’t be a truly good person. However, we’ve never said socialists, or even atheists, are incapable of making good movies. In fact, even Oliver Stone, a committed socialist/leftist, and probably an atheist or agnostic as well, made WORLD TRADE CENTER, a movie which we gave an award to at our annual awards show! Atheists have even made religious movies honoring Jesus Christ without violating any biblical doctrines.
We never recommend people see a movie or not to see a movie. We are a consumer’s guide for parents, especially Bible-believing Christian parents and Christian conservatives. Being a Christian conservative is a good thing, and a biblical stance, and Christian liberals and leftists have done a lot of evil, including giving support to politicians who promote abortion and sexual sin among children and teenagers as well as aid and comfort to tyrannical atheist governments and Anti-Semitic and Anti-Christian Muslim radicals. Scripture does not support their left-leaning, politically correct ideology (much of which, by the way, originates from the Anti-Christian, Anti-American, anti-capitalist atheistic Cultural Marxism of the infamous Frankfurt School in Germany, a Marxist institution).
My reply to these two emails:
Dr. Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder,
Thank you for replying to my letter.
First: I want to say I’m sorry for any anger or stress that my letter, and tweets, might have caused you. Angering or offending was not my intent. No one likes being criticized. And I imagine that the last thing that you wanted to do today was respond to my criticism of Movieguide. Thank you for taking the time to do so, though.
Second: Thank you for explaining the reasoning behind Movieguide’s reviews. The Bible verses you quote, and articles you provide links to, clear up a lot of the confusion I had about the way that Movieguide reviews movies and looks at popular culture.
However, I still will not support Movieguide.
This is why:
As a Roman Catholic:
I believe that Jesus wouldn’t call Islam the “…delusional ravings of a child molester…”
I believe that Jesus wouldn’t dismiss what someone had to say just because that person identified as a liberal, an atheist, or a socialist.
I believe that Jesus loves everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from.
I believe that Jesus understands that life is a journey, and that every human being is on their own journey.
I believe that Jesus knows that, deep down, every human being is, whether they know it or not, seeking him.
I believe that Jesus sees no human being as his enemy.
I believe that Jesus sees every human being as his child.
I believe that Jesus ultimately doesn’t care about the system of government a person lives under as long as that government respects that person’s humanity — doesn’t arrest the person without giving a reason, withhold food and water, torture, spy on without probable cause, or otherwise treat disrespectfully.
I believe that the Gospel that Movieguide preaches is not “Love thy neighbor.”
I believe that the Gospel that Movieguide preaches is “Distrust thy neighbor.”
I believe that nationalism has wormed its way into Ted Baehr’s and Tom Snyder’s thinking: https://www.movieguide.org/news-articles/hollywood-promotes-patriotism.html
I believe that there is a way to point a person towards Jesus. And it’s not, for example, by calling that person’s faith the faith of a child molester.
Other reasons I will not support Movieguide:
Dr. Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder exploited a tragedy for their own financial gain: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/34997-rejection-of-faith-values-leads-to-social-mayhem-and-murder-in-newtown
Tom Snyder called a movie critic names for no other reason than that the critic had a different opinion than him: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-christian-oscars
Dr. Ted Baehr implied that he knew the fate of a person’s soul — something that only God knows: http://www.wnd.com/2004/08/25955/
I will be sticking with movie critics like those at Christianity Today: Christian movie critics who bring a critical eye, and Jesus’ empathy, to their profession.
*I sent this post to Tom Snyder’s Twitter, and him and I had a long and fruitful conversation about it. I’ll say this about Tom Snyder: I don’t agree with everything he believes, but at least he’s willing to talk about why he believes it.
*Tom Snyder and I talked for a while, about a number of movie-related subjects, on Twitter. (For context, read the blog post that I provide the link to in the footnote.) Tweets that stood out to me (the reason these tweets stood out to be me because I saw them as a look behind the scenes — a look at how Movieguide is run):
I am posting my interactions with Movieguide in order to give people a look at how Movieguide is run.
The use of the following emails and tweets — emails and tweets from myself and people at Movieguide — falls under Fair Use. I am posting these emails and tweets for nonprofit educational purposes: The purpose of this blog post is to educate people, and I am not making a profit from this blog post.
For the purpose of remaining anonymous, I have removed my name from my emails. The reason that I include the names of the people who sent emails to me is so that people will know who I am talking to. Who I am talking to from Movieguide matters for what I am trying to accomplish with this blog post: Give people a look at how Movieguide is run.
Under Section 107 of U.S. copyright law, it is legal for me to post the following emails and tweets to a public forum. The “public forum” being this blog.
Also: What I am doing is not Defamation of Character. Why? According to the dictionary: “Defamation of Character”: An attack on the reputation of someone by publishing false and malicious things that slander and injure. (Emphasis mine.) The content of this post will “injure” Movieguide (will damage their reputation), but nothing in it is false or slanderous: The content of this post — emails and tweets — comes straight from the people behind Movieguide.