Saturday, January 27, 2007

Friends Of God

Alexandra Pelosi's Friends of God is the story of one amazing road trip. She captures the many faces of the 50 to 80 million strong evangelical Christians community in America - a community anyone with political ambitions may ignore only to their own peril. Their strength is in their numbers and ability to influence constituents to vote for candidates who share their religious and moral values.

As a recent immigrant and a non-Christian, this documentary was an eye opener at many levels. A few key themes emerge in the message of the religious leadership. Marriages are sacrosanct and the only kind that has Bibilical sanction is between a man and a woman. The sole purpose of such unions is to procreate. Planned parenthood is almost as evil as abortion. Finally, God created the world in six days and evolution is scientific myth.

And that is the end of their message. Not once did anyone talk about kindness and forgiveness which most non-Christians believe to be the cornerstone of Christian faith. Christ's life is replete with examples of both. Not once did anyone argue if there was religious sanction for the war in Iraq. For a religious outsider this seems to be a highly selective and opportunistic dissemination of Christian philosophy.

Interestingly all of the religious leadership that the movie features is male and not surprisingly they are pursuing an agenda that will strip women of their hard earned liberation. Twelve years and ten children later, a woman will be completely worn out physically and trapped in marriage until death delivers her. The man can just walk away from it all his freedom completely intact. He can rape and leave but she must bear his child because abortion is a sin and she is a believer. As a woman I have to wonder, what's in it for us.

If adherents really followed through on what their leadership was asking of them - i.e. married early and continued to have children until they were able to, it will not take long for America to join the ranks of overpopulated third world countries, with their women shackled and children impoverished.

Whenever a religious group begins to wield political clout, the fate of the democracy is sealed. Electoral math will override every other concern when millions of voters start to vote as a single entity. The men on the pulpit accquire unprecedented power because they can determine the fate of political leaders. Mixing politics with religion is what it takes to create a crisis like the Middle East. It is sad to think that America could one day sink to the same levels of chaos and anarchy.

No where in the lines
"Give me your tired, your poor; your huddled masses yearning to breathe free; the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me." is it implied that there is room in this great country for only one religion to the exclusion of the rest. After watching Pelosi's intrepid movie you wonder if you belong here if you are not Christian.

About Friends of God - A HBO documentary, “FRIENDS OF GOD: A ROAD TRIP WITH ALEXANDRA PELOSI” directed by Alexandra Pelosi which premiered on Jan 25th at 9PM EST.

The estimated 50 to 80 million evangelical Christians living in America today have become a formidable force in our culture and democracy. But the evangelical movement is a big tent. To try and get a better understanding of the range and diversity of this community, intrepid filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi hit the road to meet some evangelicals and learn about what their influence may mean for the future of the country.

With her unique brand of road-tripping reportage, and driven by an unflagging curiosity and genuine interest in learning about this increasingly influential community, Alexandra Pelosi (whose previous HBO credits include 2000’s Emmy®-winning “Journeys with George”) embarks on a fast-paced cross-country journey, offering snapshots of a cross-section of evangelical America .

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