Guess Which 80s TV Star Appears in This New Christian Film? No, Not That One…

Liberty Counsel, the Christian group that flips out when anyone says “Happy Holidays,” just released the trailer for its first film. (Yep, they make films now.)

It features a washed-up actor from the ’80s, a plotline with evil secular educators, and angsty Christian youth ready to reclaim their faith. In other words, this is exactly like every Christian movie you’ve (n)ever seen…

I guess Kirk Cameron was unavailable, though, so they got Erik Estrada:

The film is called “Uncommon“:

More like Untruthful.

Right off the bat, they begin with a lie, showing public school administrators forbidding students from partaking in “any Bible activities on the premises of Rosewood High School”… even though every atheist group in the country would defend students’ right to have an after-school Bible club.

Even the website (which the trailer incorrectly lists as UncommonFilm.org) perpetuates those lies:

What do we really know about religious liberties in public schools? Can students pray? Can they have a bible study? Can they mention God or even wear a Christian themed t-shirt? The prayer in public school debate has caused a firestorm in the past; but with this film Liberty Counsel hopes to set the record straight.

Those who seek to indoctrinate our kids with the message that God is irrelevant and truth is subjective have had a monopoly for too long in our schools because the Supreme Court fabricated the idea that there is a wall of separation between church and state.

Yes, students can pray. Yes, they can have a Bible study. Yes, they can mention God and wear Christian-themed t-shirts. There’s never any controversy about any of those things! You only see lawsuits when administrators or faculty members lead religious worship or try to preach in the classroom — two issues the movie appears to ignore. The Wall of Separation has never meant students can’t talk about their faith while at school — and Liberty Counsel knows that, too. It’s just too easy for them to paint non-Christians as the enemy.

The movie premieres in Lynchburg, Virginia (at Jerry Falwell‘s old church) this January before hitting Walmart clearance bins across the country.

(Image via UncommonFilm.com)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • EdmondWherever

    “And no theater or choir either! Grrrr! We’re mean!”
    Sheesh. It takes YEARS to make a movie, even at least two or three for something like with no robots or lasers. It takes THOUSANDS of people working together, all of whom have access to the script. Was there really NO ONE at ANY POINT who was able to say that this was completely inaccurate? Had NONE of the cast or production crew EVER heard that students are free to exercise their religion in school? Is their bubble of isolation and denial really THAT zealously guarded?

    • Art_Vandelay

      Persecution complexes suffocate without an endless stream of lies.

    • icecreamassassin

      Um…accuracy of claims in accordance to objective reality is *not* exactly this crowd’s strong suit…

    • Mario Strada

      As I noted in my post (written before I read yours) it is clearly intentional and clearly misleading. They need to be called on it. Repeatedly.
      Somehow, we need to make a stink about it and find a way to make our protest of this falsification go viral enough to shame them.

      For people that believe Fox News is a real news agency, believing the plot of a cheap movie is a very minor step to make. We just cannot have a bunch of fundies get their persecution wet dream affirmed without challenge.

    • invivoMark

      None of the thousands of people involved ever told George Lucas to stop, either.

      • EdmondWherever

        Lucas isn’t competing with reality.

      • more compost

        What does that even mean?

        • invivoMark

          Oh, I had thought it would be obvious.

          EdmondWherever wonders at the thousands of people working on this Christian film who never spoke up about the obvious lies in the film. I meant to point out that nobody working on the Star Wars prequels ever spoke up to George Lucas to let him know how badly he was butchering his own franchise, implying by analogy that the fact that nobody said anything does not necessarily mean that no one was aware of the flaws in the Christian movie.

          Bah, jokes are never funny when they’re explained.

          • more compost

            What a staggeringly stupid analogy.

            • invivoMark

              Well fuck you, too. I hope your Thanksgiving turkey is soggy and cold.

              • more compost

                I said your analogy was stupid. You attacked me personally. I think we can see who deserves soggy and cold turkey.

    • UWIR

      There was a Punk Rock compilation called Rock Against Bush that had liner notes claiming that the national debt had increased by a factor of 200 under Bush. Both sides of the political spectrum have people immune to reality.

  • icecreamassassin

    This movie is going to be terrible. EPICALLY terrible. Like, Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter terrible. I want multiple copies.

    • ShoeUnited

      Hey now, Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter was terrible, but at least it was hilarious in its terribleness. This is just going to be straight up bad. You won’t even see a bunch of nihilist atheists hop out of a car to do kung fu with Christ.

    • Zach Wilson

      Just from reading your post, and looking at your username, I suspect that you actually are Nny.

    • Raising_Rlyeh

      Blasphemy. This is going to be terrible, but not so terrible that it is good. There will clearly be no kung fu action against vampires that want Canada’s vampires. This will just be bad.

    • Jim T

      There is a Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter movie?????? fuck yeah. I gotta see that shit. I always knew this day would come when a more superhero type version of Jesus would be told….I can see the tag lines ….’ the vampires want to suck your blood, but god, wants you to bathe in his sons….’

  • Mario Strada

    I am not sure I understand the connection between the unconstitutional anti bible/prayer policy in the school and the “There ain’t going to be no dancing and theater” policy. How are they related?

    Could it be that the no theater policy was just for the muscular guy in the red T-shirt because he can’t act his way out of a paper bag? Ands they just misunderstood?

    I am also surprised that the evil administrator with the crazy eyes,m the same that was making diagrams on the white board, didn’t have a white cat to stroke while plotting his evil policies. It would have been a good element.

    I think movies like this one are a clear indication that these people are truly out to swindle public opinion with their distorted view of public education. In other words, they are lying and they know it. They must know it because it is impossible that all the people involved in the making and financing of a movie, even one with D-rate stars, are all ignorant of the unconstitutionality of the premise. The very central point of the movie. The only explanation is that they are lying and they are doing it intentionally.

    They should be ashamed of themselves.

    For the acting too.

    • Mitch

      Your first paragraph is exactly what I was wondering…

      Instead of banning all dancing, maybe they are going to force the kids to dance too close to one another (leaving no room for Jesus or the spirit or whatever they say).

    • UWIR

      The principal instituted a no dancing policy in response to the trauma of losing her son, Robert.

    • Little_Magpie

      Or any cat, really. I know the white cat is classic, though.

      Seriously, I had a white cat for years and I swear I’m not a caricatured supervillain. OTOH he wasn’t actually completely white, he had a grey tabby splotch on his head… but I think of him as a white cat :)

  • Spuddie

    I guess the royalty checks from Sealab 2021 stopped coming in.

  • Blacksheep

    When I was 12 I thought Ponch was pretty cool in CHiPS.

  • Manny Panning

    Wait, they got Ponch?

    So, the guys from Riptide weren’t taking calls?

    • God’s Starship

      Maybe the next one could feature Vanilla Ice and a former contestant from Survivor.

  • cyb pauli

    The idea of Hispanic Catholics, blacks and probably fundamentalist whites getting along, even in the context of saving Christianity from (whut), is hilarious to me. I grew up a black Catholic, and the white Catholics were weird enough about it… White Protestants of any kind could barely stand the thought of being near a Latino, Black or Catholic person. It was that fixed smile short polite sentences seething kind of hatred. And walking by a white fundamentalist? They practically foamed at the mouth at the words black, Latino or Catholic. Hahahahaha. Good job. And Erik Estrada playing a Latino janitor in a mostly white high school?! Classy.

    • UWIR

      “I grew up a black Catholic”

      So, what kind of Catholic are you now?

  • Jenna Ali

    Wow, I guess swindling old folks with real estate scams just doesn’t pay like it used to, huh?

  • Hypnox

    Was Corbin Bernsen all booked up?

  • Jason Mitchell

    I take it this film is being targeted at the young US audience? I seriously doubt that cinemas in Scotland would even consider showing this film, even to old age pensioners on the brink of death. What’s even more disturbing is the fact that you mentioned that this is their first film, indicating that there will be more! Holy shit bat man, Goebels has been reincarnated!

  • toth

    Looks about as good as a movie made by a law firm would be.

  • newavocation

    They begin with a lie? Why not? They do and say whatever they need to bring in the cash. Truth never really matters, only the right kind of belief.

  • William Wetherington

    So; better or worse than the “Left behind” movies?

  • sam

    Wow, that brought up repressed memories of childhood indoctrination. I remember that Ponchorello was also in a 1970s xian movie called “The Cross and the Switchblade.” It was his screen debut according to Wikipedia. Maybe he’s bookending his public acting career with xian propaganda.

    • Rationalist1

      My middle school principle forced the entire public school to see it one afternoon at the local movie theatre with Baptist ministers ready to welcome any of us into the fold afterwards.

  • MickeyG

    “Washed up” is not a friendly thing to call someone. Be nice. And don’t y’all yell at me for saying that. That wouldn’t be nice either. Of course, to us this film is going to seem dopey. And probably will be dopey regardless of what we think. But very religious people take things So Personally when anything even remotely related to Christianity is dicussed by those of us who are not religious. I’m personally delighted that an actor actually gets to act and get paid for it. Yay paychecks!

    • Fallulah

      Sometimes facts aren’t “nice”.

    • UWIR

      Agreeing to be in a dishonest movie hardly inspires a desire to be friendly in me.

      • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

        Be honest: did anybody here realize how nuckin futz Kevin Sorbo was till he started doing third-rate Christian movies? I know I sure didn’t.

        • randomfactor

          He’s been sick.

          • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

            I’d certainly say so. Dude’s gone off the rails. If he’s sick, I hope he gets better soon. I thought he was pretty good as Hercules and it was downright disheartening to see him show up in dreck like that “atheist professor” urban legend movie, and when I went hunting for maybe why, all I got were rants he’s done against Obama and Democrat policies.

    • God’s Starship

      I think that simply calling an actor who will stand next to Mat Staver on film “washed up” is being kind.

  • Chas Swedberg

    Not sure what specifically going on in the scene, but when the janitor’s attourney makes the statement: (@2:05) “This is not an establishment of religion, this is not government speech — this is the speech of the students.” that seems a surprisingly secular distinction.

  • more compost

    You know that their cause is just when they lie to promote it.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

      I’m just not immoral and hypocritical enough to be a “ends justify the means” type of person.

  • Fallulah

    I love how it says “Those who seek to indoctrinate our kids with the message that God is irrelevant and truth is subjective have had a monopoly for too long”. Just because the religious seek to indoctrinate kids, doesn’t mean that’s what secularists are doing! A bit of projection on their part! Also…..it is the religious who have had the monopoly for in-school indoctrination, and it is the secularists who are finally standing up and saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I love how they contort where the real persecution lies.

    • UWIR

      Apparently, not endorsing God constitutes anti-God indoctrination. Just like telling kids they aren’t allowed to beat up gay kids constitutes pro-gay indoctrination. If you don’t teach kids our beliefs, you’re indoctrinating kids with the message that it’s okay to not teach kids our beliefs!

  • paulalovescats

    The 2 funniest comments in this story:

    “before hitting Walmart clearance bins across the country.” (HAHAHAHAHA)

    “because the Supreme Court fabricated the idea that there is a wall of separation between church and state.” (HAHAHAHAHA)

  • Andrew L

    They’ve got Liberty Film School; we’ve got “Glee”. We win.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

      That doesn’t make me feel like a winner.

  • GCBill

    Liberty Council must believe that Truth Is Subjective™ – how else do we explain such an obvious lie?

  • God’s Starship

    White haired guy around the two minute mark is Liberty Council professional homophobe Mat Staver.

  • California Curmudgeon

    On this eve of Thanksgiving, let me express my thanks that Erik Estrada is back on screen. I have SOOOOOOOOOO missed him since he stopped doing those real estate commercials for retirement homes in California’s northeast corner. Liberty Council may think their film is “uncommon,” but I would have to call it “A CHiP off the old blockhead.”

    • God’s Starship

      Ladies, gentlemen, he’s here all night.

    • Carmelita Spats

      Real estate commercials? That was funny! In the early 90s, Erik Estrada landed a plum role in a Mexican telenovela titled, “Dos Mujeres, Un Camino” (Two Women, One Path). In a world of much manly macho grunting, Estrada was the “path” and he played the role of a philandering truck driver with muchacha problems: he had a very sexy wife AND a bombshell of a girlfriend played by the deliciously buxom, botoxed and talentless porn star Bibi Gaytan (a cathedral of fleshy joy). Estrada spoke NO Spanish and he had to learn on the fly which made the whole telenovela funnier than a wagon-load of monkeys. I am thankful that he will now grace sanctimonious B-grade Christian films with atrocious acting.

    • David Chipman

      OMG! It’s Poncherello! Now I recognize him!

  • Ibis3

    Yes, they can mention God and wear Christian-themed t-shirts.

    Well, to be fair, sometimes the “Christian-themed t-shirts” are actually anti-LGBT or otherwise problematic and are rightfully banned. Not because they’re Christian but because they are a form of harassment or bullying. The Let’s All Submit to Authority Council is still lying though.

  • UWIR

    “Those who seek to indoctrinate our kids with the message that God is irrelevant and truth is subjective ”

    Let’s see. One side believes in searching for truth through objective study. The other bases its worldview on whatever it feels is true and a scripture whose meaning is highly dependent on personal opinion, and constantly flat-out LIES. And they claim they’re the ones standing up for objective truth?

    • Pitabred

      They use “objective” in a very strange way. They claim that there’s an “objective” truth in biblical Genesis and such.

  • IDP

    Why do I have a sinking suspicion that I’m going to see constant updates about this film is going to be “awesome” and “must see” in my Facebook feed now that I’ve blocked all the ones for that Kevin Sorbo one?

    Thank you, Friendly Atheist for warning me about these things BEFORE my relatives decide to “share”

  • John Milligan

    Is no one here buying the idea of Erik Estrada as the father of a 15 year old girl. Maybe back in the 80′s when he was on CHiPs but now, 30 years later. It’s weird to me.

  • Ogre Magi

    I thought Erik Estrada was gay?

    • randomfactor

      That was Kirk Cameron. I’m always getting them confused myself.

  • dcl3500

    Hmm they missed that 1989 soft porn flick he did I guess. Let me tell you, flipping through the channels late at night and all of sudden you see Estrada’s naked bumm staring at you, pretty bad, couldn’t hit the up channel button fast enough.

  • sftravel

    I used to salivate every time there was an episode of CHiPS wishing he would catch me. That’s a fantasy blown.

  • Peter

    Interestingly, Erik Estrada starred in a 1970 Christian film called The Cross and the Switchblade.

  • Rain

    They’ll do anything for money of course. One of them even got Malcolm McDowell once.

    • Rain

      There you go. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1615075/ Malcolm McDowell stars in “Suing the Devil” with a 4.4 rating which is probably more than it deserves. Probably inflated by the fundy hoards and the marketing sock puppets.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

    Time to have some fun reworking the acronym. Christian Hullabaloo Perpetuator

    If you can do better, stop reading and post it already.

  • Robster

    It is a comedy isn’t it?

  • Robert Carey

    So with this DVD, do you Burn, Bum, or Bash?
    Eh, just have a bum bash it (with something heavy,) then burn the remains (and that’s being generous.)

  • Dave

    Right off the bat, they begin with a lie, showing public school administrators forbidding students from partaking in “any Bible activities on the premises of Rosewood High School” even though every atheist group in the country would defend students’ right to have an after-school Bible club.

    Is there much of a distinction between having such a club on school premises and churches renting public schools outside of school hours for worship services such that all atheist groups would treat an after school bible club and such church use differently?

    (This blog celebrated a court verdict banning church use of school premises outside school hours – though I think the verdict in question has since been overturned)

  • Clark Flynn

    It makes me sad that crap like this gets made. Is there no quality control at all anymore?

  • Jim T

    Christian Chips……sounds like catholic snacks or communion wafers….


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