The Story Behind the Christian Oscars

Sam Sweet of the New Yorker takes us inside the group behind the Movieguide Faith & Values Awards Gala — a.k.a. the Christian Oscars — a place where people like Kirk Cameron are fêted as legitimate movie stars and award winners can receive up to $100,000:

[Founder Ted] Baehr has no interest in this year’s Academy front-runners: Movieguide called “American Hustle” “predominantly pagan,” and complained that “12 Years a Slave” portrays “a mean Christian who uses Scripture to justify slavery.”… Baehr’s ceremony gives cash prizes to films and television programs that “increase man’s love and understanding of God.” Originally a fringe event, the gala has recently attracted the attention of the major studios, who come for Baehr’s annual report to the entertainment industry, which attempts to demonstrate a correlation between Movieguide-approved content and box-office revenue.

In recent years, Movieguide’s reviews and awards have become increasingly politicized as more of its funding has flowed from right-wing lobbyists. Baehr now delegates most of the film writing to a team of interns, who are instructed to tally the sins in each new release. [Film critic Jeffrey] Overstreet has published testimonials from a host of former Movieguide employees who say that their reviews were often retrofitted with feverish rhetoric. “Humanist,” “Feminist,” and “Environmentalist” have been incorporated into the guide’s lexicon of pejoratives, which also already included “PC” (“politically correct worldview or elements”), “Ho” (“homosexual worldview or sexuality”), and “NNN” (“extensive nudity”).

The award show took place last night with special guests: The guys from “Duck Dynasty.”

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