There is nothing particularly political about this year’s Jesus movies, but you can still detect political patterns in the way they were promoted. The Young Messiah, for example, used quotes from conservative groups and radio talk-show hosts in its ads, while Last Days in the Desert got a lot of attention in “progressive” circles.
So it was kind of surprising when The Hollywood Reporter ran a story the other day about a poll sponsored by the team behind The Young Messiah which seemed to point in a more “progressive” direction. The headline on the Reporter’s story declared: “Poll: Jesus Was a Socialist Who Would Support Bernie Sanders”.
To read that headline, you might think the filmmakers found that most Americans believe Jesus was a Bernie fan. But the actual numbers tell a slightly different story, to wit: the vast majority of people who responded to the Barna Group poll seem to have refrained from identifying Jesus with any point on the political spectrum.
For example, when asked whether Jesus’ teachings align with capitalism or socialism:
- 24 percent said the teachings of Jesus align with socialism;
- 14 percent said they align with capitalism; and
- 62 percent said “neither” or “not sure”.
Plus, when asked which of the presidential candidates lined up with Jesus’ teachings:
- 21 percent said the teachings of Jesus are closest to Bernie Sanders;
- 11 percent said they are closest to Ted Cruz;
- 9 percent said they are closest to Hillary Clinton;
- 6 percent said they are closest to Donald Trump;
- 22 said “not sure”; and
- 37 percent said none of the candidates.
The math there seems a little dodgy, since the numbers add up to 106 percent, not 100 percent. Perhaps the 37 is a mistranscribed 31? At any rate, either way, between 53 and 59 percent — more than half — basically picked none of the above.
Now, it’s not surprising that The Hollywood Reporter gave the article a clickbait-y headline. What is surprising is that the people promoting The Young Messiah conducted a politically-themed poll to drum up interest in their non-political movie, which comes to Digital HD next week and to DVD and Blu-Ray on June 14.
The Reporter doesn’t get into why the film’s promoters did this. It simply provides a quote from the film’s director, Cyrus Nowrasteh, with his take on the results:
“Our film is not about politics nor was Jesus. But he is a fascinating and compelling historical character and people are always looking at him through the lens of their own experience and beliefs,” said Cyrus Nowrasteh, the film’s director.
But if the film isn’t about politics, why conduct a poll like this? I suppose it isn’t the strangest video promotion I’ve ever seen, but still, it seems kind of odd. It does make me wonder what other plans they have to publicize the DVD release, though.