Despite protests from Christian conservatives, folks in the Bible Belt are flocking to see the steamy film 50 Shades of Grey making its debut in theaters across the country this weekend.
Rachel Maddow reports that the film is particularly popular in Southern, Bible Belt states, and especially so in Tupelo, Mississippi, the backyard of the anti-gay, Christian hate group, The American Family Association (AFA).
Last week the AFA released a statement claiming the film “borders on pornography and glamorizes abuse” lamenting the fact that “one-fifth of the movie’s 100 minutes consists of sex scenes.”
Describing the film as “evil,” AFA President Tim Wildmon said:
Both movie theaters and moviegoers can stand up to this kind of disgusting content that’s touted as ‘entertainment’ and choose not to show or pay to see the film.
Catholic Archbishop Dennis Schnurr recently sent a letter to priests describing the movie as “a direct assault on Christian marriage” and urging pastors to speak out against it to their congregations.
Schnurr wrote in the Feb. 4 letter:
We need to inform our people about the destructive message of this movie and to highlight the beauty of God’s design for loving relationships between a husband and wife.
Yet despite the hand wringing and threats of boycotts from the religious right and others, advance ticket sales for the movie have been stronger than expected, particularly in the Bible Belt, with Mississippi, Arkansas, and West Virginia topping the list of states where ticket pre-sales were much larger than expected.
The film is based on the bestselling book, 50 Shades of Grey, written by E.L. James. The story depicts a controversial sexual relationship revolving around bondage, dominance and sadomasochism. The book has sold more than a 100 million copies worldwide.
*Note: This post has been edited for clarity.