R-RATED? Church-Produced Movie Without Swearing, Sex Nudity, Or Violence Gets An R Rating

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We all know what it takes to earn an “R” rating nowadays for a movie: incredibly graphic sex or extremely violent violence. A movie that “merely” has sex, violence, drugs, or swear words will get a PG-13 rating. For example, the Motion Picture Association of America (“MPAA”), which assigns movies their ratings, gave PG-13 ratings to World War Z, BULLY, and to Jobs, a movie that showed LSD and marijuana use. It turns out, though, that there is one more thing that the MPAA believes parents should know about, so that they can protect their little darlings: Christianity.

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That’s not a typo and we’re not kidding.

Retta Baptist Church, in Burleson, Texas, decided to make a movie about a young man who falls in love with a young woman, and who stands by her side when her child is taken from her. The church has allusions to drugs and it has a somewhat scary hostage standoff in a church.

Nevertheless, Pastor Chuck Kitchens assured Fox News that there’s nothing graphic about his movie. The film has no foul language, no sex, no nudity.

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Why then, did the MPAA give it an “R” rating? Pastor Kitchens think this inexplicable rating comes about because the MPAA wants to limit the audience for an evangelical film that makes no bones about its faith-based message:

A group of people out there don’t necessarily like strong evangelical Christianity. People don’t like to hear that it’s this one way (to heaven) and nothing else. But if you are a Christian, that’s the message. That’s what Jesus said. That’s what you have to proclaim. People call us bigoted and then they go on the attack.

When Fox News reached an MPAA spokesperson, she managed to say with a straight face that the R rating was just an honest assessment about the film. Thus, Kate Bedingfield explained:

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The rating board is comprised of parents who work to give films the rating they believe a majority of American parents would give. Each rating is accompanied by a descriptor that offers parents more detail about why a film received a rating – in the case of “My Son,” the R rating is for some violence and drug use. The rating is simply intended to inform parents of a film’s content so that they can make their own viewing decisions on behalf of their kids; it is never an indication of the quality of a film.

Considering that the average TV crime drama has more sex, nudity, and violence than anything a Baptist church can put together, that statement doesn’t pass the smell test.

This is not a merely symbolic argument. Pastor Kitchen is afraid that the R-rating will scare away ministries that might otherwise promote the movie to their congregants.

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