Later that afternoon, I went to the local Family Christian Bookstore, with pen and paper in hand. I went through the store's movie selection and wrote down the titles of most of the secular movies. I came home and searched for reviews of the movie, on websites like Plugged-In Online and CapAlert. Sadly, what I discovered confirmed my concerns.
The store carried the following movies, all of which contain instances of blasphemy: Miracle, Mighty Joe Young, Lizzy McGuire Movie, Inspector Gadget, Cheaper by the Dozen, Spy Kids, and Night at the Museum. (It is interesting to note that Dr. James Dobson wrote a rebuttal to Plugged-In Online's review of Evan Almighty in which he sited the repeated instances of blasphemy as cause not to recommend the movie. You can read it here. I mention this because I anticipate that Family Christian will carry this movie once it is released on DVD.)
I returned to the store and asked for the manager. The manager was not there. The sales clerk with whom I spoke shared my concern about the movies carried by the store, but said there was little that could be done at the store-level. Any decision regarding merchandise carried by the store would be made at the corporate level.
Armed with that information, I went to the Family Christian website, through which I sent the following e-mail:
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to lodge a complaint regarding offensive material being carried by my local Family Christian Store (store #291). The material in question includes no less than seven movies in which the name of God is blasphemed. The titles are: Miracle, Mighty Joe Young, Lizzy McGuire Movie, Inspector Gadget, Cheaper By The Dozen, Spy Kids, and Night at the Museum. Reviews of these movies that indicate their
blasphemous content can be found at http://www.pluggedinonline.com/, http://www.capalert.com/, and other online locations.
It is very disturbing that a store and corporation that categorizes itself as Christian, uses the word "Christian" in its name, and caters to the Christian community, would carry offensive movies on its shelves--movies that take the name of God in vain by using His holy name as a cuss word, or to express disgust or excitement, or flippantly as a slang term.
I was told by the sales associate at my local store that the decision to remove these offensive movie titles from the shelves of your stores would be a decision made at the corporate level. I was also led to believe that it is unlikely such a decision will be made. However, I am holding out hope.
Since I could not be given any assurances that the offensive and blasphemous material would be removed before I visited the store again, I turned in my "Pastor's Perks" discount card. Tomorrow, I will return to the store (when the manager is in), at which time I will ask to be removed from the store's mailing list and turn in my
"Family Perks" discount cards.
Until this error is corrected, I will no longer shop at Family Christian Stores. And, in good conscience, I will have to advise my friends, family members, and others not to
patronize your stores as well.
I hope Family Christian Stores will take this matter seriously. What can be more serious than lifting up the name of God--the Lawgiver and Judge who is able to both save and destroy (James 4:12)--with reverence, awe, respect, and love?
I look forward to your response. More importantly, I look forward to Family Christian Stores doing the right thing by bringing honor and glory to God in and through every item your stores sell to the public--saved and unsaved.
Thank you for your kind and prompt consideration in this matter.
Here is the e-mail I received from Darryl Tawney, customer service specialist for Family Christian:
Thank you for taking the time to express your feedback.
Please note that the ratings organization we utilize is The Dove Foundation (http://www.dove.org/). You can read more about their organization at that website. We trust their ratings. All of the noted movies fall within the 0-2 ratings noted below. All of the films noted would be considered family-friendly.
And here is my response to Mr. Tawney:
Thank you for your prompt response to my e-mail.
So, if I understand you correctly, as long as the movie falls within the Dove Foundation's "0-2 rating," it matters not to Family Christian that God's name is taken in vain. I was hoping that Family Christian would have used the infallible and inerrant Word of God as its guidelines regarding blasphemy instead of the fallible rating system of an organization created by man.
It is sad that Family Christian and the Dove Foundation consider the blasphemous utterance of God's name to fall under the category of "mild, crude language." Unfortunately, the Dove Foundation, like Family Christian, does not consider the following uses of God's name in the movie "Night at the Museum" (a movie carried in Family Christian stores) to be blasphemous, and thus qualify for the organization's worst rating for language (4-5). The blue text that follows was taken directly from the Dove Foundation website: Language: A-1; OMG-1; H-1; For God's sake-1; Geez-1
Or consider the following Dove Foundation language rating of the movie "Mighty Joe Young" (another movie carried in Family Christian stores): Language: H-3; D-1; OMG/G-6; Cr*p-1
Regardless of the Dove Foundation's rating system, to utter God's name causally,
irreverently, or flippantly (even once) is a misuse of His name, and is therefore blasphemous. How many times must one lie to be a liar? How many times must one steal to be a thief? How many times must one commit murder or adultery to be a murderer or an adulterer? Only once, Darryl. And whoever utters God's name in vain, even once, is a blasphemer.
Something else to consider is this. Even though the Dove Foundation found no instances of the misuse of God's name in the movie "Miracle" (yet another movie your stores carry), the "Plugged In Online" review found the following: "More than 30 mild profanities are included here, mostly 'h---.' There are also a few uses of 'crap,' 'screw,' 'ass' and 'bastards.' God’s name is misused a half-dozen times.
Jesus’ once. A banner at a hockey match reads, 'Soviets get the puck out of Afghanistan' (emphasis added).
Darryl, while I did not receive the answer I had hoped and prayed for, at least I now
know where Family Christian stands regarding the blasphemous use of God's name. I will therefore continue with my plans to turn in my "Family Perks" cards, ask to be removed from my local store's mailing list, and encourage my friends and family not to patronize your stores.
If there comes a time when Family Christian realizes that any misuse of God's name is blasphemous (no matter how insignificant such utterances are seen in the eyes of a sinful world), and if there comes a time when Family Christian repents of its endorsement of blasphemy through the sale of movies in which characters take God's name in vain, I will consider returning to your stores. But, until then, I am sorry to say, you have lost a customer.
Thank you, again, Darryl, for taking the time to contact me.
To date, I have not received a response from Darryl Tawney or any Family Christian representative.
Armed with Darryl Tawney's response, I returned to my local Family Christian Bookstore. This time, I was able to talk to the manager. She was expecting me. I handed her my "Family Perks" cards, along with a transcript of my conversation with Darryl Tawney. I asked her to remove my family's name from the store's mailing list.
Like the sales associate with whom I spoke the previous day, the manager was sympathetic to my position. At one point, she whispered, "I appreciate your conviction." I told her that I would shop at her store again, if Family Christian changed its policy regarding blasphemy in the movies their stores carry.
What will you do? Wanting to have integrity in my position, and wanting to keep my word to Darryl Tawney, I want to encourage the readers of this blog to stop patronizing Family Christian Bookstores, the largest Christian bookstore chain in the country. Join me in upholding the sanctity and holiness of God's name by not spending your money at Family Christian.
If you agree that Family Christian should not carry movies in which God's name is blasphemed, please contact Darryl Tawney and tell him so. PLEASE be respectful. Do not sully the name of God by sinning against Him with offensive or abusive speech. Be kind to Mr. Tawney. Voice your concern with an attitude that brings honor and glory to God's name.
Additionally, I want to encourage you to visit your local Family Christian Bookstore, turn in your "Family Perks" or "Pastor Perks" cards (if you have them), and asked to be removed from the store's mailing list. Again, PLEASE be respectful. Keep in mind, store-level employees do not decide what products appear on the store's shelves. You may find, as I did, that store employees will agree with and appreciate your position.
On a personal note: if you are wondering why I am making this stand now, and not sooner; I have an answer to that question. The answer is that up until a couple of months ago, I was sinning against God in my television and movie viewing habits. I viewed blasphemy as a lesser offense than hearing the "F-bomb" or other forms of profanity. I viewed blasphemy as a lesser offense than gratuitous, graphic violence and explicit sexual content. I, like so many I have talked to recently, attributed my desensitisation to the misuse of God's name to the sad fact that "everybody does it"--we hear blasphemy, to one degree or another (all of which is offensive to God), all the time. I was wrong. The Lord pricked my conscience. I have repented of my sin. And I no longer watch television shows or movies in which God's name is taken in vain.
I feel it is appropriate that I acknowledge my friend, Ray Comfort, for helping me see that while I was not uttering blasphemous statements, my viewing habits were tantamount to passive participation in blasphemy. He also helped me to see that I was literally paying people to entertain me with their blasphemy. Ray did this by developing his new website, Hollywood and God. Ray's most recent book, Hollywood Be Thy Name, has also had a significant impact in my thinking and practices.
While all of Scripture is profitable, one verse that fuels much of my thinking and the way I try to live my life is James 4:17. "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin." Why am I making this stand? Because I believe it is the right thing to do. What would God have you do?