Film debunks Christian stereotype

Student-led campus ministry, Ignite, organized a free admission screening of award-winning documentary “Beware of Christians” Monday night at the Brown-Lupton University Union Ballroom.

The non-denominational ministry, which meets every Monday at 9 p.m. at different locations on campus, hosted a screening of the documentary by Christian filmmaker Will Bakke who attended the showing.

Bakke, a film major graduate from Baylor University and director of the movie, said his experiences growing up in the popular American Christian culture oftentimes conflicted with Jesus’ teachings in the Bible were the inspiration behind the film.

“We kind of grew up in a Jesus culture where it was really easy to say you’re Christian, and it’s popular to be one in Texas,” he said. “As we were diving into the gospel more we were realizing that a lot of the things we have grown up hearing probably aren’t really true or isn’t really how God is calling us to live.”

Shot in ten European countries including England, Italy and France, Bakke called the five-week spiritual journey a “sabbatical” away from American Christian culture to discuss college-relevant topics such as materialism, alcohol, and sex and relationships.

By discussing controversial topics the actors struggled with during their personal walks through college, Bakke said he hopes the movie will encourage college students to engage their culture in a dialogue about the teachings of Jesus and ways to apply it in the 21st century.

“We wanted to encourage people that there is a way to allow God into those topics,” he said.

“Especially with alcohol, at Baylor it was normal to go to Church on Sunday but get wasted the next Friday with everybody and that was just the culture and no one really saw beyond those topics. So what we tried to encourage and what we hope people will get from the movie is that there is a radical difference between just saying it and really believing it and walking in it. It’s so much more worth it to really allow Jesus into those parts of your life that you are hesitating towards.”

Senior finance major and president of Ignite, Riley Kiltz, said screening “Beware of Christians” on campus was a way to encourage this dialogue among students in a more comfortable and inviting way.

“It’s just about watching a movie and so it’s a way for both Christians and non-Christians to watch a movie and learn together in a kind of atmosphere that is inviting and not so intimidating,” he said.

Sophomore speech pathology major Kaleigh Loeffler, who attended the screening, said she thought the documentary gave a different perspective to Christianity especially for college-aged students.

“I think it’s a great interpretation of what we should be looking for in the Christian world as college students,” she said. “It’s about the actual word. [It’s] about sharing the gospel with other people and what it actually says, not what we’ve been taught, because the Bible is clearly what Jesus said.”

“It’s a great piece of art that just glorifies the kingdom,” Caitlin Stowe, a sophomore film, television and digital media major, said.

Stowe, who helped Kiltz organize the showing, said the event was also designed to get the word out about Riot Studios, a film production company set up by Bakke and his friends, Michael Allen and Alex Carroll, who act in the documentary and who were also present at the BLUU Ballroom.

According to their official website, the mission of the Austin-based company “is to create film, music, art, books, and other media that is honest, creative, and God-glorifying.”
Students had the opportunity to speak with three of the actors of the movie during a Q&A session after the screening.

T-Shirts and DVDs of the movie were also sold in tables at the back of the room. The DVDs were sold at “name your own price.”

Bakke said Riot Studios wanted people to pay what they felt like paying for the DVD’s because the company wanted the message to be available to all.

This approach has not just brought back the revenue but also helped spread the message to a large number of people, he said.

“It’s been really, really awesome because we’ve just found out because we’ve made the message the most available it can be, more people have decided to support it and the average price for the DVD is around what we hoped it would be – around ten dollars,” he said.

“So it’s amazing to see the Christian culture take care of its own. We tell people that every time. We say there is no reason why anyone in here who wants a DVD can’t get one.”