Jerry Newcombe
Why 'Bad Faith' is a bad movie
By Jerry Newcombe
June 6, 2024

Did the founders create America as “one nation under God,” or did they want Christian expression banned from the public square? A recent film seems to promote the latter idea.

Dr. Ted Baehr’s MOVIEGUIDE writes: “’Bad Faith’ is a propaganda documentary from the Religious Left, written and directed by a small-time movie producer who happens to be a film and television professor at a Catholic college in Los Angeles. The movie accuses Evangelical Christian conservatives and Republican Christians, from the 1980s to the present day, of waging a racist war against ‘American Democracy.’ The movie uses leftist, progressive pundits, professors, authors, journalists, and activists to make its claims.”

I recently interviewed Baehr about the film for radio. He told me, “A growing tendency on the left is to spread slanderous labeling of Christians as ‘Christian Nationalists.’ What it does is it gets into the bloodstream of the nation, and it gets to the kids…. It’s unfortunate because it makes people doubt what the history of the country was.”

A key target of the film “Bad Faith” is the late Paul Weyrich, the founder of the Free Congress Foundation. He was a conservative activist, who, according to the film, even helped recruit Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson into political action. The film seems to make the case that Weyrich—who died in 2008—helped set the stage for events like Charlottesville-2017 and January 6, 2021.

(Essentially, Weyrich, a very nice man whom I had interviewed, worked tirelessly to mobilize the conservative Christian population into political action. And the problem is?)

The film implies that those Christian conservatives today are like a modern-day extension of the Ku Klux Klan. Of course, comparing all the Left's opponents to the KKK or Adolph Hitler seems to be a common ploy for the Left. But it’s still worth pointing out that the KKK was a Democrat organization, and it’s Democrats who had a KKK organizer (Robert Byrd, a former Klan “Exalted Cyclops”) in the Senate until 2010.

“Bad Faith” is well done in terms of its production values. For example, its graphics are outstanding. But I agree with Ted Baehr that it is a movie “to be avoided.”

That doesn’t mean nothing in it is true. It had a few noteworthy comments on religious freedom from Russell Moore, a Southern Baptist.

The full title of the film is “Bad Faith: Christian Nationalism’s Unholy War on Democracy.”

The narrator (the talented Peter Coyote) says at the very beginning—cue the spooky music: “Christian Nationalism. A political movement that believes America was founded as a ‘Christian Nation,’ privileging Christianity over all faiths. Masquerading as religion, their ideology exploits Scripture and sacred symbols to achieve extremist objectives.”

I would counter-argue: America began as a Christian nation, and because of that, people of all faiths or no faith are welcome here. One group that had the temerity to assert that America is “a Christian nation” was the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1892 Trinity decision.

To believe that our rights come from God, not the state, supposedly makes you a Christian Nationalist, say some. But the founders said in the Declaration of Independence that the Creator is the source of our rights.

George Washington said that if he had had any notion that the Constitution would be used to bar religious freedom, he would have never signed the document. He also opined that “true religion affords to government its surest support.” And he noted that “religion and morality” are “indispensable supports” to our “political prosperity.”

Later, the film asserts: “The leaders [like Weyrich] had a long-range plan to seize power and impose their political vision by any means necessary. They knew that the only way to create a theocratic Christian nation was to overthrow our democracy. And that’s what they set out to do.”

But, in his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson writes: “Almighty God hath created the mind free…. [A]ll attempts to influence it by temporal punishments…are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion [i.e.,, Jesus], who being lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to extend it by its influence on reason alone.”

In other words, Jefferson says, it is because God has created the mind free that religious freedom exists. If you remove God from the equation, the ground for freedom crumbles—as we saw in all the terrible (and bloody) atheistic states of the 20th Century.

“Bad Faith” implies that Christian involvement in the public arena is a disaster for society. Unless you’re pro-abortion, anti-traditional family, etc. But it’s precisely because our nation was built on Biblical principles that people will risk their lives to try and come to America to this very day.

© Jerry Newcombe


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Jerry Newcombe

Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is the executive director of the Providence Forum, an outreach of D. James Kennedy Ministries, where Jerry also serves as senior producer and an on-air host. He has written/co-written 33 books, including George Washington's Sacred Fire (with Providence Forum founder Peter Lillback, Ph.D.) and What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (with D. James Kennedy, Ph.D.). @newcombejerry


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