The new horror film "Annabelle 2: Creation" was scheduled to debut in Lebanon this past weekend but authorities decided to pull the film from theaters because clergy found it "offensive" to the Christian faith.
According to Lebanese daily Annahar, movie theaters throughout the country were asked to hold off on running the film for further deliberation because Christian leaders took issue with some of its scenes.
According to the film's synopsis, "Annabelle 2: Creation" follows "Twelve years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker's possessed creation, Annabelle."
The movie was reportedly screened for the General Security's Censorship Bureau earlier in the month and then was passed on to the censorship committee. Annahar reported that Catholic Priests Fr. Abdu Abu Kasm and Fr. Athanasius Shahwan were both present at the censorship committee's screening.
The committee did not come together to assess the film until Thursday night and that's when the decision was made. Father Shahwan had the final word and he "demanded" that the film be blocked over scenes that are considered "offensive to Christian faith."
The specific scenes in question were not mentioned but many believe the objection comes from the fact that nuns are the ones being victimized in the movie's plot.
A recent study conducted by Statistics Lebanon, a Beirut-based research firm, reported that Lebanon's population is estimated to be 54 percent Muslim, 5.6 percent Druze, who do not consider themselves to be Muslims, and 40.4 percent Christian. The large Maronite Catholic community, however, had enough clout to institute the ban.
Lebanese moviegoers took to social media to share their thoughts on the censorship
"Intellectual repression," one person tweeted.
Another said, "Although I'm against all kinds of censorship, but if there's something that offends Christian faith or any other faith, it should definitely be restricted."
In an interview with The Gospel Herald, "Annabelle 2: Creation" Christian screenwriter Gary Dauberman pegged his film as a faith-based movie. He said he viewed "Annabelle: Creation" in that light because it highlights the reality of spiritual warfare and the persistent battle between good and evil.
"In many ways, these are faith-based films for me," he said. "I'm a believer, so I believe evil and demonic entities are out there — but so is God, and so is good. Even as dark and scary as these movies can get, there's always that safety net. If evil is true, the opposite must also be true."
Lebanon also banned another Warner Bros. Pictures release, "Wonder Woman," which was released earlier this year but that ban was for political reasons. Lebanon is the first and only country in the Middle East to ban "Annabelle 2: Creation."