Years ago, we inherited most of the files of the West Coast Office of the Protestant Film Commission. In there were some fascinating audio-tapes of the last major meeting of the Commission in New York City.
For many years, the Roman Catholic Legion of Decency, the Protestant Film office and the Jewish Defense League had helped Hollywood reach gigantic audiences by helping them understand responsible filmmaking attracts bigger audiences.
These film offices did not have the right legally to censor Hollywood, but they did have the access to Hollywood executives to help them think through the consequences of some of their entertainment decisions. A funny example of how this worked was in the movie "Hail, Casear!"
When the church film offices withdrew, Hollywood for all practical purposes stopped making 100 percent broad audience movies and drifted in three years to more than 80 percent restricted movies. This cut the moviegoing audience by 50 percent.
Listening to the Protestant Film Office audio-tapes is fascinating. The executives from the entertainment industry prevailed upon the board to continue the work of the Protestant Film Office, but the board members, who were conservative in their theology and in the majority, seemed not to care about keeping movies broad audience, wholesome and clean, but were more concerned about their own church problems and left the meeting to open the way for a small group of liberal theologians to take over.
After much argumentation, these liberal theologians decided not to award "The Greatest Story Ever Told", but to award "The Pawnbroker" about a peeping tom. In doing so, they effectively killed the Protestant Film Office and destroyed the broad audience desire of the men who ran the motion picture studios.
Every film student who has faith and values should listen to these tapes. The three positions are still prevalent today.
The minority liberal position keeps trying to undermine faith and values. The majority conservative church position that's too preoccupied with the color of then rugs in their churches and the entertainment industry executives position that like the fact that the PFO, when it adhered to faith and values, helped them make broad audience movies that made the most money at the box office.
These executives, even to this day, pay lip service to political correctness, but behind the scenes, they want to keep their companies going and make more money. The swing vote always belongs to people of faith and values, that they have the wisdom, knowledge and understanding to run the race as God's Word written called them to do.
Dr. Baehr is launching his latest book, Reel to Real: 45 Movie Devotions for Families, which explores the intersection of biblical truth with meanings of movies. You can learn more at movieguide.org/book.