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Lord, Save Us From Your Followers deals with the secular and Christian relationship

“No one ever converted to Christianity because they lost the argument.”

This quote from evangelical Christian author Philip Yancey is spelled out in white block letters on an otherwise black screen.

It is a quiet, gentle reminder before viewers are barraged with loud, abrasive clips from a diverse group of talking heads expounding on religion in the United States.

Figures from Ann Coulter, Jon Stewart, George W. Bush and Laura Ingraham to Family Guy’s Stewie Griffin are given the chance to speak their minds in the opening scene of the documentary Lord, Save Us From Your Followers.

The film was shown in Eastern’s main gym on March 14 as one of the concluding events of Dia del Este.

Lord, Save Us examines the ways the gospel is represented or distorted in American culture.

It begins with a question, spelled out in the subtitle: “Why is the gospel of love dividing America?” Producer and Director Dan Merchant’s answer to this question becomes apparent early on: it is because of the way many Christians in America have asserted themselves in the public, secular sphere and in individual encounters with non-believers. Essentially, Christians are not living up to their calling.

Instead of being known by their love, Christians are now more often known for their judgmental attitudes or hypocrisy.

Even on the road, “complex ideas are being reduced to simple bumper sticker slogans” like “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” or “Denial won’t help when you stand before Christ,” Lord, Save Us points out.

Merchant shows how Christians are flaunting their beliefs in ways that are neither loving nor in accordance with the gospel serving as the basis of these beliefs.

Seeking solutions to what is often called the “culture war” between Christianity and the secular world, Merchant suggests that open and respectful dialogue, acts of service and repentance of evil done in Christ’s name are the only ways to show the true gospel to the world.

On the way to this answer, he provides a dizzying array of perspectives through interviews with public figures such as Al Franken and Rick Santorum.

Tony Compolo gives some poignant quotes as well. In terms of content, the film covers much of the same territory as The Ordinary Radicals, a documentary produced in 2008 by Eastern graduates Chris Haw and Shane Claiborne.

What sets Lord, Save Us apart is a better articulation of purpose and a more focused progression. The logic behind Merchant’s journey is always clear: He sees negative connotations with Christianity and asks, “Why?”

Through his discoveries, Merchant exposes instances of the Church acting in ways that provoke or harm secular culture. Seeing the gospel preached ineffectively, he searches for examples of Christians practicing evangelism in ways that work and demonstrate Christ’s message accurately.

After the viewing, Merchant got up in front of the crowded bleachers of the main gym to answer students’ questions. One student asked how evangelism is possible for Christians trying to be respectful of non-believers. Merchant answered that when Christians act out the unconventional love of Christ, it often creates a curiosity and openness in those around them.

“The Holy Spirit creates the time, we have to create the space,” he said.

Another student in the crowd asked about the “religious right’s” strategy of using votes to preserve Christianity in America, such as passing legislation requiring creation to be taught as an alternative to evolution in public schools or keeping gay couples from being married.

“Using a man-made political system based on power doesn’t work well to express Christ’s gospel,” Merchant said.

Merchant then described how, in the course of his research for the film, he had purchased a few products from the evangelical group Focus on the Family and as a result, began receiving newsletters from the organization.

Much of the literature he was sent warned him of Hollywood’s “gay agenda” which they said threatened to bring “the downfall of Western Civilization.”

“And then I got to thinking,” Merchant said. “Civilizations have fallen before. Is that really our job, to preserve Western Civilization from the gay agenda and Muslims?”

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