Christian Right Gears Up to Protest Religious Movie’s Rescinded Oscar Nod


The song “Alone Yet Not Alone” is the latest skirmish in the American culture war. It’s performed by 64-year-old quadriplegic evangelical author Joni Eareckson Tada, and comes from the little-known 2013 Christian film of the same name. The film, set in 1755, is based on the story of two young sisters threatened by religious persecution and Native American tribes. It was made on a roughly $7 million budget and produced by a team of evangelical filmmakers, outside of the sphere of a secular Hollywood. Very few in the entertainment industry and film press have seen it, but the movie has received endorsements from a who’s who of Christian-right big names, such as Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and former Republican presidential contender (and Christian movie man) Rick Santorum, and, to the surprise of many in the industry, an Academy Award nomination for best original song.

The film scored the nod along with four others, including “The Moon Song” from Her and “Let It Go” from Frozen. But on January 29, the Academy announced that it was rescinding the nominations for songwriter Bruce Broughton and lyricist Dennis Spiegel due to a breach of ethics: Broughton, a former rep on the Academy’s board of governors, was accused of improperly lobbying (via email) at least 70 Academy music branch members during the voting period.

Broughton called the Academy’s move “stupid and hypocritical.” Tada accused Hollywood of “shunning Christ.” Gerald Molen, Oscar-winning producer of Schindler’s List and coproducer of Dinesh D’Souza‘s upcoming anti-progressive film America, wrote that “[m]any will see this decision as faith-based bigotry pure and simple.”

And on Wednesday, the Faith & Freedom Coalition—a nonprofit group that spends millions of dollars to mobilize evangelical voters (and also likes to compare President Obama’s policies to those of Nazi Germany)—joined in with a call to protest against Hollywood’s latest salvo of “faith-based bigotry” and “anti-Christian bias.” In a press release, the coalition announced it was contacting its more than “700,000 members and supporters” and urging them to kick of a campaign of phone calls and protest against the Academy’s Beverly Hills headquarters.

“The decision by the Academy of Motion Pictures of Arts and Sciences to withdraw the richly-deserved Best Song nomination of Alone Yet Not Alone, which contains a powerful message of faith, is blatantly discriminatory and just the latest example of Hollywood’s apparent hostility to expressions of faith in God,” said Ralph Reed, chairman of the Coalition. “We urge the Academy to reinstate the nomination or risk needlessly offending tens of millions of Americans and moviegoers of faith.”

UPDATE, February 6, 2014, 6:24 p.m. EST: On Thursday, the Family Research Council weighed in, via their email newsletter: “It’s Hollywood — not holy wood,” the conservative Christian group wrote. “Now, by singling out a Christian movie produced by conservatives for punishment, Hollywood is only reconfirming the religious and political prejudices Americans have long understood…Celebrating the themes of hope and redemption are almost completely foreign to a business that’s made its reputation glorifying violence, profanity, and promiscuity. As Cal Thomas pointed out, Alone Yet Not Alone would have been a far cry from the 2005 Best Original Song Winner, ‘It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp.'”

UPDATE, February 7, 2014, 11:40 a.m. EST: On Friday, the American Family Association sent Mother Jones the following statement from Sandy Rios, AFA’s director of governmental affairs:

The Academy is so overdosed on the fake, they can’t seem to hear or see the real. Joni Eareckson Tada’s powerfully delivered performance of “Alone Yet Not Alone” sung from the reality of a life lived with uncanny strength proved to be too much of the real thing. Hollywood and the Academy manufacture fantasy so well they seem incapable of recognizing true heroism or being moved by the deep expression of it in music.

Below are the lyrics to “Alone Yet Not Alone,” in case you want to sing along or cover it:

I’m alone, yet not alone.
God’s the light that will guide me home.
With his love and tenderness,
Leading through the wilderness,
And wherever I may roam,
I’m alone, yet not alone.

I will not be bent in fear.
He’s the refuge I know is near.
In his strength I find my own.
By his faithful mercies shown.
That so mighty is his shield
All his love is now revealed.

When my steps are lost.
And desperate for a guide,
I can feel his touch,
A soothing presence by my side.

Alone, yet not alone.
Not forsaken when on my own.
I can lean upon his arm,
And be lifted up from harm.
If I stumble, or if I’m thrown,
I’m alone, yet not alone.

When my steps are lost.
And desperate for a guide,
I can feel his touch,
A soothing presence by my side.

By my side!

He has bound me with his love,
Watchful angels look from above.
Every evil can be braved,
For I know I will be saved.
Never frightened on my own,
I’m alone, yet not alone.

I’m alone, yet not alone.

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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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