Mark Burnett: Don't Change Jesus' Story (Guest Column)
The 'A.D.' producer explains his take on faith and Hollywood.
Hollywood and faith are not strangers to each other.
That's why it was no surprise to us when The Bible was watched by 100 million Americans in 2013.
At least 90 million American Christians attend church each Sunday. It's a mainstream community which also watches NFL games, The Voice, and family-friendly comedies and dramas. It's a community that loves Jesus and loves their country. It's a cool community made up of millions of young believers, many of whom have tattoos, wear earrings, ride skateboards, surf, tweet, are entrepreneurs and are a vibrant part of the new American dream. The Christian community is a very broad audience, not a narrow one, and the core values of this enormous community are centered around Jesus, whose story they are hungry to see told on TV and in films. We have seen this hunger for Christian content again and again as we have traveled around our nation sharing our new NBC series A.D.: The Bible Continues.
Roma and I are grateful to be able to spread the Word.
We have worshipped with almost all denominations, from the oldest African-American church in Washington, D.C., to Hispanic charismatic communities in Miami and Chicago. We’ve visited small Churches in rural America, and churches of many thousands that meet in former basketball arenas. We have made appearances at Christian music concerts attended by as many as 45,000 screaming fans, and have collaborated with incredibly innovative Christian thinkers like those behind the YouVersion Bible app, which has been downloaded on 175 million devices. We've spoken at several prominent Christian colleges, and we’ve met faith leader after faith leader responsible for movements of millions in dozens of countries.
The global Christian audience consumes media, buys products, votes, gives to charity and supports causes. It's a community that we are grateful to be part of. It's a community that will be in your corner and cheer you along as long as you don’t pander to them, you are authentic, and you don’t mess around with their (His) story.
Content that tries to disprove Christianity tends to fail, content that alters what Christians believe is "God's story" tends to fall short, but content that honors that story tends to be well-received.
It's just that simple.