Last night (Thursday), the documentary Friends of God: A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi debuted on HBO television. That last name has become quite famous recently, for Alexandra’s mother, Nancy Pelosi, is the new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; she was seen sitting directly behind President George Bush during his televised State of the Union message on Tuesday. Alexandra shares her mother’s politically liberal views on moral issues such as abortion and “gay” marriage, and so AiG proceeded cautiously last year before deciding to be interviewed for her proposed documentary.  Ken Ham, AiG president, spent several hours with Alexandra and found her to be earnest and respectful as she attempted to present the variety of views that exist within Christianity’s “big tent” (as she termed it).

The documentary featured the ministries of several people, and Ken (along with Buddy Davis, who speaks and sings at many AiG teaching events) received several minutes of air time during this one-hour program. Other than Pastor Jerry Falwell and former pastor Ted Haggard, AiG received the most treatment.

In one segment that lasted five minutes, Ken and Buddy are shown at an AiG children’s meeting (which are typically held in conjunction with AiG family conferences). A clip showed Ken teaching children to trust God and His Word first, before any fallible scientist. Ken holds up a Bible and asks (in front of an adult audience this time) whether it is—or is not—the Word of God.

There is also a portion of a song Buddy sings about the “behemoth” of Job 40 (behemoth was probably a dinosaur). Then some children are interviewed about what they believe and what they learned at the AiG meeting. On the whole, these youngsters did quite well. A young woman in particular was well spoken, as she expressed her concern about how public schools are so biased in favor of evolution.

As is typical of Pelosi’s documentary style, she lets her subjects do the talking and rarely injects her personal opinions (although as she interviewed one person, Ms. Pelosi admitted she was an evolutionist). Ken Ham, who watched the program as it premiered last night, believed that AiG “came across as a reasonable group, and we weren’t taken out of context.”

Nonetheless, some messages that Pelosi may (or may not) have intentionally wanted to convey do come out through her choice of subjects. Some of the ministries she highlighted have a touch of eccentricity, which might even make a Bible-believing Christian squirm a little. And there was a long segment with Ted Haggard, a Colorado pastor who had a moral failure last year. He talked about Christian morality, and then in the context of describing healthy Christian marriages, Haggard discussed the active sex lives of some members of his church, in such a way that many Christians would deem to be publicly inappropriate. Later in the program, Pelosi, who filmed Haggard before his moral failure became public, inserted a statement concerning the pastor’s failure within his own marriage, and that is the portion of the documentary that viewers most likely will remember. In fact, non-Christians watching who might dismiss most Christians as hypocrites just had another affirmation of their opinion last night.1

The newspaper pieces we’ve read about this documentary are largely from TV reviewers who are puzzled that Pelosi could be as sympathetic as she was towards evangelical Christians. One of the more harsh reviews came from the acerbic TV critic for the Washington Post, Tom Shales.2 He wrote on Thursday that “Ken Ham and Buddy Davis indoctrinate children in the precepts of Creationism, which claims, among other things, that Job (as in the Book of) lived among dinosaurs and that those dinosaurs roamed the earth mere thousands of years ago—not millions.”

Indoctrinate is an unusual word choice, for the particular AiG meeting that was filmed was open to the public—nobody forced a public school class, for example, to attend. However, we openly admit the need to teach our children the truth of the Bible. Additionally, “indoctrinate” also applies to what goes on in thousands of science classrooms every school day throughout America, where young people are told time and time again that they are just the products of evolutionary processes over millions of years. A 1-1/2 hour AiG student meeting has to accomplish a lot of teaching to counter the many hours of evolutionary indoctrination that a young person receives at a typical public school (and also through the media). 

Pelosi has become an increasingly well-known documentarian over the past 7–8 years. She earned an Emmy for her surprisingly (many would say) sympathetic piece about President Bush when he was first running for president in 2000. Journeys with George had her traveling with him around the U.S. during his campaign, catching the president in candid but often warm moments. She has developed a reputation as being fair-handed, and her handling of evangelicals (she is, she informed us, “a lapsed Catholic” and a liberal Democrat) in Friends of God bore that out. In fact, a New York Times article (January 11) indicated that Pelosi actually liked her subjects.

As we have written before, we are not necessarily encouraging you to watch Friends of God on HBO as it will be shown in multiple re-runs. HBO is a premium channel known for profane language, nudity, and graphic violence (though this documentary lacked those elements). But we are grateful for the exposure.

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Footnotes

  1. Pelosi may have had an agenda to portray Christians as militaristic, for that aspect is weaved in and out of the documentary. That type of claim is increasingly becoming more public as opponents of conservative evangelical Christianity are turning more vocal. For example, this thesis is found in a just-released, anti-evangelical book entitled American Fascists. The author, Chris Hedges, a respected newspaper journalist formerly with The New York Times, believes that evangelicals (the “religious right”) are poised to take over America, fascist-style, during the next 9/11-like crisis. He particularly notes the use of military metaphors used by many evangelicals, who often apply Ephesians 6 terminology in their messages (e.g., phrases from Ephesians such as the following: “put on the whole armor of God,” “the shield of faith,” “the sword of the Spirit,” etc.). In the HBO program, Ken is seen describing AiG’s books and DVDs as “Christian patriot missiles” that can counter evolutionary teaching. It feeds the false belief held by Hedges and others that evangelicals are militaristic in a very real sense, not just spiritual. Return. Back
  2. Soldiers of the Cross,” by Tom Shales, Washington Post staff writer, January 25, 2007; Page C-1 in the print version. Back