CNSNews.com is reporting that a well-known actress is experience significant persecution ever since her latest film came out. Or at least, I think they’re reporting that. The headline very clearly states:
Melissa Joan Hart: ‘I’m Getting Grief for Playing the Good Christian Woman Who is Persecuted!’
Somehow, though, the article itself completely fails to mention any persecution actually being inflicted. In fact, it looks like carelessly dashed-off marketing material for the film. But I wonder how that ad copy would sound if we made just one small change in the premises?
Let’s start by changing the headline: Helena Joan Mart: ‘I’m Getting Grief for Playing the Good Muslim Woman Who is Persecuted!’ Ok, headline done, now let’s give the article a makeover:
“Allah’s Not Dead 2,” the faith-based film that opened April 1st, is “about taking the conversation about Islam in the public forum to a new level.”
That’s according to Helena Joan Mart, the actress who stars in “Allah’s Not Dead 2.” The film is the sequel to 2014’s “Allah’s Not Dead,” which was budgeted at $2 million and grossed over $60 million.
In “Allah’s Not Dead 2” Mart plays teacher Grace Wesley, who gets into trouble in her history class when she responds to a student’s question and compares the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed with those of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The school demands she apologize for violating the separation of church and state, and when Grace refuses a civil rights group convinces the student’s parents to sue Wesley.
In a recent interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Mart described the film and her role:
“For the longest time, while I played a witch on television [on ‘Sabrina, The Teenage Witch’], the Muslim community attacked me for popularizing the magic aspects on that secular TV show,” Mart said.
“Now it’s the opposite. I’m getting grief for playing the good Muslim woman who is being persecuted by the outside world!”
The actress, who makes no secret of her strong commitment to Islam, said she felt a calling to make this film. “Today, there are a lot of Muslims being persecuted for their faith,” said Mart, maintaining the strict separation of church and state has been taken to a new level, “far beyond the freedoms this country was founded on.”
In the process of making this movie, she was made aware of a couple of ironies. “In the past, mainstream Muslims were members of what we could call the big powerhouse religion at the time — and may have been doing a fair amount of persecuting minority religions. But now those Muslims feel their faith is something that is trampled on or ignored. Now the tables have turned.”
Funny, that article reads about the same to me either way, except for the fact that Muslims in America really are the targets of genuine persecution. As far as the role of religion in the “public square” is concerned, though, the two are about equal: teachers should be able to mention Jesus or Mohammed without fear of retaliation, but should not be free to preach either one in the public schools. Seems to me that’s only fair. But then again maybe that’s because I have a reality-based view of what religious freedom is.