Once Upon a Time
Those who do
not remember the past are condemned to relive it.
often forget that the church exerted a great influence on the
entertainment industry from 1933 to
1966. For thirty-three years every script was read by representatives
of the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the
Protestant Film Office. Their job
was to evaluate a movie in terms of the Motion Picture Code. If the
film passed the Code, it
received the Motion Picture Code Seal and was distributed.
If it did not pass, the theaters would not screen it. The Short Form
of the Motion Picture Code provided:
dignity and value of human life shall be respected
Restraint shall be exercised in portraying the taking
crime, and wrong-doing shall not be justified.
protracted acts of brutality, cruelty, physical violence,
torture, and abuse shall not be presented.
undue exposure of the human body shall not be
Illicit sex relationships shall not
be justified. Intimate sex
scenes violating common standards of decency shall not be portrayed.
Restraint and care shall be exercised in presentations dealing
with sex aberrations.
Obscene speech, gestures, or
movements shall not be presented.
Undue profanity shall not be presented.
Religion shall not be demeaned.
Words or symbols contemptuous of
racial, religious, or national groups shall not be used so as to
incite bigotry or hatred.
cruelty to animals shall not be portrayed, and animals
shall not be treated inhumanely.
period of the Motion Picture Code, there was no explicit sex,
profanity, or blasphemy in movies. Also, films did not mock a minister
of religion or a person's faith (the religious persecution in
Germany prompted this wise counsel). For the most part movies and
television programs communicated the true, the good, and the
Then, in 1966, the churches voluntarily withdrew from the
entertainment industry. Many of the media elite bemoaned the retreat
of the churches. One prophesied, "If the salt is removed from the
meat, then the meat will rot." Many studio executives felt that church
involvement helped them to reach the large Christian audience in the
United States and believed that Christians would avoid films that did
not have the Motion Picture Code
Censorship or Patron Sovereignty
Patron sovereignty has traditionally been commended by Hollywood as
the right of movie patrons to determine what they want to see or avoid
by their activity at the box office. When there was talk in the 1930s
about government censorship, the movie industry requested patron
sovereignty in the form of the Motion Picture Code. Throughout the
life of the Code and its successor, the MPAA rating system, the
entertainment industry has
continued to express its preference for patron sovereignty rather than
government intervention to curb tendencies in the industry
toward obscenity and violence.
When the churches retreated, the Motion Picture Association of America
instituted the rating system to take the place of the Code. However,
this was like letting the fox guard the hen house, and the results
Today, scripts are read by feminist, Marxist, and homosexual groups
(such as GLAAD), but not by
Christians. These groups award pictures and television programs
that communicate their point of view and condemn movies and television
programs that disagree with their point of view. …