Some Arkansas River Valley residents stand firm in their beliefs that faith-based movies create a positive aura for families and individuals alike. “Our country was founded under God and based on Godly Christian values,” stated Kim Peters, a local community member and manager of Jericho Properties in Fort Smith, Arkansas. “Children today need to learn what our country once stood for and take back those values.”
In a world full of negativity and hostility, brother against brother, and nation against nation, multitudes of Christians around the globe desire a shift from the violence, language, and sexual content that saturates Hollywood films. According to an article by Lifeway Research, 56% of Americans wish there was a consistent increase in movies with Christian values, with the highest interest coming out of southeastern and midwestern states.
Laura Caldwell, who serves as a Mental Health Therapist for Bost, Inc. in western Arkansas, expressed concern for the nation’s youth. Caldwell provides mental health services to children, adolescents, and adults who have a wide range of behavioral issues and diagnoses such as (but not limited to) Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Anxiety, Depression, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Borderline Personality Adjustment Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “With the kids I see, there is very little to no actual family time,” she stated, “so these kids spend most of their time watching whatever they want on television, computers, movies, or video games. They are very much influenced by what they see,” says Caldwell.
For the past several decades, studies revealed a high correlation between violence portrayed in movies, video games, and television shows and violent acts among teenagers and young adults. According to an article by Arline Kaplan in Psychiatric Times on October 5, 2012, extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear of being harmed.
Emanuel Tanay, MD, a retired Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Wayne State University and a forensic psychiatrist for more than 50 years said in an interview, “You turn on the television, and violence is there. You go to a movie, and violence is there,” Tanay told Psychiatric Times. “Reality is distorted. If you live in a fictional world, then the fictional world becomes your reality.”
In the article A Guide to Mass Shootings in America, there have been more than 69 mass shootings across 30 states in America since 1982, in which 32 shootings have occurred since 2006. Although some recent studies suggest that there is no causal effect between violence in the media and violent acts carried out in society, Caldwell disagrees. “The media and movies being released influence people’s behaviors, even to the point of how they dress, how they treat people, and even what they eat.”
According to Kris Fuhr, founder of Moviegal Marketing, “When you have a movie where the title is almost a doctrinal statement—the audience will come out,” she said. “People want their faith to be affirmed.”
Christians such as Caldwell and Peters acknowledge that Christian or faith-based movies with a positive message could deter negative behavior for future generations. “With more Christian movies produced you can reach more of the population with a ‘positive message’ to send out,” says Caldwell.