“The Office” star Rainn Wilson, a member of the Baha’i Faith, took to Twitter over the weekend to state what many people already suspect: Hollywood often targets Christians.
On Saturday, the actor known for portraying Dwight Schrute, tweeted: “I do think there is an anti-Christian bias in Hollywood. As soon as the David character in ‘The Last of Us’ started reading from the Bible I knew that he was going to be a horrific villain. Could there be a Bible-reading preacher on a show who is actually loving and kind?”
“The Last of Us” is a post-pandemic, post-apocalyptic series based on the same-named video game. The first season of the HBO Max show, which features a group of survivalists, concluded March 12.
Hollywood’s Anti-Christian Bias Is Nothing New
By March 13, Rainn Wilson’s tweet about anti-Christian bias in Hollywood had received more than 44,000 likes. In the comments, someone describes the season-one finale of “The Last of Us” as a “slap in the face.”
Brittany Martinez, founder of EVIE Magazine, tweets: “As SOON as the pastor started reading from the Bible I knew he was going to be awful. I was like ‘watch that guy be David the creepy cannibal from the video game.’ And then it was David.” She notes that in the video game, “David wasn’t a pastor.”
Commenters also offer examples of positive or fair media portrayals of Christians. These include the Mel Gibson character in the movie “Signs,” the Denzel Washington character in the movie “The Book of Eli,” and Sheryl Lee Ralph’s character on the TV show “Abbott Elementary.”
“VeggieTales” creator and “Holy Post” podcast cohost Phil Vischer replies to Wilson: “The neighboring [Asian-American] pastor in ‘Baskets’ is genuinely kind and positive. Can’t remember if he ever reads the Bible onscreen, though. I think it’s largely assumed in coastal circles that pulling out a Bible is always an attempt to control others. Hence… villain.”
Twitter users say the anti-Christian phenomenon is nothing new. Worship leader Sean Feucht replies to Wilson: “We’ve all known this for a long long time Rainn.”
“Goes back to Mr. Collins in Austen’s ‘Pride & Prejudice,’” tweets Eric Conn, CEO of New Christendom Press. “The preacher man is nearly always portrayed in a negative light. Also true of Hollywood today.”
And Ed Stetzer, Outreach Magazine editor-in-chief and host of the Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast, tweets: “Indeed, making Christians the bad guy in the show is the norm, nowadays.”
‘Sinister Minister’ Is a Common Fictional Trope
Religious villains appear in many genres, including fiction by Stephen King. “Normal people doing normal things in their normal lives don’t make for riveting storytelling,” tweets Matthew C. Rogers about the common TV trope. “Writers generally use archetypes throughout their narratives, and the ‘Sinister Minister’ is one that many people can understand and identify.”