Since the release of the award-winning documentary “Kidnapped for Christ,” the filmmakers have received a few hate-filled messages denouncing them as everything from devil worshippers to anti-Christian "illuminati elites.” But as they’ve screened the film to world-wide audiences, they’ve also met a number of Christians who see the film in a different light.
Many Christians have chosen to see "Kidnapped for Christ" as a learning tool rather than an outright attack on their faith. Over the course of making the film, the filmmakers themselves learned a great deal about their own ever-evolving faiths. Below they share their personal journeys with you.
Yada Zamora: Writer/Producer
As a kid, I was raised in a Baptist church. Five days out of the week you could find me in the small, rust-colored building in a gang-ridden neighborhood as my parents slaved tirelessly to provide a better life for our family. I sang in the choir. Acted in church plays. Led bible study. Praised. Worshipped. Pretended.
I was a fraud. Simply going through the motions because I was told to. Yet to the outside world, I was a model Christian child. Despite my enthusiasm, I had zero understanding of what being a "good Christian" really meant. Was it as simple as regurgitating what I was reading and hearing? Or did it involve action? One night I looked up the definition of "faith" online -- it was a noun. This blew my young mind.
“Kidnapped for Christ” displays two polar opposite portrayals of Christianity. There's the staff at Escuela Caribe who spew hate, judgment and use questionable, often violent measures in the name of God. Then there's the small community in Greeley, Colorado who came together when one of their own was taken brutally in the middle of the night simply because he was gay.
The people of Greeley put faith into action. Suddenly "faith" became a verb as they worked against all odds in an attempt to rescue a good, Christian kid from the hands of his also-Christian abusers. The community in Greeley knew David was gay and they loved him, dearly. They believed God loved him too. A war of ideologies played out over two countries and many months. Who's side was God on? You'll have to watch the film to find out.
But one thing is clear: It took an entire team to make "Kidnapped for Christ" -- Many of them faithful Christians who understood that a bad apple doesn't have to spoil the whole barrel. Not if we take an honest inventory, recognize it's stench and remove it before it rots the entire bunch.
And for the record, “Kidnapped for Christ” is not "anti-Christian" -- it's anti-hate.
Kate S. Logan: Director/Producer
For me, the most disturbing part about filming at Escuela Caribe was how normal the staff seemed. Most of these people weren’t psychopathic sadists, they weren’t charismatic cult leaders, they weren’t even religious fanatics. In fact, many of the staff members didn’t appear to be all that different from myself at the time -- save for a few genuine sociopaths, most were young, well-meaning Christians who were largely unaware of the damage they were causing to the adolescents in their care. That was terrifying.
I realized that I could have been one of them. At the time I was a devout evangelical and I realized that it was only happenstance that had led me believe that God had called me to make a film on Escuela Caribe instead of believing that God called me to work there. This epiphany led me to question many of my long-held beliefs. I saw how groupthink and manipulation by authority figures could be much more powerful than faith and good intentions. Until then I thought that true Christianity would somehow vaccinate me from doing terrible things in the name of God -– but I was wrong. It doesn’t take a psychopath to harm others in the name of God, it just takes someone who never questions what they are doing.
In the years following my time at Escuela Caribe, while we were editing, the team and I always wondered what the Christian reaction would be to the film. It certainly doesn’t make Christians look particularly good, but we were also careful not to make the film an indictment against Christianity either; because that’s never what I took from my experience. It was clear to me that what happened at Escuela Caribe wasn’t about religion or the Christian faith. Instead, it was about the susceptibility of all humans to do evil in the right (or more aptly, wrong) circumstances.
“Kidnapped for Christ” is available now on iTunes and video-on demand through Gravitas Ventures.