Anna Githens
Fabricated Philomena, notorious Nebraska, and Hollywood's anti-Christian bias
By Anna Githens
March 5, 2014

I watched the movie Philomena on the advice of some friends a couple of weeks ago only to find my blood boiling about half way through the film, which prompted my swift exit. I was with a member of my family and she had also had enough.

Particularly disturbing to me is the relentless series of anti-Christian films with which our culture is consistently bombarded, some veiled, others more aggressive in their disdain. I had seen Nebraska a few days prior and there's only so much bashing a faithful Christian can take.

Have you ever sat in a movie theater feeling like you are a necessary component to a seriously flawed humanities project? Or that you are helping to swell the ego of some Hollywood producer and his inflated sense of self-importance? Perhaps this is how college students feel today when after persistent indoctrination in class they suddenly realize they were duped into paying hundreds of thousands of dollars. People don't get that warm, fuzzy feeling upon realizing they have fallen prey to the powerful juggernaut of anti-Christian, anti-conservative, and anti-traditional American propaganda presently sweeping our country. Upon my departure from the movie I told myself to look on the bright side; at least a movie doesn't cost 200K.

During the movie Nebraska, my friend leaned over to me and said, "Boy this certainly portrays Nebraska in a negative light." This can be taken literally since it was filmed in black and white, causing a gloomy aura to hang in the air while viewing the movie. It's difficult to single out the movie's most offensive anti-Christian elements: whether it's the deliberate panning of eerie churches next to abandoned homes, or the portrayal of citizens in America's heartland as backward hicks with inverted IQ's, or that one of the main characters was a "devout" Catholic tramp who cursed on and exposed herself to the graves of deceased friends, or the insults to assorted Christian denominations throughout the film, or the monochrome filming that created an overall sense of the "twilight zone." While the film's artistic strong points and poignant storyline may effectively obscure its anti-Christian components, they are still there.

Nebraskans have a reason to be angry at Hollywood's betrayal of their beloved state, which is perceptibly dismissed as mere fly-over country to coastal elites. In fact, I would say the movie betrays America, especially since her heartland comprises the state of Nebraska, which the film portrays as consisting solely of bible-thumping hypocrites that are not only ignoramuses but are also moving backwards in time. If the attempt was to leave the viewer with an overall negative bias toward Nebraska and Christians (just throwing out that possibility), it accomplished precisely that. Anyone insane enough to actually travel to Nebraska can expect to encounter perverse, gullible, homely people residing in a dreary barn next to a field strewn with tumbleweeds and neglected churches.

Philomena, however, is not that subtle in its approach. One does not need a built in "bigot radar" to perceive the attacks, as the Church receives one direct blow after another. The Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Ireland are directly targeted, which is evident early on in the film. The nuns in the movie not only sell children, they coerce young mothers portrayed as desperate, innocent victims into signing their children away. The mothers must also work in deplorable slave labor conditions in the Magdalene Laundries, another Catholic establishment in Ireland relentlessly maligned over the years. A graveyard filled with tombstones, clearly depicting young ages of mothers and children on convent property, leaves viewers thinking "those bad nuns must have killed some of them too!"

Thankfully, Bill Donohue, president of The Catholic League, did his research. According to Donohue, Philomena was inspired by a story that screenwriter and co-star, Steve Coogan, read in the paper; except Coogan's story is built on fictionalizations, which is stated right in the prologue of the book on which the story is based, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, by Martin Sixsmith. The movie's main character, Philomena, an 18-year-old woman in Ireland, becomes pregnant out of wedlock and is forced to give up her son to the nuns. In the real-life story the pregnant teen's widowed father, having six children of his own, brought his daughter to the abbey out of desperation where the nuns charitably took her in free of charge. Philomena voluntarily signed her child's adoption papers when she was a 22-year-old adult. There were no fees whatsoever, nor did any monetary exchange take place between the adoptive parents and the convent. The family voluntarily made a donation to the Sisters. Though Philomena's son died of AIDS in 1995, she never made any attempt to see her son nor tell her own daughter about him until she was drunk at a party in 2004.

"These facts are indisputable," says Donohue, and can be found on his website, along with an explanation of the McAleese Report, which documents evidence of the lies supporting the false conventional view of the Magdalene Laundries.

The entire movie centers around a mother's desperate search for her long lost son, whom the sisters snatched from her against her will, while charging exorbitant fees in the process. Yet the exact opposite is true: Philomena gave up the child voluntarily, she wasn't charged a cent, and only set foot on American soil for the first time in 2013 for purposes of the movie. The introduction of the movie states that it was "inspired by a true story." Well, evidently a true story inspired the writers to tell boldfaced lies.

It is one thing to concede that some nuns had a mean streak in the mid 20th century; it is another to insinuate they were murderers, kidnappers, and opportunists. Why are so many viewers falling for this malarkey? And why are scores of Christians fawning over this movie? Satan's cunning guise can detect the perfect breeding ground for lies to manifest, and thus, cause unsuspecting moviegoers to inadvertently embrace blasphemy. As the great philosopher G.K. Chesterton once warned, "evil rushes in through the door of indifference."

In both movies Republicans as well receive a kick in the groin. In Nebraska, the main character visits his father's old girlfriend who happens to work as a writer at the local Republican newspaper company – the only one in town (get it?), which happens to be located on the main street of Hawthorne, Nebraska, which happens to resemble a ghost town in a John Wayne movie.

Philomena characterizes supporters of the Reagan administration as homophobic and the GOP as intolerant toward gays. Apparently the producers developed a serious case of amnesia, as the Bush administration's tremendous support and financing for AIDS research is conveniently ignored, as is their fight against human trafficking.

Philomena is the eighth anti-Catholic film The Weinstein Company produced, according to Donohue. Can these producers not come up with something better? Something creative? It is all such a predictable bore and an insult to our intelligence. Instead of maligning Christians, why not delve into the wonderful world of creativity and produce something original for a change? Perhaps generate stories that don't demean others and trample over America's faithful majority.

While it was wrong to negatively stigmatize and shun women for out of wedlock birth years ago, the Church is not to blame. Human weakness and misunderstanding of church teaching leads us to treat one another with contempt. N.Y. Post film critic Kyle Smith writes,
    "The film doesn't mention that in 1952 Ireland, both mother and child's life would have been utterly ruined by an out-of-wedlock birth and that the nuns are actually giving both a chance at a fresh start that both indeed, in real life, enjoyed."
What, pray tell, were the sisters to do when they were caring for thousands of women and children on their dime for several years who were in need of clothing, food, housing, and employment? Eventually decisions had to be made, which undoubtedly considered the well being of the children. Although Philomena's son died of AIDS, he was wanted and cared for, thanks to the sisters, by a family in America where he eventually rose to prominence.

Philomena unsurprisingly was nominated for a bevy of awards. The real Philomena Lee was invited to the United4Humanity Oscar Party where she, Coogan, and the Weinsteins were congratulated for telling "a story that needed to be told." Coogan presented her with the Everyday Hero Award. Really? Is a person that throws her church under the bus and distorts the truth for her own personal gain the new standard for heroism? How are movies based on lies benefitting America? Are we better off after watching them?

As St. Augustine so aptly conveyed, evil is a parasite that thrives on the privation of the good. This could not be more evident in the film industry today. It is high time Hollywood pries its tentacles off of the Church and instead helps to uphold and defend the common good. Why not go beyond the politically correct mainstream and consider present day societal needs? In order to aspire to great things one must strive for the greater good.

Chesterton said the only glue strong enough to bind people together is religion. America's Founding Fathers knew this, hence its protection in the First Amendment. When the majority of people lose their religion and common philosophy they have no cohesive ideas, Chesterton forewarned. Dale Ahlquist, president of The Chesterton Society, convincingly explains an excerpt from Chesterton's Common Sense:
    "The reason we have forgotten who we are is that we have been cut off from our traditions. We have not only lost the common sense that connects us to others; we have lost our own sense of identity. And, again, the thing that defines us, as individuals and as a community, is religion. That is the only thing that can give us an ultimate meaning and sense of purpose. When the majority of people lose their religion and their common philosophy, they are easy prey for what Chesterton calls the 'thin and theoretic minorities.' By simply having a philosophy, even if it is a fallacy or a perversion, a small group can conquer the vast majority who have lost their philosophy."
Faith is critical to our survival today more than ever. Americans need real hope and change. Our country desperately needs movies that convey timeless truths consisting of altruistic role models that leave viewers inspired, uplifted, and hopeful.

© Anna Githens


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Anna Githens

Anna Githens is a freelance writer who is passionate about promoting Christian ideals and tried and true American values. With an M.A. in Theology from Seton Hall University’s Immaculate Conception Seminary and a B.A in Economics from Providence College, she has diverse career experience in bond trading, teaching, and journalism. She is a mother of three wonderful sons and resides in New Jersey with her family.


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