Last night I watched White Oleander, an excellent film (2002) directed by Peter Kosminsky about a mother/daughter relationship. I thoroughly enjoyed the characterization of the leads and the interesting light it sheds on foster child environments, but I was disappointed to see that it is yet another film that portrays Christians negatively. One of the foster mothers in the film is, as Michelle Pfeiffer says, a "trailer-trash Bible thumper" who spouts off Biblical references, baptizes her foster children and hobnobs with her reverend. Of course we're not too surprised that she fits the over-generalized born-again mold perfectly--quintessential southern Bible belt accent, hot pink spandex and high heels (with a cross necklace, of course), lives with her boyfriend and shoots to kill for jealousy.

And then there's my favorite TV sitcom, The Office (the American version). As much as I love the show (I even stayed up till 3 am to watch it on the webcam my dad held up to the TV in Denver), the Christian on the show is portrayed as a bitchy prude who gets on everyone's nerves. She selfishly demands that her party-planning committee abide by her rules and her all-time favorite desert-island books are The Bible and The Purpose-Driven Life.

There are plenty of other stereotyped Christian characters. My point is not that sometimes the stereotypes aren't true, because sometimes they are. Of course Christians aren't perfect, and I'm not asking the media to give us rose-colored glasses with which to see the world. But I'm hard-pressed to think of mainstream TV shows/films/music that take a well-informed stance and create characters, not caricatures, who are three-dimensional and portray the reality we live in. The world is filled with Christians who, because they're not perfect, understand the full weight of a Grace we don't deserve. They sustain healthy, vibrant faiths to make a difference in the world for good, instead of living for themselves. When was the last time we saw them?

For all the tolerance Americans claim to have for religion, sexual orientation, race, etc., Christians are one of the only groups that are still bullied by the media's majority. In this day and age we wouldn't dream of publicly disrespecting the Muslim faith. We demand televised apologies from the bigots who let racial slurs slip from their mouths. Why is it, then, that the name of our God is an over-used curse word and Christians remain stereotyped as unintelligent wimps and hypocrites?

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