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  • Religion News: Faith-based movies big hits at box office

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  • Week in Religion
    It’s been a good year for faith-based films. “Heaven is for Real,” based on the book by Todd Burpo and produced by megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes, took in a stellar $21.5 million over the Easter weekend, according to Rentrak, which compiles box-office data. It is Hollywood’s fourth overtly faith-based hit of the year.
    The movie, which is described as the true story of a 4-year-old son of a small-town Nebraska pastor who experienced heaven during emergency surgery, placed No. 3 for the weekend. The film cost $12 to make and was promoted through a grassroots campaign that focused on churches as well as mainstream audiences.
    “Heaven Is for Real” stars Greg Kinnear and earned an A grade on CinemaScore. While the film performed exceedingly well in the country’s Bible Belt, it also appealed to mainstream audiences.
    The original book was a sales sensation, but some conservative Christian critics are deriding the film’s depiction of a blue-eyed Jesus and a rainbow-hued afterlife, according to the Religious News Service.
    “I don’t want to impugn the motives of the filmmakers who made this with good intentions as something helpful for the church at large. We just come down on the side that it’s not really that helpful,” said Chris Larson, president of Ligonier Ministries, which publishes and broadcasts traditional Christian teachings from a Reformed Protestant perspective. “Heaven is a real place, not just a concept, and we know 67 percent of Americans agree with this,” Larson told the Religious News Service.
    Regardless, religious movies are hot right now. The three previous 2014 faith-based hits include “Noah,” “Son of God” and “God’s Not Dead.”
    The trend isn’t stopping anytime soon with more religious-themed movies coming up. Future releases include Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” which is scheduled for release in December.
    Good Book?
    “Everyone’s A Theologian,” by R.C. Sproul
    Many people react negatively to the word theology, believing that it involves dry, fruitless arguments about minute points of doctrine. Yet as Dr. R.C. Sproul argues, everyone is a theologian. Any time we think about a teaching of the Bible and strive to understand it, we are engaging in theology. Sproul demonstrates his trademark ability to make complex subjects easy to understand and surveys the basic truths of the Christian faith.
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    Religion Around the World
    According to the CIA World Factbook, the religious makeup of Austria is:
    Page 2 of 2 - - 73.6 percent Roman Catholic
    - 4.7 percent Protestant
    - 4.2 percent Muslim
    - 5.5 percent other or unspecified
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