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'Noah' blockbuster has almost everything going for it, except diversity

By Bob Smietana

Religion News Service

Published: Monday, April 7 2014 11:13 p.m. MDT

“It shapes how you read the Bible,” she said. “Every time you pick up the Bible, those are the images you see.”

The Rev. Enoch Fuzz of Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, said too many Christians don’t pay attention when it comes to diversity. It’s like a blind spot, he said.

“We want heaven to be a place of diversity — and then we don’t see it when it is missing here on earth,” said Fuzz.

Some of his pastor friends had encouraged him to see “Noah,” in hopes of getting people to talk about the Bible. But he’d decided to skip it, because of the lack of diversity in the cast.

Anthea Butler, a blogger and associate professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, said the filmmakers seemed to treat the story of Noah more like a science fiction story such as “The Lord of the Rings” than a retelling of a biblical tale.

That may explain why the cast doesn’t fit the movie’s setting in the Middle East, she said.

But their casting decisions send a troubling message, she said.

“It’s a world where only white people get saved,” Butler said. “This doesn’t look like the world that God created.”

Butler suspects that filmmakers may have made a major marketing error.

A new report from the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture found that African-Americans are the most likely to read the Bible. So they care about Bible stories and may be turned off by this new “Noah” movie.

“Black women carry their Bibles around and read them all the time,” she said. “And they cannot see themselves in this movie.”

She had some advice for Hollywood producers looking for the next biblical blockbuster.

“If someone wants to make a ton of money right now, they should go out and remake ‘The Queen of Sheba.’”

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