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New on the ABC: Christianity is bad - and good

Challenging doco to air on Compass

A warts-and-all documentary about Christianity will feature on ABC’s Compass programme on Saturday, October 6 at 6pm.

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Centre for Public Christianity’s For the Love of God: How the church is better and worse than you ever imagined also is being launched worldwide, including new resources such as a short course for believers – and sceptics.

“This documentary neither white-washes the wrongs, nor pretends Christianity has been all bad,” describes Greg Clarke, CEO of Bible Society Australia (CPX is part of BSA). “I hope it raises the bar for intelligent discussion about the role of religion in building a civilised world and answering the biggest questions about who we are.”

Released in May, the doco’s grassroots campaign generated screenings in 150 cinemas nationally, with almost 17,500 tickets sold.

The content is designed to be accessible to anyone

Digital resources have been made available globally, along with new DVDs and licenses for community screenings of the documentary.

Among the new resources is a short course, which can be used in small or large gatherings in churches, homes or community groups. The content is designed to be accessible to anyone – ranging from those with a Christian faith to those who are hostile towards it.

John Dickson, Founding Director and now Senior Consultant to CPX, outlines the purpose of this resource: “The documentary itself does not attempt to explain the gospel message, beyond pointing audiences to the centrality of Christ’s death and the ethic of love that inspires. So it seemed important to design a short course for sceptics and believers alike which would take people through some highlights of the documentary, while pointing participants to the gospel itself – through discussion of key passages from the Gospels and epistles – as the ‘beautiful tune’, as we describe it, which condemns hate and inspires love.”

For the Love of God: The Course consists of four 90-minute sessions with themed videos on the topics of “War + Peace, Rights + Wrongs, Rich + Poor, and Power + Humility”. These videos (now available on DVD, from the CPX website, or through iTunes and Google Play) are accompanied by downloadable session outlines, containing discussion questions and relevant bible passages.

High school students are also being introduced to key issues raised in the documentary through a range of resources produced in collaboration with teachers. Notably, these are not just aimed at Christian Studies classes, but many of the topics are relevant for other subjects, including history, English, philosophy and more.

The school resources include a suite of short video segments from the documentary (5-10 minutes in length) that correspond to themed lessons plans. They are designed to accessible to students from any faith background, and open up conversations about the impact Christianity has had on our world – the good, the bad and the surprising.

“That lesson has really made me think about what Jesus actually said and how I need to live.” – Emily Liddell

This has certainly been the result for Emily Liddell, Christian Studies and Year 7 coordinator at Abbotsleigh, an Anglican school for girls on Sydney’s North Shore.

Liddell has been using the documentary clips in Christian Studies and Studies of Religion classes. “I really appreciate that they ground the Christian faith in history. That’s really important because it makes it real to our students. It shows that it’s not a fairytale, it’s not a myth. It is grounded in history,” she says.

In particular, she notes the impact on her Year 9 students of a lesson based on a documentary clip about Martin Luther King, exploring the themes of non-violence and loving your enemies.

“Every single student walked out of the classroom and said to me, ‘Thank you so much. That lesson has really made me think about what Jesus actually said and how I need to live.”

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