Christmas with a Capital C is a 2010 Christian movie produced by Pure Flix Entertainment. It was on TBN last night.
The movie is about a lawyer, Mitch Bright (played by Baldwin brother
Daniel Baldwin), who returns to his hometown of Trapper Falls, Alaska.
Mitch and the mayor of the town, Dan Reed, were rivals when they were
growing up. The competed about everything—-sports, clubs, and Kristen
(played by Nancy Stafford of Matlock), who would become Dan’s wife.
Mitch is an atheist, and he legally challenges the town’s display of a
nativity scene on public property. He also encourages local businesses
to say “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” rather than “Merry
Christmas.” Mitch decides to run against Dan for the mayor’s office.
Dan wonders why Mitch has returned after all these years, and why he is
launching a war on Christmas.
You may be thinking to yourself that this is a typical Christian
movie about the Christmas wars: oh, woe are we Christians, for we are
persecuted because people wish us “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry
Christmas,” and we can’t display our nativity scene on publicly-owned
property, even though we are allowed to display it on our church’s
lawn! And, yes, the movie did have some of that Christian conservative
rhetoric. It particularly came from Dan’s brother Greg, who is played
by conservative comedian Brad Stine.
But the movie was not your typical Christian movie about the
Christmas wars or the separation of church and state, for three reasons.
First of all, there was some recognition on the movie’s part about
legal nuances in Establishment Clause cases. The law allows Christians
to display nativity scenes, as long as it is not on taxpayer-supported
property. Under the prevalent interpretation of the Establishment
Clause, the government cannot promote a particular religion, but private
individuals and groups can.
Second, there was some acknowledgment in the movie that this is all
right. After all, Jesus is still Lord, and Christmas is still about
him, whether or not there is a nativity scene on the public lawn.
Kristen and the pastor propose that Christians in the town make
Christmas about love and service rather than making a big stink about an
atheist taking away their “rights.” The movie alternates between this
meeting and Greg telling the Christmas story to his niece, nephew, and
his nephew’s girlfriend: Israel expected a political messiah, but Jesus
would be a messiah who would show love one person at a time.
Third, the atheist is not exactly demonized. Mitch thinks he is too
sophisticated for Christianity and is upset at the hypocrisy and smug
attitude of Christians he has known. He is also lonely, has no family,
and has had financial setbacks, notwithstanding the prosperous image he
tries to project. Mitch has also helped people in the past. Granted, a
Christian movie will depict the atheist as deficient, in some sense,
but this movie’s portrayal was not entirely negative.
The movie was still cheesy. The singing was bad. The dialogue was
predictable, in places. Greg came across to me as a Robin Williams
wannabe, as endearing as his character was. And, yes, the movie has
been compared to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Still, for a Christian movie about the Christmas wars, it was refreshing to watch.