Two presidential candidates, Mike Huckabee, the former Republican governor of Arkansas, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), appear
in the documentary feature, Light Wins: How to Overcome the Criminalization of Christianity (which also comes in an abridged 30 minute version).
An overwrought polemic cloaked in a veil of martyrdom, the film's main target is "the homosexual agenda," but it also takes aim at the transgendered, Muslims, and with the greatest helping of vitriol, the Christian "cowards" who stand silent while their own way of life is debased by "evil." It is a heavy-breathing, technically deficient, vicious work of fearful propaganda, with nary a word of Christian forgiveness or charity spoken.
The film is the brainchild of Faith2Action's Janet Porter, an author and former radio host who lost her show on the Christian network VCY for refusing management's edicts to stop espousing the Christian nationalist "dominion theology." During the film, Porter acts as an on-screen narrator, at one point sitting in the bleachers of a football field warning the viewer that "the Super Bowl for our country is being fought and our team is not even on the field."
I don't think I can top Salon's description of this as a kind of "a gay version of Reefer Madness." Like the hysterical 1930s anti-marijuana film, it is amateurishly edited, paranoid, and unambiguously bigoted.
Other notables appearing in the film include Congressmen Steve King (R-Ia.), Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), as well as Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schlafly, and Catholic League President Bill Donahue, all sounding the alarm about the coming criminalization of Christianity.
Speaking of criminalizing innocent people, the film also features testimonials from Scott Lively, the conservative Christian activist who helped engineer the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014, which though struck down by courts, would have included the death penalty for "practicing" homosexuality.
Though most of the film's talking heads address an off-camera interviewer, Huckabee employs his familiar schtick of folksy socially conservative populism by looking directly into the camera as he advises his religious cohort to try to avoid being mean to homosexuals, but to get in the fight already to stop the spread of the dreaded "agenda." Any practical advice on how people should get into "the fight" without being mean is never made clear, but Huckabee is clearly proud of his involvement with the film.
The Light Wins official website boasts this ringing Huckabee endorsement:
Light Wins reveals the frightening trend not to simply ignore Christian believers, but to rid society of us altogether. This ground breaking, eye opening film will awaken viewers to the fact that being a spectator is no longer an option. One will be part of the solution or part of the problem, and I hope this riveting documentary will cause believers to take notice.
Paul, the other GOP presidential hopeful appearing in the film, appears briefly in a segment about the potential for certain ministries to lose their tax-exempt status if they refuse to perform gay marriage ceremonies. While Paul has repeatedly made it clear that he is a supporter of "traditional marriage," he clearly lacks the passion of the rest of the film's cast, and has tried to downplay the issue as one that should not define the Republican Party:
I don't really think the government needs to be too involved with this, and I think that the Republican Party can have people on both sides of the issue.
Paul also seems unlikely to follow Huckabee's enthusiastic endorsement of Light Wins, having told the Huffington Post in April, "I don't know anything about (the film). I've never heard of it until today."
Light Wins doesn't even push the squishy homophobia of "I don't care what gays do behind closed doors, but I shouldn't be forced to like it," it actually advocates for schools that teach "acceptance" of homosexuality to be liable for criminal charges if any of their students contract the AIDS virus.
Scripture is employed liberally (so to speak) and a reading of Revelations 11:8 is interpreted as biblical evidence that "homosexuality and Islam" are the modern-day equivalent of "Sodom and Egypt," that is to say, existential threats to Christianity.
The criticism levied at Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson for his homophobic comments is compared to the military tanks which massacred students in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The specter of Christians who oppose the normalization of homosexuality in society being placed in gulags is juxtaposed with scary Soviet Army marching footage. The American Psychiatric Association's removal of homosexuality as a disorder from it's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is noted as a tragic moment in history for birthing the "gay civil rights movement."
The film has already been available for online purchase since April and other than the occasional pan is unlikely to cause a cultural or political splash on either side of the spectrum, particularly since the evangelical Huckabee's involvement is no real surprise and Paul's brief appearance in a wonky discussion about the privilege of religious tax exempt status is one of the film's less insane moments. But should Paul go deep into the race, this film could be what the college kids call "problematic" for the junior senator.
For an extended trailer, watch below: