...shining light on the media, one review at a time
In recent years, “separation of church and state” has become a familiar phrase in United States government and juridical decisions. How are people of faith supposed to defend their rights in the face of this regulatory principle? After all, the “separation of church in state” is in the constitution…or is it?
The documentary film, Faith of Our Fathers, bravely tackles this controversial issue of church and state relations. In an objective search for truth, the filmmakers behind Faith present historical evidence that illuminates the views held by the founding fathers of the United States, revealing the intent behind the First Amendment religion clauses that are outlined in the Constitution.
This well-crafted documentary begins by delving into the facts surrounding the first prominent use of the “wall of separation” metaphor. A look into this history reveals that the famous “separation of church and state” clause is not present anywhere in the constitution, but comes from Thomas Jefferson, a man who was not involved in the actual drafting of the Constitution. But the truth doesn’t stop there. The filmmakers continue to investigate the context of Jefferson’s words, as well as his own political practices and religious beliefs, all of which offer another set of controversies for the Faith filmmakers to settle.
Pulling the shroud off the famed “wall of separation” is just the beginning in this film’s myth-busting exploration of the great minds and circumstances that created the foundation of U.S. government. Did the crafters of the Constitution believe that God and religion should be kept completely separate from politics and government? Did they intend the United States to be free of religious influences and wholly secular? And on what should the creation and interpretation of laws be based? Faith takes on these questions and applies the answers, found in historical research, to the modern and developing U. S. governmental policies regarding church, federal, and state relations.
A particularly illuminating section of Faith follows the evolution of current judicial policies of the Supreme Court, showing how the approach of this institution drastically changed during the twentieth century. This portion of the documentary sheds light on the Supreme Court’s original purpose and function, while showing that flawed legal interpretations and decisions have led to the removal of religious rights and threaten to strip away more.
With all the history, politics, and governmental policies covered in this documentary, the film could easily become weighty and dry. Faith, however, avoids this pitfall through high production values and a strong use of the visual medium of film. The exploration of the intellectual topics is illustrated by images and supported by a solid musical score, both of which compliment and bring dramatic life to the issues being discussed. A pleasing and competent narrator is also essential to this type of documentary, and Faith scores with the voice of Liev Schreiber. In addition, with a commanding grasp of flow and pacing, writer-director Brian Godawa keeps the material entertaining by interweaving the visuals with cogent interviews from well-varied sources.
These interviews also help the documentary achieve an objectivity that is not always seen in Christian-based films. The figures who lend their impressive knowledge to this film include reputable scholars and professionals from political science, legal, and historical fields. Even in the commentary provided by these experts, Faith does not shy away from controversy, but includes opposing views as they arise in the interviews. This choice, as well as the rest of the film, demonstrates an admirable commitment on the part of the filmmakers to find and not hide the truth.
As a result of the objective approach and skilled filmmaking, Faith emerges as a compelling documentary that is vital for U. S. citizens, particularly people of faith, to watch. Though clean enough for all ages, the intellectual content means that teenagers and adults will get the most out of the movie.
This documentary is a strong example of the power of film to reveal truth and make a positive difference in the world. Even if you aren’t a history buff and can’t stand politics, you should give this film a try. Though intelligent, it is accessible and concise enough to keep your attention, while arming you with knowledge that could save you, your family, and your country. In my estimation, that makes this film well worth watching.
Check out these similar titles:
The American Heritage Series (Bridgestone Multimedia Group, 2007)
Institute on the Constitution (Inst. on the Constitution, 1995)
Charles Colson on Politics & the Christian Faith (Zondervan, 2008)