John R. Rice on Movies…in the year 1938

Posted on August 15, 2011


The movies are still bad (in 1938)! Even the best of them are bad. They are made by unchristian, immoral people. They appeal to the basest lusts of men and of young people. THEIR SOLE AIM IS TO MAKE MONEY. Human art and science are employed to make lust appealing, to make drinking popular, to present the world’s ungodly standard of morals as the ideal for the young and unsuspecting youth who sees the films. I find that every indictment I made against the movie industry and the theater six years ago (1932) is still true. [PAGE 9]

How could a man who declares himself to be a Christian show such a film and think it is a “good picture,” wholesome and helpful? … He thinks his pastor is a fanatic. … The real reason that he does not object to the movies is this: HE HAS LARGELY ACCEPTED THE MORAL STANDARDS OF THE OUTSIDE WORLD. HIS ATTITUDE IS NOT A DISTINCTLY CHRISTIAN ATTITUDE. [PAGE 9-10]

Rice Continues:

The movies teach the songs that America sings. They popularize the slang that is every-day talk. … The movies advertise so extensively … The movies spend so many millions of dollars in publicity that no great medium of expression or opinion in America remains uncontrolled … [page 13].

I intend to prove that the commercial moving picture theater is an unmitigated curse; that it is so vile in its influence that no Christian should ever set foot in a movie theater; that parents should not allow their children to attend any commercial picture show. [page 14].

The movie is the rival of schools [this is when schools were half way decent] and churches, the feeder of lust, the perverter of morals, the tool of greed, the school of crime, the betrayer of innocence. IT GLORIFIES IMPURITY AS LOVE. IT PICTURES MURDER AS ENTERTAINMENT. IT EXALTS NAKEDNESS AND INDECENCY AS BEAUTY. It shows drink, divorce, reveling, gambling, revenge, and gun fights as proper and legitimate. Movies ruin the spiritual influence of Christians.  THEY DEBAUCH THE MINDS OF CHILDREN, INFLAME THE LUSTS OF YOUTH, HARDEN THE HEARTS OF SINNERS. They are a trap for souls, a mocker of god, a curse to America! Those are not idle words. [PAGE 14].

In talking about his own personal experience about watching Hollywood movies, years before, Rice wrote: “I grew more and more to feel the effects of the movies that I did attend, though they were carefully selected thereafter. The feelings, the thoughts, the impressions for which the movies were responsible in my case were not good. MY CONSCIENCE HURT ME [in spite of careful selection of what he watched in the late 1920s and early 1930s]. I found that I could not explain it properly to others. I FOUND THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS GRIEVED WITH MY ATTENDING PICTURE SHOWS. I found that others were attending picture shows, following my example, and going indiscriminately to bad pictures as well as good [this is what we call the principle of what the leaders do in moderation the followers will do in excess]. I was forced to the conclusion, that no Christian should attend picture shows. Through the years the impression has deepened until it has become an abiding conviction. … I am of deep conviction that the picture theaters are wholly ‘sold out’ to sin that no Christian should ever attend one and that it is dangerous and wicked ever to allow a child to attend a picture show. … As there is good in some movies, there is also good food in the garbage cans. Good pieces of bread that many poor people might be glad to eat are thrown away, but I do not believe in sending our children to the garbage cans of modern moving picture shows to get what they can along with the filth they would inevitably pick up there. … The movies are bad. As a class, movie actors and actresses are immoral and are bad company. Movie themes, movie standards of conduct, the motives back of the movie industry are unchristian and antichristian. … We cannot separate the movies from the type of people who make the movies. If the moves have at least eight times [it’s definitely more than that today] as much influence over America as does the Sunday School, then God help us to see that the movies should be made by people good enough to be leaders. … And the fact is that the moving pictures of America … are made by a group of immoral people, unfit to be their leaders, unfit to be their teachers, unfit to be their examples, unfit to be the entertainers or even the associates of our children and ourselves. THERE ARE SOME EXCEPTIONS, but those exceptions are in terribly bad company” [pages 15-18]

Posted in: Church, Spiritual