While Touched by an Angel is perhaps the most overt example of Christians working in Hollywood, there are other ways God is working through them. For one, many Christians in Hollywood serve as gatekeepers who keep depraved content off the screen. For example, some writers come up with creative plot twists to keep unmarried characters from having sex.
“There’s a ton of stuff that you’ll never know about because people with some sense of values said, ‘No, that’s over the line,’” says Bird. “You can’t trace it, but I see it constantly.”
Many Christians also stand out in Hollywood because of their kindness toward others. Backstabbing and lying are common in the entertainment industry, so it’s rare when people treat others with love and respect. Winter makes it a priority to visit crew members who get hurt on the set and prays with people on occasion.
In addition to being a gatekeeper and loving others, Karen Hall had an unusual opportunity for a pro-Christian message on Judging Amy when she was asked to write an episode about Amy questioning her own agnosticism. Hall agreed to write the semi-autobiographical script on one condition.
“I said, ‘Can we please have a Christian who’s a normal human being who happens to go to church?’” says Hall.
The episode, called “The God Thing,” showed Amy’s surprise when she learned that Bruce Van Exel, a well-liked regular character who is in many ways the conscience of the show, is a committed Christian. Throughout the episode, Amy challenged Bruce to give her a “short answer” for how an intelligent person like him could believe in God.
“I figure I have three choices on what to believe,” Bruce tells Amy at the end of the show. “(A) there is no God; (B) there’s a callous God who doesn’t care that horrible things happen to people; or (C) there’s a benevolent God who is beyond my understanding, and I have to give him the benefit of the doubt when he looks bad.”
“And what makes you choose C?” Amy asks.
“The look on my daughter’s face when I tuck her in at night. That’s the short answer,” says Bruce.
The episode ends with Bruce inviting Amy into his church, and from that episode forward, Bruce Van Exel’s character has been a voice for Hall to support a faith-based perspective.
Hall, who has written for TV for over 20 years and has been nominated for seven Emmys, says she could include a pro-Christian message in this script because she’s a longtime veteran of Hollywood. She teaches young Christian screenwriters to lie low and build their reputation before they can be more open with their faith.
”If you get kicked out of show biz the first year for waving your Bible around, then you’re not going to make much impact,” she says. “You have to be a bit cagey.”
Marshall Allen is a recent graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and the religion reporter for the Glendale News-Press in Glendale, California.