The Gospel Isn’t Clickbait: On the Exploitation of Chris Pratt and Christ

Cynical “Christian” clickbait sites like the Conservative Tribune, Right Wing News, and any of their ilk are as bad as anything on the internet. They troll the internet and pop culture for things that people are into, and then force a supposedly right-wing, “Christian” perspective onto them just for clicks.

The most obvious and most recent example is the hero worship of Chris Pratt. Everyone loves Chris Pratt. I’ve loved him since Parks & Rec and most people really caught onto his greatness in Guardians of the Galaxy and now the monstrous hit Jurassic World. People don’t just love him because he’s a good actor, they love him because he seems “real.” Or, at least, more real than anyone else in Hollywood. Everyone wants Pratt on their side.

And yes, Chris Pratt said that when his son was sick, he and his wife prayed a lot and drew closer to God. That’s great! Honestly, when I first read that I was happy to hear that. And then, a full year after he made those comments, these posts appeared on Facebook.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.29.02 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.28.53 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.28.38 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.28.31 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 4.28.23 PM

Wow. Chris Pratt, the star of a movie that made HALF A BILLION DOLLARS in one weekend has been blacklisted over what he said about Christianity. He must have just said something so extreme, so far right-wing, so incredibly devout that Hollywood would rather take a chance on another star than make billions…

“It restored my faith in God, not that it needed to be restored, but it really redefined it,” the actor further said. “The baby was so beautiful to us, and I look back at the photos of him and it must have been jarring for other people to come in and see him, but to us he was so beautiful and perfect.” 

Wait, that’s it? He said it restored his faith in God when his son was born premature and survived? Didn’t say the word Christ, declare a belief in Jesus, or discuss Christianity? And he said it over a year ago? And no one in Hollywood has said anything about blacklisting Pratt? And he never said anything about supporting a right-wing political cause?

Listen, this is an amazing story of the healing of his precious child. I do not want to take anything away from that. And I desperately hope Pratt is a believer. I hope everyone is.  Pratt is great, his wife is great, I’m sure his son is great. I’m not here to try to determine the salvation of someone I’ve never met personally.

But now we are left with the not-altogether-surprising fact that these supposedly Christian sites blatantly lied to us in order to get us to click on something. I don’t remember the apostle Paul tricking people into hearing his message. I don’t remember Peter walking up to the crowd at Pentecost and yelling “WHAT PILATE JUST SAID ABOUT JESUS HAS CAESAR READY TO CRUCIFY HIM NEXT” just to get people to listen*.

Point being: If you take little statements out of context and then exploit them just so people listen to you, you are lying. Lying happens all the time on the internet and in life. But we are commanded not to lie in the Bible. Lying just to get people to click on a stupid Buzzfeed list isn’t near as damaging as lying to convince people that a famous person is a Christian. It doesn’t further the Gospel, it furthers an “us against them” mentality where the right-wing Christians on Facebook can have more fodder to say “Yeah! Screw you liberals, look at this guy you like, he’s on OUR side!”

Peter didn’t parade Paul around after his miracle conversion telling the non-believers how dumb they were. In fact, after Paul’s conversion, Paul was preaching so much that his opponents wanted to kill him, “So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him.” Acts 9:28-29. Note that it doesn’t say Paul and his supporters were “taunting” the Hellenists. They preached boldly in the name of the Lord.

Taunting is not the Gospel. The Gospel is not a political party. The Gospel is not right-wing. The Gospel is not clickbait. The Gospel is to be preached and proclaimed boldly in the name of the Lord, not the name of a celebrity.

Taunting, lying, exploiting, and misrepresenting gets people to click, but doesn’t point people to the Gospel. It points people to your website.

God doesn’t care if your website gets clicks, he cares that his Gospel is shared.

*Alright I’ll explain that example. I’m not comparing Pratt and Pontius Pilate. Just go along with me for a second. Pontius Pilate said that he found no fault in Jesus. That’s a key fact about the trial of Jesus: That he was innocent. So, if Peter wanted to try to convince a bunch of people that Jesus was innocent, that’d be a good place to start. However, Pilate was also the man responsible for executing Jesus and the rest of Pilate’s body of work shows that he’s not exactly a great dude. And there’s no evidence that Caesar wanted to crucify Pilate because he declared Jesus innocent (Caesar didn’t like Pilate for other reasons). So, a clickbaity headline for Peter’s story could focus on Pilate just for shock value, but the substance of his sermon would be gone when people realized they’d been tricked.

61 thoughts on “The Gospel Isn’t Clickbait: On the Exploitation of Chris Pratt and Christ

Add yours

  1. You used Chris Pratt’s likeness to grab people’s attention, you even tagged Chris Pratt. I don’t necessarily disagree with your stance, I agree that The Gospel is used too many times by conservatives to get followers, but let’s be honest, technically while your stance is opposite of what a lot of conservatives want to latch on to, you did exactly what you accused these other sites of doing, you exploited Chris Platt and Christ to get clicks. It’s the name of the game, but watch out for planks. 🙂

    1. So I should have written a blog post about people exploiting Chris Pratt and the message of the Gospel without using a picture of Chris Pratt, or his name, or the name of Christ? Think you might have missed the point. Also, do you mean I tagged him on the blog post? That’s a categorical thing. But that’s fine. This is a free blog. I make no money from it.

      1. No, I think YOU missed Stephen’s point. Or, could it be you REFUSE to see his point or could it be that maybe, just maybe, you’re too narcissistic to admit your own hidden agenda has been exposed? Yeah. I’m guessing both apply here. Get a worthwhile hobby, and let people worship and witness without you pounding their beliefs into the ground. As much as you have the right to your freedom of speech, so does every living breathing Christian. And, really? With all the garbage on social media THIS is what consumes your time? I feel sorry for you. I’ll say a little prayer for you tonight.

      2. Hey Barbara,

        Please explain what my hidden agenda is. I’m sorry my writing wasn’t clear enough, I’ll have to work on making sure I don’t appear to be hiding anything. Any suggestions of worthwhile hobbies for me? What would you say to Paul in Galatians 2 when he opposed Peter for the way he was sharing the Gospel? Guess he needed a better hobby as well. Will you really pray for me? I appreciate that, thank you for thinking of me in your prayers.

    2. No, he didn’t do “exactly what he accused these other sites of doing.” What he (rightly) accused these other sites of doing is outright LYING about the supposed conflict that Pratt’s expression of faith is causing in Hollywood. Saying that it’s “driving liberals up the wall” or causing him to be “blacklisted” in Hollywood, without ANY corroborating evidence, is a bald-faced lie, and these supposedly Christian sites are KNOWINGLY using that lie and promoting it in order to get clicks.

      That is not what’s happening on this particular blog. Not even close. By your reasoning, ANY post that called out that behavior would be guilty, unless it literally didn’t mention Christ or Chris Pratt…which, as the author has already pointed out, is absurd. It’s not the mere fact that it mentions their names…it’s how it’s done, and the context it’s in.

      Do you really not understand that, or are you just trolling?

    3. I’m pretty sure the folks that are saying you’re doing the same thing haven’t actually read what you wrote. It’s also scary how folks (and the way “normal” media advertises) have become so used to this form of headline that they actually don’t see a problem with this (the subject of your article, not your own headline). Back in the day when the news would say something along the lines of, “this deadly chemical is found throughout your house! What is it? Stay tuned and we’ll tell you how you could potentially be murdering your children,” we’d all roll our eyes knowing they just wanted to keep us through the commercials, but in the age of the internet this form of marketing (that’s what it is) has become the ONLY form of news sharing.

  2. It’s a good thing your friends on the left never do the kinds of things you accuse Consevatives of doing. They would, for example, never use someone’s personal belief that abortion is wrong to declare that that person is part of a “War on Women”.

    Pot, meet kettle.

    1. Hey Mike, you’re more than a little off base on that one. I’m actually talking to my “friends on the right” with this piece because I usually lean conservative. I’m shocked that you somehow turned this into a point about abortion. I’ve actually written about my feelings on abortion before. It’s awful and horrible and I do not support it in any way. I didn’t write about liberals, athiests, etc. because I am not one and don’t feel like I can make a change in that world with a blog post. I want to see a positive change in the world I’m in in order to cause change in a positive way in the rest of the world. Sorry for the confusion.

  3. Awesome stuff man, I have been getting frustrated by this trend as well. What I find is that it is so easy to share the clickbait, so easy to play the victim. Not just the victim, but the bitter victim who is trying to score points. I make the mistake a lot more than I should as well. It is a battle of discernment between what is glorifying to God and what makes us feel better.

      1. I want you to know after I read your article I thought you were good guy, but after reading the comments and your replies I have serious respect for you. Keep doing good work man. On a side note I did see an interview with Pratt were he talked about going to church, so I think it is fair to say he probably is a Christian, but other than that your article talked about exactly how I feel about both conservative and liberal sights, I read both and they both do the same thing.

  4. Great writing Scott. I hope Chris and his wife are growing closer to God and hopefully to Jesus but I’d prefer that it not become headlines. I don’t think many celebrities are prepared to be spokespeople for Christianity in the broad public arena. Maybe some day, but only if it is done with much thought and great maturity. Obviously all believers are to speak truth and proclaim the gospel but it is just weird for celebrity Christians to be thrown in that role. I’ve seen other new celebrity believers get manipulated by religious groups with an agenda. Wherever they are in their walk, let’s give them space. Thanks again.

    1. So true, just because someone is famous doesn’t mean they are ready to be the face of Christianity. Heck, pastors struggle with that at times and most of them have seminary training and years of experience!

    2. Do you guys hear yourselves? When a celeb announces their gay, or transgender, or bi, it blows all through social media. Not a word from you. When a celeb supports or denounces a political figure, it makes social media headlines. Still, not a word from you. But when a celeb makes a comment about being a Christian, and social media makes it into headlines, you suddenly have a problem. No single person or entity is making Chris Pratt the poster child for Christianity, anymore than they intended to make Bruce Jenner the poster child for the transgender community. They’re simply spreading the news of something they believe in and are happy to hear. In this day and age of doom and gloom headlines, it’s nice to hear some positive news about a celeb. Let it go. Turn your eyes on yourselves and let it go.

      1. I think that the authors point is not that they are spreading news about what Chris Pratt said, but how they spread it and what seems to be the point of the method they use.

        At the risk of being accursed of doing what I am about to condemn: it bothers me that it is so easy for us to get upset at anything. Even if we disagree with this author we should strive to articulate our thoughts with less vitriol.

      2. It would actually be better if everyone turned their eyes on Jesus.
        It is awesome for the Pratt family if they are growing closer to Jesus. But God is big enough that he doesn’t need celebrities or big names to further His kingdom. He actually usually uses the opposite.
        Thank you Scott for the reminder that we shouldn’t sensationalize one man’s faith, but rather let him be and give the Gospel the credit it deserves.

  5. Or we can just be happy as believers that someone, anyone, who has a voice in Hollywood actually uses words like “God”, “prayer” and “Bible” without making it into a joke. I take any article like the Pratt articles I’ve seen with a grain of salt. But the fact that he has a belief in God is encouraging… and not once since all of this came out have I heard he or Anna Faris speak out and say he was taken out of context, or that he was not really meaning “God”, but a “higher power”, and I also find that refreshing.

    We in the Christian army like to shoot our wounded, and even anyone who we think might be someone who might believe in some of the things we might believe in.

    Well written post… but a little too “how dare you, you silly Christians!” and not enough “okay, its cool and all, but maybe we should slow down a little bit before we carried away..”

    1. Thanks for the input D$. I agree that too often we want to shoot our wounded in the Christian world. Again, I’m extremely glad that Pratt has said the things he has said. I take issue with the exploitation and lies used by some sites to tell his story.

  6. Hey man, thanks so much for writing this.

    I hate clickbaiting in general, as I happen to value journalism and good headline writing and, you know, the “know[ing] of nothing other among you than Jesus Christ and him Crucified” (by people, not Hollywood), but it feels especially wrong when it’s done in the name of Christ. There’s something about trying to bolster the Gospel with sensationalism and/or celebrities–like it implies that the Gospel needs bolstering.

    Anyway, I’m not trying to hijack you post – I just really appreciate it.

  7. Loved this article: I’m a huge fan of Chris Pratt, and do believe he is a genuine Christian. However, the posts you are referring to are COMPLETELY ridiculous. We in the United States especially need to get rid of this “us vs. them” mentality where we somehow think that because we have a Jesus bumper sticker every non-Christian is hounding us and trying to kill us. If American Christians are so wanting to be ACTUAL victims of persecution, let’s move to the Middle East and become missionaries. That’ll change attitudes.

  8. It’s really good to see someone speaking out against sensationalism, especially on their own side of the right-wing/left-wing spectrum. Each side is quick to lash out against the other without evaluating their own actions first. Both sides need to stop misconstruing facts and presenting them wrongly. You’ve really spoken to that in this article. I’m sorry some people have misunderstood your writing to the point of believing you are bashing Christianity’s presence in journalism; I thought it was abundantly clear that you are only against the exploitation and manipulation of public figures for the sake of sensationalism. I respect you and this piece greatly.

  9. Here’s my take on your article: You seem to be an honest, sincere person who is concerned about the direction taken by Christians as they represent the Church. In the discussions that followed, I gained perspective on the problem of discerning the motives and the hearts of other people. I think we ALL have to try to understand more fully, before judging. I will try to maintain a more non-committal stand when I read posts, blogs, etc. I will try to learn and to think about those opinions. For that purpose, your blog and the ensuing comments were quite effective!

    1. Thanks! It’s good to hear that you benefited from the blog as well as the conversation that followed in the comments. That was my purpose in engaging the commenters, I wanted to further the conversation.

  10. I enjoyed your article. I didn’t pick it a part. I was glad to see that someone else was seeing the same thing. When I read how Chris Pratt and his wife prayed over their sweet little one, I was overjoyed. But that hardly gives us picture of what his life in Christ is. Not that it isn’t awesome…it was just him taking a moment to explain an important time in his life. All I could think of was AWESOME, I want to know more! But we don’t. And that’s ok too. I think we as people want to connect to people. And as Christians, we do want to say, hey look, he’s on our side! But more then even that, I think people want to look up to someone. To follow. And even though it’s not often admitted, some think…..if he can act like that and be a Christian, well so can I. We are proud when we hear about someone who we didn’t know (by their fruits) are “Christian”, but when a Christian does something “worldly”…..mass persecution. It’s our job to “out” them.
    There is not a balance.
    It would be totally cool though if the Pratt’s are. 🙂 I’m excited for that little glimpse of Jesus in their life.

  11. Wow, don’t fret the haters, Scott. This is a well-written, thoughtful article. Some of the comments surprised me. Seriously people, actually read the article before posting. This guy clearly cares about the gospel.

    Also though, we can’t forget where Paul himself says the motives of preaching the gospel don’t always matter — Philippians 1:18 — even if they were to spite Paul. But that Christ would be preached, so we can rejoice. (Disclaimer: I still don’t think the clickbaiters referenced in this article are doing it right.)

  12. These trolls though! Anyway, I agree. It’s not just Chris Pratt either – it just happened again with Carrie Underwood’s husband. It’s just silly!

    Enjoy your minutes of internet fame! 🙂

  13. It doesn’t further the Gospel, it furthers an “us against them” mentality where the right-wing Christians on Facebook can have more fodder to say “Yeah! Screw you liberals, look at this guy you like, he’s on OUR side!”

    *stands and applauds*

    Seriously, this. All Chris said was that his son’s struggle had brought him closer to God (not necessarily Jesus). It repulsed me to see his words exploited, taken out of context and exaggerated to push a divisive social agenda. It was worthless clickbait, plain and simple. Thank you Scott for putting it so eloquently.

    1. Thanks Jason! Yeah, it really bothered me that this sweet story of a mother and father leaning on God during a tough time was turned into divisive clickbait.

  14. Well that is what it takes to spread your faith, lies lies and more lies. And your “right wing friends” are prepared to cast you aside in order to be able to keep lying for Christ lol ironic isn’t it, how un-christlike these Christians truly are.

    1. Hey Hermes, I only approved this comment because your other ones were personally insulting people and you are clearly just trying to rile people up. If you want to rewrite them in a more respectful manner I’ll approve them. But personal insults won’t fly here (that’s a Hermes pun)

  15. Hey Scott, please understand I was not out to lash out against your stance. It was the method, BUT with that being said, I’m not out to say that you are some liberal nut trying to demonize Chris Pratt’s faith, like some on here. I am truly annoyed by the Conservative blogs out there because what they say is offensive for shock value, to get clicks. Honestly, I just thought there was irony in your post. I found it humorous. It was not to strike down what you had said.

    Many Christians, for one reason or another, latch on to Christian Celebrities. The problem comes when that Christian fails, their world is shattered, and Christians and non-believers alike jump to rip them apart. It’s as if they need someone to make Christianity popular again, so their idea of Matthew 28:19 will be easier. It comes from insecurities in faith, which everyone goes through. They forget that Jesus doesn’t need that, He doesn’t need a celebrity to make Him famous. He wants us to show the world love, which doesn’t mean we have to be all accepting, but it does mean we need to do all things in love, not out of being offended. We get up in arms about Non-believers bashing ideas of Christ, God, and our faith, but Jesus said it best in John 15:18-19:

    18 “If the world hates you, [a]you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

    Overall, I did enjoy your article. I apologize if it appeared I was attacking you.

  16. This author didn’t not do the same thing. And it just read exactly what he’s talking about with Steph Curry. The headline “The NBA told Vurry not to mention Jesus but his response silenced them all” no where in the article does it saying anything to that extent at all. Thanks for opening my eyes to this.

  17. I think your point was great that we still don’t even know if Chris Pratt is a Christian, and I myself would be led to believe he isn’t considering the varying type of work he’s done. Evil people perform deeds at times that would be considered “good” and I’ve also met countless people who claim a faith in God and pray at times but know nothing of the gospel and believe varying heresies that were never found in the scriptures. I also agree that the Christian social media trend has in great amounts been using clickbait as you’ve proven in your writing and that it’s ridiculous and inflammatory. Not all “click-bait” is bad if there is only truth to be found in the articles because it did get your attention. On the dark side of this type of marketing it does a good job at riling people up on both sides of the belief spectrum. I also believe a few of the commentators to this article, mainly Barbara, came across as extremely arrogant in their response and missed the entire point of the article which leads me to believe they hadn’t even read it and or maybe work for the companies that produce those click-bait articles.

  18. Wow. Reading the comments section to this article further convinces me of the following:

    A) A lot of people do not read the article they comment on.

    B) The internet is full of people who do not display a capacity for critical thinking.

  19. Hi Scott,
    Thanks for this post! I happen to like Mr. Pratt a lot as I recently started watching Parks and Rec and he’s the best character on there. Plus, I loved him in the LEGO movie. I too thought it was incredibly distasteful how those websites used his quote (and the gospel, as you note) to take a jab at “liberals” when they were essentially making up a story. On facebook, I saw someone actually share one of the articles, saying something along the lines of “it’s terrible that someone would ruin their career by announcing they are Christian, what kind of world do we live in? etc.”
    But, anyway, I just wanted to say I appreciate your post, and I definitely agree with your point.

  20. What baffles me about this article is that the story about Chris Pratt having to endure any sort of blacklist over his beliefs is entirely false, invented by writers with an agenda. He has an upcoming mega-budget production co-starring Jennifer Lawrence, another with Denzel Washington, on top of sequels for TWO hugely successful franchises (Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy). He’s booked about four years into the future. Sure, he has had to pass and bow out of some projects, because everyone in the whole damn industry wants to employ him at the moment.

    If that’s blacklisting, I want some!

  21. Thanks for this post. I’ve only recently caught on to what click-bait is, and have begun making an effort to avoid it no matter how interesting it appears. The difficult thing is that you (and I) Wish to see intellectual integrity from people we agree with. I know that struggle. I and pray both you and I learn how better to present the need for that integrity to the glory of Christ.

  22. I’d like to hear the stories of the haters on this article. What has happened in their lives that makes them want to hate on people like this?

  23. Thank you for writing this, Scott! I agreed with it wholeheartedly and was also dismayed at how many people jumped on the Pratt bandwagon immediately after seeing his “God” comments. Like you said, we just do it so often and idolize celebrities who seemingly come out as Christian, and we do exactly what the Lord’s instructed as not to do.

    By the way, I stumbled upon your blog via Relevant Magazine’s post. You should seriously consider writing for them. 🙂

  24. This is obviously not click bait, but a FREE blog post about stupid click bait titles in the Christian circle. I agree people shouldn’t use Jesus as a means of misleading readers. I believe by what Pratt said and in other interviews he’s a Christian but regardless that’s between him and Christ.

  25. Is “Relevant” telling the truth that you gave them permission to use your article? Did you also agree they don’t need to acknowledge that they modified it? If not, they are using you for click-bait.
    I fully agree with your article, by the way.

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