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.

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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.

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