‘The Frontier Boys,’ Driveby Gospel

The thriller will be highly sought for as a commercial prize in Christian filmmaking. Thrillers are very hard to do to begin with because of budget concerns, but for Christians they have to seamlessly insert the gospel message so it doesn’t appear too obvious. It has to be art and not propaganda–in order to be effective propaganda! Therefore we have The Frontier Boys from Grooter Productions about a some hometown boys dealing with a drive-by shooting and the suspense that follows as they bring the culprits to justice and introduce God along the way.

It also continues the infusion of sports into gospel movies, a favorite theme amongst Christian filmmakers because sports is highly emotional and shares some common elements with religion. The Frontier Boys features four high school boys, 3 of whom are on an undefeated basketball team. The story per the official site: “Their basketball season is shattered when Brent’s older brother, Mike, attracts an Irish gang leader named Sean O’Sullivan. Sean is intent on setting up a rural meth lab and supply operation in the peaceful community. Despite plenty of cash to fund the start-up, Sean isn’t sure that he can pull together a team of locals to do the dirty work.”

The appealing cast includes Timothy Lofing, Taylor Deroo, Jedidiah Grooters (son of the director), and Jake Boyce as the four boys. Supporting roles include Big Kenny, apparently a well known song writer in from Tennessee; Rebecca St. James, a CCM artist (Contemporary Christian Music); Lara Landon, another CCM artist; Earthquake Kelley, a former boxer and now evangelist (is this guest list starting to feel like an A-Team episode?); and Melissa Brock, from the band Superchick, Christian alternative music. These boys certainly had a lot of pretty girl singers on the set.

Honestly, the trailer makes the movie look damned good. I think I will have to see it to give a better judgment of whether or not it actually is because most of what I’m seeing so far is some nice camera shots and actor posing with a professional music score elevating your emotions.

Now behind the scenes, ChristianCinema.com notes Jedidiah Grooters’ “…attempt to read a paraphrased version of a scripture text for his valedictorian speech at West Ottawa High School caused a controversy in 2008.” This would be in Park Township, MI according to the The Holland Sentinel where Jed was asked to remove Biblical scriptures because he was speaking at a public school function and he had one long ass quote as you can see below. He was asked to redo 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 into his own words, but because he couldn’t quote it he ended his speech with, “Jesus loves you and that is the most important life lesson of all.” I wanted to give the kid the benefit of the doubt as it seems to me that this is a personal speech, but it appears this scripture quotation would have overtaken his speech:

1 I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same supernatural food 4 and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to dance.” 8 We must not indulge in immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put the Lord to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

The Holland Sentinel reports that Jed stated to the audience he would not be able to give his speech as originally prepared and a few boos were heard. Then as he closed with, “Jesus loves you,” and he got a standing moment of applause. Certainly the school board had to make a tough legal and fair decision with an audience who viewed them as the anti-Christian bad guys. If this was a private Christian school then great, but Jed’s speech was just evangelizing and not a recognition of his achievements or the achievements of his fellow classmates. I mean, who tells their fellow classmates to not be idolaters and about God killing or allowing the killing of the immoral and eating supernatural food? It’s kind of creepy.

Fellow valedictorian and class president Andrew Webster changed his speech without approval from the school board to include several scriptures as he thought it was unfair that Grooters had to excise his Corinthians quote. It included quotes on the love of money and “Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs.”  Okay?  Uh, cool.

We’ve seen these supposedly badass Christian high school tactics before on Graduation Day. I’m hoping some day a Muslim student will have the conviction to go on stage and quote the Koran so Christians can see how it makes them feel and we can all get some perspective. When graduating from high school are we really to be wary about those who were destroyed by serpents?

SIDENOTE: Superchick has no love of money I’m sure, but their agent must or whoever is licensing their songs. Their Christian music has appeared in the following TV shows and movies: Bring It On, the 4th sequel, Legally Blonde, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen with Lindsay Lohan, The Hills, and Joan of Arcadia. Let the royalties roll in. Is this exploitation of the secular media for profit or infiltration of the secular media for the gospel? I guess both. The lines are always blurred. Be ye not of this world…

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