It's not easy being a Christian in liberal Hollywood, but Tinseltown is slowly beginning to open its eyes to the demands of the faith-based audience, according to author and actor David A.R. White.
During a recent appearance on Fox & Friends, the "God's Not Dead 2" producer and actor, who recently penned a memoir, "Between Heaven and Hollywood: Chasing Your God-Given Dream," said it can be challenging to be a Christian in liberal Hollywood. That's why, in 2005, he co-founded Pure Flix, the largest indie-faith film studio in the world - to "make an alternative to what Hollywood was putting out there, to make faith and family films that uplift and inspire the human spirit as opposed to tearing it down all the time."
However, White has received a fair amount of backlash for his films - including "Woodlawn" and the "God's Not Dead" series - from the secular media. Earlier this year, a billboard promoting "God's Not Dead 2" bearing the phrase, "I'd rather stand with God and be judged by the world than stand with the world and be judged by God" was famously banned for being "too political" and "way too incendiary".
But whether Hollywood likes it or not, a number of faith-based films have made large profits in recent years, including "War Room", "The Blind Side", "Miracles from Heaven."
"More and more people are searching for really their foundation," White said. "Our country was really founded upon were these beliefs, these family values. We've gone away from that. And what we've found is that 50 million people go to church once a month - there's a hunger for this kind of content."
Faith-driven consumers comprise 17 percent of the population - 41 million Americans - and spend $2 trillion annually, Chris Stone, founder of advocacy and marketing group Faith Driven Consumer, told The Gospel Herald.
"You cannot be in a major endeavor like the entertainment industry and just turn a blind eye to that many people who spend that much money," Stone said. "Hollywood has realized that this is a viable market, they've realized there's a great craving for this market. You can't find anybody - any other market with that much pent up demand. So, yes, they get it. Not all of them are fans of the market, but that doesn't really matter because the studios are taking it seriously."
While they may not always get it right - "Noah" and "Exodus: Gods and Kings" are two glaring examples of such missteps - Stone encouraged believers to give Hollywood credit for making a "real, sincere effort" to reach the faith-based community.
"I would encourage people - anytime Hollywood makes an effort and they're sincere, we should support that, because how else are we going to get what we need if we don't give a reward when somebody delivers? Faith driven consumers need to make an effort to say, 'Hey, this is what I want.' they need to advocate for themselves and join with us in advocating for the faith-based community."