Anyone paying attention to media coverage of Kirk Cameron's new documentary, Monumental: In Search of America's National Treasure, could easily conclude the film deals with the most explosive social issues of our time. After all, when Cameron appeared on the CNN news program, Piers Morgan Tonight, the only subjects the host wanted to discuss were those that most often find American Christians at odds with their culture.
"He [Morgan] wouldn't speak about the movie," Cameron tells me, to be released in theaters on March 27 (and reviewed here). "Instead he backed me into a corner and started asking me about homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion, and the federal forcing of the Catholic Church to cover contraception."
Cameron says he was taken aback by the direction of the interview because his documentary concerns the journey that led the English separatists to found the American colonies and never alludes to such hot-button topics. But he went ahead and answered Morgan's questions anyway, explaining that he opposes gay marriage in part because he considers homosexual behavior "unnatural" and believes that it's "detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization." The media firestorm that followed his statements seemed at odds both with the level of influence Cameron holds in Hollywood these days and the subject matter of the film.
Though a regular in Christian-targeted, Christian-produced movies, Cameron hasn't starred in a major film or television show since 1996. Yet his comments not only had his former Growing Pains co-stars taking to Twitter to condemn him, they also drew the ire of Hollywood heavy-hitters like Debra Messing, Jesse Ferguson (star of today's highest-rated sitcom, Modern Family), Kristin Chenoweth, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Neil Patrick Harris, to name only a few.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) was so incensed, it launched an online petition against the actor, stating, "Cameron is out of step with a growing majority of Americans, particularly people of faith who believe that their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be loved and accepted based on their character and not condemned because of their sexual orientation." The incident even found its way into presidential politics when Morgan asked Republican primary candidate Rick Santorum about his thoughts on the former teen idol. (Santorum said he respects Cameron's opinion and disagrees with those calling him a bigot.)
Yet what may be most instructive about the entire episode is how quickly Cameron found himself in the national spotlight for expressing views that were, until recently, commonly assumed to be standard Christian belief. "I didn't say anything different from what any Bible-believing Christian would say if you want to be true to the Scriptures," says Cameron. "In fact, the only thing that would have been surprising is if I had not answered the way that I did. That would have been more newsworthy than what I said."
Cameron believes the fact that his statements did make so much news perfectly illustrates the theme of his film-that the United States is rapidly declining because it's failing to follow the example of those who started it on the path to greatness. And like the deliberate rewriting of Scripture to approve behavior it forbids, some are attempting to rewrite America's historical record to advance their agenda.
While Cameron acknowledges that many teachers and professors may simply be repeating what they were taught when it comes to the pilgrims and the founders that followed them, he maintains that others are intentionally mischaracterizing them. "They are contending for a different worldview, they're contending for a politically correct, secular-humanist worldview where it's necessary to erase and rewrite history," he argues, adding, "The greatest threat we face today is the secular totalitarianism of our current system."
Cameron defines secularism as a form of religion where the highest authority is man himself, and insists that the modern convention of a government and culture scrubbed free of all Christian influence is the opposite of the original American dream. "[The founders] wanted a system that allowed individuals to live out the principles of freedom they found in the Bible. They believed if they could govern themselves according to God's ways, to raise their families to love God and others, it would produce the sweet fruit of liberty and blessing and freedom, and other people would be attracted to their success and want to come join them," he says. "So their idea was to build the country from the ground up, not the top down, and build it from the inside out."
Like the subjects of his film, Cameron is adamant that he's willing to bear whatever personal and professional hardship he must in order to uphold the integrity of biblical doctrine on all matters, including sexuality. "One of these things I noticed when I went on Piers Morgan is how few people are willing to answer clearly on some of the questions that I was asked. ... It's been a great life lesson that Jesus was right," he laughs. "He said the world will hate you because of Me, and don't be surprised because they hated Me first. So it just confirms my confidence in God and in His goodness. I continue to want to love people and speak the truth and trust God for good results."