Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.


Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

It's sometime in the not-too-distant future, and a good chunk of America has had it up to here with our whole freedom of religion thing.

Oh, sure, no one wants to completely gut the First Amendment. No one's forcing the founding fathers to leap out of their graves and shamble around the Capitol with picket signs. But many seem to want to tinker a bit, you know, fix it up for a new millennium. After all, religion can be uncomfortably controversial. So Sen. Donald Harrison has introduced a bill—the Faith and Fairness Act—that would make it a requirement for religious leaders to express their beliefs in a way that "permits equal time and respect to other systems of faith." He says, "This is the future of our evolution in this nation, ladies and gentlemen."

John Luther, though, isn't evolving. John's the leader of Truth, the largest Christian organization in the country, and a critic of the Faith and Fairness Act. Never mind that Sen. Harrison is a huge backer of John's ministry: The truth is the truth. There's only one road to heaven, and that road goes through Jesus, John insists.

Clearly, the guy's a serious troublemaker. So despite years of friendship, Don hatches a detailed plan to jettison John and squelch his salvation sermons.

Step 1: Have John pose for a couple of post-sermon selfies with an admiring 16-year-old girl.

Step 2: Kidnap John.

Step 3: Drug John.

Step 4: Stick John in a car with the girl.

Step 5: Take pictures of the girl getting physical with the passed-out John.

Step 6: Kill the girl.

It's hard to have much spiritual authority or political clout when you're in prison for rape and murder.

But John comes to in the nick of time and escapes. And while the not-so-good senator still holds the frame for John's new landscape picture, his dogged preacher friend-turned-foe is determined to smear all that fresh paint … by telling the truth.

Positive Elements

John is a reformed drug addict who found Jesus and turned his life around. And he clearly has a great deal of affection for his wife, Monica, and his daughter. He tries to make up for missing his daughter's recital, and he apologizes to Monica for shutting her out sometimes. When he's at the end of his rope, John prays not for himself, but for the safety of his wife and child. For her part, Monica never loses faith in John's innocence, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

John runs into various people who help him when he's in need—a charity worker who gives him water and lets him borrow a phone, for instance. "The arms of God aren't as far away as you think," she tells him, believing him to be a vagrant. John's father, Charles, is willing to go to extreme lengths to clear his son's name, as is Charles' young protégé William.

Philosophically, the movie compels us to grapple with what it looks like to have religious freedom in our modern world. It asks, Do we still have it in America? And it goes to some length, story-wise, to reinforce how important such freedom is. (I'll write more on how the movie handles this central question in my Conclusion.)

Spiritual Content

That topic of religious freedom triggers a cascade of spiritual concepts, ideas and images. Bibles are handled like treasured objects, brandished like weapons and thrown into puddles of mud. John carries his copy and reads from it in good times and bad. He quotes Scripture, prays and gets angry with God when things seem darkest. ("Are You not true to Your name?!" he hollers to the heavens.) And when he's told his spiritual commitment could send his ministry out into the proverbial wilderness—thus limiting its effectiveness—John reminds himself and his staff that another of God's servants also went into the wilderness … and then reached far more people than the Truth ministry ever will.

Charles Luther is an Episcopal priest who tells his son, "God will decide who's found wanting. They can't silence the truth." Ryan, John's second in command at Truth, may well be one of the "wanting," claiming that John's apparent cataclysmic backslide has shaken his own faith … while greedily taking over the ministry.

Others also end up either outright opposing John and his commitment to his faith, or snipe from the sidelines. Sen. Harrison at one point snaps, "Stop with the Lord!" He talks about how the U.S. is no longer a Christian nation (and, he adds, it never really was) and how his bill will usher in a time when people of different faiths can walk "hand in hand toward the light." He presses his case with John, saying that it's exciting to think of people of "all faiths on bended knees before the throne."

"What throne?" John asks.

Sexual Content

While helping the senator frame John, the teen girl "makes out" with the unconscious pastor, embracing him, lying on top of him and pretending to lick his face. Pictures are later broadcast on television, and much is made of the girl being underage. "The public does not take kindly to a sexual predator on the loose," Harrison says. Ryan says that John might have solicited prostitutes in his past.

In John's absence, Ryan stops by to "comfort" John's wife. While he never does anything sexually overt, his actions leave the impression that he's trying to make a move on her.

Violent Content

Bad guys shoot a man in the head, then set up the crime scene to look as if it was a suicide. We see the hole in his flesh, the blood-streaked face and more blood pooling on the ground. Another person is shot in the forehead, still another in the knee. Bullets pierce chests and backs in other scenes.

John is rarely seen without blood on him. Sometimes it's from a stray branch raking him across the face. But other times the wounds are much worse: He's shot, for instance, and we see him clutching at his bloodstained shirt.

John confesses that he was "abusive" before he found God. In the present, he uses a gun to both intimidate others and to pistol whip a man. We see the teen girl get smacked across the face, and we hear that she was indeed killed to seal the dirty deal.

Crude or Profane Language

One "h---" and three questionable uses of God's name.

Drug and Alcohol Content

John was both an alcoholic and a drug addict before he was saved, and Ryan jokes that Truth is the only ministry that buys its communion wine by the keg. The underage girl takes some sort of drug before meeting John. (She's told she's about to go on a ride she'll never forget.) John is injected with a drug that renders him unconscious. A small group of twentysomethings seems to be high. Charles smokes a cigar.

Other Negative Elements

John appears to "borrow" a Volvo to facilitate his escape. And after he realizes he's being framed, he goes on the lam, running from the authorities who are now looking for him. It's an overtly illegal act in a country ruled by law and due process. But it's an action that's …


… spiritually excused in the context of this story by John reading aloud part of Psalm 7, a passage written by David when he was on the run from King Saul.

That sets up the pivot point for this taut (if sometimes inconsistent) spiritual thriller, filled with schemes and shootouts and bad behavior. As such, it's more problematic, content-wise, than many other contemporary Christian films. But it seems to deliberately use force to voice this urgent call: Be aware that your religious freedoms could come under attack.

"Persecuted imagines a world in which politicians essentially want to silence ministers by demanding that their messages about God be balanced by opposing points of view." writes former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), who plays Charles Luther. "There's no doubt about my politics, but in this movie the good guys aren't all Republicans and the bad guys aren't all Democrats. No, the good guys are those who love freedom and cherish the right to speak freely without any government interference."

Indeed, religious freedom is a very big deal. It is the bedrock upon which America was founded. And while the sort of vicious persecution Christians currently experience in some other countries is not a reality here in the United States, many American Christians already feel that their faith is under attack—citing such things as the removal of Ten Commandments statues in certain courtrooms and the eschewing of religious carols in malls and schools at Christmastime. And as the campaign for gay marriage grows ever stronger, religious leaders who believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman because God Himself set things up that way are feeling tremendous pressure to either change their views or simply shut up.

We live in a world that makes it simultaneously hard and easy to imagine something happening the way it does to John Luther. It seems both distant and close at hand. Which leaves us with lots of questions, questions the movie means for us to ponder:

Should we run when the heat is turned up, the way John does? Should we retaliate in the violent way John does? Or should we stand our ground and fight for freedom within the legal structure already established? What if that structure changes? And how much should it change before we act? When is breaking the law the right thing to do? Will it ever be?

For now, most of us can firmly stand on our beliefs and ideals while still being generous and open-handed neighbors. We can discuss differences in love and gentleness without ever letting go of our principles. John Luther says as much at the story's start. "If I thought for a second that I could look down on anyone for their beliefs, I wouldn't be sitting here," he says. And yet he insists that faith in Christ is the only way to salvation: "Not one of the ways. The way."

The same sort of absoluteness cannot be applied to Persecuted, of course. There is no one perfect way to feel about it or respond to it. It has its problems, both in terms of content and plot and even message. But its subject is a timely one, well worth putting much more thought into than most of us usually do.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range





James Remar as John Luther; Bruce Davison as Senator Donald Harrison; Raoul Trujillo as Mr. Gray; Dean Stockwell as Dave Wilson; Fred Dalton Thompson as Dr. Charles Luther


Daniel Lusko ( )


Millennium Entertainment



Record Label



In Theaters

July 18, 2014

On Video

October 14, 2014

Year Published



Paul Asay

Content Caution

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!