“A human civilization’s best chance of survival is to anchor itself in the God of creation,” Christian evangelist and reality star Phil Robertson declared in Torchbearer, an epic documentary launching in select theaters on Oct. 7 as a clarion call for Christians and people of faith in America to engage their culture before it’s too late.
“In the beginning, God…” are the first words out of Robertson’s mouth in the introduction of Torchbearer, saying that this God is the creator of heaven and earth, is as relevant today as in the beginning, and sounds a prophetic call that Christians in America today may be on the edge of the precipice that leads to difficult trials, and perhaps even the same persecution that Christians have faced across the world for twenty centuries.
Thus begins a new documentary shining a spotlight on the growing anti-Christian sentiments in America that are pushing popular culture and public policy away from historical Judeo-Christian moorings, and moving rapidly in the direction of open hostility. Ultimately, Robertson explains that this is just the latest chapter in a conflict spanning two millennia, described by Augustine of Hippo as the City of Man in opposition to the City of God.
Torchbearer—directed by Stephen K. Bannon, produced by Bannon and David Bossie, and written by Bannon, Zach Dasher, and Breitbart News Senior West Coast Editor Rebecca Mansour—gives the viewer a whirlwind tour of world history with a focus on the Christian experience from apostolic times to the present, showcasing the pattern of how godless humanity descends into depravity, in stark contrast to the sublime virtues with which God’s people adorn their lives in the face of adversity—all narrated in the iconic voice of the Duck Commander.
Torchbearer’s trailer takes the viewer on a global odyssey from the Areopagus in Athens, to St. Peter’s Square and the Coliseum Rome, to countless rows of white crosses in Normandy, to a jail cell in Birmingham. The full documentary delves deep into each of these venues and more, in a movie that is simultaneously fast-paced yet thought-provoking.
“Social Darwinism. Survival of the fittest.” That is how Robertson summarizes a godless view of human existence, explaining that if there is no higher being to whom man is accountable, the motto becomes, “Might makes right.”
Regimes based upon a worldview that rejects God’s authority become violently hostile to those who peacefully live out biblical faith. Ancient Rome was the first example of this after the death and resurrection of Christ, as Christians would not join the new cult of emperor worship. “Christians did not mind praying for the emperor, but they would not pray to the emperor,” Robertson explained.
When ordered to offer a small pinch of incense as a sign of worship to the Roman emperor, Christians went willingly to their deaths instead—and were slaughtered en masse.
Pivoting to those people, Robertson explains that God is “the creator of all things. God created man and woman in his image. We are image-bearers of God.”
However, “once you forget where your rights come from… oh my goodness,” Robertson sighs. He lays out “an indictment of the human race,” quoting from Romans 1:28, “Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.”
Torchbearer links respect for human rights and a willingness to defend human dignity to faith in God, focusing on the selfless works of service and charity earnestly carried out by countless people of faith.
The film also explores the price that countless Christians have paid for their commitment to follow Jesus Christ, beginning with the martyrdom of the apostles Peter and Paul.
Stories like these do not merely belong in the past, however, or found solely overseas. Although punishments here have not yet come close to being violent, observant Christians in America are suffering lesser forms of punishment for declining to offer a pinch of incense to the emperor, consequences that are increasing both in frequency and in severity.
Just in the past few years:
- In Washington state, Coach Joe Kennedy was fired from coaching football at Bremerton High School because after each Friday night game he would walk to the 50-yard line to offer a silent prayer thanking God that everyone was safe and for letting him be a part of these young men’s lives.
- In Texas at Lackland Air Force Base, Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk was almost expelled from the Air Force months before his retirement because he refused his lesbian commander’s order to verbally affirm that people who do not embrace the homosexual agenda are guilty of wrongful discrimination.
- In Texas, sportscaster Craig James was fired from his job as an on-air commentator for Fox Sports, after corporate executives became aware that before he worked for them, when James was running for U.S. Senate, he answered a question about marriage during a televised debate by saying that as a Christian he believed marriage is between a man and a woman.
- Chaplain Wes Modder was almost expelled from the Navy when he shared what his faith teaches with two sailors who came to him requesting biblical counseling on sexuality, then they went to the chain of command saying that they were homosexual and that Modder’s beliefs were incompatible with modern Navy priorities.
- Former Marine Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling was discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps after being court-martialed for refusing to remove from her office computer a paraphrase of Isaiah 54:17 that read, “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”
- In Georgia, Dr. Eric Walsh was fired from his job as a district health director with the state government after government agents reviewed videos of sermons he preached at his church—where he is a lay pastor—in which he preached on various topics that are considered politically incorrect, including marriage and sexuality.
- In California, a decorated veteran, Oscar Rodriguez, was giving a speech during the flag-folding ceremony at a friend’s retirement ceremony at Travis Air Force Base when several uniformed airmen—who were aware that his prepared remarks included talking about God—seized him on video and forcibly dragged him out of the room before he could mention God’s name.
- In Oregon, Aaron and Melissa Klein are appealing a judgment from Commissioner Brad Avakian of the Bureau of Labor and Industries, who ruled that this Christian couple had to pay over $135,000 in “mental damages” to a lesbian couple when Aaron and Melissa declined to custom-design a wedding cake celebrating same-sex marriage because their evangelical faith teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman.
In fact, several of these cases arose just in the past year, and some are still in court today, or are about to go to court. And these are only a fraction of the current struggles going on in America involving observant Christians and people of other faiths.
I should know. In addition to being an editor for Breitbart News, I’m a senior attorney at First Liberty Institute, the law firm representing each one of these committed Christians who are suffering what some could call “soft persecution”—nonviolent yet severe personal consequences—because they will not compromise their faith in what they say or how they live their lives.
This provocative documentary is designed to inform Americans and give an eternal and spiritual perspective on all these things, setting them in their historical context, and urging people to act—and to repent—before it’s too late.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News and senior counsel at First Liberty Institute, the largest law firm in America exclusively dedicated to protecting religious liberty. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.