The Apostle (starring Robert Duvall) -- The Bad

The Apostle demonstrates most if not all of the detriments being dedicated to man-made religion. According to this movie (and man-made religion in general) it's OK to be in denial of your crimes against humanity and against God as long as you can put on a good enough religious show.

Sonny (Robert Duvall) is a dedicated Evangelist of the "Holiness" persuasion (a derivation of the Charismatic movement). He is so dedicated to his job that he neglects his wife and kids. After a few years, his wife turns to another man for affection--the local youth pastor. When Sonny finds out about this, he clubs the youth pastor in the head with a baseball bat. This lands the youth pastor in a coma until he eventually dies.

So Sonny runs away to another small town. From the get-go, he keeps as busy as possible to escape his unreconciled conscience. Then he starts calling himself an "apostle." As "Apostle E.F." he does the only thing he knows how to do, which is put on an energetic pulpit song-and-dance routine. He is so accomplished in his "Holiness" act that he inspires the local community to help him restore a church building, a church bus and hold church potlucks.

At the end of the movie, the police finally catch up with him. But don't worry... he won't be stopped from putting on one more show. He tells the police to wait until he's done and so, for some reason, they wait. They stand by while he fires up his fledgling congregation for one last time. Then the police take him off to prison for murder. One man from the congregation, Sam, is especially sad because Apostle E.F. inspired him to accept Jesus into his heart.

The Apostle a shameful display of spiritual misguidedness.

In the DVD's extra features Duvall discusses how he observed and the religious shows that his character would later emulate. This is fitting since religious acts can be imitated to the point of inspiring religious people. Such activity might impress the casual onlooker but, from God's point of view, this is egregiously wrong.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
--Jesus (Matthew 7:21)

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