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Faith-Based Media Experiences Revival, Finds New Audiences

Hollywood executives are responding to audience demand for more faith-based media, including television shows and movies. Recent productions featuring Bible stories have been popular with audiences in the past couple of years. In fact, last year was a banner year for faith-based productions. More television programming will be released this year as viewers enjoy Christian or spiritual content that addresses contemporary issues.

A.D. The Bible Continues

The actors and crew behind the scenes in Morocco during the filming of "A.D. The Bible Continues." (Photo courtesy of LightHouse Media/NBC)

“It really was an encouragement for many of us to think that there’s a hunger, an interest in the basic Bible message,” explained Greg Johnson, president of Standing Together and a representative of the National Association of Evangelicals. “I think when Hollywood stays to the script of the Christian message and remains true to it, Christians and people who are interested in faith-based films I think are drawn to that.”

“Well, I think it’s a great way to get people interested in and excited about the text, and then if they’re drawn on into the text, then they can start to learn more of the details of it,” said Eric Huntsman, coordinator of Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Brigham Young University.

“It feels like the industry and people are more open to it than I’ve experienced being in entertainment,” said Devon Franklin, author and CEO of Franklin Entertainment. “So that’s really exciting and very rewarding because now there’s a chance to do things that maybe a few years ago we couldn’t do.”


The most recent faith-based production is a television series called “A.D. The Bible Continues,” created by LightWorkers Media and executive producers Roma Downey (“The Bible," History Channel) and her husband, Mark Burnett (“The Bible” and “The Voice”) for prime-time network television.  

“The Holy Spirit came upon us and made us know we should do this. But many people probably get that calling. They just fail to get … off the couch and do something about it,” said Burnett in an interview with KSL-TV at the couple’s Malibu, California, home. “A.D. is absolutely among our best work.”

A.D. Burnett Downey
“I think people are hungry for hope, and what a better source to go back to than scripture,” added Downey, who said the series is suitable for the whole family. “This is not just a series to us. It’s a series about our faith and our story, and we hope it will impact a hurting world,” said Downey.

“A.D. The Bible Continues” focuses on the stories from the book of Acts found in the New Testament in the Bible, which includes the stories of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the history of the church and the apostles after Christ’s death. The series was filmed in Morocco’s desert environment. 

“I can’t help but think that an unbeliever accessing the book of Acts through the way it’s portrayed in film can’t help but have a very powerful effect,” added Camille Fronk Olson, professor of ancient scripture at BYU. “It’s in a very accessible part of scripture that has largely been left untouched. It would be so cool.”

NBC affiliate KSL-TV in Salt Lake City, a Church-owned and operated television station, traveled to the set of the new A.D. series to talk to the cast and crew for a 30-minute KSL special, “Find Faith in Prime Time,” which will air on Easter.

Religion scholars at Brigham Young University (BYU) say people who watch the series “can expect a fairly accurate visual depiction of the New Testament,” according to an article in the Deseret News.

A.D. The Bible Continues 4

The crew films "A.D. The Bible Continues," a series that will air on NBC. (Photo courtesy of LightHouse Media/NBC)

“My hope for this series is that people understand Christianity better whether they are Christians themselves or as part of the secular wider society,” said Hunstman. “I think what A.D. is going to do is it’s [going to] spark interest in the Bible, but then folks are [going to] want to go deeper and learn more.”

“It’s a genuine mainstream programming choice, and that is exciting," said Downey. Many people may remember her for her portrayal as an angel in the TV series “Touched by an Angel,” which ran for nine seasons on network television. “We work with biblical advisers and scholars across the board from different denominations,” she said.

The new A.D. series will begin its 12-week run on Easter Sunday, April 5, at 8 p.m. (MDT) on NBC. For more information on faith in films, watch the KSL special "Finding Faith in Prime Time" on Easter Sunday at 4 p.m. (MDT), or watch it streaming live on The network also premieres a show called “Beyond A.D.” on April 12. It will be a talk show taped weekly before a live audience to serve as a discussion platform.  

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