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Thursday, March 27, 2003
"WHO LIVES AND REIGNS FOREVER AND EVER" BUT NOT ON ER: A TRUE STORY

An actor friend of mine just completed a small role on an upcoming episode of ER. He plays a priest (he thinks he was supposed to be Catholic but then the script and crew kept referring to him as a minister, but then they dressed him in a collar and vestments...so it's probably that the people producing the show have no idea of the diference between a priest and a minister) presiding at the funeral of Dr. John Carter's grandmother. On the script that he had received for the audition, the writers had lifted a funeral prayer right out of a Catholic rites book. The prayer ended with the standard ending: "We make this prayer through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever."

When my friend arrived on set, they handed him a new script with the words "and reigns" missing. My friend, who is a devout Christian figured the words had just been accidentally left out, because the prayer "doesn't flow right, and just sounds kind of weird" without the words "and reigns." So, when it came time for the prayer in the scene, he added the words back in, thinking it was just an oversight.

The director stopped the scene, my friend was called over and shown a copy of the script in which the words "and reigns" were circled in red and crossed out. My friend was told, "We cut those two words out. You won't be saying them."

So, now, the scene has a Christian priest ending his prayer over a grave with the words, "...Who lives with You and the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen."

It's such an odd little change. But hugely revelatory of the mindset here in the entertainment industry. Christ doesn't get to reign here. Even if the show is set in Chicago, in a family in which He probably does reign, it doesn't matter.

Chances are, if ER was burying a Muslim or a Buddhist, they would not have messed with the standard denominational ritual. They would do the research and then recreate the moment accurately. But Christians get no such courtesy. The people at ER can't even pretend to be us with authenticity. There is just so much animosity towards Christianity, that they would rather look like bad researchers, than to allow Christ to reign for two seconds in primetime.