Adventist Connections to Hacksaw Ridge

The Nov. 4 release of Mel Gibson’s new movie Hacksaw Ridge provides Seventh-day Adventists with an unprecedented opportunity. It will be the first time the story of Desmond Doss, an Adventist and the first noncombatant to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, has been accessible to millions of people in popular theaters around the world.

What will movie-goers think of this story? Will they be impressed with Doss’s courage and faith, with his commitment to integrity, with his valor in the face of indescribable adversity? Will they wonder about the Seventh-day Adventist Church and how it addresses the issues of today? What will Google tell them about Adventists?  

Adventist members should be ready for inquiries about Doss and about the church. Here are a few points of information that may help.

Is the movie faithful to the Doss story?

Those who have screened the movie ahead of its official release, including representatives of the Desmond Doss Council, describe it as faithful to his character and respectful in its portrayal of Doss’s stand for integrity and faith. It has the full support of the Doss Council. Doss does self-identify in the film as “Seventh-day Adventist.”

Is it something that Adventist churches and members should support?

That is a matter for individual churches and members to decide. Those who do not feel comfortable with associating themselves with the movie, should at least brush up on the story of Desmond Doss and the values of our church that he represented. The movie is “R” rated for graphic battlefield violence. Largely due to these traumatic battle scenes, it is not a “family-friendly” film. Nevertheless, the stand Doss takes for his beliefs is clearly and inspirationally portrayed. It does not moralize or preach, but clearly shows his commitment to his faith through the story. Some churches and institutions have arranged to buy out entire theater showings ahead of the official release so select groups can see this story for themselves. It also creates an opportunity to honor local veterans, active military, law enforcement, and first responders. That option is still available for a very limited time. The link is provided in the resources below.

What about the documentary produced a few years ago — The Conscientious Objector?

The award-winning documentary by Terry Benedict was consulted heavily in the production of the Hacksaw Ridge movie. It is a resource that can be used by churches or groups, even those who are uncomfortable with promoting or attending the Hacksaw Ridge movie. A special showing can be hosted to coincide with or follow the movie release — i.e. “you’ve seen the movie, now watch the real story.” See more information in the resource list below.

Are there ministry resources available to help us connect with those who see the movie?

Yes, in the resources listed below, you’ll find several options that can serve as ministry connectors, including videos, books and other materials. The original book The Unlikeliest Hero by Booton Herndon has been re-edited and expanded with additional photos under the new title Redemption at Hacksaw Ridge. This would not only be a great resource for you and your family, but for each church library and as a potential giveaway item at community gatherings.

Additional Resources

It Is Written ministries has several resources available for churches at www.itiswritten.com/doss:

You may also want to connect with the Desmond Doss Council:

Follow hashtags for #DesmondDoss and #BeLikeDoss.

Set up a “Desmond Doss” Google News Alert at http://alerts.google.com to keep track of media coverage.

Obtain a copy of The Conscientious Objector DVD through the Adventist Book Center, Amazon.com or other source.

Get a copy of Desmond Doss: Conscientious Objector written by Frances Doss, Desmond's wife.

Order the update of The Unlikeliest Hero book now titled Redemption at Hacksaw Ridge available online for $25 at www.desmonddoss.com.

Check out promotional resources for Hacksaw Ridge and theater buyout information at www.hacksawridgeresources.com.

Read a review of the Hacksaw Ridge movie by Heidi Baumgartner, Washington Conference communication director.

Final thoughts …

This is another opportunity for local Seventh-day Adventist members and churches to consider their public presence. What will people’s first impressions be when they visit your church, interact with your members or listen to the sermon? What will they see of Adventist values and beliefs when they view your website?

October 20, 2016 / North Pacific Union
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