“Fight Church,” a documentary film currently under production, explores a Christian subculture that values savage beat-downs as an expression of faith.
The project follows “several pastors and fighters in a quest to reconcile their faith with a sport that some consider violent and barbaric,” according to the production team, which includes Academy Award-winning director Daniel Junge and “Holy Rollers” director Bryan Storkel.
Junge told The Daily Caller the film is only halfway through production and will not be done for at least another year.
Zack Hunt, a youth pastor and Christian writer living in Cordova, Tenn., told TheDC that beat-downs are not sanctioned in the Bible.
“I think it would behoove any pastors or parishioners who may think that MMA is a healthy expression of their faith to remember that Paul, who lived during the age of gladiators, chose to describe the faith in athletic terms as a runner running a race, not a gladiator fighting in the arena,” said Hunt. “If Jesus was opposed to violence and Paul wouldn’t even use violent ‘sport’ as an analogy for faith, I’m not sure what makes us think today that MMA is compatible with the Christian faith.”
MMA is violent, but does that automatically render it incompatible with Christianity?
Canyon Creek Church in Everett, Wash., is featured in the film along with its lead pastor, Brandon Beals, aka “Fight Pastor,” who operates the Fight Church ministry.
Beals was unavailable to answer questions due to vacation leave, but the church’s associate worship pastor Josh Weisbrod expressed an opinion differing from Hunt’s.
“There’s a difference between having a faith… and actually living out your faith,” Weisbrod told TheDC. “Painters paint as a way of expressing their faith. Expressing your faith isn’t just showing up to service one day a week.”
On September 21, 2011 George Clinkscale died at Guts Church following an unsanctioned boxing match held in the Oklahoma congregation’s parking lot, according to Tulsa World. The fight was hosted by the church’s college ministry, Sub30. Clinkscale died from natural causes, suffering “a sudden exertional death due to complications of sickle cell trait,” reported local Tulsa news station KJRH.
Legislation HB2746, aka the George Clinkscale Law, was signed by Oklahoma Republican Gov. Mary Fallin on June 8 as a result of a lawsuit filed by the Clinksdale family for “negligence and violations of state regulations that govern boxing events,” according to KJRH. Violations of state regulations on “combative sport” events are now punishable with a fine of $5,000 and/or a maximum of two years in prison.
Watch documentary’s trailer: