The people over at Universal Pictures are smart, sneaky buggers. Evan Almighty just opened in the UK, and everyone was ready. You see, the company hired a special PR firm just to make sure Christian organizations knew about the film -- namely ministers, publications and websites. They held a number of "priest screenings," and also offered suggestions for just how these people could incorporate the film into their work. For example, they could take this super-handy route: "God: The Hollywood Years," and talk about God on the big screen. Or, there was "Noah and 9/11," where they could chat about religious extremism.

Wow. Do you think these people would take to being spoon-fed angles by a Hollywood company? Apparently, they ate it up like candy. Rev David Birt says: "I've encouraged my flock to see the film. It has interesting subjects -- like whether we want a God who is judgmental -- and I've used it in two sermons already." Reading that, I can't help but imagine churches getting PR press releases that they then slide into their sermons. A publication called Christianity changed its cover at the last minute, and added a feature inside to discuss the themes that Almighty covered. Simon Jenkins, editor of rejesus.co.uk says: "It's not a hugely significant film, but it is unexpectedly religious. Hollywood and Christianity have an interesting relationship but this time they're singing from the same hymn sheet."

I'm not so bothered by priests, ministers and those in religious organizations citing a Hollywood movie, but am pretty creeped out that they're doing so after a solid PR campaign. It's a brilliant and successful move for Universal,
but what does it say for the content that comes down to devout followers? It's kind of eerie to imagine that what you hear in the church could be that easily influenced by a company. Sure, Evan Almighty is religious, but where will the churches draw the line between discussing religious phenomenon outside the church, and being told what to say by the companies behind said phenomenon?