By Will Hall, Message Editor
ALEXANDRIA (LBM) – The AMC series “Preacher” has portrayed Christ in a graphic sex scene that combines blasphemy with pornography, and regrettably Louisiana tax payers appear to be on the hook to pay for it … MAYBE.
The August 21 episode titled, “Dirty Little Secret,” showed an actor playing the role of Jesus having sex with a married woman in an extended, graphic scene with explicit vocals.
The director used shadows and silhouettes to soften the two figures as they engaged in various sexual positions, but these cinematic techniques did not disguise the pornography.
According to news reports, Season 2 for the series was filmed in New Orleans earlier this year – presumably, including the offending episode.
This makes the show eligible for state tax credits under a Louisiana law passed in 2002 intended to foster growth in the state’s film industry, also known as “Hollywood South.”
The statutory program offers a 30 percent transferable tax credit for qualified in-state production expenses, including resident and non-resident labor. On top of that, in-state labor costs receive an extra 10 percent payroll tax credit.
Using the data AMC filed with Louisiana Entertainment (a state government office under the umbrella of the Louisiana Economic Development, a cabinet level department in the governor’s administration), the network stands to earn a $14.4 million tax credit on the $48 million amount they said they were going to spend in the state and another $1.8 million tax credit on the $18 million in-state payroll estimate they submitted.
NOT SO FAST
So, AMC stands to gain $16.2 million in tax benefits from our state … EXCEPT … in 2012, state Senator A.G. Crowe crafted S.B. 513 (enacted into law as Act 560), “pertaining to the certifying of certain film projects” with regard to qualifying for tax credits. Indeed, at that time Crowe told the Times-Picayune he wrote the bill specifically “to make certain state taxpayers’ money is not used in producing pornography.”
Importantly, at least one federal law dealing with pornography defines such content as “any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct.” Other laws interpret pornography to be the depiction of “sexual acts … intended to cause sexual arousal.”
Moreover, at least one of the show’s producer’s was boastful about the controversial nature of the offending content.
Although he was less clear about whether he was acknowledging the pornographic nature of the opening scene or simply referring to the religious bigotry it portrayed.
In a tweet promoting the “Dirty Little Secret,” Seth Rogen was gleeful about offending community standards of decency, telling followers, “Tonight’s episode of #Preacher has some stuff I’ve been excited to bring to life for years and I’m SHOCKED they let us do it.”
I am not shocked AMC approved the script, but I am appalled AMC is poised to be rewarded with Louisiana tax dollars for having produced the lewd material … UNLESS … our government leaders do the right thing and call the content what it is, pornography, and refuse to certify the project for tax credits.
So, I am calling on the governor or his secretary of economic development, who has oversight of the certification process, to disqualify AMC’s Preacher from participating in the tax credit program for the recently filmed Season 2.
Additionally, I am urging all Louisiana Baptists to do the same:
Gov. John Bel Edwards
Secretary Don Pierson email@example.com 225.342.5388
BEWARE OF FAST TALK
But, be forewarned so you are ready to counter possible push back about your complaint:
— Some defenders of the show likely will argue this is a First Amendment issue, but it is not. AMC is within its constitutional rights to produce such filth, within the limits of the law, and adults are within their constitutional rights to view these lewd acts, within certain limits as well. No one is arguing otherwise. But the case is being made that this content should not be rewarded with Louisiana tax dollars.
— Others will counter that Rogen has a right to express his secular beliefs, and he does. This obvious point is simply another strawman distraction from the real controversy – the use of tax dollars to support the production of pornography. But, I would point out the obvious hypocrisy of Rogen, AMC and leftist Hollywood, who dare not insult Islam and Mohammed, or Hinduism and Ghandi, but think nothing of attacking Christianity and Jesus.
— All, presumably, will try to claim that any punitive action against Rogen and AMC would harm Louisiana’s film industry, thus threatening a desperately needed revenue stream for the state. But do not be fooled. The Advocate reported that a “2015 study for Louisiana Economic Development found that the program generated only 23 cents in tax revenue for every dollar paid out by taxpayers in 2014.” In other words, the program does not even pay for itself.
What is at stake is good stewardship of tax dollars.
This was such an important issue for a majority of legislators in 2012 that they took the time to cement their concerns into law – legislation which was written with the specific intent, according to the author, to ban the use of state tax dollars for underwriting pornography.
FAST AND PRAY
It is up to our government leaders simply to do the right thing and declare this episode what it is – pornography – and reject the show’s claim for tax credits, according to the law.
But I am aware of the politics that typically come into play in such matters – pressures from industry lobbyists and ideologues that tend to sway politicians, elected and appointed.
So, I urge Louisiana Baptists to fast and pray for these leaders.
But, I also strongly encourage you to use your political influence on them as well.
Let state officials know Louisianans should not be on the hook to fund obscenity of any type, including AMC’s pornographic portrayal of Christ.
Remind them that you pay state taxes … AND … that you vote, too!