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(RNS) The new biopic about Jackie Robinson, the Dodger great who broke baseball’s color line, opened Friday (April 12). But there's a mysterious hole at the center of this otherwise worthy film: Robinson’s faith, which was integral to his success.


  1. The film mentions the Methodist faith of both men.

    Metaxas received a very poor review of his Bonhoeffer book in the Christian Century, for using the man’s life and thought to forward his own right wing political agenda. Makes me wonder what he’s up to now.

  2. Great story! And by the way, if you check out Wikipedia, you’ll find barely a mention that he had anything to do with faith. It does mention slip in, almost as an afterthought, that Rev . Karl Downs was involved in his life, but not in so serous a way as to deserve only a brief mention. Robinson’s personal faith (which was significant), even the religious denomination that he practiced, is not even mentioned in Wikipedia. But why is that any of a surprise; the founder of Wikipedia itself, Jimmy Wales, is a hard-core, anti-Christian atheist. Much of what they publish is left-wing slanted, and definitely anti-God.

    • Additionally, Hollywood rarely describes the lack of and/or hatefulness of many character portrayals of that type of failed person…abetting the implication that bigots in real life are worthy people.

    • Wikipedia is an effectively neutral resource. Things that violate that neutrality tend to get edited out by the community promptly. You’re reading your own bias into something that’s not there, in the same way as the author of this post. For the vast majority of people, religious faith isn’t the defining characteristic a lot of evangelicals choose to turn it into. It’s there, and it’s part of life, but not the consuming sociopolitical agenda it is for some.

  3. Bonhoeffer was a well-written, well-researched and very excellent account of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life; and I highly recommend it. I give little merit to critics, especially when it comes to all things Christian. I just learned of Branch Rickey’s deep faith, this week, in an article I read. This is why I do not look to Hollywood to depict stories truthfully, when it comes to history. It comes as a pleasant surprise when they do allow those things to slip through. I do give them credit, however, for choosing to remind America of who the great Jackie Robinson was. Perhaps a Christian filmmaker will decide to give each man’s indispensable Christianity, as evidenced in their lives, its due?

    • Edit: I do not look to H-wood to depict these kinds of stories, containing Christian testimonies, with the full truth.

  4. Meet the Press on Sunday interviewed documentary producer Ken Burns who is producing a longer, more fully told story of Jackie Robinson. It the story of his faith can be told, we would hope it is told there.

  5. How in the world can you say the movie didn’t show Robinson’s faith? Faith isn’t shown by words, but by actions and Robinson’s faith was worn on his sleeve, in his heart and through every bit of his actions.
    During Rickey’s conversation about having the guts not to fight back, he was clear to say the idea came from Jesus saying “turn the other cheek” and Robinson was right there with him in the conversation. So Rickey DID mention where he got the idea from. Also, Rickey mentioned in the beginning that Robinson was methodist. For me, his “religion” showed through his actions. Yes, Rickey was more outspoken, but I believe Robinson was speaking just as much from his gut and actions. He didn’t need words. Was he on his knees in every scene of the movie? No. But at the worst of the worst moments for Robinson, when he was fighting against his own tension in the tunnel, he was on his knees. How he responded to the hatred, the devotion to his family, to his work, and to the man who walked with him through all of it – was very much coming from his soul and from his faith.
    You must have watched a different movie. Or, you forgot to read the book of James.

  6. “But it’s also financially foolish. The recent megasuccess of “The Bible” miniseries and the cool $600 million earned by Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” in 2004 are just two reasons why. The audience for faith-friendly films is huge and growing.”

    I think you’ve just made a great case there why “42” did NOT go down that cr*ptastic path of fundy agitprop: the filmmaker wanted to make an actual film, not a Come-to-Jebus moment for convicted-and-usually-convicting.

    I enjoyed “42” (DESPITE the fact it heroically portrayed a member of the Hated-Dodgers—I bleed Black&Orange, Go Giants! <3 ).

    I wouldn't have gone anywhere NEAR an "If you loved 'The Passion of the Christ', you'll like…"-type production. [And don't get me started re "The Bible" on the HISTORY Channel! }-X ]

    It's the oldest rule in the movies: "Show, Don't Tell." If you SHOW JackieR displaying Christ-like nonviolence, it speaks a million times more powerfully than how many times he may have invoked "Jesus!" on his knees (If there's a Hell, it's filled w/ "Jesus!" crowd, anyway: "but their hearts are far from me")

  1. […] But where did Rickey get that crazy idea and why did Robinson agree? The film doesn’t tell us, but the answers to these questions lie in the devout Christian faith of both men…. Read this in full at […]