- Victims want film moved
- They blast choice of church
- Movie set is site of child sex crimes
- Alec Baldwin’s brother Billy is involved
A group of clergy sex abuse victims is asking makers of an upcoming film to change the location of a movie that will be filmed at a controversial Jacksonville, FL Baptist church where children were allegedly molested by a now-deceased minister.
Leaders of a support group called SNAP – the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests – are writing to a prominent actor and production company president about “Blind Faith,” a story about a blind football player. While saying the film “will almost certainly be a heartwarming story for many,” SNAP says it is being shot “in a location that is heartbreaking to many.
A copy of SNAP’s letter, sent today by fax and e mail to actor Billy Baldwin and Don Snellgrove, president of Sunrise Recording and Film Productions, is below.
Trinity Baptist Church, a mega church in Jacksonville, FL was founded by Rev. Bob Gray, who allegedly molested as many as 21 children during his 38 year long tenure as pastor. Other Trinity officials – such as pastor Tom Messer – “knew or suspected” Gray’s crimes and “ignored or concealed them for years,” SNAP says. Gray, who died before he could be prosecuted, spoke openly with police and told them that he did it because he “was having problems with his first wife.”
“This church was the site of a significant clergy sex abuse and cover-up case,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director. “It’s inappropriate and hurtful for it to be used as a shooting location for a film. The message victims get is ‘Your suffering doesn’t matter. Our church profiting and benefiting is what matters.’”
"It's worrisome for this church to profit, financially or in other ways, from this movie," said David Clohessy, SNAP Executive Director. “There are plenty of churches where there wasn’t rampant child sex abuse. Why not pick another church where there’s little or no risk of compounding the pain of those already struggling?”
Billy Baldwin, brother of actor Alec Baldwin, stars in the film as the coach of the blind football player.
“This shouldn’t be controversial. No one should glorify a place where child sex crimes happened and were hidden,” said Clohessy.
"Blind Faith seems like such an inspirational movie, I would hate for any positive message the movie might endorse to be compromised by the fact they are shooting at the location where the former pastor molested children in his office for decades." Dwayne Walker, graduate of Trinity Christian Academy and blogger at christianschoolconfidential.com
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP Executive Director 314-566-9790, firstname.lastname@example.org
Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Outreach Director 314-862-7688, email@example.com
Feb. 13, 2012
Dear Mr. Snellgrove and Mr. Baldwin;
We are leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Our mission is to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
We are writing to you today regarding the filming location you have chosen for “Blind Faith.” Trinity Baptist Church may look beautiful, but for 21 men and women (and likely even more than that), it looks like a prison.
This church was for a long time, the hunting grounds for Bob Gray, the founder of the church who was also an admitted child predator. Gray preyed on children at this church for almost 40 years, and to make things worse, his crimes were covered up by other church officials. Gray’s victims suffered in silence while Trinity officials and pastors pretended as if nothing was wrong in their mega church, ultimately enabling Gray to escape responsibility for his crimes (he died before he could be prosecuted).
We beg you to consider the atrocities that these men and women suffered when considering where to shoot your film. “Blind Faith” is supposed to be an uplifting story meant to inspire others. Please don’t cause these victims more pain by allowing the site of their torture to profit from your movie.
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Executive Director, SNAP
Outreach Director, SNAP