Nobody does Respectability Politics better than Christianity! Director Adamma Ebo sets out on a mission to air the dirty laundry of the Southern Baptist church in the satirical mockumentary Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown) and his wife Trinitie (Regina Hall) are two church leaders in the midst of damage control, trying to save their congregation—and their marriage—after news of the pastor’s affair goes public.
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While the philosophy of their faith allows for a quick confession and forgiveness in the eyes of the Lord, their congregation isn’t so easily convinced. As strict adherents to the prosperity gospel, Lee and Trinitie work to tempt their flock home the only way they know how—through continued maintenance of their picture-perfect facade. But as the pressure mounts, the leather of their Ferragamo loafers begins to crack.
The brilliance of Ebo’s script implicates everyone in the community, highlighting the lengths that supposedly “enlightened” religious folks will go to avoid true introspection. Brown is audacious as the hypocritical pastor who prays only to the altar of his own success, never providing proper ministry to those most in need—including himself. Hall’s depiction of the quiet implosion of the pastor’s wife under the 100-ton weight of the Truth is hilariously devastating, a deft examination of human nature and the unfathomable depths of denial.
For those who grew up with any personal proximity to the Black church or religious homophobia, this movie will hit incredibly close to home. Ebo’s film perfectly captures the ridiculousness of the theater of dignity performed every Sunday morning at congregations across America, while reminding us that the truth can set you free—but only if you let it. R, 102 min.