Keeping religion under wraps

amazinggraceshipAmazing Grace, an overdue tribute to British abolitionist William Wilberforce, opens nationwide today. The film is well worth seeing, particularly if you're unfamiliar with the Wilberforce story. Like with almost every movie I see, I had some artistic quibbles with it. (And I'm not snooty: I'm hoping to see Reno 911 tonight.) But most surprising to me was how little religion was included in a movie about someone so religiously influenced. Charlotte Allen, who has the same problem, reviewed the film for The Wall Street Journal:

It is rare that a Hollywood film takes up a subject like William Wilberforce (1759-1833), the British parliamentarian who devoted nearly his entire 45-year political career to banning the British slave trade. Alas, a lot of people watching "Amazing Grace," Michael Apted's just-released film, may get the impression -- perhaps deliberately fostered by Mr. Apted -- that Wilberforce was a mostly secular humanitarian whose main passion was not Christian faith but politics and social justice. Along the way, they may also get the impression that the hymn "Amazing Grace" is no more than an uplifting piece of music that sounds especially rousing on the bagpipes.

Her whole essay is worth a read. Andrew Stuttaford hits some of the same points in his review for The New York Sun. But the film is getting good reviews, even from the people complaining about the lack of religion. A particularly good review can be found by Andrew Sarris in The New York Observer.

Earlier this week, GetReligion reader George Harper sent us a note about a New York Times article on the film. The article misstated William Wilberforce's religious affiliation as Quaker. He was an Anglican with Methodist leanings. Harper twice contacted the Times about the error. Harper passed along the note he got back from article author Alan Riding:

I have just sent you a note plus a copy of a separate version of the story in the IHT [International Herald Tribune], which avoided this error. We will run a correction in the NYT. Thank you for pointing it out. Best wishes, Alan Riding

PS An editor at the IHT spotted this mistake -- but no other reader but you has so far signalled it.

Harper, who notes the correction hasn't run yet, says he's surprised that other readers of this blog didn't call the Times about the error.

It's a good reminder that readers who criticize media reports should notify reporters of their concerns. The vast majority of reporters will work promptly to correct any errors or clarify any mistakes.

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